Mini-Review: A Fuller Life (2013)

fullerlife_1Starring James Franco, Jennifer Beals, Bill Duke, James Toback, Kelly Ward, Perry Lang, Robert Carradine, Mark Hamill, Joe Dante, Tim Roth, Wim Wenders, Monte Hellman, Buck Henry, Constance Towers, William Friedkin

Directed by Samantha Fuller

Expectations: High. I love Sam Fuller!

threehalfstar


A Fuller Life is a wonderful tribute from a daughter to her father. Samantha Fuller hasn’t put together a documentary, but more a concise, visual version of Sam Fuller’s memoir, A Third Face. This approach seems like an odd choice at first, but much like the films of Sam Fuller himself, A Fuller Life carves its own path and succeeds in creating something unique and worthwhile.

The script is composed of selections from A Third Face, read by his friends, colleagues and admirers. Each person puts their own energy and interpretation into the reading, and coupled with the undeniable truth and spirit of Fuller’s words, it plays almost like a final collaboration with the iconoclast. Through their performances, Fuller’s words come alive and transcend the printed page, even for someone like me that has already read the book.

fullerlife_2Not only does this non-traditional style work for this film, it’s perhaps the only way to properly paint a picture of Sam Fuller as vibrant and affecting as the man himself. A traditional documentary might catch glimpses of the fire and the passion of his words, but in A Fuller Life it’s almost like having Fuller himself telling you a quick version of his story and struggles. The material is riveting, and each reader is exceptional well-suited to the passages they read. The film reminded me of everything I love about Sam Fuller, both the man and the director, and this overview of his life allowed me to appreciate even more just how incredible his story was.

If you’re a Fuller fan, it’s definitely worth your time, and if you’re Fuller-curious I’d say that outside of Fuller’s own films, it’s probably the best introduction you could ask for.

A Fuller Life has been recently released to DVD, currently available exclusively on the Chrisam Films website. The DVD has a few bonus interviews, as well.

 

Buy & Cell (1987)

buyandcell_1Starring Robert Carradine, Michael Winslow, Malcolm McDowell, Lise Cutter, Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb, Ben Vereen, Tony Plana, Roddy Piper, Michael Goodwin, Fred Travalena, Mickey Knox, West Buchanan, Tony Carroll

Directed by Robert Boris

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-movie scale:
twohalfstar


When a comedy opens with a suicide and it plays the scene for laughs, you know you have a tonally strange film on your hands. Buy & Cell is a hard film to get into, but once it finds its footing and kicks into the plot proper, it’s a pretty fun “Let’s stick it to the rich assholes” ’80s movie. I’d say this one is strictly for those that consider themselves ’80s aficionados, as just about everyone else will be left wondering why there’s crazy ideas like a schizophrenic character that thinks he’s a VCR (complete with rewinding himself) or how these prisoners could have an entire dance club and hot tub squirreled away in their rec room. It’s not so much a matter of “Why?” in an ’80s film, but “Why Not?”

Robert Carradine, the quintessential ’80s nerd thanks to Revenge of the Nerds, plays Herbie, an employee at a stock brokerage firm who’s been set up as a fall guy for the owner’s embezzlement of company funds. Herbie is sentenced to 13 years of hard time in the federal penitentiary, but he doesn’t go in scared or all that nervous. He knows he’s innocent, so he instead chooses to bide his time. The warden (Malcolm McDowell) is another shady asshole, asking Herbie to work for him on the side, trading stocks. Herbie refuses, but when his cellmate Sly (Michael Winslow) needs some fast cash to get out of some major debts, Herbie decides to give investment banking one more shot for the good of the prisoners. Like I said, why not?

Continue reading Buy & Cell (1987) →

The Big Red One: The Reconstruction (1980/2004)

The Big Red One: The Reconstruction (1980/2004)

Starring Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby Di Cicco, Kelly Ward, Siegfried Rauch, Marthe Villalonga

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: High. Been wanting to see this restoration since it came out.


This may be one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever written. Above all, I want to do justice to the film and to the memory of the Fightin’ First, the Big Red One. Like never before, after viewing Sam Fuller’s The Big Red One, I feel that I grasp the immensity of their service in World War II and their contribution to the war effort. Viewing the film takes the audience on the journey with the soldiers, almost like an embedded reporter out to capture the reality of the situation. It is remarkable and somewhat unfathomable that with so much death surrounding them, these men were able to come out as survivors. The Big Red One is a film that creeps up on you in subtle ways and before you know it, you realize that you absolutely love it.

Sam Fuller brings distinct credibility to the film, himself a member of the Big Red One during the times covered in the film. The film forgoes a distinct plot and takes on an episodic format that plays out like a war diary. It’s rather ironic that this type of semi-fragmented film actually ends up packing in more narrative, character arcs and genuine excitement than most traditional films. After recently viewing Saving Private Ryan again, I was a bit worried about watching this so close after. Both films cover the Normandy beach invasion and have similar themes.

Continue reading The Big Red One: The Reconstruction (1980/2004) →

Subscribe via Email!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 62 other subscribers

Ongoing Series

Top Posts & Pages