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4.3 out of 5 stars12
4.3 out of 5 stars
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2012
F for Fake is part documentary about art forgery, and part a forgery itself - but a forgery that doesn't take itself seriously, and is completely forthright about being one. Using documentary footage about art forger Elmyr de Hory, aggressively cut and edited to create a sort of disorienting hall of mirrors effect, Welles provides a glimpse into a world where fakers are enabled to forge the works of famous artists precisely by the authority of the experts who validate their forgeries as authentic, and the complicity of both art dealers and buyers in maintaining the illusion.

The story becomes even more complicated: does Elmyr's biography lose authenticity if his biographer is himself exposed as a fraud - in a case linking him to the elusive Howard Hughes, the main inspiration for Citizen Kane? What happens when a string of fake Picassos are lauded as new masterpieces? And what if the fakes are accepted into canon and for their artistic value? It is all a wondrous, playful game, where Welles, who had himself started his career by feigning to be a Hollywood celebrity in Ireland (or so he tells us), and later with the War of the Worlds radio broadcast hoax, is narrating the film with his usual memorable lines ("He gave you a false check for a false painting?", "August in France... this is when someone could take the country by telephone... if someone would answer it."), at least when he isn't implicating Picasso in the forgery of his own works, or spinning a story about the myths and facts surrounding Hughes, himself and his mistress - the co-author and co-star of this movie.

Fake personas appear among real ones, persons are switched for one another, and the truth is used as liberally as fiction in a great, understated comedy. Nothing in this movie is trustworthy, since movies aren't trustworthy. After all, that's precisely what the movie tells about itself.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 1 May 2008
for the non-English speaker: although the above description mentions optional English subtitles, I have recently purchased this dvd and there are NO subtitles whatsoever (april 2008).

Attention, contrairement à la déscription au-dessus, il n'y a PAS de soustitrage sur ce dvd que j'ai acheté récemment (avril 2008).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 2012
Anyone who enjoyed Orson Welles appearances on tv chat shows like Parkinson in the 70's should give this a look.great storytelling,a bit of magic and plenty of spoof.highly amusing and entertaining
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on 24 October 2014
This is a marvellous entertainment, and Orson Welles's description of it ("Not a documentary, but a new kind of movie") is nothing but the truth. One uses that phrase advisedly, because truth is at the heart of this one-of-a-kind film - truth and dreams, which phrase, incidentally, is the film's French title. Welles could spin elaborate fabrications, especially about himself, as if he'd invented the practice, and pompous biographers are still getting trapped, nearly thirty years after his death, in his ingenious inventions; but there are great truths at the heart of most of his fictions, and that's certainly true of this movie. As Welles fascinatingly ruminates on (amongst much else) forgery, magic, Howard Hughes, Chartres Cathedral and his own career, he draws us into a meditation on creation, on reality and illusion, which will intrigue and stimulate you maybe forever, and, to prove his point, he also manages one last prestidigitation of breathtaking outrageousness. This film is a treat, it's just lovely.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2007
I loved this film, Orson gives a great performance
not his finest hour and a bit of a forgotten Gem

But for any fan of the big man a must
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 24 November 2000
This little curio was one of the last completed projects Orson Welles worked on, and it marks the stage in his career where everything had caved in on itself. Money was not forthcoming from the studios and the big fellow's output was finally being strangled by red tape.

Welles's response to this indignity was to embrace it as if it was intentional. "I am a great faker," he would proclaim, "half of what I tell you will be lies." So it is that this film is stanced. It presents a pseudo-documentary about art fakery, claiming that many of the great galleries have been fooled by counterfeit works of art.

It is, should you decide to immerse yourself in its Vegas-busy intercutting, as unsettling as a first encounter with (sorry to bring it up) "Citizen Kane" -- how much of it is true? Is this based on a true story?

Of course "Kane" is not. But "F for Fake" may be. The film isn't going to tell you of course. The film is a trick. Welles isn't going to let you into the magic circle.

So we don't know if the art faker named Elmir ever existed, if this is an expose of something Welles learnt during his jaunts around Europe.

Ten years later Welles proclaimed he thought he was making an entirely new kind of film, and was very surprised at its failure. Of course he may be lying, but if you choose to entertain his thoughts, his statement has a whiff of truth.

The movie shows all the hallmarks of the meta-art that was going on at the time -- the restless forces that created Monty Python and The Fall & Rise of Reginald Perrin. These are possibly good touchstones to bear in mind when watching "F for Fake". Indeed, Welles worked with English comedian Tim Brooke-Taylor around this time, and gathered much of his footage for the film from the BBC.

Welles himself appears in the movie, as himself, interviewing himself, and interviewing his companion of the time Oja Kodar. This relationship brings "F for Fake" one of its most interesting dynamics: It presents itself as a sort of John and Yoko effort. The genius rolling out one more masterpiece under the encouragement of the young woman. They make an odd couple -- the exceptionally stunning Kodar and the big old charlatan Welles -- but at least their partnership suggests that Orson's life, if not his art, ended with a modicum of happiness.

It's a toughie, this, but not without its merits.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2011
i have to admit that for most of the film's running time, i hardly understood what was happening from one camera shot to the next.
the one thing that kept me watching throughout, was orson welles, his extensive voiceover and his various appearances in the film. he dominates the proceedings, no question.
however, some of this film is quite annoying and irriating as there is no plot or any kind of structure.
the narrative or non-existent narrative, does little to explain anything and i had the impression that most of all this was improvished.
the sections on howard hughes and on orson welles, i would highlight as being by far the most informative sections of the film. welles's conjuring demonstration at that french railway station in the opening scene is quite interesting and he shows his skills at this to remarkable effect.
the 40 page booklet is in-depth and explains how this film came to be made. on the dvd, there is an interview about the making of the film which is also well done. why the interview was filmed in black and white, i have no idea.
i recommend this dvd if you are an orson welles fan or a completist of his work.
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on 2 August 2015
Handy Christmas present
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on 4 February 2015
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 May 2015
No subtitles while the description says there are... Very disappointing for someone who doesn't master English very well....
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