July 28, 2014

Dining With a Genius: MY LUNCHES WITH ORSON

Recently, I've been doing "research" into Orson Welles - mostly, it's because I'm writing a Black Bat story for Airship 27 (and yes, I have read their past collections), and Welles....somewhat informs the story. That's meant rewatching his films (including revisiting personal favorite The Third Man and renewing my love of The Stranger)...and purchasing a copy of Peter Biskind's My Lunches With Orson
Consisting of a series of lunch conversations between Welles and filmmaker Henry Jaglom, My Lunches With Orson focuses on Welles' final years, giving us a glimpse of a filmmaker struggling to get his work financed, and well beyond the "Paul Masson" years.

If you're looking for a concise explanation of the art of filmmaking....you may not find that here. If you're looking for the beginnings of independent cinema, and of the almost entrepreneurial spirit a director has to have to complete their vision....you will find that here. If you're looking for straightforward, near-gossipy talk about Hollywood icons during the "golden years"....you will definitely find it here. Lunches really captures an honest glimpse of a man known for misdirection and conjuring unique images with his guard down. (One condition of Jaglom's lunches were that he would record Welles, but keep the recorder out of Welles' sight).

Legend has it these tapes were kept for over thirty years, and were only recently found, transcribed, and turned into the book. Thankfully, My Lunches With Orson is organized into short, pithy chapters that never feel like they outstay their welcome. It's the kind of book that Roger Ebert would have championed - a rare glimpse into a writer/director's thought patterns that makes lofty concepts accessible. It's a breezy read (especially if you're using a tablet/e-reader), and quite honestly, deserves a place on your shelf.
If you enjoy great filmmaking or seek writing which is brutally honest about Hollywood without having the tinge of tabloid spirit, you definitely want to check out My Lunches With Orson.

(And if you're seeking more pulp-centric fare, why not check out both volumes of Airship 27's Black Bat Mystery and Altus Press' Black Bat Omnibus Volumes One and Two? At the very least, you can read about a crimefighter who dresses like a bat who is not named Bruce Wayne....)

No comments: