Listen to Me Marlon (15) Four stars

Dir: Stevan Riley

Runtime: 100 minutes

ANY director charged with making a documentary about one of the most reclusive actors of all time has a task that would have made Hercules quiver. Stevan Riley, helmer of a lauded look at the Bond franchise (Everything or Nothing) and several acclaimed sporting documentaries, had the skill to take the project on, but needed some luck too, as all great enterprises do. How about discovering a box of audio tapes made by the ultimate method actor himself, setting out everything from his performing style to his grim childhood with a bullying father and an alcoholic mother? Eschewing the usual talking heads, Riley mixes clips from the tapes with scenes from Brando’s films - Waterfront, Streetcar, Godfather, Last Tango, Apocalypse et al - and other archive material, and the result is endlessly fascinating. Actors talking about acting can usually give the manufacturers of sleeping pills sleepless nights, but Brando proves to be a beacon of clarity. It’s all here, from the famous characters he played, to his (usually strained) relationships with directors. What a life, beset by tragedy and illuminated by brilliance, and Riley does it proud.

Red Army (15) Four stars

Dir: Gabe Polsky

Runtime: 84 minutes

IN a good week for documentary lovers, Gabe Polsky’s film, which premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival earlier this year, delves into politics as sport; more precisely, Cold War politics as played out in ice hockey games between the USA and the USSR. Defence legend Slava Fetisov is the focus as Polsky charts how the hockey programme was started under Stalin, developed by the Red Army, and closely monitored by the KGB, who were terrified players on overseas trips would defect. The story loses some of its grip after Glasnost and the eventual move of many of the top Russian players to the big money ranks of the NHL, but Fetisov is a fascinating, complex character, a real Russian soul.