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100 Best of the 21st Century?

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Entries in RIP (108)

Thursday
Aug182016

Arthur Hiller (1923-2016) and "Making Love"

Arthur Hiller with his Jean Hersholt Huminatarian AwardOscar nominated Canadian born Hollywood director Arthur Hiller died yesterday at 92 years of age. Though he's best remembered for the 1970 mega-hit Love Story  -- so popular in its day it would have been equivalent to a Jurassic World at the box office today (no really) -- his career was actually quite varied. He did dramas, romances, buddy comedies, period pieces, you name it.

Among his best known films which is your favorite?

  • The Americanization of Emily (1964)
  • The Out of Towners (1970)
  • Love Story (1970)
  • Plaza Suite (1971)
  • Man of La Mancha (1972)
  • Silver Streak (1976)
  • The In-Laws (1979)
  • Making Love (1982)
  • Author! Author! (1982)
  • Outrageous Fortune (1987)
  • See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) 

Outrageous Fortune was probably my favorite of his films - Bette Midler & Shelley Long were so funny together --  but the film that's the most interesting, historically, is Making Love as it was the very first mainstream LGBT film...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug162016

Monty (1998-2016)

Our first photo together in December 1998, before The Film Experience existed. I lost my furbaby today (apologies that scheduled blog events are delayed). You knew him as a highly elusive cat pundit (he was most active in the prediction game from 2010-2012) but he was never easy to pin down on movies and Oscars.

Some of his classic posts:
Bridesmaids
127 Hours, Conviction, and Never Let Me Go
Hitchcock 
Olaf from Frozen 
Jennifer Aniston in Cake 

He did love a few movies unreservedly including Microcosmos (1996), Dancer in the Dark (2000), and Paddington (2014) but mostly he ignored them, preferring to imagine he was my only love. I already miss him terribly.

Saturday
Aug132016

RIP Kenny Baker (1934 - 2016)

Kenny Baker, the actor inside R2-D2 in each of the Star Wars films, has passed away at 81. Share your favorite R2-D2 moments and insights in the comments.

Monday
Jul252016

Marni Nixon (1930-2016)

It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that Marni Nixon, beloved voice of Hollywood's supersized musicals of the 50s and 60s has died of breast cancer at 86. It was a long and good and musical life, if never celebrated enough by the culture she gave so much to. It had been our long held dream to see her given an Honorary Oscar which must now be a dream unfulfilled. Because I don't have the words today, I thought I'd share a piece I wrote ten years ago on how special Marni Nixon was to me, a baby cinephile growing up with musicals as my favorite form of cinematic bliss.

Marni Nixon is my Kathy Selden
by Nathaniel R 

Toward the end of Singin' in the Rain (1952), which chronicles Hollywood's seismic shift from silent films to sound production, a hilariously dim and screechy movie star Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) gets her comeuppance. She has cruelly locked the sweet voiced Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) into a contract to provide her a suitable movie voice. Lamont is after self-preservation: she can't make sound movies with her own unappealing voice, but she also cruelly takes pleasure in preventing Kathy from pursuing stardom. At a live performance Kathy stands behind a curtain, her dreams in tatters, as she sings for Lina. But Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) pulls the curtain on the act in progress, rescuing his new girl from obscurity and dooming his former co-star to a fast fade.

Singin' in the Rain is many things: a true musical masterpiece, a stellar romantic comedy, and the best movie Hollywood ever made about Hollywood (give or take Sunset Blvd). It's a completely absorbing viewing experience but for this: Every time I see it my mind drifts away to Marni Nixon during this particular scene. Kathy's story isn't exactly Marni's. Marni wasn't forced into submission as the silents were dying. But she was the songbird woman behind the curtain for beloved movie musicals and she was born in 1930 as the silents were emitting their death rattle (Hollywood studios had halted silent film production by 1929. Only a few emerged in movie houses of 30s). Marni Nixon was to be a famous voice but not a famous face ...just like the almost-fate of the fictional Kathy Selden.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul202016

Garry Marshall (1934-2016)

One of Hollywood's key figures passed away yesterday at the age of 81. His work in the past five years has consisted of a string of critically lambasted all star romcoms (Valentines Day, New Year's Eve, Mothers Day) and the day before he died one of the many actor he made famous (Scott Baio of Happy Days Joanie Loves Chachi fame) embarrassed himself on national television at the RNC. To put it bluntly, the last few years have not been kind but this is not the legacy that the beloved Garry Marshall deserves. We need to look a little further back. While he was never exactly a critic's darling - let's not rewrite history -- his work often resonated wildly with the public on screens both small and large. And that, my friends, is no small thing with or without a shelf of showbiz trophies.

He was a mammoth figure in comedy television, first, coming up as a writer on seminal shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show and famous properties like The Lucy Show. After developing The Odd Couple for television (1970-1975) he created three true pop culture behemoths in Happy Days (1974-1984), Laverne & Shirley (1976-1983) and Mork & Mindy (1978-1982), the latter introducing the public to Robin Williams with whom they fell madly in love.

In the movies, and this is also no small thing, he was irreplaceable when it came to the careers of mainstream superstar actresses in both the 1980s and 1990s. He directed one of Goldie Hawn's most enduring hits (Overboard), one of Bette Midler's melodramatic bests (Beaches) and he was instrumental in the superstar blossoming of both Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride) and Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries). He also guided Michelle Pfeiffer through one of her most controversial roles  (Frankie & Johnny) but even though everyone argued miscasting she made fine work of it. He even tried to help Lindsay Lohan along (Georgia Rule) but it's hardly his fault that that didn't take. He was not without his missteps of course (Raising Helen, The Other Sister, Exit to Eden) but who isn't? 

My personal favorite Garry Marshall movie, BEACHES (1988)Laverne & Shirley starring his sister Penny (who also became a director)

Do you have a favorite film or television show from his resume? There are a lot of choices as his work was so deeply embedded in our pop culture for decades on end. 

Thursday
Jul072016

John McMartin (1929-2016)

Good lord but 2016 has been rough on the showbiz community. It's as if the Grim Reaper is trying to meet some new end days quota starting with entertainers.

John McMartin has passed away at 86 from cancer. While the name might not wring a bell to everyone surely the face will. In his 60 year career he worked across all three actor's mediums regularly: stage, tv, and film...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul062016

Michael Cimino & the Best Director Oscar Since

Eric here with thinking about the past 40 years of Oscars Best Director category.

This past Saturday, director Michael Cimino passed away at age 77.  Cimino won the Best Director Oscar for 1978’s The Deer Hunter, beating Woody Allen (Interiors), Hal Ashby (Coming Home), Warren Beatty and Buck Henry (Heaven Can Wait), and Alan Parker (Midnight Express).  While those five actual films are of varying quality, the names behind them are all heavyweights and it was formidable company.

The Deer Hunter was a divisive film upon its release and remains so today (praised for its leisurely-paced first half and its capture of inexpressive male friendship; criticized for the Russian Roulette melodrama and its depiction of the Vietnamese). With The Deer Hunter, Cimino aimed to make something epic and classically Greek in its storytelling, and watching the film you can actually feel his young talent. Cimino next famously (infamously?) went on to direct 1980’s Heaven’s Gate, a film of disastrous proportions that has been covered ad nauseum as one of cinema’s biggest catastrophes.  He directed four more films after that, none to any significant acclaim, the last one released 20 years ago.   

It’s interesting to look over the list of the men (and one woman) who have won the Best Director Oscar since Cimino in 1978 to see where their careers have gone...

Click to read more ...