Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Commercial Review: CHARLES BRONSON'S MANDOM: 6 (197?, Nobuhiko Obayashi)

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time: 2 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Charles Bronson.

Prepare yourselves- we're nearing the mother lode. Fugue state. Disassociation from reality itself is forthcoming. If you need to catch up, here are Bronson's Mandom ads 1-3, and here are installments 4-5. But let's not beat around the bush- onto #6:

Alright. Let's do the blow by blow and attempt to derive some meaning from this rich document. A man plays the piano in a well-furnished lounge. Is his name 'Sam?' I don't know. It certainly could be. He's twinkling the ivories in a rather swank rendition of the classic 'Mandom' theme.

By this point we should need no prompting, we should already be internally reciting, "All the world/Loves a lover..."

The camera wraps around to reveal: Bronson.

The camera zooms out, tracks a little, then zooms in again once more. Obayashi loved his camera movement. And if ever there was a moment where the camera itself had to be stationary, he'd make sure he was adjusting the shit out of his focal length in a majestic ZOOM.

It's one of those slow nights where Bronson has nothing special planned besides staring at the house piano player at club near his home that he likes to frequent on his evenings off. Now, it bears mentioning that Bronson possibly had no concept of same-sex attraction, as outlined here. So while he may have no idea that he's doin' it, Bronson- in Obayashi's universe- is definitely cruisin'. I wouldn't be surprised if Obayashi had told Bronson to pretend he was looking at Jill Ireland. "All the world loves a lover..." mutters Bronson in his internal monologue. "All the world loves...Mandom." The lens then irises out, inviting us to imagine what sorts of acts were just performed in the hotel's bath-room. We respectfully decline the invitation.

We're back with a snap! Newly invigorated, Bronson heads home, stopping to exchange pleasantries with his favorite, giggling doorman. "Good night, Sam."

"Thank you, Mr. Bronson," replies the sickening doorman. This exchange is important for two reasons: #1. It reveals that Bronson's 'Mandom' character has never been a character at all- it's always been straight-up, unadulterated Bronson. And #2. The name of this establishment becomes visible in the background- "Pandora Club." Perhaps there is some greater, mystical meaning here– "The Pandora Club." A place where forbidden desires can be unleashed upon the world, spun open like the cap on a Mandom bottle. A place where dreams (and nightmares) come true. A place where there's hope at the bottom.

"Good Night, Mr. Bronson. Sleep tight!" "Thank you, Sam," replies Bronson. It's an in-joke. They both know that Bronson's not going to sleep– he's got a hot nightcap lined up with his extensive Mandom collection. Bronson's car speeds home along the slick asphalt that bears the dampness of recent rain.

A silhouette at the door–

The lights pop on with a click–

Thank God– Bronson. He grabs his pipe and whips off his shirt with genuine urgency. He playfully takes a few steps back, then whips the shirt toward the heavens at such a velocity that it breaks free of the Earth's gravity and spirals into the void of space.

But pay no attention to the Herculean acts of strength- it's Mandom time. Like extracting a fine cask of Amantillado from one's wine-cellar, Bronson chooses the right Mandom for the right occasion. No time like the present.

Gin-flavor is a fine choice. But then again, they're all sort of gin-flavored.

He spins the cap and flings it away with élan. Anyone who's ever held a bottle of Mandom realizes that it was designed for this express purpose. Of course you have to go back later, find the cap, and put it back on, but it's totally worth it. Kinda like when you pull the cork out of a bottle with your teeth and *Pfft-too* spit it out and get straight to drinkin'– though you know full well you'll have to find it later, dust it off, and reinsert it. Livin' in the moment. That's what Bronson and Mandom are all about. I guess I also forgot to mention that this is accompanied by a veritable mélange of gunshot and ricochet sound effects.

Bronson starts splashin' the stuff all over his nude upper body and the gunshots intensify to the point where one might call it "a cacophony of gunblasts."

He dashes and splashes– and we see crossfaded imagery of Bronson in mountain man attire- fringe jacket and everything– actually firing the shots that we're hearing.

When Bronson showers his back with Mandom's fragrant elixir, we see Mountain Man-Bronson-id contorting his back to fire accordingly.

It's hard to say if Bronson is remembering via the Mandom (like Proust with his madeleine) back to a time when he wore a fringe jacket and shot a bunch of dudes, or if he's actually having an out-of-body experience. Horses neigh! The Mandom has freed Bronson's id from its primitive, sinewy constraints and released it into a world– a domain- where a man can be a Man. A MAN-DOM, if you will.

Inside the man, there is another man.

Bronson sees himself, riding off into a Southwestern sunset through a rotating, transparent cap on a Mandom bottle. What a strange and wonderful trip!

Bronson touches his face. It's as if he's touching it for the very first time.

And he is. He has been reborn. Baptized by the sweet flowing waters of the Mandom. Like a spiritual bath in the old lilac-gin. The camera tracks straight ahead through Bronson's apartment, zooming out at the end (á la Hitchcock in VERTIGO and later Spielberg in JAWS) to create a disorienting redefinition of depth. A new perspective on life.

And so it ends. It's hard to say if it's merely a commercial or possibly a call to arms? The resounding trumpet-call for a new religion? A new way of living? Would their Lord's Prayer begin with a somber recitation of "All the world loves a lover, all the world loves Mandom?" Is Bronson the deity in this new denomination, or is the little Greek statue guy on the Mandom bottle? Where does Eastwood fit into this? Is he an antagonistic force, á la the Bronson vs. Eastwood rivalry?

There are a lot of unanswered questions here, and perhaps they're best left for another time. Who knew such mystical riches were resting within the golden confines of the Mandom bottle?

Five stars.

To be continued...

-Sean Gill


Unknown said...

That Bronson he's one suave mutha.

After watching that commercial, I need a smoke...

Sean Gill said...

Suave indeed! And I think it's because he takes the material extremely seriously- and that's Bronson for you in a nutshell. He's not 'above' doing these silly commercials, and consequently they rise to a level that could certainly be typified as 'insane,' but they're certainly not silly. I mean, this is the guy who strode through DEATH WISH 3 not only with a straight face, but managing to exude respect and some measure of dignity.

Unknown said...

Yeah, Bronson always had that great look of intense impassivity on his face. Totally unflappable.

Heathcliff said...

Hello, these are hysterical reviews! I was laughing so much at his card duel against those four bottles.

You never got to commercial 7 & 8? I recall when these were on YouTube. The other two were Bronson firing a rifle in the forest and the other being in an office. I will see if my pal still has some of them. Were those the last 2 of the 8 filmed?


Sean Gill said...


Glad you enjoyed––I seem to recall I was in the midst of planning to review the last two when they were taken off YouTube. Lemme know if you track them down! (And I'm not sure of the order of filming.)