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July 13th, 2005 Aaron Fuller | DVD & TV
 

CHECK 'EM OUT

     
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F for FAKE (1974)-Orson Welles' last work of genius as a filmmaker is a playfully intricate examination of forgery, charlatans and narrative truth. The documentary ostensibly unravels the early-70s scandals of art forger Elmyr de Hory and his biographer Clifford Irving, who after exposing Elmyr went on to pen an account of elaborate secret meetings with world-famous recluse Howard Hughes-which was eventually revealed to be a massive hoax itself. Welles, of course, has the credentials to delve into such material, having perpetrated the War of the Worlds radio broadcast Halloween eve of 1938. Like most con men, Irving and Elmyr are charming and convincing, especially when waist-deep in their own bullshit. F for FAKE is subtly brilliant, and perhaps, above all else, showcases Welles' devilish sense of humor, building to a punchline only a cinematic wizard such as he could deliver. The two-disc Criterion Collection DVD features a wealth of extras, including a commentary with co-star Oja Kodar, an 88-minute look at the many unfinished projects Welles left behind and an archived 60 Minutes interview with Irving.

Burden of Dreams (1982)-Les Blank's behind-the-scenes documentary reveals the arduous making of German director Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo (1982). Herzog's movie tells the story of a man obsessed with bringing the opera of Caruso to the isolated natives deep in the interior jungles of Peru. Blank's movie tells the story of a man obsessed with bringing the epic vision of his film to life, so driven to realize his dream that he literally attempts to pull a steamboat over a mountain. Only Hearts of Darkness (1991) detailing Francis Ford Coppola's madness in making Apocalypse Now (1979) and the Terry Gilliam non-making-of Lost in La Mancha (2002) are in the same league as Burden of Dreams in capturing the filmmaking obsession. One of the DVD extras is a new interview in which Herzog explains how Burden all but ruined his reputation for a decade, making raising money difficult.

 
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