Daily Archives: November 4, 1994

Working With Orson Welles

Along with Oja Kodar, cinematographer and low-budget filmmaker Gary Graver was the most faithful and indefatigable of Orson Welles’s collaborators over the last quarter century of his life, and this endearing but ramshackle feature-length video by Graver (1993) is like a conducted tour through the cameraman’s closet. The most precious documents on view are the original trailers for Citizen Kane and F for Fake, both in effect self-contained short works by Welles. (The first was made during the production of Kane; the second, an extravagant nine minutes long, was made more than three years after the European release of F for Fake, and because the feature’s U.S. distributor refused to process it, it survives only as a black-and-white work print.) But Graver is too generous and indiscriminate to stop there; he also offers the trailers for David and Goliath (a cheesy epic in which Welles plays King Saul) and Kodar’s first feature, Jaded (a singular exploitation item, still unreleased in the U.S., in which one can catch glimpses of Welles’s unreleased The Merchant of Venice). There are also a few fugitive clips from better-known Welles features, but the main topic broached is Welles’s unreleased The Other Side of the Wind, which still awaits completion funding; there’s no plot description or final footage, but its production is recalled by Cameron Mitchell, Susan Strasberg, Frank Marshall, Peter Jason, Curtis Harrington, and Peter Bogdanovich.… Read more »

The Seventh Continent

From the Chicago Reader (November 4, 1994). — J.R.

A powerful, provocative, and highly disturbing Austrian film by Michael Haneke that focuses on the collective suicide of a young and seemingly “normal” family (1989). Prompted by Austria’s high suicide rate and various news stories, the film’s agenda is not immediately apparent; it focuses at first on the family’s highly repetitive life-style, taking its time establishing the daily patterns of the characters. The roles of television and money in their lives are crucial to what this film is about, but the absence of any obvious motives for the family’s ultimate despair is part of what gives this film its devastating impact. Its tact and intelligence, and also its reticence and detachment, make it a shocking and potent statement about our times — to my mind a work much superior to the two other films in Haneke’s trilogy about contemporary, affectless violence, Benny’s Video and 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance. With Birgit Doll, Dieter Berner, Leni Tanzer, and Udo Samel. Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Friday and Saturday, November 4 and 5, 7:00 and 9:00; Sunday, November 6, 5:30 and 7:30; and Monday through Thursday, November 7 through 10, 7:00 and 9:00; 281-4114.… Read more »