Friday, May 29, 2015


Happy 98th Birthday.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Royal Flush

Friday, May 15, 2015


A very bright light in the international darkness: Pablo Iglesias of Podemos.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

One Shot

Happy 100th Birthday to the greatest of all American filmmakers.

Monday, May 4, 2015


"All great films can be divided into one of two categories: the agony of making cinema; or the joy of making cinema." -- Francois Truffaut
Welles's last completed film seems to be an answer to the question: "If the distinction between real art and fakery is one that can only be made by 'experts,' is the faker who outwits the 'experts' a real artist?" -- an answer provided by the movie's stars: Clifford Irving, Howard Hughes, Jorge Luis Borges, Elmyr de Hory, and Welles girlfriend Oja Kodar.

F for Fake (1973) is a magic box, a jewelled sanctum, the cave of Orson Welles's imagination: a privileged place of transmutation, memory, and contemplation -- its space opening and shuttering like a concertina or a zigzag screen, the director bathing otherwise uninteresting people and things in a joyous radiance, a harmony and exactness parallel to the satisfactions of the world. One measured voice, quietly and exuberantly telling why this light, this color, this sound, this intrusion is precious in the life of the mind and of the heart. Here we watch a consummate artist intoxicated by his found vocation. All Welles passions -- movies, theater, magic, circus, radio, women, painting, literature -- are fused. F for Fake is not his best film, but its aura may be his most romantic, not because of the content or the narrative thrust, but because it is the final courtship of an artist with his art.

Every filmmaker who has followed him has done just that: followed him, for he is one of the hinges of movie history: there were movies before him and movies after him, and they were not the same.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Touch

"What the camera does, and does uniquely, is photograph thought."
-- Orson Welles
Perhaps the strangest great American film from the classical period, made while the classical period was passing away. 1958, a year of movie astonishment, a year giving us more great or near-great American works than we've been given over the past 30 years combined: Touch of Evil, Some Came Running, Tarnished Angels, Bitter Victory, Man of the West, Bonjour Tristesse, Buchanan Rides Alone, Wind Across the Everglades, Paths of Glory, Vertigo: each work siding with -- embodying -- the eccentric and lawless, the sinister, the personal. During the Age of Conformity and Consensus.

From the first (legendary) shot, four minutes in length, Welles's Touch of Evil explodes with loathing, weirdness, and disgust as it heroizes the lonely fascist cop (in this case, literally a pig) over the organization man, he with the beautiful wife and the fetish for doing all things by the book. Not for a moment do we experience the world as does Mike Vargas. It is all Hank Quinlan: a Goya-like vision of an infected universe.

Good Welles friend Peter Bogdanovich and great Welles scholar James Naremore discuss the work.

Touch of Evil (1958)