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Don't Come Knocking
DVD disk
Aug 25, 2006 By: Jason Adams
Don't Come Knocking order
Director:
Wim Wenders

Actors:
Sam Shepard
Jessica Lange
Sarah Polley

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Washed up movie star Howard Spence has an existential breakdown on set and secretly flees Tinsel Town. After returning home for the first time in decades, the man discovers that he has a grown son in rural Montana—the result of a one night stand thirty years prior. Not knowing what else to do, Spence sets out to discover the truth, all the while being followed by a Hollywood insurance agent and a mysterious girl with a secret of her own.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I ashamedly had never seen a Wim Wenders movie before, but I’d heard that his original WINGS OF DESIRES made CITY OF ANGELS look like crap on the cob. After watching DON’T COME KNOCKING it’s easy to see the man’s natural ease and talent as a filmmaker. The thing I dug right off the bat was the pure vibe of the movie. It’s a nice riff on the modern cowboy tale, with the added juxtaposition of a man playing a cowboy in a film within the film, a tongue-in-cheek potshot at the Hollywood style Wenders intentionally avoids. It’s also slow and strange—an effective, self-reflective character piece about relationships and connections—while managing an overall lighthearted feel. Add to that a great blues-guitar soundtrack courtesy of musical genius T-Bone Burnett, and you've got yourself a good time.

Sam Shepard pulls double duty as writer and star and excels at both. His Howard Spence is a cold and cut-off character, but somehow you end up rooting for the guy by virtue of Shepard’s weathered charisma. Additionally there’s a pretty ridiculous supporting cast including Jessica Lange, Sarah Polley, Tim Roth, Fairuza Balk, Gabriel Mann and neo-“Ma Kent” Eva Marie Saint. Each performer gets their chance to shine in a memorable interaction with Shepard, especially Lange and Saint. With such a large group of actors though, you also run the risk of not spending enough time with each character. Mainly, Tim Roth’s insurance investigator is criminally underutilized, especially since his few scenes hint at a very interesting individual.

While it couldn’t be more different in tone or execution, DON’T COME KNOCKING unfortunately suffers a bit from coming out after another slow paced movie with a similar plotline by a different eclectic director. I’m talking of course about Jim Jarmusch’s BROKEN FLOWERS. It’s difficult not to compare the two and in the shadow of the other, KNOCKING isn’t quite as successful. While I like that neither film was depressingly serious, especially given the subject matter, with this one I wasn’t sure how to take some of the less serious characterizations. Spence’s son comes off as a whiny douche for no reason, and it might be humorous but it also borders on near-cheesiness. Finally, like BROKEN FLOWERS, DON’T COME KNOCKING doesn’t have a nice and tidy resolution. With FLOWERS it made you ponder your own life compared to Bill Murray’s. With KNOCKING it leaves you grasping at the point of it all.
THE EXTRAS
Wenders is the man and his presence in these extras makes them entirely worthwhile.

Commentary by Director Wim Wenders: “I really hate to talk while you watch my movie…” Wenders shoots straight from the hip; no BS. His no nonsense tone was refreshing from the typical “sucking-up” track. Wenders tells you exactly what you need to know and if you don’t listen he might punch you in the face and take your lunch money.

New York Premiere Featurette (18:22): Thankfully a little bit of the red carpet stuff and more a Q&A with Wenders and stars Jessica Lange and Gabriel Mann. Like the commentary, Wenders is funny and charismatic and the whole thing is pretty informative/ entertaining. Plus, you have to check out Wenders’ outfit; only a European dude can get away with that and not look like a tool.

Sundance Featurette (12:08): More interviews, Q&A, and people looking cold out in the snow.

Interview with Wim Wenders and Eva Marie Saint (4:59): Short and sweet, the pair have some good banter back and forth. Nice to see Ms. Saint making a mini-comeback recently.

Previews for other assorted indie fare.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I know I got kind of negative there towards the end of the review, but on its own DON’T COME KNOCKING is still an interesting and enjoyable indie movie despite its shortcomings. There’s solid acting from an impressive cast, graceful visuals by an accomplished director and some groovy tunes to boot. Can’t go too wrong there.

Little Known Fact: Bono and The Edge from U2 volunteered to write the title song for DON'T COME KNOCKING without even being asked.
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