Monday, March 13, 2006

L for Late

Finally watched F for Fake last week...I guess I could wonder about the presence of Welles, his "I" voice...he is on-screen, doing magic tricks, telling us what's going on, participating in parties, sharing his essayistic discourse about truth and lies, etc., most of the 88 minutes. I found it interesting but also borderline annoying--yet another egotistical male--and then I watched Peter Bogdanovich's brief discussion of it, included in the DVD's supplementary materials, and realized if I'd watched that first, I'd have been more sympathetic to F for Fake's lack of linearity. Certainly Bogdanovich is. I also watched a bio of Welles, produced for European TV, among the DVD's supplementary materials, and not only was I uninformed about the great difficulty Welles had getting his later films finished and distributed but also, about his wise and generous personality. I especially liked his responses to questions from an audience, apparently college students or even particularly film students, articulate, funny, and on occasion even humble. So my next move would ideally have been to watch FfF again with my new-found sympathy. The library copy, however, was L for Late and they wanted it back.

Since my film watching is regrettably so limited (other than those watched for our blog, the only other I've seen is Walk the Line, just in time to be able to say I saw two of the nominated films this year, up from only one last year, for a la-di-dah Oscars party--costumes, betting pool, wine tasting), or perhaps among blogmates I should say shamefully, I can ruminate over this I-voice issue only, for the moment, in My Architect, the Dziga Vertov film, and F for all three, the filmmaker is on-camera throughout. Nathaniel Kahn's role is to reveal his father, to discover truths about who he was, and perhaps arguably parallel is Orson Welles's role to reveal Elmyr de Hory along with larger questions about truth and lies in art (and pull one last trick on us). Kahn is at one end of the spectrum of egotism, annoyingly and improbably impassive throughout revelations about his father that nearly brought tears to my eyes; Welles is at the other end, thrilled with his clever magic tricks and spiralling expose of de Hory, sure that we want to see the process and product (we see shots of the cameras filming him, for example, and we hear his cameraman's thoughts) of his exploration. I'm not sure how Vertov fits into the spectrum--he was whimsical, deft and amusing while both Kahn and Welles were weighty with import, on-screen less, bicycling lightly through his visual symphony and making me laugh at his antics. In a way, the non-linear self-indulgence in his concept is sort of like that of Welles. I don't remember laughing at MA or FfF...

...and that's all for now--I know Cullen's seen FfF...anyone else?


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