I saw Morgan Neville‘s They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead today at Alice Tully Hall, under the auspices of the 56th New York Film Festival. It’s about Orson Welles‘ twilight years and particularly the making of The Other Side Of The Wind, which I saw and panned a week ago.
And the truth is that Neville’s 98-minute doc is far, far superior to Welles’ doleful, splotchy, scatter-gun talkathon, which runs 122 minutes. You’ll probably feel good and fulfilled after seeing Dead, and you’ll most likely feel like bees are buzzing around your brain after seeing Wind.
I’m sorry but Welles’ film is a chore and a headache to sit through while Dead is a cruise and a breeze — a movie about laughter, adventure, having fun, passing the time with wine and bear-hugs and film-talk bullshit and generally loving the ride and the cigars and being fat as a cow.
When creative inspiration departs and you’re left high and dry, you might as well enjoy yourself…right?
The word since Telluride had been “see Dead before Wind…it’ll make Welles’ film seem more fulfilling.” The word right now is “you can see Wind if you want but you almost don’t have to…Dead covers a lot of the same material and is more diverting and nutritious.”
I’m not advising a Wind bypass, but you don’t need to fret too much if you wait a few weeks before seeing it.
Neville knew exactly what he was doing when he cut Dead together while Welles’ completists (i.e., the guys who struggled to assemble and complete Wind as Welles would have wanted) were cobbling footage and to some extent grabbing at straws.
And both films cover a lot of similar turf — Welles’ largeness of spirit, his directorial legend, an examination of his dissipated career, a community of friends and colleagues trying to make sense of it all, etc.
There’s no question about it — They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead is an essential sit while Welles’ film…well, you should probably see it but don’t expect to find much enjoyment. I’m sorry but it’s mostly a head-scratcher, a spotty drag.