Wim Wenders still wears the heavy halo of an art-house giant. That’s partly because he attracts international cult casts who romp through his dawdling tableaux as if they’d just stepped off a party-page photo spread for the movie’s premiere (look! It’s Milla Jovovich winking at Bud Cort!), and also because Wenders may be the last European director to divvy up the world into the killjoys and the ragged saints.
In The Million Dollar Hotel, Mel Gibson, looking miserable in a crew cut, is the FBI hard case who investigates a suicide at an L.A. flophouse whose residents might be auditioning for a road-show company of King of Hearts. There’s the half-witted skate punk (Jeremy Davies), the cowering waif (Jovovich), the foul-mouthed old lady (Gloria Stuart), and the lunatic who thinks he’s the fifth Beatle (Peter Stormare). If any of these characters were half as resonant as Wenders appears to think they are, the film might have seemed charming instead of merely stranded. D