Val (2021)

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Flack
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Val (2021)

Post by Flack »



In one of the film's most depressing scenes, Val Kilmer, Hollywood star Val Kilmer leans over to his manager and says, "I'd like to take a break." His words are subtitled; after his double-tracheotomy, his speech is difficult to understand. A wave of disappointment washes over his manager's face. At least a hundred men in their 40s and 50s in line at Comic-Con holding Batman toys and Top Gun posters, waiting to have them signed. After half a dozen more signatures ("Could you write 'You can be my wingman any time' and then write Iceman?"), Kilmer is moved to a couch behind a screen where he proceeds to vomit.

Val Kilmer grew up in California with his parents and two brothers, with whom he made dozens and dozens of 8mm and 16mm films -- some originals, some remakes, some parodies. While Kilmer's brother Wesley was more into directing their backyard films, it was Val who emerged as the actor. Val Kilmer was the youngest actor ever accepted into Julliard. He dreamed of performing Hamlet on the stage and working on Broadway.

But before he made it to the stage, Hollywood found him and put him in front of the camera. His jaw, blue eyes and puffy lips sold tickets. The year after making his debut in the spy parody Top Secret! (1984), he played young genius Chris Knight in 1985's Real Genius. The following year he played one of the roles that would define his career: Iceman, in 1986's Top Gun.

To hear Kilmer's version, he didn't much want any of it. According to him, he wanted to turn down the role of Iceman, but was contractually obligated to appear in the film. Kilmer, a method actor, sunk himself into the role by giving his character a complete backstory and creating a rivalry with Tom Cruise in real life on the set. A ew years later while performing in Tombstone, Kilmer demanded the art department fill the bed his dying character was laying in with ice to make it as uncomfortable for him as possible.

Modern clips of Kilmer are intertwined with home movies culled from his thousands of video tapes he recorded throughout the years. "I was the first person I knew with a video camera," Kilmer says, and one has to wonder if a day went by that he didn't film himself or the people around him. When he heard about the upcoming Full Metal Jacket, Kilmer donned military fatigues and made his own movie clips, sending them in as an unsolicited audition tape. (He didn't get the part.) He had better success a few years later when he did the same thing and landed the leading role in The Doors.

It's not until the film reaches Kilmer's behind the scenes footage from The Island of Dr. Moreau that one has to wonder just how reliable Kilmer's point of view is. While fighting with the director, Kilmer is asked to put down his video camera and rehearse a scene. The director seems less angry and more exhausted. What doesn't appear in the film is Kilmer's behavior on the set, which was well documented. One cameraman accused Kilmer of intentionally burning him in the face with a cigarette. Production was shut down for a day when Kilmer and leading man Marlon Brando had a stand-off over which one would leave their trailer first. Filming conditions on The Island of Dr. Moreau were so legendarily bad that they made a documentary about it (Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau ). Having seen that, the footage presented in Val seems (at best) to be one-sided.

As does the story of Kilmer's divorce. Minutes after admitting he wore the same pair of leather pants for almost a year while preparing for his role as Jim Morrison, Kilmer shares footage of what appears to be an argument over visitation rights regarding his children after he and his wife separated. There's not a minute of footage in Val that makes it seem Mr. Kilmer would be an easy person to live with.

Val Kilmer's brother Wesley, his early-in-life filmmaking partner, had an epileptic seizure and drowned in the family's hot tub at the age of 15. He has also lost both of his parents, and his entire life's savings (twice). The ultimate irony is that while Kilmer was preparing for the role he felt he was born to perform, a traveling stage version of Mark Twain, he was stricken with throat cancer which robbed him of his voice and almost his life. The majority of the film is narrated by Kilmer's son, who sounds eerily like his father.

Today, Val Kilmer travels to conventions signing Batman toys and Top Gun posters when he feels up to it. When he's not traveling, he's opened an artist space where people can create and display their art.

Val is an interesting story, but it's hard not to wonder whether we're seeing the real man, or another one of his many roles.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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Ice Cream Jonsey
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Re: Val (2021)

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey »

At the end he is dressed as Adam West Batman and the area of California where it was shot seems familiar - someone is going to correct me if I am wrong, but looked an awful lot like the area where the Batmobile emerged in the TV show opening credits. I was there with former JC poster The REAL Man in November of 2019. You'd think I would have taken a picture or something, but no.
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

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Flack
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Re: Val (2021)

Post by Flack »

There's some footage of him dressed up as Batman as a child, and some new footage of him and his adult son dressed up as Batman and Robin (the footage you're referring to). In the film he talks about how every kid wants to be Batman, and how he was hiking in South America (literally exploring bat caves) when he got the call that he had got the part of Batman.

Kilmer talks about how frustrated he was that he wasn't really allowed to act. Given his history and aspirations, it makes sense. Here's a guy who dreamed of performing on the stage and whose best asset is arguably his face; in Batman, he's little more than a prop, standing still as Jim Carey and Tommy Lee Jones act circles around him in over the top performances. Kilmer is happiest when he's playing some deranged lunatic or performing a deep character study, not when his face is mostly covered by a rubber cowl in a summer blockbuster. In Val, Kilmer says that when they called him to reprise the role of Batman, he turned it down.

But this is another case of the facts not lining up. On the set of Batman Forever, Kilmer got into a physical shoving match with the director (Joel Schumacher), after which Kilmer refused to speak to the director for two weeks. (Schumacher referred to the two weeks of silence as "bliss.") In reality, Kilmer was under contract for two Batman films, but instead left to star in The Saint. When timelines overlapped, Kilmer said he wouldn't do Batman. Apparently Warner Bros. jumped on the chance to replace him with George Clooney in Batman and Robin. It became one of those "I quit"/"He was fired" situations, but again, none of this appears in Val. (You can read about it here.) Point is, a lot of Val is one-sided and slanted in Val Kilmer's favor with a lot of factual details left out.

Which just goes to show, people tend to look better in their autobiography than in biographies. :)
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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Tdarcos
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Re: Val (2021)

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"Every man is the hero of his story, and none ever believes himself to be a villain."
"And that's why I've traveled far, 'cause I come so together where you are."
- Bob Welch, Sentimental Lady

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Ice Cream Jonsey
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Re: Val (2021)

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey »

Do ya like Val Kilmer films, Commander?
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

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