Sidney Lumet reinvented urban drama in the mid-'70s with the tough, entertaining pictures Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and Network. Since then he's cranked out a whole lot of unmemorable “product,” but studios and movie stars still adore him. Here's Lumet on Brando, from his new book, Making Movies (from which he'll read April 6 at Herbst Theatre): “Brando tests the director on the first or second day of shooting. What he does is to give you two apparently identical takes. Except that on one he is working from the inside, and on the other he's just giving you an indication of what the emotion was like. If the director prints the wrong one, he's had it. Marlon will either walk through the rest of the performance or make the director's life hell, or both.”
The Happy Ending
Was Brando faking it in Last Tango in Paris? A new 35mm print of Bertolucci's classic makes a weeklong appearance on the new Red Vic calendar. Also on tap: two weeks of Bruce LaBruce's Super 8 1/2 … This space recently ranted about the distribution problems of African films. One such film, Hyenas from Senegal, will indeed see the light of American screens this year. Based on Friedrich DYrrenmatt's play, The Visit, Hyenas will play the Red Vic (naturally) June 14-20 … The Embarcadero Landmark, the rain-delayed arthouse multiplex in the downtown towers, has finally set its grand opening for July 14. The Bastille Day program won't include Red, White and Blue, but it's an even money bet that one of the films will star Gerard Depardieu.
Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!
Swimming With Sharks (formerly known as The Buddy Factor) is roaring toward a May 5 opening locally. An abusive movie producer is taken hostage by his fed-up underling — but it's more than just a vicious satire of Hollywood, according to co-producer Buzz Hays, former sound whiz at Lucasfilm's THX division. “Anyone who's ever hated their job can relate to it,” Hays says … In our unflagging campaign for the underdog, this space has offered the first small breeze of publicity to numerous Bay Area independent filmmakers. A young lady by the name of Tiffany DeBartolo is now directing her first low-budget effort, Dream of an Insomniac, in Emeryville and San Francisco. What's that? There's something familiar about that last name? At least she only had to make one phone call to raise her budget, and didn't have to stoop to bugging you … Travesty of the week: KQED's monthly program now lists corporate sponsors alongside the show they underwrite. As country singer-songwriter Kinky Friedman observed 20 years ago, “Everything's been sold American.”
By Michael Fox