Challenge Week 36: Paris, Texas

As a huge fan of Wings of Desire, I’ve been really eager to see more Wim Wenders films, especially this one. I didn’t know much about what it was about, though.

It’s kind of a road movie, with Walt (Dean Stockwell) finding his brother Travis (Harry Dean Stanton) wandering through the desert in Utah or somewhere, and bringing him home. Turns out Walt and his wife have been taking care of Travis’ son since Travis and his wife Jane both basically disappeared off the face of the earth. The rest of the movie has Travis first trying to repair his relationship with his son, then the two of them going to find Jane.

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After a very intriguing start and some of the most gorgeous cinematography I’ve seen this challenge, I’ll admit to drifting a bit in the middle section, and I certainly want to return to it when I have time. But the third section pulled me right back in. Travis finally finds Jane working at a sort of a private striptease club (single room, window, phone/speakers, etc, I don’t know what these things are called), and Travis tells her the story of their marriage, basically, by way of revealing himself.

This scene is long and lots of monologue/dialogue, and Harry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski absolutely kill it. It’s a sad story, with alcoholism and abuse and what seems like severe post-partum depression (though he doesn’t know enough to call it that), and yet you sympathize with both of them despite what they put each other through. Both actors are mesmerizing and refocused what was starting to feel like a frustratingly meandering experience to me.

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Intriguingly, this ended up only two spots away from Joseph’s other pick, 3 Women. Both films intrigued and mesmerized me in different ways, and also held me at arm’s length a little bit. I’m curious to see how these films move on my chart over time and with eventual rewatches.

Stats and stuff…

1984, USA
directed by Wim Wenders, written by L.M. Kit Carson and Sam Shepard
starring Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, Nastassja Kinski

I’m ranking all my Challenge films on Flickchart (as I do all the films I see), a movie-ranking website that asks you to choose your favorite between two movies until it builds a ranked list of your favorites. Just for fun, I will average out the rankings and keep a running tally of whose recommendations rank the highest. When you add a film to Flickchart, it pits it against films already on your chart to see where it should fall. Here’s how Paris, Texas entered my chart:

Paris, Texas > Il Postino (The Postman)
Paris, Texas > Come and Get It
Paris, Texas < The Mummy
Paris, Texas < [REC]
Paris, Texas < Prometheus
Paris, Texas < Rocky
Paris, Texas < 21 Grams
Paris, Texas < Homicidal
Paris, Texas < The Decline of Western Civilization
Paris, Texas < Topsy-Turvy
Paris, Texas < Little Children
Paris, Texas < 3 Women

Final #926 out of 3702 films on my chart (75%)

It is now my #2 Wim Wenders film, my #5 Harry Dean Staton film, my #1 Nastassja Kinski film, my #1 New German Cinema film (which is kind of hilarious), my #23 Road Movie, and my #5 film of 1984.

Paris, Texas was recommended by Joseph Brown, a friend from the Flickcharters group on Facebook. Averaging together this #926 ranking with my #924 ranking of his other film, 3 Women, gives Joseph an average ranking of #925.

A few more screenshots…

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  • I’m so glad you finally saw this film! It does have a meandering quality to it (which is common with a lot of Wenders films), but it really clicked with me on a repeat viewing. That final scene with Stanton and Kinski is so moving.