Monday, November 26, 2018

Weekend Box Office Report

Ralph breaks! Like a little girl!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Weekend Box Office Report

It's a wizarding, wizarding, wizarding, wizarding, wizarding world

Sunday, November 18, 2018

It's Nice To See ANY Side of the Wind At This Point

You know, I watched a lot of Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in my youth. And it was great comfort food but if you asked me to tell you now about something I remember from all those years of TV, I couldn't. Almost.

I remember one anecdote from the late seventies. Rich Little was on the show, chatting with Johnny about his experience shooting Orson Welles' The Other Side Of The Wind. It was a party scene, and suddenly Orson, behind the camera, bellowed "look down! Between your legs! Midgets are running between your legs!" And later between takes, Little asks Orson "hey, what's with the midgets?" And Orson grunted, "We'll put the midgets in later, when we're in Mexico."

Since then, I've wanted to see that movie.

And by all accounts, Orson wanted me to see it too. Principal photography was done, piecemeal, from 1970 to 1976 whenever people were available and there was enough money; and post production went on for another 5 years until, tragically the footage was seized by the Ayatollah Khomeini during Iran's revolution. (a major portion of the film was owned by the Shah's brother-in-law). From then until his death, Welles devoted his time to getting the footage released and raising money to finish it, but it never happened and Wind became another unfinished Welles movie. There's a lot of 'em.

However, perhaps because it was his last and because the subject matter was clearly so much about Welles himself, people have been trying to until the Gordian knot that secured this thing ever since. And Netflix, a company with resources so great that they could achieve what Showtime failed to do in 2002, has finally done it. Those crazy bastards not only finished The Other Side of The Wind, they also slapped together a documentary about it called They'll Love Me When I'm Dead. It's a documentary about a movie which is, largely, a movie about itself.

Let's just call it TOTSOTW, shall we? TOTSOTW takes place during the last night of film director Jake Hanneford's (John Huston) life. Hanneford is a legend, a firebrand iconoclast genius with enormous appetites, gallons of toxic masculinity and little discipline. His friends (allies, I guess) are throwing a party for his birthday but also to screen his unfinished art film, "The Other Side of the Wind" in hopes of raising the money to finish it. At Hanneford's side is his pal and erstwhile biographer Brooks Otterlake, a character obviously based on Peter Bogdanovich who was originally to be played by Rich Little because Bogdanovich lapses into impressions frequently. However Little dropped out because he only had 3 weeks to shoot, and Welles replaced him with Bogdanovich, So Bogdanovich is playing the Bogdanovich character but Huston plays the Welles character.

Most of the guests are either film students, critics, old Hanneford compatriots, mannequins, or mischievous drunk midgets. I'll be honest, I thought Rich Little had made that part up.

I'm giving you the setup and not the plot here. Frederick Wisemen, the documentarist, was once approached by a film festival. There were writing up a program for the weekend and they wondered if he could summarize his entry into a paragraph for them. Wiseman scowled, "if I could do that I wouldn't need to make the documentary!"  TOTSOTW is pretty similar. It IS the summary. It's kind of those ten years boiled down into 2 hours and 2 minutes. I can tell you it's shot in 3 or four different styles, two aspect ratios, and seemingly whatever film stock Welles could get at a discount. It looks like Oliver Stone's work from a couple decades later. Part of the conceit is that some of the footage is from the film within a film, some is just the movie, and some is documentary footage from film students. Mostly it's a hall of mirrors so you won't notice that there is three years between the close up and the reverse angle.

As infuriating as TOTSOTW can be, I kinda love it. I want to watch it again a few times. Once Welles gave up on trying to sell tickets to the normies he did his best work (and worst simultaneously) and it's fascinating driving around the sharp curves in his brain.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Weekend Box Office Report

The Grinch steals November!

Monday, November 5, 2018