My original interest in this movie was Wim Wender's take on his own art-form and how he would see it develop in the near future. In his narration for 'Notebook', he tells of how his fascination with video comes about partly through its then total absence of form and grammar. 15 years down the line that's no longer the case as the plethora of reality shows will attest to.
At the time he made this movie (the late 80's), Wenders was asking some searching questions about the future of video and digital film-making. Questions that would eventually be answered by Lars Von Trier and his Dogme 95 rules, i.e. 'The Idiots' and Thomas Vinterberg's 'Festen'.
In 'Notebooks' Wenders finds his 35mm camera cumbersome and imposing. In contrast his video camera is more flexible and seems to disturb no-one. This then is the main focus of the documentary, the stark contrast between two forms of film-making, symbolized by the constant juxtaposition of Paris and Tokyo in the same shot. Paris shot in the classical style of his 35mm camera, almost cliched in its romantic results, while Tokyo vibrates with garish colours and a shaky hand (which in its own way has become a cliched style over 10 years later).
In fact most of Wenders thoughts about the future of image-making have more or less come true. He believed that the future authors of film would be the makers of commercials, video clips, electronic games and computer programs. Sadly insightful.