Saturday, June 4, 2011

Preview: Brando on Film

Is there anyone who had a more dynamic film career than Marlon Brando? Often regarded as the most talented and prolific actor of his generation, he stamped himself on the cinematic landscape with a number of high profile roles. The raw power displayed in A Streetcar Named Desire, Viva Zapata! and On The Waterfront established him as an electric performer, practically igniting the screen.

Although I can never deny the awesome display in his younger days, I often find myself fascinated by the Brando of the 1970s. Although not as incendiary in the middle of his career, he still burned on with intensity as seen in One-Eyed Jacks, Sayonara and Mutiny on the Bounty. His later work is more smoldering than blazing, but it reflects how he was able to adapt to older characters he presented to audiences. In many ways, Brando was like a boxer who learned the art of guile to counter a decline in brute strength, or like an aging basketball player who relies on intelligence rather than athleticism.

This week, The Paramount presents two films by the more mature Brando; presented by two special guests from The Alamo Drafthouse: Daniel Metz and Lars Nilsson.

In Burn!, Marlon plays Sir William Walker, a cynical mercenary who is hired to incite a slave revolt for economic reasons. Years later, he is hired again, this time to quash the political movement he helped create. Directed by Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo, it contains what Brando himself claims is some of his best acting work.

While The Last Tango in Paris is notoriously remembered for its erotic content, it does feature a vulnerability in Brando that harkens back to the tortured characters he portrayed in his youth. Here, he plays a middle-aged widower who begins an anonymous tryst with a young Parisian lady (Maria Schneider). Its controversy is far too lengthy to discuss here, but to this day it's a film that continues to polarize audiences nearly thirty years after its release.

Although Marlon would continue to take sporadic high-profile roles in later years such as Superman: The Movie, Apocalypse Now and A Dry White Season, he often was overshadowed by off-camera stories of his eccentric behavior. Nevertheless, Brando remains arguably the greatest actor to ever grace the silver screen. His power scorched every film he was in (with the possible exception of that Island of Dr. Moreau remake), and his passionate performances blazed a path for all actors to follow in his wake.

Showtimes for the films:

Wednesday, Jun 8th

Last Tango in Paris
Wednesday, Jun 8th

Final Notes about the screening
Double Features:
"When two movies are grouped together under the same thematic heading, one ticket is good for both features when viewed back-to-back on the same day." (cha-ching!)

"Hassle-free downtown parking available for $6 at the One American Center for all summer films! Since you’re also supporting the theatre when you buy parking, they're giving you a free small soda each time you park there for a film. Buy online with your film tix and print out your confirmation e-mail or buy directly from the garage attendant (cash only). Attendant will have your soda ticket as well."

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