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Subj: The Other Side of the Wind (2018) and They'll Love Me When I'm Dead (2018)
Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 at 10:54:14 pm EDT (Viewed 104 times)
The Other Side of the Wind (2018)
They'll Love Me When I'm Dead (2018)
These two films were released on Netflix last year and I could review them separately but I don't see the point. The Other Side of the Wind is the latest posthumous release from writer/director Orson Welles. It's shot documentary-style and it's about an aging director who's out of favor in Hollywood trying to make a comeback film but running out of funding as he goes. Orson Welles also considered this his comeback film and also ran short of funds along the way. They'll Love Me When I'm Dead is a documentary about the making of The Other Side of the Wind and all the production problems Welles' faced.
The Other Side of the Wind begins with a narration explaining that Jake Hanneford (John Huston) held a party for his 70th birthday and invited his crew of regulars that he's been making films with his whole life plus a number of film school students and paparazzi to come and film the proceedings. At the party he plans to screen selections from his unfinished film "The Other Side of the Wind" and lay old grudges to rest, we find out later. We're also told this is the day he died and this film is cobbled together from partygoers' cameras to try to figure out what happened. As a result the movie constantly jumps between black and white and color with various quality. It may not be a shock to learn that Welles filmed this party over about 6 years and many of the partygoers were not even there at the same time. Sometimes one character's line and another's reaction were shot years apart. The party itself goes on and on, sometimes I had the same feeling I had during The Deer Hunter during the wedding, like where is this going?
The clips of the film-within-a-film feature a series of encounters between a frequently-nude woman (Oja Kodar) and John Dale (Bob Random) in various landscapes, including a long scene where they have sex in the front seat of a moving car next to the driver who does his best to ignore them. Both the partygoers in Wind and the commentators in They'll Love Me When I'm Dead felt it went on a little too long. The resolution of this seems to be that Hanneford pushed Dale too far with the simulated sex scenes driving him away from the production. The story of Hanneford's life seems to be how he hypnotises people into his little cult until he eventually pushes them away, which may be a factor in Welles' life as well.
The star of They'll Love Me When I'm Dead may be Peter Bogdonavich who was mentored by Welles early in his career and assisted him in numerous ventures, even letting Welles stay at his house when he fell on hard times. Bogdonavich rose to acclaim on his own directing films like The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon and theorizes that Welles may have been bent out of shape that Bog didn't need him any more. They fell out; we see examples as when Orson guest hosted The Tonight Show and used to opportunity to ridicule Bogdonavich publicly, and a story about an awful letter of apology he received later.
We learn how Welles financed Wind any way he could, which is why much of the footage ended up being owned by the Shah of Iran who was overthrown. The footage was then locked in a vault in Paris for years after. Ironically Bogdonavich was one of many who went to great lengths to finally get the film completed.
They'll Love Me When I'm Dead spends most of its runtime detailing the troubled production under Welles, including the story of how Rich Little was contracted to film for a few days but spent weeks filming scenes and when he finally had to leave to honor other gigs, Welles had him cut out of the film even knowing all his scenes would have to be reshot. I wish it had spent more time talking about how the film actually got completed after Welles' death, that would be a 30-year odyssey of its own. But maybe the people trying to block the film's release wouldn't stand for being spoken about.
All in all, this was an interesting experiment, both for Welles and for those who completed his lost work. But I'm not quite sure what it all adds up to.
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