Daily Archives: December 3, 1993

Ruby in Paradise

All three features by Florida-based independent Victor Nunez (Gal Young ‘Un, A Flash of Green) are good, but this one’s a beauty: his first original script, it details the everyday adventures and encounters of a woman in her early 20s (Ashley Judd) who flees the Tennessee mountains for a Florida resort town, Panama City Beach, along the “Redneck Riviera,” where she finds work in a souvenir shop. Like Eric Rohmer (another older filmmaker who favors attractive young heroines), Nunez has an untiring, subtly novelistic fascination with ordinary people and events and the special feel of particular places. Thanks to a natural and highly charismatic performance by Judd, Ruby in Paradise has a graceful lyricism–as well as a complex sense of what living in today’s world is like–that will stay with you; the tempo is slow and dreamy, but the flavor is rich, and it lasts. With Todd Field, Bentley Mitchum, Allison Dean, and Dorothy Lyman. Pipers Alley. Read more

F for Fake

The first of Orson Welles’s two essay films to be completed and released (the lesser-known 1979 Filming “Othello” was the second), this breezy, low-budget 1973 montage–put together from discarded documentary footage by Francois Reichenbach as well as new material filmed by Welles–forms a kind of dialectic with Welles’s never-completed It’s All True; as Welles himself implied, an equally accurate title for this playful cat-and-mouse game might have been It’s All Lies. The main subjects here are art forger Elmyr de Hory, Clifford Irving, Howard Hughes, Pablo Picasso, and Welles himself; and the name of the game is the practice and meaning of deception. Some commentators have speculated that this film was Welles’s indirect reply to Pauline Kael’s subsequently disproven contention that he didn’t write a word of the Citizen Kane script; his sly commentary here–seconded by some of the trickiest editing anywhere–implies that authorship is a pretty dubious notion anyway, a function of the even more dubious art market and its team of “experts.” Alternately superficial and profound, hollow and moving, simple and complex, this film also enlists the services of Oja Kodar, Welles’s principal collaborator after the late 60s, as actor, erotic spectacle, and cowriter. Joseph Cotten, Richard Wilson, and other Welles cronies put in brief appearances; Michel Legrand wrote the wonderful score. Read more