By Robin E. Simmons
PICK OF THE WEEK:
Steven Riley’s clever documentary about Marlon Brando is a riveting experience. Culled from hundreds — maybe thousands — of hours of recordings, most of them private. Riley’s film is a deep plunge into the mind and perhaps soul of a world famous icon that we thought we knew. It reveals his unexpected feelings and insecurities. There’s also a journey from pride in his work to a sense of cynicism about fame and acting (or that’s what I gleaned).
Brando died just over ten years ago, but he comes spookily alive again in these ghostly recordings that may or may not be arranged in a chronological order. Over and over again, I empathized with the iconic actor as a human being in these compelling snippets that are accompanied by fitting images, some never before seen by the public. The soundtrack is all Brando’s words. I was surprised by the sadness embedded in reflections and mesmerized by the revealed intimacy.
Brando was an early adaptor of recording devices and was perhaps compelled by some unknown factor to leave a private audio record of his life and observations. Did he expect — or hope — that at some point they would be organized, edited and released to the public as in this beguiling film? Perhaps. Whatever the motivation, Rile does Brando’s memory justice. (I understand some recordings were not included. I am curious why.)
I recall a TV interview Connie Chung (remember her?) conducted at Brando’s home on Mulholland. He wanted to talk about the ants crawling along the sink in his kitchen. He was in awe of them and Connie laughed in a patronizing way. She should’ve paid attention to Brando’s innate curiosity. Like a child, he was genuinely interested in so many things we take for granted.
His audio confessions – that’s what they are — suggest a self-aware person who was even more honest, complex, mysterious and deeper than I would have ever guessed.
When I lived in Sherman Oaks, a waitress friend said Brando was a frequent lone diner at Solley’s Deli that was juts a block from my home. I went there many times hoping to meet Mr. Brando, but I always missed him – sometimes by minutes. Now I wish I had tried a little harder. He sure gives good conversation.
Don’t miss this marvelously engaging film now showing at Cinemas Palme d’Or in Palm Desert.
NEW FOR THE HOME THEATER:
In the end, only the mad survive! Director George Miller’s visceral and visual post-apocalyptic extravaganza stars Tom Hardy in the tile role and co-stars Oscar© winner Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa.
Dr. Miller (he’s an M.D.) directed this epic adventure from a screenplay he wrote with Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris based solely on a massive storyboard of 3,500 drawings that Miller dictated. He wanted to make a movie that required no dialogue in order to understand it. And he succeeds in a new story about Mad Max, who, haunted by his turbulent past, believes the best way to survive is to wander the deadly wilderness alone. Nevertheless, he gets swept up with a group fleeing the Wasteland in a War Rig driven by an elite Imperator, Furiosa. They are escaping a Citadel tyrannized by the Immortan Joe, from whom something irreplaceable has been taken. Enraged, the Warlord marshals his gang and ruthlessly pursues the rebels in a full throttle, high-octane Road War unlike anything you have seen on the big or small screen. Great bonus material covers making of and deleted scenes and more. The 3D version is potent and enveloping. Warner Bros. Blu-ray.
Writer-director Randall Kleiser’s follow-up to his THE BLUE LAGOON (1980), another meditation on sun, sea, youth and sex, has already achieved cult status and is now available in a crisp Blu-ray edition, thanks to Twilight Time Movies’ limited edition (only 3000 prints). The setting is the idyllic, sun drenched but tourist ridden Greek island of Santorini. (Alas, Kleiser’s 1982 film made it even more of a tourist destination!) The exotic location is where a good looking American couple Michael (Peter Gallagher) and Cathy (Daryl Hannah) encounter the young, smoky-eyed French archaeologist (Valerie Quennessen). Sparks and curiosity fly, and soon the duo is a ménage à trois. Basil Poledouris’ score is available on an isolated track and there’s an interesting commentary by Kleiser. Twilight Time Movies. Blu-ray.
I had the pleasure of hosting a lively Q&A with director Anne Fletcher (THE PROPOSAL) following an early screening of HOT PURSUIT at Cinemas Palme d’Or. She talked about getting the tone right for this lightweight, fast paced, chick buddy road movie that follows two unlikely fugitives — co-producers and stars Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon. Fletcher squeezed all the friction and action she could from the two appealing Stars. Reese is perfect as an uptight, by-the-book cop trying to protect the voluptuous, outgoing widow (Vergara) of a drug boss as they race through rural Texas all the while chased by crooked cops and gangsters who want to kill them. Fun extras include a gag reel, an alternate ending and more. Warner Bros. Blu-ray.