|Title:||Walking to Werner|
Other Movies Seen By This Director (0)
|10.20.06||Intercontinental||This Screening is part of event: Austin Film Festival 2006|
I started day two of AFF at the Stephen F. Austin Intercontinental hotel (SFA to the pros), where they set up a small screen and put out ballroom chairs, turn the lights off, and call it a theater. I'm too afraid to see movies at The Hideout so I can't know for sure but this sucks for watching movies. Worse than the Convention Center with the plastic fold-up stadium seating. Oh well, I'm trying not to let it get to me. I'm here to see this movie about... well...
OK so at some point, German film director/crazy man Werner Herzog decided that instead of flying from (I'm guessing) Berlin to Paris to see his dying friend, he would walk there on foot. And his walking would keep her alive. The cool thing about the story is that Herzog is so crazy that his friend actually lived for the month or whatever that it took him to cross the lush rolling hills of Europe. So this guy Linas Phillips, who is probably just as crazy as Herzog but in a very different way, takes this as... perhaps it's inspiration maybe it's just boredom, and decides to walk from his home in Seattle down to LA (well, Santa Monica, "the same thing" as he says late in the film) to Herzog's home and make a doc of it and call it a spirit quest or... something.
Linas starts by contacting a friend of Werner's to get in contact with the man himself. He doesn't hear back immediately however so he decides to start his walk anyway.
OK. I'm trying to figure out the best way to present this movie. It's a real success if you count unintentional humor as an asset. I'm so glad the director/subject wasn't in the audience though, because then I would've felt guilty for having such a good time at this movie's expense. So I guess the best way to describe it is just to start.
This guy Linas... he's a very prototypical long-haired hippie type. He walks around town holding up a camera shooting himself and gets frustrated by attempting to talk about what he's planning on doing and why. "Argh! I don't want to talk about it!" he screams to himself as he turns in circles on a random street corner, followed momentarily by "this camera is heavy!"
He starts his quest with a support staff of a producer who I guess is supposed to line up his hotel reservations and a buddy who drives along for a leg of the journey to shoot him at scenic locations. Mostly though it's just linas walking along highways with a camera in his hand, talking to himself and either going insane or slowly laying out his existing insanity on tape. Pretty quickly he gets a voicemail from Werner saying he just got back in town and he's on his way out to Thailand to shoot a movie (which I'll see Sunday) so good luck on the walk but he won't be home when he gets there. HA! He can't turn around now though, he's already walked like 300 miles or something. So he talks to himself about that, tries to angle flying to Thailand for an interview to end the film with and Herzog says no. This is an awesome movies that I'm so glad I'm watching.
Now, as all this is happening it's shot after shot of random roadkill, rainy landscapes, shaky shots of cars driving by him on the road, and his face in a bevy of expressions ranging from pained to frustrated to concerned. They glean excerpts from various DVD commentaries that Herzog's done to try and relate some sort of meaning or profundity to what we're seeing but really it's just a guy walking down a road and not really knowing why he's doing it.
Eventually, he runs into the invariably more interesting roadside prophets that probably all deserve docs more than the director and things get interesting in an Americana, crazy-rural-type way... The director is repeatedly mistaken as a woman due to his long blonde hair and soft voice. He goes even more crazy. In one scene he comes upon a heard of cows that approach. He gets all confused because they were so friendly by coming up to him at first but now "it's like I'm a stranger" when they lose interest in him. He just can't figure it out! It vexes him. He's thoroughly vexed. From there it gets even more self-important and bizarre.
He interviews a man who admits that he's thoroughly blitzed... the man steals his pen and paper and Linas yells after him "hey, man! That's not cool! I think you're a cool person but that's not cool!"
He absolutely goes apeshit when his buddy drives him a few miles down the road because he couldn't find a place to stop. As he's walking back north to make sure his journey is 100% pure, he spews all sorts of nonsensical hate, including the incredibly amazing observation that "you cannot push yourself into the future with your feet!" But you know... isn't that what we all do all the time? think about it... yeah.
I think my favorite quote of his in the movie is this though: "You can't vacuum the dirt off your soul." Deep.
You know what though? For as idiotic and pointless as this movie is, and for as hard as it tries not to be idiotic and pointless, by the end when Linas finally reaches LA (well, Santa Monica) and walks up to Werner's door, I actually wished that Herzog would be there... home from Thailand for some random weekend to pay taxes or rescue someone in a car wreck or something so he can be there when Linas finally walks up and rings the bell. So on a certain level I have to say that this movie got to me... by the end I was genuinely hoping that his long walk would yield some reward, even though the fact that it didn't probably means more.
Ironically, the most honest and rewarding moment comes right afterward when Linas takes a seat on Werner's front stoop and says "it feels good to sit." Indeed it does, Linas. Indeed it does.
So, aside from the fact that they projected it in the wrong aspect ratio in a conference room, I had fun with this movie and am very glad that I saw it.