Donít Come Knocking
Collaborating for the first time since 1984ís Paris, Texas, director Wim Wenders and actor-writer Sam Shepardís Donít Come Knocking is an endearingly rough-around-the-edges take on one manís midlife crisis. Shepard stars as Howard Spence, a washed-up fiftysomething star of old-fashioned westerns, a former Hollywood bad boy whose penchant for drugs, drink, and younger women has left him a burnt-out shell of a man. The movie opens with Howard riding off into the sunset and away from the set of his latest picture, with nary an explanation to the cast and crew. Like many a baby whoís grown up to be a cowboy, Howardís first stop along his vague trek is a visit to his mother (Eva Marie Saint), who informs him that he has a grown son (Gabriel Mann) in Butte, Mont., the product of a fling with a local woman (Jessica Lange) many years earlier. Looking for some a shred of redemption, Howard heads to Montana to reconnect with his ex-lover and their son, whoís not very happy to see him. The tone is all over the place, running the gamut from melodrama to oddball comedy and whimsy, but Wendersí keen eye for skewing American iconography and Shepardís strong performance keep it anchored, and in the end the chaos works in the movieís favor: Itís a messy look at a messy life.