Monday, June 22, 2015

F for Fake (1973)

F for Fake is Orson Welles' video essay about Elmyr de Hory, a notorious art forger, who successfully passed off his copies as authentic. Along the way, it is discovered that de Hory's chief accuser, writer Clifford Irving, is himself a fraud, having faked documents to pass off a fraudulent biography of recluse Howard Hughes. This fake within a fake spins off more tales, like Welles' own War of the Worlds trick.

Welles' so-called free-form documentary is irritatingly herky-jerky. The fat man looks foolish in the black cape and hat, and appears too much to enjoy filming his girlfriend 26 years his junior and acting all mysterious. The overall theme appears to be that people are not what they seem, art is not what it seems, and Orson Welles is not what he seems.

Even still, there is something compelling about the Wellesian style. Here is the Orson I remember from my youth. Self-important, fat, drunk, and rambling, but somehow charming. It's hard to describe. He tells his story, many stories in fact, in a very non-linear fashion. In the end you learn something about the art world and the people that make it up, and your are entertained. While I have misgivings about the overall viewing experience, it is quite different, and maybe that's what trips me up somewhat.

Now I will point you to an episode of one of my favorite YouTube channels, certainly my favorite on the topic of cinema:

Tony Zhou of Every Frame a Painting absolutely loves F for Fake, and I love Every Frame a Painting. He reminds me how little I know, and how few good films I have seen. It's both wonderful and disheartening. So if he loves F for Fake, I suppose I shouldn't be quite so hasty. AMRU 3.5.

No comments:

Post a Comment