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Hollywood's Most Polarizing Power Players Gets His Due In This Engaging Documentary
on December 20, 2012
Premiering as a part of PBS's American Masters series, "Inventing David Geffen" is an engaging look at one of Hollywood's more polarizing power players. David Geffen has made his share of enemies through the years, but there is no denying his impact and success in the entertainment world. Susan Lacy's documentary takes a look primarily at Geffen's rise and his legacy. It's a candid, mostly positive, portrait in which many of Geffen's contemporaries acknowledge the man's volatile reputation while giving credit for his many accomplishments. "Inventing David Geffen" is certainly a respectful tribute. I wouldn't say it is an all encompassing vision of Geffen, though. Lacy's film rarely mentions struggles, hardships, or genuine unpleasantness. Every move Geffen made in his life seems to have led to a pre-determined success story. But if you love the business, Geffen's story is definitely one for the ages.
Admittedly, I probably knew more about Geffen than many before watching this film. But I was still quite impressed by his longevity, the many hats he's worn, and the way he has been able to navigate through different facets of the entertainment industry. Geffen has been an agent, a talent manager, a record mogul, and a movie producer. He manipulated his way into the business with a brashness and single-mindedness that is almost awe inspiring. And he made a name for himself with his dogged determination and commitment to his acts. He followed his heart and his passions and, in doing so, became a force to be reckoned with. I may not always have agreed with his methods, but I'm sure he doesn't much care what I think as he sits upon his empire's throne! And that's perfectly okay. Geffen represents the perfect storm of artistic integrity and business acumen and naked ambition. It's a combination that has worked for him!
The film itself unfolds in a largely chronological order as it traces Geffen's ascent. It is quite specific about and spends the most amount of personal time in his early stages as an agent and manager. Lacy incorporates plenty of performances and clips along the way from the projects in which Geffen had a hand and this keeps things quite entertaining. There isn't a lot of extraneous personal information, a few sidelines with Cher and the topic of his sexuality notwithstanding. We just follow a kid with a dream up until he's attempting to revolutionize Hollywood with the Dreamworks collaboration. Again, this is an easy recommendation for anyone with an interest in the world of entertainment. Geffen has a singular story, I'm not sure someone could even approximate his career path in this day and age. Fascinating stuff. It doesn't show everything, but I'm happy enough with the result. And there are a ton of famous faces that contribute to the film. KGHarris, 12/12.