Orson Welles, 1975
it didn't take me a minute before falling in love again with Orson Welles. i'd only seen his Citizen Kane, which i fucking loved, but this film, a seriously mischievous mindfuck, didn't strike me as the kind of film one watches in his pajamas on a saturday night. both complex and frivolous, the film is a philosophical essay/experiment on the nature of art inside which Welles deconstructs a documentary and takes the audience along for one trippy ride. amongst other things, the film is a marvel of narration and storytelling. the film was even ten times more intense than i expected it to be, right from the start Welles crosses multiple storylines and characters, but he does so without fear of losing his audience. he knows how to tell a good story and he doesn't back down from complicated storylines and dives right into it with a smirk firmly planted on his face. he picks up the threads and weaves his story with charm, wit, and a very keen eye for the philosophical, all while keeping his guests highly entertained. this is one wild ride. towards the end of the Elmyr story, though, he started losing me. he seemed to be losing some of his steam. it was still an enjoyable ride but i felt he was slowing down (hmm, now that i think of it maybe it was deliberate. i'll look into it when i watch it with the commentary). although enjoyable, i did feel the film bogged down one final, abrupt time with the last act. that was when i let go for good. but the film is still above and beyond one masterful achievement of wit, storytelling, brilliant editing, and above all, one fine meditation on art by one of our most talented artists of our time.
i managed to get on to Disc Two this morning and i must say that i'm deeply impressed. although not packed with extras, the supplements on display here are compelling 50 and 90-minute documentaries in their own right. where Welles used his subjects as characters and jumping off points, here they get their own treatment. Almost True - The Noble Art of Forgery (51:49 min) is a portrait of Elmyr de Hory, the subject of lightning rod of Welles' film. the filmmakers use some of the documentary footage of Elmyr as Welles does so a lot of it wasn't new, but the film delves deeper into the man's life and follows him through his adventures all over the globe. it's a fascinating portrait. highly recommended. Orson Welles: The One-Man Band (87:33 min), on the other hand, is kind of exhausting. it's retelling of Orson's supposedly fading career mostly told by his widow, Oja Kodar. there are some moments of great excitement as Oja shows us a lot of Orson's unfinished films. those are precious. but other than that, it gets tiring after a while. rounding out the extras is a wonderful little 60 Minutes interview between Mike Wallace and Clifford Irving, the author of the fake Howard Hughes autobiography and the real one about Elmyr de Hory, and a phone interview with Howard Hughes. in the end, Criterion has offered us a truly remarkable set for one of Orson's wildest films. i'd recommend a rental to fans of cinema.
Posted by Sam | 11:58 PM