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. Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Friday and Saturday, December 3 and 4, 7:00 and 9:00; Sunday, December 5, 5:30 and 7:30; and Monday through Thursday, December 6 through 9, 7:00 and 9:00; 281-4114.

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