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American Friend, The

Director:  Wim Wenders
Year Released:  1977
Rating:  2.5

How about that: a postmodern German filmmaker's take on the French New Wave's take on the American crime/"B" movie! Wenders has certainly seen Shoot the Piano Player, Pierrot le Fou and Strangers on a Train one too many times, and though he tries to jazz up the 'interpretation' of Highsmith's "Ripley" novel, the quirkiness is too self-conscious and the symbolism too obvious; Dennis Hopper's laying on a pool table and taking pictures of himself with a Polaroid camera (there's a running theme regarding the progress of moving pictures from simple two-framed photos that 'move' to toy viewfinders and so forth) or recording his thoughts in a tape-recorder just to show he's 'on edge' don't add much to what we already know about the character. Considering that, I was into the picture for the first two acts - merely discarding those scenes as Wenders' weak attempts at transgression - before being painfully disappointed by the final half-hour, which doesn't resolve the picture's dilemma(s) very well ... or maybe the goofiness of the finale is intentional: American crime movies do sporadically end in the most absurd ways.

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