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Its relentless, almost hallucinogenic craziness makes it a hard film to engage with, and the viewer drop-off rate when it launches on Netflix later this year will undoubtedly be steep. But as a mad satire of movie-world tumult, and a furious love letter to the business that made and unmade its maker, it could scarcely be improved.
The Other Side of the Wind is not a comeback picture in the sense Touch of Evil was supposed to be. It is a confounding, unsettling, disorienting adieu from a director whose nonconformist and uncompromising vision was decades ahead of his time.
In its barbs and visuals, indie vibe and old-school ambition, inside jabs and outsider artistry, it feels both of its time — when Welles’ cachet straddled an old guard who shunned him and young rebels who worshipped him — and like an acidly spit anecdote about artistic humiliation that still feels relevant.
It is almost impossible, however, to watch Other Side Of The Wind without taking its history into account. That makes the final product uniquely captivating.
This is a crazy, dishevelled, often hilarious film, in which lightning flashes of wit and insight crackle periodically across a plane of tedium.
Wellesians will vigorously debate the aesthetic results of this torturously achieved accomplishment but, to the credit of those who, against daunting odds and nearly a half-century's worth of obstacles, arduously pushed this project to completion, the end result feels like a plausible fulfillment of the style Welles himself established for it.
It’s a safe bet that many contemporary viewers will find the film confusing, abrasive, pretentious and antediluvian in its sexual politics. But there’s no denying the audacity of Welles’s undertaking, and of the reconstruction project. What can be said with certainty is that this version of Wind is perplexing, sometimes exhausting but never less than fascinating.
The Other Side of the Wind, coherent and compelling as it often is, remains an arresting scrapbook of a movie that we no longer have to speculate about. What you’ll still wonder about is the movie it might have been had Welles made it from the start on the grand scale it deserved, so that you didn’t have to feel it’s a dream that, on some level, will forever be locked up in his head.
It is remarkably good.
Fans of the director’s late-period work (particularly his last completed effort, the rapid-fire diary film “F for Fake”) will find it thrilling to return to those unpredictable, garrulous recesses, no matter the bumpy ride. Welles continues to contemplate storytelling, Hollywood, and his own troubled career by transforming these obsessions into a marathon of creativity.

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