Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The Lion of the Screen, and What Made Him Roar
He was famous for wearing a T-shirt and jeans decades before it became the default uniform of every Hollywood and Silicon Valley worker bee. Pic right shows Brando on the set of the 1054 movie, On The Waterfront, Turner Networks
By MICHIKO KAKUTANI in The New York Times. Published: December 8, 2008
SOMEBODY The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando By Stefan Kanfer Illustrated. 350 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $26.95.
(Faber & Faber in UK/Commonwealth)
He mumbled a lot and was often silent when you expected him to talk, but there was a drama to those pauses and a raw, animal physicality to his every move. When he was young, his beauty was a magnet to women and men alike, but it was his willingness to expose his own tortured conflicts in his work — his vulnerability and anger, his naïveté and brooding melancholy — that made millions of strangers enshrine him as a symbol of a new, rebellious generation, sick of the correct poses and posturings of the past and committed to an unvarnished authenticity and emotional truth.
He was hailed as the “Byron from Brooklyn” (though he was from Nebraska, not New York), a “genius hunk,” “the Valentino of the bop generation” and the essence of “the primitive modern male.” John Huston said he was “like a furnace door opening” — so powerful was the heat he gave off. Eva Marie Saint said he had the ability “to see through you” and make you feel “like glass.” Jack Nicholson said he had a gift that “was enormous and flawless, like Picasso”: he “was the beginning and end of his own revolution.” Of course, Marlon Brando was not the end of the revolution he brought to acting. Mr. Nicholson, along with James Dean, Paul Newman, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio are all his heirs, and to watch the movies made before and after such iconic Brando films as “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “On the Waterfront” is to see a paradigm shift from the heightened, stylized theatricality of old-time Hollywood to the immediate, intimate and gut-churning world of the Method.