Wim and Ollie Do America

That's a Wrap: Wim Wenders's stars play out his biscotti metaphor in The End of Violence.

The End of Violence
Lagoon Cinema

area theaters

OLIVER STONE BUMPS into Wim Wenders at the Starbucks in Beverly Hills. Wenders nurses a half-decaf Mocha Latte and Stone orders the daily special, black with triple sugar:

Oliver: Wim! We meet again. Wasn't Telluride invigorating this year?

Wim: Yes, Oliver, I must say the weather was fine, but I spent most of my time at the movies. In fact, I saw your film U-Turn at Telluride and I was pretty disappointed.

Oliver: I'm not so big on your End of Violence either. But you start, I'm all ears.

Wim: Surely you must see. I am trying to propose an end to all this violence. And here is your movie, full of genre tricks and bloody hatchets. Where is the moral progress in that?

Oliver: Hang on. Don't you know American cinema expresses action, and European cinema explores thought? I show people confronting their animal natures.

Wim: But Oliver, you are so loud and noisy about it. Don't you think violence and its depiction is a global problem?

Oliver: Yes, but to confront it we must exaggerate it and make a call to action.

Wim: I thought you did that in Natural Born Killers--especially the director's cut. And I have always loved what you do with b/w vs. color and that jittery editing. I have been known to mix film stocks myself.

Oliver: Yeah, isn't that cool? But you know, in my historical pieces, I'm saying we live in a world that is the media. I wanted total confusion as to TV and reality by the end of NBK.

Wim: I am almost buying that. But what is this U-Turn nonsense in Superior, Arizona? Why should we watch Sean Penn follow his lust and stupidity in a film noir rehash? It's a joke, Oliver. You waste your talents.

Oliver: Well, it's all play, isn't it? Sometimes a movie is just a movie. I had said so much with Nixon and JFK--in fact, with every film I'd ever made. I wanted to do the cartoon thing.

Wim: I think you are glamorizing violence.

Oliver: Well, why do you put Sam Fuller in your movies? He had a thing for guns and broads, too.

Wim: He is an inspiration in a different way--and you Americans still don't understand his work. I would rather see Pickup on South Street than Pulp Fiction any day. It is more pure.

Oliver: Does "pure" mean all that damn ambiguity in your new movie? People muttering pensees instead of having arguments? And how are surveillance cameras going to stop violence?

Wim: You don't know what Hitler wanted to do with TV. There is something of fascism in the camera. Besides, isn't voyeurism the essential problem of cinema?

Oliver: Yeah, but sex isn't that big a deal to me. And I've noticed that you don't dwell on it much, either.

Wim: You're right, but here is a big difference. You keep poor Jennifer Lopez tied to that hot-Latin-mama stereotype. I prefer the flair and the mystery of desire. Did you see how I used the singer from Madredeus in my other new movie, Lisbon Story?

Oliver: Yeah, and that's what I don't get. You make movies about cities and clothing designers and people in the future with videotapes of dreams--all these ideas bumping into each other. No wonder fewer and fewer Americans see your movies. You used to be into the Hollywood thing. You made Hammett, you know what a great tradition we have.

Wim: Yes, but it is a tradition to expand and explore, not to dress up in different costumes and call it new.

Oliver: Well, never the twain shall meet, I guess. Can we just agree that film has many flavors and call it a day?

Wim: Speaking of flavors, have a biscotti. You know, biscotti are a fascinating pastry. First they must be half-baked in order to be sliced, and then they're baked completely. I think they are a metaphor for something, but I am still figuring it out.

Oliver: I'll meet you halfway on that.


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