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Posts tagged ‘American Masters’

Funniest Documentary Ever Made! Monday, May 20 at 9pm on PBS! Of course, it’s “Mel Brooks: Make a Noise!”

Dear Readers, dear cineastes, dear lovers of theatre, you’re a in for a real, rich treat! You’ll never be able to stop laughing! I swear! “Mel Brooks: Make a Noise!” is coming your way on Monday, May 20. Stop the presses! Save the date! Circle it in red on your calendar! It’s something that I’ve never seen before on American Masters. It’s non-stop funny! It captures Brooks quite completely at his laugh-out-loud best. It’s hysterical. How many documentaries do you see that tickle your funny-bone? Almost none. So hooray for “Make A Noise”!

The new documentary on the comedy legend premieres nationally
Monday, May 20 at 9pm (ET/PT) on PBS (check local listings)
On DVD From Shout! Factory May 21, 2013

Oy! It’s soooo funny! I’ve already watched it TWICE! I can’t stop! Documentarian Robert Trachtenberg firmly restores Mel Brooks to the position from which his last Broadway flop, the musical of “Young Frankenstein” toppled him a few years back. He’s the American King of Comedy, a giant in the industry, a comic legend, and all those other great descriptions which really almost do not do him justice.

Except for the omission of “Mel Brooks: Young Frankenstein:The Musical” which would’ve been its ending, “Mel Brooks:Make a Noise” is well-nigh perfect. But it would have been too sad to end this joyous, mirthful man’s life story there.

It’s instructive that when Brooks’ career hits his mid-life low point, Trachtenberg even makes his flops look and sound funny.

And there’s a lot of news here, too. Like for instance, that the young Melvin Kaminsky started out as a drummer, among other things.

That his first taste of show business was his Joe uncle, a cab driver, took him to see his first Broadway show at nine. “Hey, Mel. I’ve got two tickets to a brand new Broadway show.” the original “Anything Goes” with Ethel Merman. And they even have a brief black and white clip of Merman onstage singing “Blow, Gabriel Blow” in 1934!

Brooks’ comment “It was thrilling! Thrilling! We were sitting in the last row of the second balcony. There were no mikes. Ethel Merman was still too loud and she was two miles away!”

And so this brilliant doc rolls on and on like a comic juggernaut, that REFUSES to stop making you life out loud at every turn.

We find out that his father died when he was two and that he was raised in “real poverty” in Willlamsburg, Brooklyn, with his three brothers. And a mother whom he adored.

We find that he was in World War II. That he had a first marriage, and three children.

That his marriage to Oscar-winning actress Anne Bancroft was one of the most enduring, true love stories in Hollywood history.

That he has trouble sleeping, stays up to three most nights and reads the classic.

Joan Rivers”You’re shocked to find out that this man is an intellectual.”

And on and on and on in a career that has so many highs its’ riduculous. “The Producers”(on film and on Broadway), “Blazing Saddles”, “Young Frankenstein”(The movie, not the musical) and everything else in between.

I have a Mel Brooks anecdote myself. I was sitting in the Broadway restaurant Angus McIndoe’s when “Young Frankenstein: The Musical” was about to close. Several years ago, and I said to my friend, “There’s Mel Brooks!” And he seemed totally absorbed in something. And he seemed very sad.

I couldn’t figure out what he was doing, he was so intent in his concentration, and that I realized that he was walking around to each picture on the walls and I saw that he was saying a silent “good-bye” to each one. Like he was saying “Good-bye” to Broadway. Like he felt he would never be back there again. And for the record, he hasn’t been. At least not yet. One thing “Mel Brooks: Make A Noise” makes clear is that you can never guess what Mel Brooks is going to do next. Can a musical version of “Blazing Saddles” be far behind?

SO in its own BIG way, American Masters “Make a Noise” is bringing about yet another great Mel Brooks come-back. He’s doing a huge promotional tour in support of this stupendous doc.

He can still make us laugh. We want him to. We need him to, that’s for sure.

Masterful Woody Allen doc on PBS! Part 2 tomorrow!

Dear Readers, Dear Cineastes, you MUST see the new Woody Allen doc on American Masters on PBS! It’s simply one of the best things I’ve ever seen on TV! And if you think you know Woody, think again! There is sooo much new material on Allen, who is really letting us see inside his life, in a way, he’s never done before…It was gripping, compelling, revelatory!

And Part Two is on tomorrow night! At 9pm! Monday night! So don’t miss it! It’s required viewing! I loved it!

I just sat there enthralled. I who have seen “Midnight in Paris” EIGHT TIMES! I was just overwhelmed how much this man, this one human being, had such an impact on my life. And of course, also, my work. It really is staggering.

Well, we’re both redheads, and we’re both native New Yorkers. He’s from Brooklyn. I’m from the Bronx.

He’s Jewish. I was raised Catholic.

And he emphasized things, in this, I guess, the official, authorized version of his life story, that I had assumed, but never thought he would admit. Like for instance, the impact Diane Keaton had on this life and work…Well, he starred her in SOOOOO many movies and he won her the Oscar for “Annie Hall” which remains to this day his only Academy Award winning movie…and also the same for Keaton.

She was certainly his great muse and the relationship endured for years, and he acknowledges her talent, and the impact she had on his life.  And I was staggered to be reminded just how many movies he starred her in. It was almost uncountable.

And the way he laid out, or the filmmakers did, just how his career grew and developed and CHANGED and evolved and I realized that I had seen every single one of his Part One movies. I was a die-hard fan in those days! I guess I still am.

Part Two is going to be very interesting, because I think it’s entitled “Woody and Mia” and it’s going to be very compelling to see how they handle his Second Act, which is plagued with The Scandal. And that hovers overz him, like a black cloud, to this day.

This was a very palpable (there’s that word again) plea for remembrance and re-consideration of his staggering oeuvre, coming right when it does at Oscar time, and when his great financial success “Midnight in Paris” is on everyone’s Oscar list.  Will he win Best Picture? Well, I think for sure he’s going to win Best Original Screenplay. And there will be more nominations in categories people aren’t expecting him and his film to turn up in. He may get a Best Director nomination. And Corey Stoll and Marion Cotillard may both turn up in the Supporting  categories and there may be many technical below-the-line, as they say, categories, where “Midnight in Paris” could score, too.

This really stupendous American Masters profile is one of the best,most vital things PBS has ever done. And it kept going back and back everytime to his writing. Emphasizing that it was his writing that everything flowed from.

So, yes, to a Best Original Screenplay win and I can’t wait to see Part Two tomorrow night!

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