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The Beatles and Muhammad Ali in HARRY BENSON: SHOOT FIRST. Photo courtesy of Unobstructed View. Photo Credit: © Harry Benson

3 out of 4 stars

Title
Harry Benson: Shoot First
Written by
Justin Bare and Matthew Miele
Directed by
Justin Bare and Matthew Miele
Classification
PG
Country
USA
Language
English

From the cocaine dust in Jack Nicholson's nostril as he tools around Aspen, Colo., on his motorcycle, to the mismatched socks on Michael Jackson's feet as he leads children around creepy Neverland Ranch, the photographs of Harry Benson reveal serious access to Hollywood. Directors Matthew Miele and Justin Bare have volumes of arresting imagery to work with as they trace the career of the prolific Scottish photojournalist, best known for documenting the Beatles on their first trip to the United States. Benson's photographs are both wildly spontaneous and deeply intimate, and there are accolades here from Henry Kissinger, Donald Trump, Alec Baldwin and Sharon Stone, who believes the Scotsman with the salty brogue charmed so many subjects because he is "in life." The film shows a man who is empathetic toward those in his photos, but less forgiving with himself. When the filmmakers fix the lens on his face and laud his work, Benson looks genuinely embarrassed, mumbling that he's "shit." As any seasoned charmer knows, this will only endear you further.

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