Using a treasure trove of private audio recordings (reportedly more than 300 hours' worth) made by actor Marlon Brando throughout his life, "Listen to Me Marlon" offers a deeply personal tour of the late performer's life. Though undeniably one of the greats, Brando's legacy was diminished somewhat in his later years as he gained a reputation for being difficult to work with and making unusual career choices (see: "The Island of Doctor Moreau"). Stevan Riley's compelling documentary not only gives a new appreciation for the artist, but contextualizes a lot of those decisions as it delves into the many family tragedies in his life, including his son's manslaughter conviction and his daughter's suicide. As the years went on, Brando developed a cynical opinion of Hollywood that at times seemed to fester into outright hatred.
Brando touches on many of his most notable roles, and it's fascinating to hear him express his disappointment with the quality of his performance in a masterpiece like "On the Waterfront" (arguably his most acclaimed role). Riley makes recurring use of a digitized version of Brando's face, made in the 1980's when the actor believed the technique would be the future of filmmaking -- apparently imagining something along the lines of the world depicted in "The Congress." Mixed in with the archival footage and clips, the image makes for a ghostly, oddly beautiful motif. Paired with Brando's words, the effect is an idiosyncratic but moving portrait of a Hollywood legend.