My Best Fiend

Werner Herzog, the acclaimed director of several notorious German films during the '70s, takes a documentary look back at his love-hate relationship with the late actor Klaus Kinski, who starred in Herzog's best-known films, Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo, and Nosferatu.

Through archival behind-the-scenes footage, as well as clips from the films themselves, Herzog (who re-dubs his own German voiceover in English – this is a talky film) explores Kinski's nearly psychotic personality while subtly revealing the obsessive aspects of his own. Kinski, for his part, comes across as a completely deranged, self-absorbed nutcase who had undeniable talent and intensity as an actor.

What's in question, though, is whether anybody who hasn't seen any of the Herzog/Kinski films would have any interest in this documentary. I can't say, because I happen to be a fan of those films, so I found My Best Fiend to be enlightening, occasionally thought-provoking, and often very funny.

I have made note of Herzog's hilariously gloomy English before; here it's all over the film. Even those dragged to their local art house movie theatre to see this will find themselves giggling at Herzog's deadpan remembrances of Kinski's endless ranting, screaming, and plotting. Great stuff.