Cosmoetica | New York, USA | 09/14/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film may be the most intrinsically Wellesian of all his works, combining the story unspooling of Citizen Kane, the post-war shadiness of The Stranger and The Third Man, the visual oddities of The Lady From Shanghai- starting with the pilotless airplane that opens the film, the soliloquizing of his Shakespearean films, the later ruthless characterizations of Touch Of Evil, and the decayed world feel of The Trial, which- like this film- also combines scenes shot in different countries for an oddly geo-disorienting feel. While the pseudo-intellectual French cinema magazine Cahiers Du Cinema called Mr. Arkadin (actually Confidential Report- the worst of the three in this set) Welles' best film, and one of the top ten ever made, it is not close to being that, for their choice was as politically motivated as the opinions of those critics who have derided Welles as a failure.
Yet, it's a damned good film, and, especially the Comprehensive version can make claims to greatness, with a very modern look and sensibility to it that makes it all the more galling that Hollywood has never once come up with something as daring as this. Perhaps the recent crime noir film Memento comes close, but that film is internally complex, whereas Mr. Arkadin's complexities are externally complex and fractal. The influence of this film on French filmmakers of the New Wave, but even on directors like Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman, in their chronologically challenging films of the 1960s, is immense and manifest. Mr. Arkadin is not only a palimpsest within itself, but in its exterior making and history. This package, and the Comprehensive version, do an excellent job in decoding that all. But, this film is not, as critic J. Hoberman claims in the booklet, a Jorge Luis Borgesian film, for there is rationality, realism, resolution, and character development in this film. It is not wan, nor failed, Surrealism-cum-Magical Realism. It is one of the highest manifestations of film noir and pulp fiction, and as such, has been rendered a great service in this explication of its meaning and roots by The Criterion Collection. See this film, and see a world that did exist after the Second World War, both in reality, and in the minds of those whose warp of it is remembered even more keenly. Yet, the greatest thing about it, as with all art than can be called great, is that for all it gives, its best secrets still remain."
Four Reasons for Five Stars
Dorothy Mullen | Connecticut | 10/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First, I would like to express my appreciation for the review by Felix Felicis (Apr. 20 2006) which I thought was extremely helpful and interesting and wise. The reason I am adding my own review is to emphasize the wondrous acting interludes in this movie. Mr. Welles, of course, is always hypnotic, I can never take my eyes off him in any movie in which he appears (or waddles). The two American leads, Robert Arden and Patricia Medina, are of course hilariously bad, as has been mentioned ad infinitum ad nauseam. Imagine Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe (or Jayne Mansfield, or maybe Brigitte Bardot), and as Raina, think of Natalie Wood. Oh well. Never mind them. The four reasons Mr. Arkadin is marvelous are:
1. Akim Tamiroff in his sad, pathetic, enormously brave and heartbreaking portrayal of the indignities of old age and poverty. At one point he pleads to be allowed to put on his trousers (to cover up his soiled underwear?). I have a feeling that was an improvised line.
2. Mischa Auer and the flea circus. It is not just the human actor but the insect performers who made my jaw drop as I stared obsessively at the screen in this unbelievable gothic and unforgettable cameo.
3. Michael Redgrave. I have seen Michael Redgrave in many British films of the 1940's, but I did not recognize him as the weird Hitchcockian antiques dealer. THAT WAS MICHAEL REDGRAVE??? I thought reading the credits. I can watch this scene over and over again and never get tired of it.
4. Last -- the most incredible and most marvelous Katina Paxinou. If the movie contained nothing else but Katina Paxinou as Sophia, it would rate five stars. Six stars. Maybe ten stars.
Of course there are other things in Mr. Arkadin. The penitentes. The masquerade ball. The German street (reminiscent of The Third Man's Vienna). The tale of the scorpion and the frog. (Which one is Arkadin? Maybe he's both. Maybe he's Aristotle Onassis. Who cares. Watch the movie.)"
One of the few artist whose legend is not hyperbole!
R. Robinson | N.C. by way of TX | 02/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unfortunate or fortunately I didn't dare spoil my plate by watching all 3 versions. I only watched the 3rd version which most critics proclaim as the most satisfying. Indeed, I was satisfied. What an excellent story from writing, to directing, to acting (editing I cant speak for having only watched 1 version of the 3) but in version 3, aka " The Comprehensive Version", it was obvious the very good job of telling a complex story). The dialogue alone made me clap. If you have been eyeballing this movie, do not hesitate to watch it by all means. I rented the 3rd disc alone and if I should find this 3 disc set come down to the `'teen'' price range, then I will purchase it gladly (I refuse to pay over 18 for any DVD in any format, just a personal thing). Until then, I wait and I toast to "character" ...watch the move then reread. If you like Orson Wells, you'll love this movie. If you weren't sure about him before, you will probably rent more of his movies and may just come away naming him as great after all. What writer/director /actor nowadays can really compare to his triple threat? Also, his classical training shines in this movie as found in the subtext, acting, and dialogue.
UPDATE: I have now seen version 3, aka "Comprehensive Version"; not good at all. Right off of the bat, he characters were introduced to quickly and some not at all. It is also edited in a very simple manner which takes away the fun and destroys an important element in a movie that is supposed to be a mystery/suspense-adventure flick. This version as a stand alone gets a a 2 star rating."