Angie redux: My recent plunge into all things Angelina Jolie (previously discussed here) took me back to Original Sin (2001). Notable for containing one of the screen’s great orgasms (my girl knows her stuff), the surrounding 115-minutes is high-minded pulp, and none too convincing. The second misguided adaptation of a tawdry but compelling Cornell Woolrich novel, Waltz into Darkness (the first was Truffaut’s Mississippi Mermaid ), it reunites Angie with Michael Cristofer, her director on Gia (1998), a by-the-numbers TV biopic elevated to excellence by the star alone. She may have felt an affinity for that character, whereas Original Sin offers her little more than a shallow vamp — and her wiry physique, billowing black hair and taught olive skin had me thinking of Martine Beswicke (circa Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde). Out to fleece Antonio Banderas of his vast fortune, Angie’s a twofaced, homicidal mail-order bride. Antonio’s a humble millionaire who can’t get a date…and Cristofer is short on the cynical humor needed to milk this puppy for all that it’s worth. He’s also void of the kitschy eroticism of a Zalman King and gives us something akin to a very long, silly and boring perfume commercial.
F for flake: Destined for a dreary career as a second-rate novelist, Clifford Irving basked in his fifteen minutes of fame during the early 1970s, after hurling himself in the spotlight as Howard Hughes’s ‘authorized biographer.’ Heady times, indeed, and the subject of Lasse Hallström’s The Hoax (2007), with Richard Gere a rather soft incarnation of the writer. It’s based on Irving’s own (factual?) account of the scandal that put he and his wife and collaborator Dick Suskind in jail, and sent Hughes, McGraw-Hill publishers and Life magazine to court. Idealized to the point of caricature, Hallström’s picture is interesting and amusing but insubstantial. Marcia Gay Harden is good as Irving’s bewildered fourth wife, artist Edith Sommer, and Julie Delpy appears briefly as his on-again-off-again girlfriend, the Baroness Nina van Pallandt. (The real Pallandt is a part-time actress — she’s in the motel room with Jeff Bridges at the beginning of Cutter’s Way — and a vocalist — once part of the duo Nina & Frederik — who sang “Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?” in the James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.) You’re better off checking out Irving playing himself for documentary filmmaker François Reichenbach in interview footage Orson Welles later worked into F for Fake (1974), a faux documentary about art forgery and fakers, specifically Irving’s neighbor in Ibiza, Elmyr de Hory. Welles and Reichenbach were doubtlessly intrigued by Irving’s book, Fake! The Story of Elmyr de Hory the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time, published in 1969, which tells Elmyr’s story and his uncanny ability to copy Modigliani, Picasso and Matisse.
Labels: Angelina Jolie, Capsule reviews, Elmyr de Hory, Orson Welles