Documental: “Listen to Me Marlon” (Stevan Riley, 2015)


Marlon Brando reveals himself posthumously as he never publicly did in life in the remarkable documentary Listen to Me Marlon. Making marvelously creative use of a stash of audio recordings the actor privately made plus a striking amount of unfamiliar and never-before-seen photos and film footage, British documentarian Stevan Riley delivers an enthrallingly intimate look at the brilliant, troubled and always charismatic screen legend. This Showtime presentation would be a good bet for limited theatrical exposure before it settles into home-screen eternity.

Interviews with Brando were almost always an extension of his acting in which he would play whatever role suited him for the occasion — earnest, playful, difficult, flirty or droningly cause-specific. In his later years, he scarcely gave interviews at all. What he did do, however, was record about 200 hours of frank talk on all manner of subjects, including much reflective, philosophical and personal commentary that is absent any of the b.s. or cagey hide-and-seek aspects of many of his on-the-record utterances. (The filmmaker also tracked down every TV and radio interview the actor ever gave as well as private recordings journalists had made.)

Brando’s estate initiated the project, but there isn’t the slightest trace of cosmetic cover-up for appearances’ sake on any score. (The only things “false” here are the shots of the interior of Brando’s Mulholland Drive home, which was torn down some years ago; duplicate versions of some rooms were re-created on a soundstage.) What comes across is a man with identifiable and specific psychological issues, which, thanks to both extensive psychotherapy and even self-hypnosis, he was able to articulate better than anyone else could. Yet he was never able to conquer other demons and baggage. His frequently voiced contempt for acting and many of his films is evident but, refreshingly, so is his deep commitment to certain roles and his extensive preparation for films he took seriously, including later ones such as The Godfather, Last Tango in Paris and Apocalypse Now.

The film’s title refers to the admonition by one side of Brando to another in the recordings. A fascinating choice Riley makes is to occasionally employ a digitized 3D image of Brando’s head that the actor had made for himself in the 1980s with software called Cyberware. Technicians animated this so that it looks like a stylized line drawing of Brando is speaking the words we hear him say. It’s the closest we’ll probably ever have of an impression of the man risen from the grave and addressing us in his own words.

With the help of the private photos, Brando’s troubled, mostly rural Midwestern youth is sharply evoked. His formative period was marked by his mother’s alcoholism and early exit and by his father’s abusiveness and variable measures of disdain, which continued through his son’s massive success. The psychological problems that ran through his son’s entire life, as presented here, and that surely impacted his own behavior toward his 12 children, seem almost entirely traceable to his father.

He admits he felt “dumb” and had “a great sense of inadequacy due to my lack of education” but also a tremendous “curiosity about other people” that fed directly into his acting. The crucial mentor (among other things) for him was his acting teacher Stella Adler, whose strong personality comes through vividly in some terrific clips, as does New York City itself in wonderfully unfamiliar late ’40s snippets. If he hadn’t become an actor—he says it was the first thing he ever did that he was good at—Brando speculates that “I could have been a con man.”

Other rare footage shows him learning the life of a paraplegic for his first film, The Men; behind the scenes in hitherto unknown color shots of the making of On the Waterfront; seriously rattled by an unruly crowd at the premiere of Guys and Dolls; and a subtext-filled TV appearance with his father, after which Brando says he never wanted his father anywhere near his first son, Christian.

This arc is sadly completed later on in connection with the tragic deaths of his first two children, Christian and Cheyenne — the former served time for killing the latter’s boyfriend at their father’s home. The trial was a terrible ordeal for Brando, although worse was to come with Cheyenne’s suicide and Christian’s early death.

Fotograma de “Listen to Me Marlon” (Stevan Riley, 2015)

Stating that he was drawn to Mutiny on the Bounty because of his “contempt for authority,” he quickly thereafter began his long, bumpy career as a social activist, first with the civil rights movement in the South, then with Native Americans. His escape was Tahiti and his private island there, places that brought out his most effusive, unreserved enthusiasm. Frustratingly, there’s no mention of Brando’s single, enduringly fascinating directorial outing, One-Eyed Jacks.

From what he says here, he took his work in The Godfather very seriously, not as just a needed payday. By contrast, he resented that Bernardo Bertolucci “stole some things” from him on Last Tango, then also claims that on Apocalypse Now, “I rewrote the entire script.”

Ultimately, Brando’s story, as told by the man himself, is moving, poignant, troubling and sad. Due superficially to nothing more than the tremendous girths they both achieved in their later years, it’s easy to draw a certain comparison between Brando and another great artist of the approximate period and same geographic origins about whom there similarly lingers the feeling that he achieved less than he might have—Orson Welles. To an armchair psychologist, it seems that what perhaps held back both men the most was a lack of discipline quite likely fostered by untidy, vagabond childhoods.

But, while various aspects of his life are indisputably sad, Listen to Me Marlon is a tonic for Brando fans due to its delivery of such an unexpectedly fulsome, intimate and fresh portrait of a character more complex than any he ever played.

“ELLE” (Por Begoña Eguskiza)


“ELLE”: fascinante y difícil

Basada en la novela”Oh” de Philippe Dijan y dirigida por Paul Verhoeven y escrita por David Birke, “Elle” es fascinante y retorcida, sumergida en un mundo de traumas, violencia, culpa y una  moralidad poco acordé con lo socialmente establecido.
Michéle (Isabel Huppert) es una mujer de negocios que junto a su íntima amiga Anna (Anne Consigny) tienen un exitoso negocio de videojuegos, negocio que no es casual que aparezca a lo largo de la película como telón de fondo, videojuegos que juegan con los impulsos de los futuros compradores.
Ya en los primeros minutos, tras los títulos de crédito, aparece la violencia: Michéle es violada por un encapuchado en su propia casa.
Podríamos suponer que tras este violento comienzo la película iba a ser un drama de venganza y odio, pero Verhoeven lo enfoca de manera diferente y sutil que pese a lo dramático de la historia el espectador en ningún momento se siente angustiado, quizás incómodo, pero con sus toques de humor irónico hacen de “Elle” algo diferente. El humor está perfectamente encajado en el guión, en el momento preciso sin quitar dramatismo a la historia y sin bromear sobre la violación y sus consecuencias.
A lo largo de la película van asomando los traumas infantiles de la protagonista( en una escena ella misma cuenta su historia a un personaje con absoluta impavidez y puede resultar antipática)y del resto de los personajes, su madre, hijo, ex marido, amigos, personajes bien definidos que van construyendo una historia de culpa, religiosidad, infidelidades, traumas, obsesiones personales, familia, amistad y los monstruos que todos llevamos dentro en mayor o menor medida.
“Elle” es una gran película, chocante, difícil y a ratos incómoda de ver, tan incómoda que hubo gente que se levantó de la butaca. A mí me tuvo pegada a ella.

“Kojak” (Por Begoña Eguskiza)


De vuelta a Kojak y a  Manhattan Sur

Kojak, ya sea por el chupachups o por su calva, es uno de esos personajes que no se olvidan.
Volviéndola a ver, después de tantos años, he visto un Kojak diferente, un Kojak que no vi entonces.
Aunque el teniente Theo (Telly Savalas) pueda parecer rudo, siempre impecablemente vestido, es un hombre fiel a si mismo y hacia los demás.
No es racista, ni machista, ni homófobo, rasgos que en aquel entonces pasaron desapercibidos y que hoy descubro.
Es un hombre sincero, listo, familiar, amigo de sus amigos y lo que es más importante, es incorruptible.
La serie fue creada por Abby Mann (Óscar por el guión de El juicio de Nuremberg de Stanley Krame), escritor de guiones cinematográficos, contratado por la Universal T.V. para hacer una película para televisión, basada en unos hechos reales acaecidos en Manhattan en 1963 y que conmocionaron a la ciudad de Nueva York.
Se cometieron dos brutales asesinatos, después de haber sido violadas, sobre dos prostitutas. Debido a la actitud descuidada de la policía (dos prostitutas no son “importantes”) y los escasos derechos civiles de los testigos y sospechosos, el crimen fue atribuido a un joven negro, George Whitmore, después de obtener ilegalmente una confesión de este.
Selwyn Raab, periodista investigador hizo una segunda investigación que identificó al verdadero asesino, Richard Robles.
Abby Mann hizo un film como una novela policíaca negra pero enfocada en los prejuicios y los derechos civiles.
Así en 1973 “Kojak and The Marcus – Nelson Murders” dirigida por Joseph Sargent e interpretada por Telly Savalas, fue emitida en Mayo de ese mismo año y marcó el comienzo de la serie.
La serie fue emitida por la CBS entre el 24 de octubre de 1973 y el 18 de marzo de 1978. Protagonizada por Telly Savalas interpretando al Teniente  Theo Kojak, de origen griego al igual que el actor, de la policía de Manhattan Sur  de Nueva York.
El incorruptible Kojak, un policía calvo, agudo, bueno con sus subordinados y que mantiene una excelente relación con su superior el Capitán Frank McNeil (Dan Frazer) no duda en cruzar la delgadísima línea que separan las normas policiales si es para atrapar al criminal y llevarlo ante la justicia.
Su equipo lo componen el joven oficial Bobby Cricket (Kevin Dobson) Stavros ( George Savalas hermano del protagonista) Saperstein (Mark Russell) y Rizzo (Vincent Conti).
En cada capítulo, dirigido por un director diferente, había estrellas invitadas, algunas ya consagradas como Paul Anka, Danny Aiello, Gloria Grahame, Elli Wallace y Shelley Winters.
Otras que en esos años ya gozaban de fama y  prestigio y eran un reclamo para los telespectadores, como James Woods, Christopher Walken, Carol Lynley (El rapto de Bunny Lake de Otto Perminger) Geraldine Page (Dulce pájaro de juventud de Richard Brooks) y  Louise Latham (Marnie la ladrona de Alfred Hitchcock).
Y otras que con el paso del tiempo alcanzarían la fama como Harvey Keitel, Silvestre Stallone y Richard Gere.
La serie ha envejecido bien. La música, compuesta por John Cavacas, Billy Goldenberg y Kim Richmond, dando entrada a los títulos de crédito con esas típicas letras amarillas de la época, introduce en la acción con la primera escena.
Rodada en escenarios naturales, es interesante ver Nueva York en esos años, vemos el tráfico que ya había y los maravillosos coches setenteros.
Volvemos a ver el aspecto de los setenta, camellos con sus abrigones con pieles en la solapa, chivatos con pantalones de campana , macarras de barrio con sus pantalones a cuadros y corruptos constructores que llevan camisas de chorreras a recepciones con el alcalde.
La destartalada comisaría, en el distrito de Manhattan Sur, está pidiendo a gritos una mano de pintura.
Cada capítulo dura unos 48′ sin conexión entre uno y otro, excepto por sus protagonistas.
Para retroceder a aquellos años y ver un Kojak moderno con diálogos agudos y sin pelos en la lengua.

“Raw Meat” (Gary Sherman, 1973)


Sinopsis: En los subterráneos de Londres se suceden numerosas desapariciones. Una pareja y un detective de policía descubren que allí habita una sociedad caníbal. (FILMAFFINITY)

by John M. Miller  / Fuente: tcm.com

Raw Meat (1973) (titled Deathline in its original British release) is an intelligent horror film which on the surface seems to regurgitate several of the familiar tropes of the genre: there is a desperate killer who strikes in a dark, remote location; a personified horror whose origin revels something even darker in the nature of mankind as a whole; a symbol of authority who attempts to root out the evil; and an abduction of a young beauty by a horrendous “beast.” These elements, however, play out in surprising and non-traditional ways, with moments of shocking horror followed by scenes that mix tenderness with repulsion. The movie surprises because both reactions are elicited by the same unforgettable character, named in the credits only as “the ‘Man'” – one of the most pathetic and pitiable homicidal maniacs in the history of film.

An unexpected music score — a throbbing and unsettling bump-and-grind strip-club selection – opens the film as a bowler-hat-wearing “gentleman” is frequenting a neon-soaked corner of the Soho district of London. This example of the upper crust (James Cossins) exits a club and heads for the Russell Square Station of the London Underground – the Tube. He propositions a lone woman on the platform and is kneed in the crotch for his crude remarks. Now alone on the platform, the man is approached by something more sinister. Later, two students – American Alex Campbell (David Ladd, son of matinee idol Alan Ladd) and Londoner Patricia Wilson (Sharon Gurney) – exit the train and see the man slumped on the steps. Alex does not want to get involved (“In New York you walk over these guys”), while Patricia is more compassionate (“He might be a diabetic – see if there’s a card in his wallet”). The couple discovers that the victim is James Manfred, OBE; they fetch a policeman, but when they return to the steps, Manfred is gone. This disappearance triggers a high-level investigation by the working-class Inspector Calhoun (Donald Pleasence), assisted by Detective Sergeant Rogers (Norman Rossington). An analysis of the history of the tube station sheds little light on any possible culprits in the recent murders and disappearances. When this particular section of the tube system was being built in 1892, a cave-in trapped eight men and four women in a cavernous area where a railway was being laid. Rather than launch a rescue attempt, the railway company wrote off the victims for dead. In fact, some survived – on rats and tunnel victims, no doubt – and bred a few generations worth of hidden underground dwellers. There are only two survivors left, the “Man” (Hugh Armstrong) who tends to his dying, pregnant mate (June Turner).

Though a British film, Raw Meat was the feature debut of American director Gary Sherman, who began his career making shorts, commercials, and TV Specials in his native Chicago. Raw Meat is confident and accomplished; the story is Sherman’s and he manages two linked, complementary storylines, each very different in tone. Above ground, British class differences are played out and satirized through the sardonic words and actions of Inspector Calhoun, while in the underground the struggle is for survival, as base emotions and instincts are tested and played out in their most raw state.

In one amazing dialogue-free shot, clocking in at over seven minutes, the viewer is shown the fate of the missing man in the tube station as well as the dire circumstances of the Underground dwellers. The shot, accomplished with a constantly moving camera, is the sort of audacious undertaking that an ambitious first-time director might be expected to attempt, but it is entirely successful in establishing mood as well as displaying – in the most compact but graphic way – the accumulated handiwork of eighty years worth of ghoulish desperation and cannibalistic depravity. Accompanying the almost unimaginable imagery is a soundtrack of dripping liquids, disembodied heartbeats, moaning, and an aural flashback to the horrible cave-in that trapped the original wretches. Interestingly, the British studio Amicus had recently produced two adaptations of the notorious American EC horror comic books of the 1950s, in the anthologies Tales from the Crypt (1972) and The Vault of Horror (1973). While those films captured the tongue-in-cheek humor of the original stories, it was Raw Meat that more effectively brings to life the quintessential EC yarns drawn by “Ghastly” Graham Ingels, peopled by pathetic ghouls and unspeakable scenes of putrescence, disease, and festering decay.

 

The tone of Raw Meat, like the plot, effortlessly shifts from the gruesome to the arch, thanks in large part to a wonderful performance by Donald Pleasence as Inspector Calhoun. The veteran actor takes what could have been a stock character and presents a fully rounded, spirited – though somewhat reluctant – working-class official. Highly intelligent, Calhoun is cynical and sardonic but shows himself to be a creature of habit, demanding his tea at the proper times. In thorough contrast to the horrors of existence that the “Man” suffers in the tube station, Calhoun grouses at the extreme inconvenience of having his beverage made with teabags and makes a point to stab the bag with a dart and plop it with disdain on the floor. One stark scene becomes a battle of wills between Calhoun and Stratton-Villiers, a stuffy upper-class MI5 Agent played in an amusing cameo by a strident and stiff-as-a-board Christopher Lee.

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In a lengthy review of Raw Meat that appeared in the Village Voice, Robin Wood has high praise for the film, saying it “…vies with Night of the Living Dead (1968) for the most horrible horror film ever. It is, I think, decidedly the better film: more powerfully structured, more complex, and more humanly involved. Its horrors are not gratuitous; it is an essential part of its achievement to create, in the underground world, the most terrible conditions in which human life can continue to exist and remain recognizably human.” Wood observes that the structure of the film “…is strong without being schematic; one can’t talk of allegory in the strict sense, but the action consistently carries resonances beyond its literal meaning.” Wood sees several intentional parallels between the Underworld and the “Over-world”; for example, “the desperate, totally committed need of the underground cannibal for his dying wife is set against the casualness of the young American student, who can manage little beyond a shrug when his girl, Pat, walks out on him.” Wood acknowledges that Ladd’s performance is “ineffectual,” but for him that doesn’t unduly damage the film: “…The point lies partly in the superficiality of the ‘surface’ characters, as against the intense desires and needs of their Underworld counterparts.” Wood also notes that the structure of the film is given even greater complexity “…by the introduction of a third term of comparison, Inspector Calhoun. Against the coolness of the student and the desperation of the cannibal is set his tough resilience, the sarcasm, invective, and cynicism that are his protection against loss and aloneness…”

Reviewing Raw Meat for the genre magazine Cinefantastique (Vol. 3, Number 2), Reynold Humphries calls Raw Meat “a fine and noble film” and “…one of the most intelligent contributions to the genre in recent years, with a complexity of inter-relating ideas that one finds only in the best works.” Humphries makes note of the film’s emphasis on caste politics, as well as the attitudes toward violence. “Whereas the indifference of the American stems from being conditioned to violence in New York, that of the British ruling class is due to the arrogance of an imposed class superiority. The Establishment is shown to be split on class lines and only the young people come out of it well…”

For the American release, distributor American International not only slapped the film with a more exploitative title, they sidestepped any hint of gruesomeness or satire. Instead, their publicity artwork featured wild misrepresentation in the form of shapely blonde zombies with pink shrouds falling off their shoulders. The tagline shown on the posters read: “Beneath modern London – buried alive in its plague-ridden tunnels lives a tribe of once humans. Neither men nor women, they are less than animals…they are the raw meat of the human race!” Director Sherman went on to direct the quirky Dead & Buried (1981) and the big-budget studio sequel Poltergeist III (1988), but has mostly worked in television since 1990.

by John M. Miller

“Tarde para la ira” (Por Begoña Eguskiza)


Por primera vez Raúl Arévalo se pone tras la càmara con un “thriller” y con una primera secuencia sorprendente: Atraco a una joyería, la persecución correspondiente, los ladrones y coches de la policia que acaba en un accidente. Aquí termina la secuencia para dar paso a los títulos de crédito. A continuación van apareciendo los personajes y el escenario.

Quinquis de barrio, Ana (Ruth Álvarez), su marido Curro (Luis Callejo) que está en el talego. Juanjo (Raúl Jiménez) hermano de Ana y que regenta un bar en un barrio deprimido de Madrid, donde los clientes sin nada mejor que hacer, apuestan cubatas jugando al mus, en las sobremesas calurosas de agosto. José (Antonio de la Torre) que aparece en un hospital sentado al lado de una cama donde hay un hombre en coma.

Sabemos de los protagonistas solo lo que ve y en la primera parte, que se desarrolla en el barrio, bares, gimnasios de macarras, paro, no tenemos más información, los personajes van construyendo la trama sin que sepamos encajar bien las piezas.

Es en la segunda parte con toque de Western, a resaltar una escena donde aparece ese quinqui redimido que ahora se dedica a la cría de cerdos y donde la película se convierte en una “road movie”, empiezan a encajar todas las piezas.

La historia va tomando otro cariz, pese a abandonar el barrio deprimido y adentrarnos en el campo y en pequeños pueblos donde los quinquis han cambiado de vida, la historia va ennegreciéndose por momentos y se vuelve cada vez más cruel e inesperada.

Una trama que nos mantiene en tensión hasta el final, de juventudes desperdiciadas, de vidas rotas, de odio, de ira y venganza .

“Tarde para la ira” / Duración: 92 min. / Director: Raúl Arévalo / Guion: Raúl Arévalo, David Pulido / Música: Lucio Godoy / Fotografía: Arnau Valls Colomer / Reparto: Antonio de la Torre, Luis Callejo, Ruth Díaz, Manolo Solo, Alicia Rubio, Raúl Jiménez, Font García