Magazine article The New Yorker

Anticlimax

Magazine article The New Yorker

Anticlimax

Article excerpt

ANTICLIMAX

"Sorry I'm late--not very German," Tom Tykwer said, after rushing into the lobby of the Bowery Hotel. "I just arrived." Hearing how he sounded--Just popped over from Berlin to premiere my new film --the director grinned and confessed, "Actually, my wife and I took a stop on the way in at the new Whitney. Stunning! There was a later self-portrait by Cindy Sherman, where she explores her aging by photographing herself as a celebrity who's trying to represent what she used to--only you can see in her eyes she knows it's gone."

Taking a seat in the lounge, Tykwer, who's fifty and fit, raked a hand through his tufty black hair, then ordered an iced latte to resuscitate and resituate himself. In "A Hologram for the King," which Tykwer adapted from Dave Eggers's novel, Alan Clay (Tom Hanks) has the same need. A divorced, slightly desperate American businessman, Clay flies to Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, to pitch a 3-D virtual-conferencing system to the King. Only the King doesn't show. So Clay spends day after day driving out to a planned future city in the desert, waiting in a sweltering tent, then driving back and getting drunk. "The challenge for a filmmaker is to make the days seem endless without seeming boring," Tykwer said. The repetition calls to mind his 1998 film, "Run Lola Run," in which Lola has just twenty minutes to raise a hundred thousand marks to save her boyfriend's life, and, "Groundhog Day"-style, three tries at the task. "It's always an image for me, an individual trapped in"--his fingers revolved--"is it a hamster's wheel?"

He confided that it was strange being in New York with his wife, as they rarely travel together anymore. She runs an N.G.O. in Nairobi. "Her name is Marie Steinmann"--he drew a hyphen in the air--"Tykwer. Steinmann minus Tykwer. Not 'minus'? Ah, O.K. The film's distributors gave me this packet of reviews, and one said, 'Tykwer's Adaptation is Eggers minus Eggers,' so 'minus' is on my brain." Joint travel has been further curtailed, he added, because his sons are six and one. "I'm a late dad. Or is it 'delayed'? The 'late dad' is dead! I was interested in the model where you perpetuate the beautifulness as lovers, with the children to the side." He laughed. "But it didn't happen. …

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