Thoughts on the movie; “The Civilization of Maxwell Bright”

In the SIFF I saw one of the first screenings of the movie; The Civilization of Maxwell Bright.  As always these are more of my thoughts about the film than an actual movie review and the posting may contain spoilers for the film.  So you have been warned!
This was a really good film and at the same time it seemed very independent.  I am not sure if we had a rough print of the film but early on the audio was a bit hard to understand and it seemed in places there were issues with the clarity of the images but there might be nothing they could do about the second.  The Civilization of Maxwell Bright is the story about a male chauvinist pig named Maxwell Bright played by Patrick Warburton who you might remember as David Puddy on Seinfeld, his time as “The Tick”, or he is currently on the ABC TV show “Less Than Perfect”.  Normally you see him in comedic roles and while at times he was funny in this movie it is clearly a drama.  At the beginning of the film we see Max break up with a girl in a big fight scene.  Max who is portrayed as successful home appliance store owner – the kind that make those campy TV ads that they star in that tell you to come on down to the store and he will make you a deal, decides he is going to take his money and purchase a mail order bride.  A women that will be subservient and cater to all of his needs.  His house is a dump and really his life is a mess.  Mai Ling is brought to America from China and is played by Marie Matiko who does a great job in her role.  While things work out fine in the beginning things start to fall apart for the couple as Max starts to treat Mai like crap.  He assumes that she will do anything and everything he says, including stripping for his friends at poker night and she pushes back and says No!.  Max’s business starts to fall apart as it is foreclosed.  At the same time we find out that he has terminal cancer and his days are now numbered.  Instead of abandoning Max as she rightly could Mai stays with him and supports the “family” as a massage therapist.  During this time we see changes in Max.  He starts to see Mai as his equal and at the same time he comes to terms with his impending death.  He goes as far as embracing Eastern religion.  One of the stranger things he does is buy his coffin months in advance and has it delivered to the apartment they are living in and he just spends hours laying in it.
There is a great supporting cast in this film and it is many people that you will recognize from other films or TV shows.  I will call out Eric Roberts who plays the role of Max’s best friend.  He is also on “Less Than Perfect” right now.  Jennifer Tilly plays the doctor that tells Max he has cancer and does a good job.  It was a bit hard to see her playing a doctor because you want to just laugh assuming she will do something funny but she does a good job in standing up to Max who at this point in the film is still treating women like crap and setting him straight on the fact that he is going to die – taking this news from a women doctor is a bit hard for Max to hear.  Nora Dunn has a cameo as one of the clients of Mai’s massages.  I should also call out that in the opening shots of the film you do see a full frontal of Warburton – if you are into that sort of things.  There is also some naked women in it to keep us guys happy also.
Both Warburton and Matiko where at the showing of the film and they did a Q&A afterward.  Warburton said that one day he called up his old acting coach who he really had not talked to in 10 years to thank him for all that he had done for him.  At this point David Beaird said that the was going to write a movie for Warburton which he also directed.  The dialog and story were great.  The film was shot in something short like 24 days and I want to say that they filmed mostly on weekends.  The majority of it was filmed in the LA area including a morgue in Compton that has drive by viewing.  Matiko does a great job playing a very somber and subservient character and in real life she is very animated and full of spirit.  She was given a great role and she took advantage of it.  Warbuton said he actually spent many hours in the coffin which he found very strange as they set up shots for the film.  I am not sure I could do something like that myself.
I think this film will hit some indie screens in major cities and it is worth spending your money on.


About Aaron Bregel

Just trying to get by
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