Movie review: 'Walking to Werner'

2 stars (out of four)

In 1974 director Werner Herzog walked from Munich to Paris, believing it would give a spiritual lift to his dying mentor, the critic Lotte Eisner. In 2005 Seattle-based Linas Phillips (no relation) set out on a 1,200-mile Herzog-inspired trip, also on foot, for Herzog's L.A. home--no appointment, no real plan, just a Herzogian dream.

Early on Phillips learns his hero is in Thailand, preparing to shoot "Rescue Dawn." But he continues walking anyway, and the result is pure self-conscious aggravation interrupted, blessedly, by the appearance of some memorable outsiders who make Phillips' soul-searching seem pretty artificial by comparison.

For parts of the journey Phillips worked and videotaped and walked alone; at other times he had the company of various camera operators, who surely gritted their teeth during the worst of the stilted, where's-my-ecstatic-truth? monologues. At one point Phillips drivels pathetically about the entire endeavor and immediately denounces his words as "pathetic drivel!" And by the time a bone-weary Phillips likens himself to the steamboat being dragged up the mountain in Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo," even the most ardent Herzog admirer may want to hail this fledgling documentarian a cab and call it a day.

mjphillips@tribune.com

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"Walking to Werner'

Opens Friday at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave.; 773-281-4114.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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