Posts Tagged ‘orson welles’

Absolute Corruption – Three Films About Power

Posted 29 Jul 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews

By Ezra Stead

Citizen Kane has been widely cited as the greatest American film ever made. Citizen Kane, USA, 1941

Directed by Orson Welles

Scarface, USA, 1932

Directed by Howard Hawks

Beauty and the Beast, France, 1946

Written and Directed by Jean Cocteau

Never before or since has any director made such an impressive feature film debut as Orson Welles did, at the astonishing age of 25, with Citizen Kane (1941). Despite having no prior experience in filmmaking, Welles was given carte blanche on the film, and he delivered the most original, innovative and provocative film of its time. Even today it is considered one of the greatest films ever made, and it is a standard by which all other films are judged. According to the great critic Andrew Sarris, as quoted in his 1967 book Interviews with Film Directors, “Citizen Kane is still the work which influenced the cinema more profoundly than any American film since Birth of a Nation.” Read More

Spoiler Alert! Some Thoughts On Twist Endings

By Ezra Stead

The Sixth Sense ruined twist endings for quite sometime after its 1999 release. Since M. Night Shyamalan’s much-ballyhooed 1999 feature The Sixth Sense, twist endings have gotten something of a bad rap, and usually with good reason. After all, in many cases they are a cheap way to add excitement to the climax of an otherwise dull story; sometimes they are a cop-out, negating all emotional involvement that may have been invested in a film up until that point; others seem to be the sole reason for a story’s existence, without which the whole thing crumbles. On the other hand, when they work, twist endings can make a good film great, and they occasionally even reward repeat viewings by revealing previously unseen layers that can only be recognized once the conclusion of the story is known.

As rightly reviled as are many recent examples of the technique, especially many of Shyamalan’s subsequent efforts, there are also many laudable examples to be found among some of history’s greatest cinematic achievements, old and new. Widely respected filmmakers from Alfred Hitchcock to David Fincher and Christopher Nolan have successfully employed the well-placed twist to wonderful effect, and even Orson Welles’s immortal classic Citizen Kane, considered by many to be the greatest American film ever made, concludes with what can only be deemed an elegant, emotionally rich twist ending. Read More

Uplift The Race – Three Spike Lee Joints

Posted 12 May 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Do the Right Thing, USA, 1989

Malcolm X, USA / Japan, 1992

Bamboozled, USA, 2000

Directed by Spike Lee

Spike Lee is one of the most important filmmakers of the late 20th century.

For twenty years now, ever since his debut feature She’s Gotta Have It in 1986, Spike Lee (b. 1957) has been one of the most innovative and provocative directors of his time. As expressed numerous times throughout his many films, Lee’s highest goal is to “wake up” and uplift all oppressed and deluded people, but he has an understandably primary concern for his own people, the African-Americans who have been abused and misrepresented in the United States ever since before it was even called the United States.

Many critics have accused Lee of the same bigotry his films abhor, citing in particular three of his best films – Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X and Bamboozled – as being counterproductive and causing, rather than alleviating, the tensions between various races, but particularly between blacks and whites. Yet all one has to do is view these films to see Lee’s love of all humanity; each one of these films is an eloquent cry of pain at the inhumanity bred by racism in anyone, of any race.  Read More

F For Fake

Posted 24 Oct 2009 — by Jason A. Hill
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Jason A. Hill

F for Fake, France / Iran / West Germany, 1973

Directed by Orson Welles

orson welles

With the recent new release of Michael Moore’s latest effort, Capitalism: A Love Story, I thought it would be a good time to talk about a seldom understood yet truly great documentary film, F for Fake.

Spoiler Alert

F for Fake, a film documentary about truth and authorship in art by Orson Welles released in 1973, is almost as much a narrative film as it is a documentary. It covers two “fakes”: famed art forger Elmyr de Hory, and pretend Howard Hughes biographer Clifford Irving. The film – narrated by Welles in different scenes set variously in train stations, a studio soundstage, and in the actual editing room – follows several stories, all dealing with the same concept: truth in art. First we follow the story of Elmyr de Hory, who we come to learn has forged possibly hundreds of art masterpieces over a period of twenty years. De Hory states that the reason for his career’s success is that the “so called experts” are in fact no experts at all, and his body of work is the proof. It’s not clear which of de Hory’s claims are really true, but the film’s evidence of de Hory’s guilt alone is enough to validate at least the idea that he would be guilty of nothing if forging a masterpiece was not possible.

Later, the film discusses Clifford Irving, who is present in many of the scenes with Elmyr and who gives his own account of de Hory’s adventures in a book he recently wrote. Irving’s hoax with Howard Hughes actually unfolds in the middle of the making of F for Fake and makes for a pretty intriguing plot twist. Welles explains that until Irving actually confesses, there was still doubt as to Irving’s guilt, and this is difficult to prove either way due to the mysterious nature of Hughes himself.

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