I wouldn't be the Cinema Siren if I didn't occasionally guide you toward films that are off the usual course. I now direct your attention to a documentary that was released to wider audiences over the weekend, Corman's World: Exploits of A Hollywood Rebel.
If you look at the names of the hundreds of movies Roger Corman shepherded as director or producer, you may understand why he was dubbed the "Schlockmeister," but don't let those names or that moniker fool you. He is the last man in Hollywood who deserves obscurity.
So much of what a film fan of today glories in was made possible at least in part by the prolific director/producer, yet few know his name. If you love the work of directors James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, Ron Howard or Martin Scorsese, you can thank Roger Corman, since he gave each of them a start or opportunity that led to their successful careers as filmmakers. He also brought some of the biggest names in film internationally like Akita Kurasawa, Ingmar Bergman and Frederico Fellini to greater fame in the US.
This documentary, directed by newcomer Alex Stapleton, explains lovingly, through interviews with many of the artists he influenced or mentored, why Corman richly deserves his recent Oscar Lifetime Achievement Award. Stapleton's passion project, six years in the making, makes new fans and admirers of us all for reasons so varied you'll have to watch the movie to choose your own. They all have reason to love him. And you will too.
While there are many heartfelt, candid interviews, famously interview-shy Jack Nicholson, who owes a great deal to Corman, will floor you with his sincerity and passionate appreciation. The doc is worth watching if for his interview alone.
It is, however, entertaining and enlightening, especially to the casual film fan, who will learn just how much one man can influence the future of film, from big Hollywood blockbusters to Indie genre flicks. For those of us already familiar with his part in movie history, it's a great reminder of how much one maverick can change the direction of a whole industry.
Kudos to Stapleton for drawing attention to a wonderful and important man in the history of film, and making it fun for us all.
Corman's World is playing at the West End Cinema. Cinema Siren's podcast interview with director Alex Stapleton is coming soon: check on www.artinsightsmagazine.com.
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