Kings of the Road

Director: Wim Wenders
Year Released: 1976
Rating: 3.5

Two men - a cinema projectionist (Rüdiger Vogler) and a child doctor (Hanns Zischler) - come together randomly, travel together, have a few shared experiences and depart randomly: it's been called an 'existential road movie,' and for better or worse that's a perfect description. In a way, it's also Master Class in naval gazing - a case of "moody brooding," of self-obsession and self-loathing, of men unable to fix their lives - and a veritable grab bag of metaphors (death of the cinema, the decay of Germany, the insidious nature of American culture and all the feelings of love and hate "we" are able to evoke in the rest of the world) so there is the temptation to dismiss it as randomness and irritatingly droll - it does take a half an hour of running time before we even learn the names of our protagonists - if indeed stick with it at all (it is three hours long). But the picture earns its right to be pensive and introspective - it really is a passionately-felt, intelligently scripted visual poem, concerned with not just the state of movies but the psyche of Wenders' (at the time, divided) country. It's sad and wounded, but it does allow some small room for optimism.