What do you know about Val Kilmer? That he was Batman in Joel Schumacher’s campy ‘Batman forever‘? That it was notoriously difficult to work with him during the disastrous production of “L’île du Dr Moreau”? Or that he had a two-year battle with throat cancer? You may be familiar with the work of Val Kilmer, an actor who has always considered himself a “serious actor” despite some silly roles as in ‘Top Gun‘, but you might not know Val Kilmer’s life. “Val” by Leo Scott and Ting Poo is a documentary composed of narration and personal images that Val Kilmer himself filmed, creating a self-reflective portrait of not only Val Kilmer, but also any member of the audience who sits on it. ‘identifies as an artist.
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‘Val Kilmer’ – The Beauty of the Self-Chronicle
We live in the era of the auto-chronicle, where we recount our daily life with our phones and cameras. Val Kilmer has taken a step ahead by filming his life from childhood and into his adult life. The movie is mostly made up of those family movies, from the movies Val shot as a child with his brothers to the behind the scenes footage that Val shot on set from the movies to the home audition tapes that Val himself took. filmed. These sequences are some of the most charming parts of the movie, to see Sean Penn and Kevin bacon moon Kilmer’s camera to watch Val’s audition tapes for famous movies he didn’t get the role for like ‘Goodfellas‘ and ‘Full Metal Jacket‘.
After fighting a two-year battle with throat cancer which caused long-term effects for Kilmer (Kilmer’s voice is now impaired, the film uses subtitles when he speaks and his son does the voice. off the film in his place), Kilmer, like many struggling artists, felt more compelled than ever to tell his story. The beauty of Val’s efforts to film his life is that even with a strain in his voice, he is able to share his story and relive his life. Through his home movies, he and the audience can see how his life has evolved and how far he has come. That alone creates a heartwarming and even inspiring film, where we can’t help but feel a new appreciation for life upon seeing Val’s dedication and appreciation for her own life.
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Val’s family films also create a hopeful family theme in the film, as does the current footage from the movie of Val with his children and ex-wife. With a lot of footage we see a side of Val Kilmer that we don’t see too often and that’s how close he is to his family. There are old family movies of Val doing cheap movies with his brothers, current footage of Val spraying a silly string on his son, and a whole footage of Val visiting his alma mater with his son. Heck, his son, Jack, even does his father’s voice, reading the words his father wrote. With the family aspect in this movie, it’s easy to see that Val not only tells his life story for us but also for his children, leaving them a tangible tale of who he is and who their family is. He leaves them a diary that they will hopefully share with their own children one day so that Val’s story will last forever.
“Val”: representation or performance
‘Val ‘is a raw documentary where Val Kilmer is the most vulnerable and thoughtful. With Val’s constant discussions about the importance of taking action to him, from sharing his intense method of action stories to his desire to be seen as a “serious actor,” one has to wonder just how important Val is. honest, especially looking at the footage shot during the set turbulence of ‘Dr Moreau’s Island’. Val is a performance artist, even becoming more experimental later in life, so you have to know: Is “Val” an honest portrayal of the actor or a performance of how the actor wants to be perceived?
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The documentary functions both as a diary in which Val Kilmer lets the world take a peek and as a presentation of how good Val Kilmer is as a performer. Much of the film feels like reminding audiences of who Val Kilmer is now. He is no longer the young man in the photos with whom he still signs autographs, he has grown up and is much more complicated than “the guy who played Batman”. While the film appears to be a way for Val Kilmer to reclaim the stardom he once had, such as his solo show focused on Mark Twain before his cancer diagnosis, and therefore can be questioned as to the reliability of the film’s purpose.
The film begins with Jack Kilmer’s voiceover indicating that the film is about an actor, especially where the actor ends and the character begins. After watching the film, remembering this statement can lead to many questions. While Val has all of the raw house pictures and honest stories, it’s all his point of view after all. How honest is his own perspective on the events of his life? While the events of the film are not a performance, does Val see his current character as a mere performance? Is there a difference between the titular “Val” and the real Val Kilmer? The film, acting like a diary, does not give a clear answer to these questions raised, which is probably for the best, leaving audiences to wonder if Val is playing and if they or they also only perform a desired character.
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Fans of Val Kilmer’s work, from his’ 80s films to his modern performance art, will love the documentary ‘Val’ and its raw portrayal of the captivating figure. Fans of Val Kilmer will also appreciate the film’s use of personal footage, enjoying watching Val goof up with other big stars and all of his failed audition tapes. Artists of all kinds will also likely feel moved by the depiction of inspiration and art in the film, how art helps us through the most difficult times, how we all perhaps live thanks to the performance. ‘Val’ is a raw and emotional portrayal of not just an actor, but a human being.
‘Val’ is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Directors: Leo ScottTing Poo
Written by: Val Kilmer
Actors: Val Kilmer, Jack Kilmer, Mercedes Kilmer, Joanne Whalley
Through Brianna benozich
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