KYLE SMITH ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, Orson Welles’ last movie, recently completed and now streaming on Netflix:
Wind, like everything Welles did, contains enough inspiration and beauty to provide fodder for a film-school paper, but like (almost) everything he did it’s undisciplined to the point of exasperation, beset by so-so sound quality, amateurish lighting, ragged editing, and wooden acting, all in the service of a script as flabby as its auteur. The film stock, color, and aspect ratio are variable. Far from being a successor to 8 ½, Wind is mostly hot air, with all the rambling self-pity of a student film. Welles, who was very much in “experimental” mode, may well have wanted the finished version to be as choppy and freewheeling as it is, but just because Orson Welles, Genius (™), wanted it that way doesn’t mean the film works.
Ah, but those scattered moments of brilliance.
Unless you’re a Welles completist, it’s tough sledding, arguably with the exception of Welles’ film-within-the-film, which combines shots approaching softcore porn, and spoofs Michelangelo Antonioni’s arch hippie-era ‘60s movies, Blowup and Zabriskie Point. As a result, Welles’ “newest” film seems like his most dated, a strange relic of the early 1970s. As Kyle writes, “You’d be better off watching instead the movie about the movie: They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (the title refers to one of Welles’s mordant self-observations) explores the relentless, almost purposeful squandering of talent that is the Welles tragedy.”
Read the whole thing.