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My Best Fiend

My Best Fiend

Director:Werner Herzog
Cast:Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski
Genre:Film, Documentary

At the Current Gallery March 23 at 8 p.m.

By Bret McCabe | Posted 3/22/2006

Kinski Uncut—the 1996 English-language title of Polish screen legend Klaus Kinski’s 1988 autobiography, originally, savagely titled All I Need Is Love—is the end-all, be-all of celebrity confessionals, an unexpurgated soul-purge that has at least one bombastic orgasm, tirade, mindless decadence, or excoriating self-doubt per page. Seriously: Read it now—it only adds to the inscrutable mystique that clouds a larger-than-life persona who passed in 1991. For a more uncomfortably human look at the man, turn to director Werner Herzog’s 1999 documentary squirreled together from Herzog’s memories and outtakes of their five movies together, one of cinema’s most contentiously fecund and cruelly endearing director-muse partnerships. Herzog recounts how they first met as teenagers and his first brushes with Kinski’s brutish fragility, before moving into the nightmare memories of working with him. Such moments would be blatant character assassination were they not immediately followed by unmitigated adoration of Kinski’s screen prowess. In many ways Fiend is P.T. Barnum spectacle—Kinski’s Uncut opinions of Herzog border on the prosecutable—teeing up the histrionic rumors of their fabled collaborations without settling any scores. But in the end Herzog’s sincere fondness for the man can’t be camouflaged, and you suspect he knows they tortured each other into creating a cinematic sublime they couldn’t achieve on their own.

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