What do you do when you can’t make the film you want to make? You make a film about not being able to make a film, obviously… thus Wim Wenders’ State of Things. Wenders is a director I’ve become terribly iffy about; as I noted quite a while ago here, he and I got off to such a good start with Wings of Desire and, well, it’s never quite been the same since. Alas, I don’t think this has done much to restore our relationship. The backstory of the film is that Wenders got invited to Hollywood by Francis Ford Coppola to make Hammett, which production seems to have been a non-stop nightmare broken only by a pause enforced by Coppola to make One From the Heart… during which time Wenders went to Portugal, helped Raul Ruiz finish his film The Territory and then used the latter’s cast and crew to quickly whip up his own film, in which a wanky Euro-arthouse director making his first Hollywood film—a cheap-shit post-apocalypse SF drama—finds himself unexpectedly hamstrung by the disappearance of the producer, the money to make the film, and indeed the actual film stock. Which is a slight problem even when you’re making a cheap SF movie. So what happens on a film shoot when there’s no film to shoot? Well, boredom, apparently. Magnificently filmed boredom, it must be said, it’s tremendously shot in monochrome by Henri Alekan, but, well, it’s still boredom. Eventually the director (“hilariously” named Friedrich Munro) goes back to LA to hunt up the producer, and the film vaguely threatens to actually become the thriller another director would probably have made it from the beginning (as we find out, the producer’s got on the wrong side of some very bad people) without ever quite actually being it. All beautiful to look at, as I said, but… eh.
The State of Things (1982)