Albert Maysles: 3 Shorts

Albert Maysles: 3 Shorts

****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Albert Maysles writes on his website: "As a documentarian I happily place my fate and faith in reality. It is my caretaker, the provider of subjects, themes, experiences - all endowed with the power of truth and the romance of discovery. And the closer I adhere to reality, the more honest and authentic my tales. After all, knowledge of the real world is exactly what we need to better understand and therefore possibly to love one another. It's my way of making the world a better place."

It is exactly this faith in reality that makes this collection of three short films so compelling, offering, as they do, a peek beneath the surface of celebrity.

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The first - Meet Marlon Brando - is the most compelling of the three. The camera looks on as Brando takes part in a series of interviews in and around a New York hotel in 1965, as his latest movie Morituri (am I the only one who missed this one?) hits the cinemas. Brando is pixyish, charming, thoughtful and lascivious by turns in a series of meetings that say as much about the interviewers as they do about him. The Maysles brothers cleverly capture the vacuousness of the interviewers, clearly chosen more for their looks than their incisive questioning skills. There's the 22-year-old who gushes: "I love your new movie." "Oh, you've seen it?" asks the star. "Not yet," comes the unabashed response. Brando takes it all in good spirits and you sense that he is always on top - more questioning than questioned - giving each bright young thing the run-around but prepared to be drawn into more serious topics if he feels the questioner is worthy. A gem.

Next up is With Love From Truman - a recording of an interview by a journalist with Truman Capote about his novel In Cold Blood. Capote is as mannered as Brando was relaxed, seeming to select each word with care to maximise every point. The book, which he describes as a "non-fiction novel" concerns the murder of a family and to write it he met with the men who were ultimately executed for the crime. Despite the fussiness with which he selects each sentence for his interviewer, the camera captures something his answers can't - the sight of a man clearly moved by the experience of writing the book and forming relationships with the murderers - for whom the memories linger on.

The final film in the trilogy is from a different decade entirely (1980). Shot in the run up to the famous Mohammad Ali v Larry Holmes bout - the one many feel was a fight too far for Ali - it is an unbiased view of them both. Ali is his bullish self, while Holmes appears more reasoned, but the Maysles capture something beneath the words - the men's mutual respect. Tracking them from gym to home and back again, this is a revealing and balanced portrait which truly offers the "romance of discovery."

Reviewed on: 18 Aug 2005
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Short documentary records interviews with Marlon Brando, Truman Capote and Mohammad Ali.

Director: Albert Maysles, David Maysles

Year: 1966

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: US

Festivals:

EIFF 2005

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