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what i watched last week

F for Fake (Orson Welles, 1973). Made when Welles was in his late-50s, F for Fake is impossible to describe, and very hard to recommend to anyone except his many fans, of which I am one. It’s not that the film is bad, or willingly obscure. But Welles hides his intentions behind a cover story of a documentary about the art forger Elmyr de Hory, and he is so playful that it would be easy to take F for Fake as something less than serious. It is generally considered to be “minor Welles” (no real insult, given that “major Welles” means “greatest movies ever”), again because the magician in Welles seems to want us to believe he is just goofing. But he’s just using the magician’s trick of misdirection. F for Fake meets the cliché of “more than meets the eye”, except that, as with magic, it’s entirely possible there is less here than our eye thinks it doesn’t see. Since the topic is fakery, and since Welles is gifted a supplementary plot when the man who wrote a book about Elmyr de Hory (and is featured in the film) turns out to be Clifford Irving, who authored the Howard Hughes hoax, and since Welles himself first made a name for himself by convincing America that Martians had landed … well, it’s not easy to trust anything in this film, especially not the figurative wink which Welles keeps throwing our way. #343 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time. 8/10.

An Angel at My Table (Jane Campion, 1990). 8/10.


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