Posted during Cannes Film Festival on 5.17.15: “Gabriel Clarke & John McKenna‘s Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans (FilmRise, 11.13) is a fascinating time trip but mostly a sad, bittersweet mood piece about failure and a movie star swallowing his own tail. Clarke and McKenna have certainly made something that’s heads and shoulders above what you usually get from this kind of inside-Hollywood documentary. Heretofore unshared insight, a lamenting tone, an emotional arc. Plus loads of never-seen-before footage (behind-the-camera stuff, unused outtakes) plus first-hand recollections and audio recordings. A trove.
“Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans may seem at first glance like a standard nostalgia piece about the making of McQueen’s 1971 race-car pic, which flopped critically and commercially. (I own the Bluray but I’ve barely watched it — the racing footage is authentic but the movie underwhelms.) Yes, in some ways the doc feels like one of those DVD/Bluray ‘making of’ supplements, but it soon becomes evident that Clarke and McKenna are up to something more ambitious.