"Don't Come Knocking"
Directed by Wim Wenders.
Written by Sam Shepard.
Starring Sam Shepard, Jessica Lange, Sarah Polley and Tim Roth.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 3/21/06
"Don't Come Knocking" is the kind of movie
that almost hits you in slow motion, it ambles up the street so
slowly...but, even though it doesn't appear to be about much of
anything, it's an interesting week-in-the-life trip as we follow a
man that has made nothing of his personal life and for just a little
while seems to give a damn.
We meet Howard Spence (Sam Shepard) just as
he is skipping off the Utah-based film set where he is making a
Western, one in a long line of films that Howard has made to fill
out a mostly unfulfilling movie career. Why he picked this
particular film to skip out on is never explained, but Howard's
travels to escape the contract he's signed to make this movie in the
first place take him from Utah to Nevada, where his mother (Eva
Marie Saint, most famously in
"On the Waterfront" 50 years ago) has been waiting to see him
for years. From here, Howard makes a discovery that leads him
to Butte, Montana, where he meets a person from his past that makes
him re-evaluate his present. All the while, the film's bond
company frontman (Tim Roth) is hunting Howard down to return him to
the film shoot in order to finish the production.
The script's dialogue is barebones, which is
fine; "Don't Come Knocking" was a bit slow for me because Howard's
motivations before, during, and after the film's big discovery made
no sense to me nor do they make sense to the characters that he runs
into. Further, a woman (Sarah Polley) toting an urn with her
dead mother's ashes inside shows up at very odd times, which made
our packed-house audience giggle every time she showed up; this lady
is on a mission, but the way she's holding her urn and the fact that
she never really explains who she is until the very end of the
film--and her character becomes not much of a surprise--was just
kind of weird, out of place for a road trip saga.
In fact, everything that happens once the
film moves to Butte is kind of kooky, which, again, can be cool, it
just felt off for some reason. Maybe it was how easily Howard
finds all that he needs to find by just strolling into town one day;
Butte seems to have not more than 100 residents, because all Howard
has to do to find anyone is sit on his hotel room stoop and BAM! his
intended targets show up. Or, maybe it's the way time stops
moving during the film's final 45 minutes. Or, maybe it's how
a cover band lead (Gabriel Mann) reacts to Howard after getting some
big news. I couldn't place it, but as I yawned for the fifth
time as the film was finishing up, I knew that it was affecting my
enjoyment of this movie.
Now, "Don't Come Knocking" is hurting in
places throughout, but I enjoyed myself at points; the Roth
character is hilarious and there are other funny moments sprinkled
throughout the film. It was nice to see Shepard play a
character that was not spouting orders to troops (my recent memory
of Shepard is from
Down" and "Stealth"),
and Shepard really does look like the over-the-hill cowboy he is
attempting to portray; his performance feels just right, even if it
is a little sleepy to watch. The shots of Butte are old school
to the last; Butte seems like the town that would have doubled for
the town from
History of Violence", with a couple more retro bars and diners
thrown in for good measure...it kind of reminded me of some of the
nightspots in the Tenderloin and areas nearby in San Francisco, with
tarnished cocktail signs and half-lit "Open All Night" neon and new
age hipsters watching ska quartets in smoky lounges. If it
wasn't in Montana, I wouldn't mind checking Butte out...it looks
like a cool place.
So, for me, "Don't Come Knocking" is a mixed
bag. It's not unlike a John Sayles opus, but if you keep
yourself awake there are nice things to check out. Apparently,
all of director Wim Wenders' films are this way, so maybe I'll give
a couple others a look to see what the man's really about.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard