Craig J. Clark Watches a Lot of Movies
Sunday, April 1st, 2007
First, I am born. Then the trouble begins.
For April Fool's Day, I could think of no better film to watch than Steven Soderbergh's Schizopolis. It has long been a favorite of mine, for its off-kilter sense of humor, its knowing self-parody, and its significance in Soderbergh's career. Essentially, it is the film that reawakened his artistic spirit and allowed him to regroup creatively after a series of disappointing Hollywood projects. It can be a frustrating film to the uninitiated, but its pleasures are many, and while it may travel down some blind alleys, more often than not it will bring a smile to your face, even while you're shaking your head befuddled by the whole thing.
Not coincidentally, it was ten years ago this month that Schizopolis was first foisted upon the bewildered viewing public -- a scant three weeks after its zero-budget sibling, the Spalding Gray monologue film Gray's Anatomy. I expect I'll be viewing that again in the very near future.
Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007
What rotten sins I've got working for me. I suppose it's the wages.
Ever since Harold Ramis made his wholly unnecessary (and unseen by me) remake of Bedazzled in 2000, I've been waiting patiently for Stanley Donen's original to be released on DVD. (As a matter of fact, it was the fifth Film That Should Be On DVD Already.) Now, at last, my wait is over. Move over, Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore are here to show you how the tempting of a lonely man is done!
Made in 1967, it was the first film that was written by and starred the comedy duo -- and the one they hoped would break them in the States. It updated the Faust legend to modern day, with Cook as the red-socked Devil incarnate, George Spiggot, and Moore as short order cook Stanley Moon, who moons over the unapproachable Margaret Spencer, played by Eleanor Bron. To help get her, Spiggot offers Moon seven wishes in exchange for his soul, which he wasn't using anyway. The way Spiggot manages to undermine each one of Moon's wishes is amusing enough (especially in the pop star sequence where Moon's earnest pleas for Margaret to "Love Me!" are outdone by Drimble Wedge and the Vegetation's inertia), but the really funny stuff is what happens in between, when we and Moon tag along with Spiggot while he goes about his business, making routine, downright mundane mischief (scratching a record, tearing the last page out of an Agatha Christie mystery) and bemoaning how uninspired his job has become.
Curiously enough, for the DVD release, 20th Century Fox has chosen to put Raquel Welch -- who, as Lust, is in the film for all of five minutes -- in the foreground, shunting Cook and Moore off to the side. This is hardly the first time this sort of thing has happened, but it's most egregious in this instance since the film really does belong to Cook and Moore. Heck, Stanley Donen's name is larger than anybody's and I'll bet most people don't even know who he is. Oh, well. Julie Andrews!
Thursday, April 5th, 2007
Never hit a man when he's down. He may get up.
Having finally seen 1975's Royal Flash, I can now say that I have seen all of Richard Lester's feature films. Made on the heels of the two Musketeers films, and using the same screenwriter (George MacDonald Fraser, adapting his own novel), Lester again turned out a ripping adventure that mixed exciting duels with impeccable comedy -- only the hero of this film is far from the professional soldier embodied by the musketeers. Harry Flashman is a total bounder and a shameless opportunist and, as played by Malcolm McDowell, a complete and utter coward to boot.
The film starts in England, where Flashman is speaking to his old school under the watchful eye of headmaster Michael Hordern -- and in front of a giant Union Jack that echoes the opening of Patton. He's being hailed as "the hero of Afghanistan," but soon enough he shows his true colors, getting caught with the trousers down at an illegal gambling club. While escaping from the local constabulary (headed by sergeant Bob Hoskins), he ducks into the carriage of Spanish opera singer Florinda Bolkan, who takes an instant liking to him, and German officer Oliver Reed, who tries to turn him in. Thus the seeds are sown for four years down the road when Bolkan lures Flashman to Bavaria to impersonate a syphilitic prince whose marriage to icy duchess Britt Ekland is vital to Reed's plan to forge a united Germany.
Alan Bates plays Reed's right hand man, who's also looking out for his own interests, Alastair Sim appears as the doddering official who puts their offer to Flashman, and David Jason has a small part as the mayor at the dedication of the duchy's first steam-powered locomotive (a scene which features the same exact "In the Tyrol" music that Lester used in Help! a decade earlier). As with a lot of Lester's films, he packs a lot of details into the frame, evoking and undermining the period setting in equal measure. Lester even goes so far as to stage a swordfight with a cleaning woman scrubbing the floor nearby, oblivious to the chaos going on around her. No matter what the supposed "noble" men get up to, the lower classes are still going to have to clean up after them.
Saturday, April 7th, 2007
Two against the world, baby. Two against the world.
When I was still in New Jersey, I used to attend screenings by Exhumed Films. They were almost always double features that paired up films by the likes of Dario Argento, Mario Bava, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Stuart Gordon, George A. Romero and others. Before each film they ran trailers that elicited cheers of recognition or derisive laughter -- and frequently both at the same time. (Machete, the Robert Rodriguez-helmed trailer featuring Danny Trejo as a Mexican day laborer-cum-double crossed assassin [and Cheech Marin as a priest] that opens the film, would have gone over well with that crowd.) Seeing Grindhouse, the latest collaboration from Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, took me right back to those late nights at the Harwan Theater, where Exhumed Film started out and where one might have seen films like Planet Terror and Death Proof back in the day.
Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror is, in my opinion, the better half of the bill. A throwback to the splatter films of the early '80s, which owes more than a little to Romero's Dawn of the Dead and Carpenter's The Fog, it stars Rose McGowan as a go-go dancer who wants to go into stand-up comedy, Freddy Rodríguez as her ex-boyfriend whose preternatural killing skills come in handy, Josh Brolin as a sadistic doctor who suspects that his wife is having an affair, Marley Shelton as his unfaithful wife who always has her three friends at the ready, and Jeff Fahey as a barbecue stand owner who keeps his recipe secret from his own brother, sheriff Michael Biehn, who has it in for Rodríguez. The film also features Naveen Andrews as the biochemist who creates a chemical that turns anyone infected with it into a drooling, gooey zombie, Nicky Katt as one of its first victims, Tom Savini as Biehn's deputy, an uncredited Bruce Willis as the army lieutenant who has his own use for the bioweapon and Tarantino as one of his men who has unsavory designs on McGowan and Shelton. (This is after one of McGowan's legs is amputated, but before she gets the attachment shown above.)
Planet Terror is so gleefully over the top that I would have been satisfied if the credits had rolled then and there, but instead we're treated to fake trailers from the likes of Rob Zombie (Werewolf Women of the S.S., which features Udo Kier, Sybil Danning and Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu), Edgar Wright (Don't) and Eli Roth (Thanksgiving). (Amusingly enough, the trailers for Wright's Hot Fuzz and Roth's Hostel: Part II actually preceded Grindhouse, but I missed out on the one for Zombie's remake of Halloween.)
Then comes Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, which explicitly references such seminal car-chase movies as Vanishing Point and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry. It stars Kurt Russell as a retired stuntman who uses his car to brutally kill young women, for reasons which are known only to him. We actually get to see him in action twice, first targeting an Austin DJ and her friends, and then a trio of women working on a film in Tennessee. Tarantino takes his time with both scenarios, preferring to spend some quality time with the doomed women before letting Russell loose on them. This is especially the case the second time, in which stunt driver Tracie Thoms, make-up artist Rosario Dawson and real-life Kiwi stuntwoman Zoe Bell manage to turn the tables on him.
Tarantino can't resist casting himself as a bartender in his own segment, which also features McGowan as another one of Russell's victims. Tarantino also acts as his own cinematographer, as does Rodriguez, who ups the ante by composing the music (which is highly reminiscent of John Carpenter's synthesizer scores) and co-editing his segment. And, of course, they both produced the film, which, if it's successful enough, may spawn future double-bill movies. If they're as lovingly made as this one (the lengths they went to make the prints look worn out and distressed is quite admirable), I say bring them on.
Sunday, April 8th, 2007
Try all the alternatives you want. Then we'll have to operate.
While in the throes of post-production on Schizopolis, Steven Soderbergh took some time out to shoot this, the last of Spalding Gray's autobiographical monologues to be filmed. (The first two were 1987's Swimming to Cambodia and 1992's Monster in a Box, directed by Jonathan Demme and Nick Broomfield, respectively, and there's also Terrors of Pleasure, which was presented as an HBO comedy special in 1988.) Spalding may have done more if he hadn't taken his own life on January 10, 2004, but at least we have these records of his unique delivery and performance style.
Gray's Anatomy details his search for a cure for a serious eye condition that comes on suddenly and only affects his left eye. The film starts out with footage from an educational short (the kind that includes narration like "Think for a moment how many things you know just because your eyes tell you") and goes into black and white interview footage of ordinary people describing in gruesome detail some of the eye injuries that have befallen them. Then Spalding takes over and, in his inimitable way, describes how his condition gets diagnosed and how far he goes out of his way to avoid having eye surgery. The alternative methods he tries include an Indian sweat lodge ceremony, a raw vegetable diet and psychic surgery in the Philippines. As each one comes up, we cut back to the black and white interviews to get their perspectives on these methodologies. For the most part, doubt carries the day.
Soderbergh, incidentally, is working on a documentary about Spalding called Life Interrupted which is said to include footage of his last, never-performed monologue. I know I, for one, will be anxious to see that.
Wednesday, April 11th, 2007
All right, James. What about heat and passion on television?
There is a scene early in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic where new drug czar Michael Douglas is being hustled around a Washington party, getting his ear talked off by various politicians, lobbyists and others with special interests. One has to imagine that that was where Soderbergh got the idea to create K Street, an inside look at a Washington lobbying firm, which was made for HBO in 2003. Soderbergh not only directed the show, but he was also the director of photography (as Peter Andrews) and editor (as Mary Ann Bernard). Curiously enough, there is no writer credited for the series, but that only serves to enhance the verisimilitude created by the cross-pollination of fictional characters and famous figures. (Now, where have I seen that before?)
The series follows real-life husband-and-wife team (and strange political bedfellows) James Carville and Mary Matalin as they work to establish a fledgling lobbying firm. On the actor front there's Mary McCormick and John Slattery as their top-level assisants and Roger Guenveur Smith as the "mystery man" who arrives out of the blue with connections and a possible hidden agenda. Even before Smith arrives, though, there is conflict when Carville, political junkie that he is, agrees to a pre-debate prep session with Democratic candidate Howard Dean (the first of many political cameos that litter the series).
Each episode takes place over the course of a week and takes up a different issue. Week two is centered on the firm's pursuit of the RIAA as a client, inspired by an off-the-cuff remark by Branford Marsalis about illegal downloading. Week three is about the connection between a Saudi organization the firm represents and terrorist activities. Week four actually flashes back three months to show us where the characters stood before setting up shop in Washington. (For one thing, we meet the reclusive Bergstrom, played by Elliott Gould, who is the one who sent Smith to the firm. For another, we meet Slattery's father, played by Robert Prosky, and his stunning young wife, who we've seen in flashes. We also see the beginning of the lesbian relationship that we know falls apart for McCormick.) Finally, week five sees security get stepped up around the office when Matalin is connected to the Valerie Plame leak. And there's five more weeks to go...
Thursday, April 12th, 2007
We'll all be in this together, even if we have to be in it separately.
K Street: Weeks Six Through Ten -- For the latter part of the series, it largely eschews the "let's take a crack at Issue X this week" approach of the first half, save for one episode that's centered on the energy issue (and also sees James Carville rubbing shoulders with Philadelphia Mayor John Street). Instead, it goes deeper into the FBI's probe of the firm and how it affects the personal and professional lives of the characters. (Even when Carville goes on Crossfire, Tucker Carlson can't help but bring it up.) There's also a second flashback episode that puts more of the backstory in place and reveals connections that weren't readily apparent before.
By the time the series comes to a close, we still don't know the ramifications of everything that's gone down -- or even why some of it did -- which is a wee bit untidy dramatically, but life rarely has concrete resolutions, and that's what Soderbergh appears to be getting at. Whether he was completely successful or not, in 2005 HBO gave the go ahead for another series, Unscripted, which was set in Hollywood and for which directing duties were turned over to his producing partners, George Clooney and Grant Heslov (who also teamed up for Good Night, and Good Luck. the same year). I'll have to see if that's something I can track down.
Friday, April 13th, 2007
You can't put any price on masterpieces like that.
The first time I saw Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street, I hadn't seen that many of his American films. In particular, I hadn't seen The Woman in the Window, which he made the year before with virtually the same cast. Both films star Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea and both involve an ordinary man driven to murder. Clearly Lang was hoping lightning would strike twice.
As the film opens, Robinson is being lauded for 25 years of faithful service at the bank where he works as a cashier. On his way home he sees Bennett being manhandled on the street and charges in with his umbrella, knocking the man cold and running off to get the police. The man who was handling her turns out to be her fiance, Duryea, and he makes himself scarce before Robinson returns. Robinson walks Bennett home, buys her a drink, tells her he's a painter and, since he's infatuated with her, doesn't disabuse her of the notion that his paintings sell for thousands of dollars overseas. Soon enough, Duryea hatches a plan to squeeze some money out of Robinson, and Bennett gets him on the hook, first for $500 and then for $1,000.
Meanwhile, on the homefront Robinson has to contend with his emasculating shrew of a wife, who makes him wear a flowery apron while he does the dishes. What started out as a marriage of convenience has become very inconvenient now that Robinson is in love with Bennett. He even sets her up in a fancy apartment and doesn't mind when she (with some prodding from Duryea) passes off some of his paintings as her own and becomes recognized as a talent in the art world. His discovery of her betrayal pushes him over the edge, though, and pushes the film firmly into noir territory. It's not as suspenseful as The Woman in the Window was, but at least it doesn't have a cop-out of an ending.
Saturday, April 14th, 2007
You have all been created for a very ridiculous purpose.
To say that Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters has been highly anticipated would be something of an understatement. Adult Swim devotees started hearing about it over two and half years ago -- and at one point it was even given a release date of December 2005. Finally, after numerous production delays, a date in March of this year was announced, but then the Boston incident happened and it was decided to push the release back three weeks and open it wider. In the interim, I was contracted by Animation World Magazine to interview the show's creators, which I did without seeing the movie beforehand. Now I have done so, and even paid for the privilege.
It's fairly safe to say I will not be seeing anything else even remotely like this Movie Film in theaters this year. Written and directed by Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis and produced by the same crew that makes the show (which explains why it took so long to finish), it's the kind of film that defies categorization. It resists any and all attempts to try to explain its plot, so I will refrain from even trying. I can say, however, that it thrusts Master Shake (voiced by the inimitable Dana Snyder), Frylock (Cary Means), Meatwad and their neighbor Carl (both Willis) into a bizarre scenario involving the Insanoflex, a highly-coveted piece of exercise equipment, while also taking time out for several contradictory origin stories. Other characters from the show who get roped into the plot include the Plutonians (Andy Merrill and Mike Schatz), the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future (Maiellaro), the Mooninites (Willis and Maiellaro), Dr. Weird and Steve (both C. Martin Croker), Space Ghost (George Lowe) and MC Pee Pants (MC Chris), as well as some ringers in the form of Fred Armisen, H. Jon Benjamin, Bruce Campbell, Tina Fey, Chris Kattan and Neil Peart of Rush (who I was told played all his own drum parts).
Essentially, if you enjoy the show, you owe it yourself to see this while it's still in theaters. The pre-movie sequence -- a "Let's All Go to the Lobby" parody -- is almost worth the price of admission in itself. If the sight of a robot humping a piece of exercise equipment isn't your bag, though, you're completely within your rights to stay home.
Sunday, April 22nd, 2007
He wants you to help me. God wants you to kill my baby.
Pro-Life is John Carpenter's second entry in Showtime's Masters of Horror series. In it, he re-teams with writers Drew McWeeny & Scott Swan (who also penned his first, the excellent Cigarette Burns) to tell the story of a diabolical standoff at an abortion clinic. Rob Perlman stars as the super-religious father of a 15-year-old girl (Caitlin Wachs), who unbeknownst to him has actually been impregnated by a demonic creature from the bowels of the earth.
Perlman is well-known to the staff of the clinic, which includes abortion doctor Mark Feuerstein and nurse Emmanuelle Vaugier. In fact, they have a restraining order against Perlman -- and for good reason since he is willing to go to extreme lengths to save his daughter and her baby. For their parts, Feuerstein and Vaugier try to get to the bottom of what is going on with their patient, unprepared for the monstrous turn the story takes. (Maybe if they'd ever seen Carpenter's Prince of Darkness, they would have had a better idea of what to expect.) The film may give time to both sides of the issue, but Citizen Ruth this is not.
This is the fourth film in the series that I've seen, the others being Cigarette Burns, Stuart Gordon's Dreams in the Witch House (based on the Lovecraft story), and Joe Dante's Homecoming (another film that dresses up a hot-button issue in genre clothing). I wish these guys were making horror features, but I'm thrilled to be able to see their work in any venue.
Tuesday, April 24th, 2007
This is a film about trickery and fraud... about lies.
Orson Welles's F for Fake, the last film he was to see through to completion in his lifetime, is full of so many contradictions it's hard to imagine anyone taking it at face value. A most singular documentary, it takes as its subject the infamous art forger Elmyr de Hory, who was exposed by author Clifford Irving, who himself turned out to have faked an autobiography of the reclusive Howard Hughes. Using footage shot for a straightforward documentary on de Hory and adding copious amounts of his own, Welles employs elaborate editing tricks to weave his tale, inserting himself into the proceedings at every possible opportunity and even going so far as to raise the spectre of his infamous War of the Worlds broadcast, a hoax of the highest order.
Welles also can't help turning the film into a vehicle for his lover and co-writer, Oja Kodar. He starts out by showing clips of a film he's been working on that catches men in the act of leering at her, unaware that they're being filmed, and he ends with a reenactment of a story about her grandfather and 22 forged Picassos. If it seems too good to be true, pay attention to Welles's statement early on about how long he's planning on telling the unvarnished truth. Even if the film as a whole doesn't hold up under scrutiny, it's still chock full of delights for the Welles devotee. If you get the DVD, though, you might want to skip Peter Bogdanovich's introduction until after you've watched the film proper. If you've bought or rented F for Fake, you shouldn't need to be told to watch it with an open mind.
Wednesday, April 25th, 2007
Ladies and gentlemen, I wouldn't fool you for the world.
One of the prime supplements on the Criterion edition of F for Fake is the documentary Orson Welles: The One-Man Band, which was made in 1995, ten years after his death. Directed by Vassili Silovic with the cooperation of Oja Kodar, it showcases clips from the disparate projects Welles had worked on in the last 20 years of his life and which were all in varying stages of incompletion. The most tantalizing scenes are from The Other Side of the Wind, his last major project and the one he showed clips of when he was given the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1975. In it, John Huston plays an older director being put out to pasture (a part Welles considered playing himself at one point), with Peter Bogdanovich as the young turk nipping at his heels. Considering how close Bogdanovich was to Welles at the time (and how successful his films were), some of the parallels are unmistakable.
Along the way we also get glimpses of such lost films as The Deep (with Jeanne Moreau, Laurence Harvey and Kodar), The Merchant of Venice (with Charles Gray) and The Dreamers (again with Kodar), as well as idiosyncratic items like the bizarre F for Fake trailer, comedy sketches on English life, recitations of passages from Moby Dick, a film called One-Man Band in which Welles played almost all the parts, and a clip of the Muppets on an abortive talk show called The Orson Welles Show, interwoven with portions of The Magic Show, in which Welles indulges one of his first loves. The film also spends a great deal of time with Kodar as she drives around, talking about her time with Welles and how much he disliked his reputation as a man who couldn't finish what he started. Personally, I would have rather spent more time watching the things that he didn't get to.
Thursday, April 26th, 2007
We're all of us, more or less, sexual failures.
In between Beatles movies, Richard Lester staked out his own place in the cinematic landscape by winning the Golden Palm at Cannes with his freewheeling adaptation of Ann Jellicoe's play The Knack. Giving it the subtitle ...and How to Get It and employing the services of screenwriter Charles Wood for the first time, Lester stages it as a battle of the oversexed and the sexless. Ray Brooks is Tolen, the ladies man with women queued up outside his door who awards medals to his conquests and has them sign his guest book; Michael Crawford is Colin, an inhibited schoolteacher and Tolen's insanely jealous landlord who only has a knack for making a fool out of himself, especially when it comes to women.
Both are put to the test by a couple of new arrivals. First there's the childlike Tom (Donal Donnelly), who has a mania for painting everything white and is less than awed by Tolen's prowess in the bedroom. Then comes the radiant Nancy (Rita Tushingham), who is new to London (which was on the verge of swinging at the time) and takes a detour to the flat while seeking out the local YWCA. Colin is instantly smitten with her but can't find a way to relate to her, Tolen sees her as just another entry in his guest book, and Tom sets out to make sure the nice guy wins this time.
Lester uses every trick in the book and then some to keep the energy up and fills the soundtrack with John Barry's jazzy score and the voices of older men and woman on the street, watching the exuberant antics of the youth and making wry comments. (On Tushingham's arrival in town by bus, one of her fellow passengers remarks, "What her legs are walking her into.") The film runs into a little trouble when Tushingham starts going around blithely informing everyone who will listen that she has been raped (although she stops short of telling a policeman), but whether this plot point was inherited from Jellicoe's play or not, Lester tackles it with a confidence that overcomes its sexual political incorrectness.
Sunday, April 29th, 2007
I don't make things happen. All I do is write about it.
No one could ever accuse Billy Wilder of being a softy. One year after exposing the black heart of Hollywood in Sunset Boulevard, Wilder went one further with Ace in the Hole, in which down-on-his-luck reporter Kirk Douglas manipulates the story of a man trapped in a cave to win his ticket back to the big time. Seems by the time he rolls into Albuquerque at the start of the film, he's been fired from eleven newspapers all over the country. Undaunted, he talks himself into a job at the Albuquerque Sun-Bulletin; all he figures he needs is one big story and he'll be on his way.
One year later he's still around (and he's occupying the news editor's desk) when his shot arrives in the form of Richard Benedict, who's pinned in a cave-in while he's searching for Indian artifacts to sell at his roadside stand. Quickly getting the lay of the land, Douglas arranges things so the rescue effort will take long enough for the story to garner national attention. Everybody from Benedict's restless young wife (Jan Sterling) to impressionable photographer Herbie (Bob Arthur) to the crooked local sheriff (Ray Teal) has a part to play in Douglas's story and he isn't one to let the Sun-Bulletin's motto ("Tell the truth," which is embroidered in big block letters on the wall) get in the way of telling it in the most dramatic way possible.
The same could be said for Wilder and his co-writers (Lesser Samuels and Walter Newman -- he had just broken ties with Charles Brackett and hadn't hooked up with I.A.L. Diamond yet), who don't shy away from exposing the darker corners of their mostly unsympathetic characters. This is probably why the film didn't do well at the box office when it first came out (or the second time, either, when it was re-released under the title The Big Carnival). It's since been rediscovered by critics, though, and should have another chance with audiences when Criterion releases it on DVD in July.
Monday, April 30th, 2007
The lying gives me a headache if you want to know the truth.
Having reacquainted myself with F for Fake, I decided to take advantage of the fact that Lasse Hallström's The Hoax, which is based on Clifford Irving's book about the Howard Hughes autobiography affair, is in theaters and saw it this afternoon. Richard Gere stars as Irving, whose book about Elmyr de Hory, Fake, was well-regarded but not a huge success, so when his publisher rejects his latest novel, he turns around and stuns them by claiming that the reclusive mogul has contacted him about writing his autobiography. This is not the sort of scam that he can pull off alone, though, and very quickly he ropes in his researcher friend Alfred Molina and painter wife Marcia Gay Harden.
On the receiving end of the hoax are his editor (Hope Davis) and her boss (Stanley Tucci), who walk a fine line between not quite believing Irving and not wanting to pass on his book just in case it turns out to be legitimate. (They're not the only ones fooled, though. Handwriting experts give Irving's doctored letters legitimacy and a journalist who knew Hughes intimately does the same thing for the manuscript when he declares it to be the genuine article.) The film also features Julie Delpy as Nina Van Pallandt, Irving's mistress (who parlayed her part in the affair into an acting career, starting with Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye), and Eli Wallach as an aviation pioneer whose unpublished memoirs are plundered by Irving for details about Hughes's early career.
In F for Fake, Orson Welles painted a damning portrait of a biographer of a faker who turned out to have written a fake autobiography of a recluse. The Hoax takes a less cynical approach, showing how a big lie can get compounded by even bigger and more elaborate lies -- because the bigger the lie, the more people want to believe it. At a certain point, even Irving is able to delude himself into believing that he is "the spokesperson for the lunatic hermit." That's some acting job.
Back to March 2007 -- Onward to May 2007
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