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!

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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.

 

The Day of Reckoning (1990)

dayofreckoning_1Starring Assumpta Serna, Cris Campion, Philippe Léotard, Samantha Fuller, Manuel Pereiro, Christa Lang

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: Low.

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According to Sam Fuller’s book, A Third Face, The Day of Reckoning was the final directorial work of Sam Fuller (though not the last released). It’s not a feature film, it’s actually a 50-minute episode of the anthology program Chillers, hosted by Anthony Perkins. But this doesn’t diminish the fact that it is a Sam Fuller film at its heart, so when I realized that the storyline was going hard into an animal rights stance, I could only smile. Sam Fuller had confronted social injustice against humans throughout his filmmaking career. With White Dog he explored similar themes, but the dog was still just another method of humanity’s social injustices. With The Day of Reckoning, Fuller goes one step further and takes on factory farming and the injustices done to chickens in the name of the almighty dollar.

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