Lightning Over Water Reviews
While digressive at times, especially one sequence involving rehearsals for a Chekhov play, "Lightning over Water" has some very good thoughts on the subject of mortality and how truly inescapable it is. Not only that but the movie is also concerned with the changes that go along with the passage of time like when Ray and his crew travel to Vassar, now co-ed, to screen one of his old films. Plus, we are also treated to a neat view of bygone New York City, circa 1979.
Lightning Over Water is so reflexive, egocentric, narcissistic, and self indulgent that it's BRILLIANT. As a story on its own it can be a little disengaging but if seen as a process about "film", it's mesmerizing. The inside-references, the striking way in which Nick Ray's persona is presented and re-represented on screen, the way, as Wenders puts it, it uses the rugged video quality as a metaphor for cancer to the 'glorified' aesthetic of film. Everything about it works. The sound design is fantastic (listen to how unsettling the audio for the video images are compared to the film images and how it's handled during the transitions), the rigid acting actually works in relation to the concept, especially how it ties up in the end when slices of reality becomes a big part of the story. This one demands a lot of attention. And the more you give it, the better it gets. It is important to note that the original Cannes version (the print no longer exisits) did not have the voice-over that the 87' cut has.
Nicholas Ray's last moments are recorded in a pseudo-documentary narrative style that only fellow director and co-star Wim Wenders can pull off. Ray who is perhaps best known for his iconic 50's films "Rebel Without A Cause" and "Johnny Guitar" is dying of cancer. Together with Wenders they decide to make a film about his demise. Some parts are fictionalized while others play out like a documentary. There are moments that work extremely well. The way it interplays with film and video format to convey the parallel story lines is outstanding. Then, there is Ray himself who is equally engaging and absolutely devastating to watch on screen. This is a must-see work for all cinephiles. However some of the weaker points seem to come out of the nature in which the project was conceived. There is something slightly off-putting in its glorified self-indulgence as it is a film about a film which references many other films. Also, Wenders comes off a little stiff in some crucial scenes. The pacing also feels extremely drawn-out at certain points. But despite of it, "Lightning Over Water" is still a film worth experiencing.
directed by Wim Wenders & Nicolas RayThis can be called a documentary or docu-fiction, its hard to tell cause its obvious most of what we see is staged, yet, it feels genuine and non-scripted.Director Wim Wenders fly from Germany to meet with Nicholas Ray, the man behind such classics as Johnny Guitar, Rebel Without a Cause starring James Dean and Bigger Than Life in the mid-1950's. Here, in the late 70's, he is dying of cancer. He and Wim Wenders want to make a film together, they dont have a story, all they know is that they want to make a film, for Nick its more for his self-esteem and leaving a legacy, one last piece of work behind.The film begins with a narration by Wenders, he comes in Nicholas Ray's appartment, who is sleeping, Wemders decides to take a nap on a couch and later when they wake up, we see a man cross the screen with what seems to be a 16mm camera or something but ti doesnt matter, its held by Tim Ray, we see what he sees in the lense and it becomes some sort of «making of» of the film we are watching before getting back to the regular images.Lightning Over Water also known as Nick's Movie is about an artist. Its a great reflection about friendship, illness, death and the medium that cinema is. Its touching and it might be inspiring to some, but one thing is sure, its not entertaining and its definately not for everyone, most would find it boring.
The half star that I keptā?¦I felt the epilogue wasn't necessary.