On Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, The Wrath of God; words by Roger Ebert, video by Kevin B. Lee.
In the 1950s, when Werner Herzog was 13, he was sharing an apartment with Klaus Kinski, an ego-maniacal live-wire. In an unabated, 48 hour fit of rage, Kinski destroyed every piece of furniture in sight. From this chaos, a beautiful albeit volatile partnership was born. In 1972, Herzog cast Kinski in Aguirre, The Wrath of God. Four more films would follow. In this personal documentary, Herzog traces the often violent up and downs of their relationship, revisiting Munich apartment where they first met — and thrashed, and the various locations of their films.
"Herzog: The God of Wrath." American Film Magazine, AFI, Iss. 8, June 1982.
"Who is Bruce Willis?" The greatest of all possible Pint of Milks, starring Werner Herzog.
Remember that time Werner Herzog rescued Joaquin Phoenix from a car accident?
My “Watched” column disappeared after December 5th; I was trying to cram together all my year-end viewing and coverage, plus I started writing reviews of new films for the Substream, and my available time for “catalog viewing” all but disappeared. Here’s a couple of things I watched, plus some notes on a new scheme:
When Black Dog Video announced their closing last month, and that they were selling off all their stock, I rushed down on a Saturday night to see if I could snag a DVD copy of Werner Herzog’s Bells from the Deep, which is impossibly hard to find on disc (it only appeared in an out-of-print boxed set, and on specialty discs available from his web site) and is also, perhaps unfortunately for me, my favourite (thus far) of his films. No such luck for me at Black Dog, but they were selling copies of The White Diamond and The Wild Blue Yonder, neither of which I’ve seen, but was happy to pick up on spec.
We watched The White Diamond a few weeks ago under the light of our now-defunct Christmas tree, and it was transcendent. The film itself, I learn, came out roughly concurrent with Grizzly Man and was thereby swallowed up – but it is just as strong a film, nearly stronger, than the other. I simply don’t know how he does it. That a director, and particularly a director of documentaries, can find unique and interesting subject matter in the world is no small feat, but is an understandable feat – here is a story of a man who is building an airship to float over the canopy of the South American rain forest, and yeah, if I heard that, I’d probably think “boy that could be a movie.”Read more
Somewhere in the foreground is Daniel.
When I applied to go to Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School, the rejection letter I received said that “Werner Herzog has personally watched every submission with great sympathy.” That phrase has stuck in my head for a long time, and came up again today, watching Tyrannosaur. This is a film of monumental sympathy, which surprised me. I knew some of the salacious details about the film that were reported after its Cannes showings; I expected a hard look at hard behaviour. I did not expect sympathy. Tyrannosaur is a film of moving insight into the characters it portrays, and it judges none of them. They simply are what they are. They are not, per se, sympathetic, but the film has sympathy for them nonetheless – they are a greater pain to themselves than even what they can muster to dole out to other people. The lead character, Joseph – in a mesmerizing performance from Peter Mullan - commits an act of utter barbarity right at the outset of the film, and then is immediately overwhelmed with such precise awareness of the scope and magnitude of his action that it is impossible not to also look at him in a sympathetic light.
Paddy Considine, a great actor, has made a great film. He received a well-deserved standing ovation at the Elgin today. I shouted “bravo!”Read more
Outside the Winter Garden on September 10, 2011. Do all the cops assembled to protect Chloe Moretz know she’s HIT GIRL for crying out loud?
Of the prospective 8 digits on my tombstone, six are already filled in. This near-certainty is the thought with which I left Werner Herzog’s Into the Abyss, perhaps owing to the invocation by Captain Fred Allen - a capitol punishment guard - of the homily “live your dash.” He was referring to the dash on your tombstone, which is the life you have. My 35th birthday is a week away. I watched Into the Abyss after Volcano, which also compelled me to contemplate the cold clutches of encroaching mortality, and all this after little sleep and quite early in the morning. It can become too much.
Volcano is not entirely successful for me, though I admit it is quite good. It is one of those films that seems to pledge one thing, and then comes the turn, and the remainder of the film is spent elsewhere. The elsewhere, in this case, does not lack for depth of feeling: an old man, quite grouchy late in life, only begins to rekindle his love with his wife when she is suddenly taken by a near-fatal stroke. He cares for her in their home for the remainder of the film, gruff and obstinate, though never without love. It is a kind story, if chilly, and it was well-told. But it was not the rejuvenation of life that I felt I was promised by the first act of the film. That rejuvenation involved a boat.Read more