the last laugh

Great “auteur” filmmakers are known for having a style that carries throughout their films: Hitchcock had his trademark suspense, Godard has his knowing self-reflexivity, Romero has his zombies. These preferences unite the works in their filmography, but even master directors are susceptible to making bad films.

Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull lacked the verve of his other efforts, Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood was a definite misfire, and Wim Wenders’s The Million Dollar Hotel is just boring. This list is not about bad movies by good directors, rather it is a compilation of great films by great filmmakers that (for whatever reason) have been generally overlooked.

Without further ado, here is the list…

 

10. F For Fake (Orson Welles)

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When your first picture is widely considered to be the greatest film of all time seventy years after its release, it can be difficult to live up to your own seemingly limitless potential. While Orson Welles never made another Citizen Kane (though, to be fair, neither did anyone else) he still had a successful directorial career with other critically acclaimed films including Touch of Evil, The Magnificent Ambersons, and The Lady From Shanghai. Welles has gained a reputation for being a director ahead of his time, as most of his films received praise long after they were released after their initial commercial or critical failure, but now there is no denying he possessed remarkable talent.

However, F For Fake has not experienced the same delayed praise as his other works. His penultimate film released in 1975 may seem to be “too intellectual” for the common movie-goer, and although it explores the ideas of authorship, truth vs. fact, and the twentieth century European art scene F For Fake is one thing above all else: a good time. Like the beautiful narcissist he was, Welles places himself in the middle of a story which leaps around from famous art forger Elmyr de Hory to his biographer and fellow faker Clifford Irving to Welles’s girlfriend Oja Kodar’s “relationship” with a certain world-famous painter. All throughout the image and voice of a larger than life latter-day Welles put the film into perspective, and the brisk editing keeps the somewhat heady subject matter light and interesting. While the exercise of gleaning out fact from fiction may infuriate some viewers, it is hard not to admire the utter showmanship of F For Fake.

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This article was first posted on August 9, 2013