Top positive review
A good documentary. A funny man entertains and you learn a little about his life
on November 5, 2016
Bottom Line First
Were you to watch American Master’s Mel Brooks Make a Noise; having no idea who Mel Brooks is or why you should care, you would come away entertained and motivated to seek out his movies. If you had closely followed his career, read some of what has been published and seen previous interviews and documentaries; Make a Noise is still entertaining and has some new info. It is neither definitive nor exhaustive. I would hope it is not the final. Mel Brooks retains his high energy and his professional friends their respect. My Recommendation: this is a must for Mel Brooks fans and fans of biography lite. Maybe not so much for film students or seekers for the ‘real’ biography.
I enjoyed the Mel Brooks installment to the Public Television series American Masters. The combination of previous interviews and outtakes from the movies is a fairly standard technique, but the innovative technique was to interview Mel and may of his associates on an empty studio lot against a basic white screen. Camera gear and audio equipment are frequently visible. Creativity need not be any more complex and the simplicity of staging created an immediate contrast with those of the Brooks Movies.
The adulatory interviews from this fellow writers and actors are like so many of these interviews, a canned predictability. It is rare for the people of the film and entertainment business to have less than glowing comments to say about successful members of their profession. If you listen closely you can pick up shade of what may be resentment over his tendency to dominate, if only by nervous energy almost any room he enters. Also clear from Mel and his associates is his tendency to push a joke too far.
There is an important other aspect to the otherwise usual comments from movie associates. His late wife, Anne Bancroft is quoted posthumously. They had shared a long and loving relationship. One of the things she makes known about Mel Brooks was that he was well read and a deeply thinking man. It is also reported that Mel had created an independent production company for her and though that company both Ms Bancroft and many another independent film maker found artistic outlets in major movie release.
Make a Noise is typical of the American Masters Series. It is adulatory and not very analytical. It lacks in critical analysis. It is not part of the AM creed to add to the knowledge base by delving too deeply behind the official versions or to question the accepted outline of the selected Masters. It may be unfair to expect more from the producers of what is always a classy presentation. In the case of Mel Brooks, I hope he is worth at least one more effort to capture this very funny and creative American.