Saturday, August 22, 2015


LISTEN TO ME MARLON is another documentary based (mostly) on historic footage and audio tape, a la the recent masterpiece on Amy Winehouse, AMY. There are a few moments in MARLON depicting Brando's boyhood where there seems to be recreated scenes, but otherwise the film relies on historic news and movie footage to supplement audio recordings Brando made later in life either looking back on his career or his boyhood, or talking to himself (thus the "Listen to me Marlon"—i.e. his addressing himself) in what he seems to have labeled "SELF HYPNOSIS" tapes.

The discovery that Brando had taped himself (along with having a hologram made of his head speaking, including reciting lines from Shakespeare plays) is what generated this film. Brando intentionally recorded himself correcting the record of his life from his perspective and it is as revelatory as everything else this iconic figure did in his life.

If you were influenced by Brando's movie roles when they first appeared, as I was, or saw them later and felt their impact, or are one of the many actors or viewers who consider him to be the greatest movie actor of his time, or any time, you'll dig this film. But even if you don't agree with those who see Brando as a towering historic cultural figure, this movie might still be for you, because it tells a unique though classic tragic tale of personal triumph and personal failure. Brando's story could almost be another Greek myth about hubris and its tragic results.

I would have made a few other selections in the movie scenes that director Stevan Riley chose to illustrate various points in Brando's life and career, and his impact on movie acting, and would have loved to have seen and heard more from his family and intimate friends, in fact I wish I could have heard more of the tapes and could easily have sat through two films culled from his archives. But for most viewers I'm sure this film will satisfy any curiosity they might have about the man who changed the art of film acting as well as impacted the culture of the 1950s and '60s and beyond.  

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