27 January 2014

The Brave

The Brave 1997
  • Director: Johnny Depp
  • Based on the book: by Gregory McDonald
  • Cast: Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando, Elpidia Carrillo, Marshall Bell, Clarence Williams III, Luis Guzmán, Cody Lightning, Nicole Mancera,  Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Pepe Serna
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Johnny Depp  Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Slow Burn, Cry-Baby, Edward Scissorhands, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Arizona Dream, Benny and Joon, Ed Wood, Don Juan DeMarco, Dead Man, Nick of Time, Donnie Brasco, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Ninth Gate, The Astronaut’s Wife, Sleepy Hollow, The Man Who Cried, Chocolat, Blow, From Hell, Lost in La Mancha, Pirates of the Caribbean (all four of them), Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Secret Window, Finding Neverland, Libertine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Public Enemies, Alice in Wonderland, The Tourist
    • Marlon Brando – Apocalypse Now, Don Juan DeMarco, Superman, Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Young Lions, Tea House of the August Moon, On the Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Wild One, Julius Caesar
    • Elpidia Carrillo – Bread and Roses, Salvador
    • Marshall Bell – A Slipping Down Life, Dick Tracy, Twins
    • Clarence Williams III – Purple Rain, The Mod Squad (my favourite series in the 60’s), other TV series
    • Luis Guzmán – He’s Just Not That Into You, The Limey, Boogie Nights, Carlito’s Way, Crocodile Dundee II, TV series
    • Cody Lightning – Brick, Smoke Signals
    • Nicole Mancera – Nick of Time
    • Floyd Red Crow Westerman – Hidalgo, Dharma and Greg, The X Files, The Doors, Dances with Wolves
    • Pepe Serna – Bread and Roses, My America, Postcards from the Edge, Silverado, Johnny Got His Gun, Red Sky at Morning, many TV series
  • Why? Johnny Depp. Fourteenth movie of JD marathon.
  • Seen: January 25, 2014
       If you’ve never seen The Brave let alone heard of it, I wouldn’t be surprised.  It’s JD’s only directing effort so far and for reasons that are not quite clear it has sunk almost completely into obscurity.
       The “brave” of the title refers both to a person of courage and to a macho Indian man caught in the structure of poverty, violence, alcoholism and prison. Rafael lives with his wife and two children in a dilapidated trailer house in a slum village on the edge of a scrap heap. They scavenge to survive.
       Rafael comes into contact  with a bizarre procurer for snuff movies, played by Brando as only Brando can, who will pay him $50,000 to be tortured and killed on film.  Rafael gets a week to put his life in order, and a wad of cash as a down payment.
       He creates a cheap but sparkly and vastly popular amusement park for his children, and the village. Everyone, especially his wife and former partner in crime, suspects him of having stolen the money.  He denies it and just says. “I got a job.”
       He recreates a loving relationship with his family and then he is shown returning to honour his macabre commitment.  The end.
       The big question is why?  Why do these people do what they do and why was JD so passionate about this story?  I understand the driving need to tell a story and I admire JD for doing this.  But it doesn’t really work.  The story is too weird. The characters are clichéd: gender, religion, class, love, family.
       I’m sure JD still loves this film as a parent who painfully loves a child who has been nothing but trouble only to fade into obscure adulthood.
       For his dedication, for the sincere attempt to portray what social misery will drive an individual to do, and for JD’s adequate acting in this, one of his standard roles, of a lost young man

2 ½ * of 5


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