The self-proclaimed “token American” and “the dumbest member of Monty Python” Terry Gilliam is in fact a highly articulate and engaging memoirist in Gilliamesque. Gilliam had his start as a cartoonist and his bizarre, other-wordly, inflated collages, drawings and animations communicated the same silliness and irreverence for authority that his fellow Pythons communicated in performance. However, Gilliam quickly outgrew Monty Python and grew into his own as a film director, referring to himself as “filteur”, a filter for his collaborator’s ideas. Gilliam’s writing is like his films beautiful, anarchic, and, at times wonderfully tangential. I’ll close with a quote from his artistic manifesto: “I think the key to survival is trying to keep alive the ‘inner child’…we’ve all go that sense of wonder and the ability to be surprised but it’s beaten out of people as they go through life. I’ve just been lucky to be able to find work that allows me to keep that little brat inside alive.”
Imagine you’re a writer, and you’ve decided to write about an Orson Welles film. Do you choose his magnum opus, Citizen Kane? Or maybe a dark horse pick, like The Magnificent Ambersons or Touch of Evil? Well, if you’re Josh Karp, you pick none of the above…you pick the one that was never released. By choosing the tumultuous production of The Other Side of the Wind, which has yet to see the light of day, Karp paints an Orson Welles touched by genius and numerous flaws. This seems is a story that encapsulates a man renowned around the world as the creator of the greatest film of all time—and why he fell from grace.
The Third Face is the best memoir of a New York waterfront reporter for Hearst papers! It’s the best memoir of a dogface who fought his way across Europe in World War Two! It’s the best memoir of a writer-director who came up under Zanuck and made some of the most visceral, thought-provoking films of the 20th century that inspired the likes of Martin Scorsese, Jim Jarmusch and Quentin Tarantino! Sam Fuller was a great American an unprejudiced man who owed his principles to no creed except human dignity and a damn good story. Go on, be hooked.