Combustible Celluloid
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With: Marlon Brando
Written by: Stevan Riley, Peter Ettedgui
Directed by: Stevan Riley
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 95
Date: 08/07/2015

Listen to Me Marlon (2015)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

The Flawed Father

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed by Stevan Riley, the documentary Listen to Me Marlon brings Marlon Brando back to life, at least for a little while. During his lifetime, Brando recorded a large collection of tapes, ranging from spoken diaries to self-hypnosis to tapes that were meant to be heard by family members. The movie digs deeply into this collection and finds an order to it, and so, in a sense, Brando now narrates his own story. The title is a reference to the self-hypnosis tapes, wherein Brando talked to himself, offering himself a voice he could trust. Riley also makes use of some ghostly 3D digital scans that Brando, a technology nut, had taken of himself, but these are less prevalent, and less effective than his familiar voice. The movie tracks the biographical details of Brando's life, from his incredible success with the play and movie of A Streetcar Named Desire and other works, to his troubled private life, its tragedies, and its tales of women, obesity, and eccentric behavior. When it's finished, it leaves a strong impression, not of the tabloid version of Brando, but of the actual human being that many considered the greatest screen actor of all time. (Viewed at the 58th San Francisco International Film Festival.)

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