Every week, new original films debut on Netflix and other streaming services, often to much less fanfare than their big-screen counterparts. Cinemastream is Vox’s series highlighting the most notable of these premieres, in an ongoing effort to keep interesting and easily accessible new films on your radar.
The Other Side of the Wind and They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead
The premise: Orson Welles, the legendary filmmaker behind Citizen Kane and a Touch of Evil (among so many others), left behind an unfinished film called The Other Side of the Wind when he died in 1985. Now it’s been finished by some of his former collaborators — and, accompanied by a documentary about the film’s original shoot and its completion, it’s streaming on Netflix.
What it’s about: The Other Side of the Wind is best viewed as a meta-drama about Welles, laced with a barbed wit. John Huston — himself an eminent director of cinema classics like The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre — plays a character named Jake Hannaford, a movie director who’s celebrating his 70th birthday and, unbeknownst to him, living the last day of his life.
Hannaford is also screening footage from his newest movie, a mock-European “arty” drama starring an actor named John Dale (played by Bob Random) and a mysterious woman (played by Oja Kodar, who in real life was Welles’s girlfriend and is credited on The Other Side of the Wind as his co-writer).
Hannaford’s screening is partly intended to coax some of his guests to invest in his film-within-the-film so that he can finish it. Among the attendees is a Hannaford protégé who has attained rapid fame, played by Peter Bogdanovich, who went through a similar arc with Welles himself.
It’s all very ouroboric and tricky to navigate if you don’t know much about Welles, which is why Morgan Neville (who made 2018’s documentary hit about Mr. Rogers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor) made a companion documentary called They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, about the tortured path that The Other Side of the Wind followed to get to its final state. With interviews, clips, commentary, and more, the documentary serves as a quick primer on Welles as well as the film.
Both films dropped on Netflix on November 2, and it’s worth watching They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead first, because it helps untangle the twisted threads of The Other Side of the Wind. Cinephiles, Welles fans, and anyone who’s curious about the history of cinema will find a lot to like in both.
At Film Comment, Nick Pinkerton writes of The Other Side of the Wind that it “is a portrait of the genius as charming sham, all bluster and hot air. Debunking a legend, it completes a legacy.”
At The Playlist, Kimber Myers writes of They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead that it “offers a new understanding of the elusive, cunning filmmaker with a verve the man himself would have admired.”
Where to watch: Both The Other Side of the Wind and They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead are streaming on Netflix. The Other Side of the Wind is also playing in select theaters.