The Last Impresario is a little documentary that tries to win its audience over with sheer hopefulness. It's a noble goal, and it makes the movie a breeze to sit through, but it ultimately makes a very interesting story somewhat unsatisfying.
The Last Impresario is about Michael White, a beloved and prolific theatre impresario and film producer. Featuring interviews with an impressive list of stars (John Cleese, Naomi Watts, Kate Moss, Yoko Ono, Barry Humphries, John Waters, Anna Wintour just to name a few), the film details his celebrity life from a subversive theatre writer to a producer of some of the most iconic films of all time.
Directed by Gracie Otto, the movie has absolutely nothing negative to say about Michael White whatsoever. I'm not trying to say he's a bad guy with a lot to hide, but a man who is close friends with Kate Moss surely can't be all that perfect. White is old now (78 upon the release of the movie), and, with all due respect to him, he isn't exactly an engaging character anymore. He's quite hard to understand, and I almost feel sorry for him when Otto pressures him for answers.
The movie is still able to drift along seamlessly and hold your interest just by the affection of its interviewees. White is consistently praised as someone who "loves people", and always wanted to be at the forefront of pop culture. In the 60s theatre business, he created and produced plays with nudity and ambient dancing that was foreign to the London theatre scene at the time; a brave feat, as every play had to pass the stringent censorship laws and be approved by the Lord Chamberlain himself. His plays were all staged at one time or another, most becoming classics like Oh! Calcutta! and The Rocky Horror Show. He then went to America, and produced iconic films like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and My Dinner With Andre.
It's hard to paint an honest portrait of a man when you interview people who have nothing bad to say about him. Fortunately, Otto doesn't aim too high, only aiming to tell an interesting story about a man who has lived a wild life and who was beloved in his era. It's breezy and heartfelt, but won't leave any lasting impression.