Crisis modes

The news business is the object of some satire, although given The Insider's own throat-clearing self-aggrandizement, the darts can rebound. "Excuse me gentlemen, Mr. Rather is complaining about his chair again," a CBS producer remarks-something that has surely never happened on one of Mann's sets. When Wallace tells Bergman that he doesn't intend to end his days "wandering in the wilderness of NPR," he couldn't possibly be speaking for the director.

On the subject of posturing, it will be a remarkable year for cine-histrionics if anything tops Klaus Kinski's posthumous turn in Werner Herzog's My Best Fiend-a first-person doc assembled largely from footage taken in the course of the five features they made, being madmen together. Herzog introduces his alter ego on stage, in the lunatic midst of his ranting "Jesus tour," and reveals that, back in the '50s, Kinski briefly occupied the same Munich pension where 13-year-old Herzog lived with his mother and brothers. As anyone who has suffered through julien donkey-boy knows, Herzog is no mean performer-his account of the day Kinski trashed the house, locked himself in the toilet and raved for 48 hours is not the last of My Best Fiend's fantastic tales.

The first and greatest Herzog-Kinski collaboration, Aguirre, Wrath of God-shot under extreme conditions in the Amazon rain forest-provided momentum for the less- hallucinated features that followed, including its near-remake Fitzcarraldo (where the star's tantrums so rattled the Indian extras that, according to Herzog, they offered to kill Kinski for him). Coaxing a last vehicle from the late actor's outtakes, Herzog-who is only now beginning his first fiction film since working with Kinski on Cobra Verde in 1987-offers some evidence of Kinski's "great human warmth," somewhat more of his "rage of unimaginable proportions" and a good demonstration of Kinski's uncanny capacity to corkscrew his way into the frame. There is also a priceless scene of the frighteningly tanned and blond actor in diva mode, graciously swanning through the Telluride Film Festival to greet its insider-director, "Oh, so you're Tom Luddy."


RosettaA USA Films release. Directed by Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne. Opens November 5.
The InsiderDirected by Michael Mann. A Touchstone release. Opens November 5.
My Best FiendA New Yorker Films release. Directed by Werner Herzog. At Film Forum through November 16.

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