Charlie J (nl)
The only person who would have ever thought about making a film documentary of former CIA Director William Colby must be related to him. In fact, his son Carl Colby did just that. William Colby was a driven individual who lived during interesting times and ended up in a fascinating job; however, this does not increase his suitability to carry an entire documentary. Intercutting very intriguing historical film vignettes, nostalgic and archived pictures, and one-on-one interviews with some very famous and influential public servants from the last few decades, The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of my Father CIA Spymaster William Colby charts the course of Colby's life from the attack on Pearl Harbor until his death five decades later. The main subjects include Colby's involvement in the earliest form of the Office of Strategic Services, his time in Italy in the 1950s, his back and forth involvement in Vietnam from America's earliest involvement to its last gasp, and his controversial stint as CIA Director. The historical film footage dug up and effectively edited is the best part of this documentary. A lot of this footage is from familiar places we have all seen in documentaries before, but this footage seems new and freshly unearthed. There are scenes from the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack with lifeless casualties floating in the water, there are scenes of brutal interrogation methods from the Vietnamese jungle, and most compelling, there are scenes where we listen to President Kennedy and his brother discuss overthrowing the South Vietnamese President. Colby was the CIA station chief in Vietnam from 1959-1962 and knew the players very well there. The arrival of new Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, his destructive heavy-handedness, and the eventual coup and assassination of President Diem and his brother are shocking to see even in 2011. Vietnam and its Phoenix Program would go on to define and represent Colby for the rest of his life. President Nixon appointed him CIA Director in 1973 after he fired Richard Helms for not helping enough to cover up Watergate. However, Colby was not a party man. He would not roll over and play fetch much to the consternation of President Ford. Ford appreciated loyalty more than anything else which is why Colby was eventually let go. There is a very telling monologue from Bob Woodward who paraphrases that President Ford told him he valued loyalty as number one which is why Cheney, Rumsfeld, and George Bush Sr. were his go to guys. There are eerie shadows of the future in 1975 footage of Bush Sr. assuming the job of CIA Director and Cheney and Rumsfeld in the background in certain scenes. It is not Colby's fault that most of this documentary is just nice to know, gee-whiz information. Perhaps if Carl Colby chose to only focus on the Vietnam era issues this film would pack more of a punch. The up close interviews with people such as Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Rumsfeld, and Woodward are very telling, but they concern a man who had such a brief stint in the public eye that it is surprising there was not much to uncover in his private life. Colby was a guy who went to work every day and tried to maintain a steady family life; gentlemen such as this usually do not make for intriguing documentary subjects. His family life is explored and there is significant time devoted to his wife who provides information on their social lives while in Italy and Vietnam. Carl Colby shows he still has some very deep 'daddy' issues claiming his father was very distant, did not have any friends, could be cold, etc... It is hard to say what William Colby would think about this documentary if he were still alive. He was a very private man who kept his personal business at home so he probably would not appreciate its close examination. Furthermore, Carl was just a child during most of his father's CIA clandestine activities so there is a logical answer to the filmmaker's frequent exclamation that he never really knew who his father was.
Eric R (us)
I was in the mood for some good old fashioned camp so I decided to revisit Frank Henenlotter's Frankenhooker. The story revolves around Jeffrey (James Lorniz) a mad scientist of sorts, who pretty much loses his remaining marbles when his girlfriend, Elizabeth (Patty Mullen), is killed by one of his inventions, a remote control lawnmower. Determined to get her back, and with only Elizabeth's head attached, he decides to kill some Hookers using a super crack drug he creates, using the body parts to re-animate her. If you couldn't tell from the title alone, the synopsis should give you an indication that this is a Horror exploitation-comedy that revels in it's campy premise. James Lorinz central performance really is a great blend of eccentric and disturbing, really caring the film to a degree with this off-kilter performance. The whole thing is just really fun, and treated with this energetic sense of gross-out humor. A small but great example of this being the news report which James watches over and over again as a way of reminding himself of her. The news report is a great example of hysterical bad taste, at one point the reporter refers to Elizabeth, as a "tossed salad", which I just found hysterical. While this is a lot of fun, it's not as good as Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator, the obvious comparison, but I would still definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys these types of Campy exploitation horror flicks.
Liam C (ca)
After the film finished its title makes all the more sense, 'Being There', is a very different kind of film and the perfect goodbye from the one and only Peter Sellers. True, he made another film after this but this was the final one released in his lifetime and it shows us a side to Sellers that he hadn't shown until now; he was already a truly versatile actor but this adds another layer to an already impressive lineup.The story of this film is very unique, even if the set up is somewhat odd. I found it odd how they leave the house pretty much the moment after that person dies, surely someone would come to visit the house to take away the body? And Louise just left Chance all by himself, why didn't those two work together to get another job or at least have her help him in some way? We see that character come back later on, with a few others, and all she does is moan about how he hasn't ever tried to read or write. But how could you if you've never had anyone even introduce you to it? Why had no one ever try to do anything about anything to teach this man? Why does he pretty much not exist? I understand if you were born and raised in that house you wouldn't even have a concept of the outside world, and even if it is explained that he has never left. Why? Although, I guess I shouldn't really ponder on that because its just one of those concepts that exist to get everything else rolling, and when he leaves the house, the image of what we think it'll look like on the outside is shattered immediately. The way that everything unfolds in this story is very natural and it flows very well. At the start we see Chance watching something on TV where people shake hands and then moments later he has to actually do it, and besides a few other scenarios that aren't integral to the plot where this happens again, it was very believable, even if he did talk a lot longer than you thought someone would allow, especially on TV, about gardening. Although, saying that, I was still nervous for when he met the president and went on TV, Rand really had put a lot of faith in Chance after only having known him for a few days. The dialogue is excellently written and you really do feel that it makes sense where Chance ends up going where he does, as opposed to just getting there through clichs. It is also a very intelligent film, while I do feel the jabs at politics to be a nice addition as well as a nice addition to one of its themes, I don't think it was all that necessary but what I am referring to is all the little details that are just in the background, like the illuminati eye on the pyramid, the fact that he gets kicked out of a garden, eats an apple and meets Eve, as well as the character of Chance himself. Given the odd concept and the fact that I read something small before the film that a character was being kept alive by his illness, I thought this would dabble with fantasy but that wasn't the case at all, even if the end is rather ambiguous.Peter Sellers is an absolute wonder and while I agree that those out takes did seem to be a rather odd thing to watch, given how the film ended, but watching those really does highlight how much of an excellent and amazing job he really did. While I agree with the notion that once a film is over whatever happens next really shouldn't affect the film, but when it is something as personal as this, I think it kind of does. If the credits was just that piano song playing over text I think it would have added a lot more, while an actor stating that the credits are the reason they did win an accolade might just sound like they're making an excuse, although I doubt Peter Sellers' thought that way, I can see where they are all coming from. The Academy are known for making stupid decisions as well as rewarding those who didn't deserve it that particular year but give to them as more of a make-up, Hoffman was naturally great in 'Kramer vs. Kramer' and that film was a big winner that night, as well, but Sellers is on another level, heck, he deserved it for 'Dr Strangelove' as well as for everything else he ever did. I find it odd he didn't win the BAFTA either, however, another very deserving actor won it also, so it isn't all bad. However, like I have stated before, Hoffman's excellent speech that night quells any possible anger a person could have with The Academy. Melvyn Douglas, whilst sounding like, and reminding me of, Leonard Nimoy, was great in the film and I enjoyed his performance very much, even if I think the Oscar win is a little over the top, especially with competition, like Hoffman even stated in his speech; he is fine indeed, but as I've read, he seems to have won because of the sympathy votes, even if that is cruel to say. Shirley MacLaine was good too, I didn't like her character much at first, she kept putting her nose up at Chance but the moment he says he can do gardening she suddenly lightens up to him. The president had an odd introduction with him just wandering around the library uninvited and seemingly distrusting Chance, which makes sense, even though he used his quotes anyway. The cast of characters is certainly very memorable and they all stick out in one way or another. I thought that Allenby would have said, 'he certainly is' after being told that Chance was unique. And with the people Chance first meets, I bet they were happy he didn't put up a fight, even though I had expected him to not leave the house. I had also expected him to find, after that encounter a gravestone of a Rafael, but Chance was just using that as a waypoint. There's also a very odd reporter in this film that reminded me of Katharine Hepburn for some reason and she just stares into blankness after the light had went out. It was nice to see Chance get so well looked after when he arrived at the Rand estate, it felt like he deserved it. You could just tell from Chance's face, and especially his eyes, that he is extremely tired and has quite a sheltered life, although the the wheelchair seemed like a little much and what happened to his things? His suitcase just seemed to disappear! Seeing him get by just by sheer 'chance' was really heartwarming to watch. And he called for a limo at one point and poor them because they just get forgotten about. The comedy in this film is very underplayed and dry, despite some odd moments with the line, 'have you ever had sex with a man', oddly coming out of nowhere, would someone really be that open about it before you even knew a person? And I had expected Chance to fall on Eve whilst he was doing yoga, in a scene that felt pointless at first, but the film never did that and kept it consistent throughout, it is a very unique type of humour that isn't exactly gut busting funny but is quietly humorous. Although I found it funny an English based actor said things like closet and Fall, when others around him said wardrobe and Autumn. There also seems something so wrong with Fred Rogers being on the TV whilst Eve ends up doing what she does at the end of the first bed scene.The film had smart use of music, especially when Chance left the house for the first time, but the editing was odd at one point, a character is in the middle of a sentence, it cuts to the president for a short moment and then back again. While I can't think of anything that could be cut, nearing the end I did start to wonder why this film was 2hrs and 10 minutes because it really didn't feel like it needed to be that long, I don't have a problem with film length and it never dragged but it did feel strange. It is sad that this was called the return of Peter Sellers and that this rejuvenated his career given that he had died shortly after, even though that sounds mean and I always thought he did a good job in films, but 'Being There' is a perfect testament to what a wonderful talent he was, and it really is great that the film was finally green-lit in Seller's lifetime. A truly wonderful film and a perfect way to say goodbye. Saying the film is underappreciated, including awards, is an understatement but that also adds to its charm and mystique of the little gift that awaits those who find it; a perfect character driven story that truly is one of a kind.