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Entries in RIP (88)


Omar Sharif (1932-2015)

Sharif Photographed by Andrew Walker in 2011Hollywood's first and still only Egyptian movie star passed away at 83 today of a heart attack. It had recently been announced that he was suffering from Alzheimers and after such a full life this may feel like a mercy to some, though his loved one are surely grieving and our hearts go out to them.

Though moviegoers roughly 35 and up surely remember him, here's the gist of it for younger budding cinephiles: Sharif began and ended his career in Arabic language cinema but in the vast middle (1960s-1990s) he achieved global stardom via Hollywood and British cinema. His English language debut Lawrence of Arabia (1962) brought him a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and he became a genuine superstar in short order, headlining one of the all time biggest box office smashes (Doctor Zhivago, 1965). In his third enduring classic from that decade he helped Barbra Streisand ascend into the pantheon in her film debut Funny Girl (1968). 

In fact, his performances in those three hits are rather fine illustrations of what was so special about his onscreen persona: his generosity and a certain intangible 'eye of the beholder' transference. He was one of the greatest romantic leading men precisely because he seemed so believably in thrall to the particular charismas of his co-stars. And he had great ones: Sophia Loren, Barbra Streisand, Julie Christie, Peter O'Toole, Julie Andrews and more. 

And while he drank in their inimitable beauty, he looked like this:

Dr Zhivago (1965)a portrait from the 1950s when he starred regularly in Egyptian cinema
The Tamarind Seed (1974) and More Than a Miracle (1967)

Double the pleasure, then, for moviegoers who were ready to swoon. And swoon they did, all over the world. 

What's your favorite Omar Sharif performance?



RIP: Ron Moody & Christopher Lee

Though their careers were dissimilar, their images were not. The cinema lost two of its most deeply enjoyable sharp eyed bearded villains this week: Oscar nominee Ron Moody (Oliver!), died yesterday at 91 years of age; screen legend Christopher Lee's passing was also just announced though he died last week at 93. Both of these British actors, born in the 1920s, were best known for indelible villains and sorcerers and  both were singers, too. From there, of course, the careers significantly diverge.

Ron Moody was always best known as "Fagin," the petty thief with a whole gang of young pickpockets at his disposal in the Best Picture winner Oliver! (1968) for which he received a Best Actor nomination and won the Golden Globe. The role stuck to him as forcefully as the Emcee clung to Joel Grey defining him for decades and decades and audiences of multiple generations. His movie career, though it spanned 33 films, didn't contain many other highlights but he did play the sorcerer Merlin in two Disney films Unidentified Flying Oddball and A Kid in King Arthurs Court. He returned to the stage often including revivals of Oliver! (He didn't seem to resent how much Fagin defined him, calling the musical "magic".)

If you ask people to name Sir Christopher Lee's most famous role, on the other hand, they might well hesitate. There is nothing definitive or, rather, there is too much that is definitive. He was a genuine screen legend and worked what seemed like non-stop from 1948 through 2015 appearing in nearly 200 films before his death. Today it's nothing new for actors to be defined by franchise stardom but Christopher Lee was doing forever. He was best known for decades as the face of "Dracula" for Hammer Horror in several films, "Fu Manchu" in multiple films and "Rochefort" in two Three Musketeer films. The actor's fame rose again late in life through prominent popular roles such as "Count Dooku" in the Star Wars franchise and the wicked sorceror "Saruman" multiple times in Peter Jackson's Tolkien adaptations. 

Please share your favorite screen memories of these two acclaimed Brits. 


Julie Harris, Costume Designer (RIP)

One of the oldest costume designers passed away this weekend. Julie Harris, not to be confused with the legendary stage and screen actress of the same name, died in London at the age of 94. Though she was well loved at the BAFTAs with five nominations and a win, she only had one brush with Oscar. But if you only get one shot, make it a zeitgeist moment.

And boy did she. She designed the mod classic, John Schlesginger's Darling (1965) which won her, Julie Christie, and the screenwriter golden statues 50 years ago, in a year otherwise Oscar-dominated by a certain other Julie in an Oscar winning musical. Harris had quite a streak in the 1960s. It didn't get much hipper then than designing for the original Bond girl (Ursula Andress in Casino Royale), Julie Christie (Darling!) and The Beatles themselves (A Hard Day's Night, Help!). About the Fab Four, Harris famous quipped

I must be one of the few people who can claim they have seen John, Paul, George and Ringo naked.

Other famous films included The Swiss Family Robinson (1960), The Chalk Garden (1964), Goodbye Mr Chips (1969), Rollerball (1975), The Slipper and the Rose (1976) and Dracula (1979). She retired from the cinema at the age of 60 with an unusual assignment - The Great Muppet Caper (1981). 

costume sketches for Alfred Hitchcock's FRENZYJulie Christie & Dirk Bogarde on location for DARLING

Have you ever seen Darling? We keep meaning to write about it for the blog but have never quite done so.


Peggy Link

Theater Mania Juliette Binoche to return to the stage with Sophocles' Antigone
Playbill interviews Laura Benanti 
Variety the charming animated fable Song of the Sea takes Best Picture at the Irish Film Awards. Have you seen it yet? It was very nearly my favorite of last year's animated pictures. 
Guardian interviews Vincent Cassell on his disturbing Australian drama Partisan with a look back at his now-classic breakthrough in La Haine (which might get a sequel)
Variety critics hash out the best and worst of Cannes together with the most fascinating split being on Hou Hsiao Hsien's The Assassin which Debruge finds "impenetrable" and for which Chang expresses rapturous love. (Note: they also seem to admire Carol more than love it - which is why I've always been less bullish than most early Oscar prognosticators in assuming AMPAS's future love for it)
Nick Davis, Tim Brayton, Ivan Albertson and Amir Soltani continue their collective committed Cannes 1995 retrospective hitting films like Shanghai Triad (I loved that one at the time!), The Madness of King George, and Todd Haynes classic [safe]

Sad News
The Guardian reports that 1960s superstar Omar Sharif has Alzheimers
Kenneth in the (212) RIP to Anne Meara aka "Mrs Sherwood" in Fame (1980) but was also a multiple Emmy nominee and Ben Stiller's mamma
In Contention in case you hadn't heard John & Alicia Nash, the subjects of the Oscar winning A Beautiful Mind were died in a car accident Sunday 

Popcorn Season
Coming Soon lists the "15 biggest disaster movies" but skimps on older films with only four movies listed that existed prior to 1996.
CHUD new pics from Ridley Scott's Martian featuring Matt Damon's space suit (the costume designer is Ridley Scott regular, Janty Yates) 
Empire shares new Ant Man images
/Film in more 'franchises never die' news, the Conan series may be revived as The Legend of Conan with Arnold Schwarzenegger back as the barbarian in his older years 
Observations on Film Art on the waning thrills of CGI comparing The Hobbit to Lord of the Rings and Mad Max Fury Road to the general contemporary action film
Pajiba Captain America Civil War is filming and thus, lots of photos from the set
The Dissolve has a long read on genre movies that followed in the wake of Star Wars: Flash Gordon, Superman, and Star Trek and where they went right and wrong
David Johns does a Law & Order style Daredevil edit. Good job 

Showtune to Go...
This morning we chatted briefly about the upcoming Peggy Lee biopic so why not a little Peggy for the afternoon? Enjoy this Peggy Lee & Judy G medley that kicks off with "I Like Men"



Deadline RIP character actress Elizabeth Wilson from stage, tv, and film (Roz in Nine to Five & Mrs Braddock inThe Graduate!) passed away at 94
Bryan Singer James McAvoy as Professor X finally going bald of X-Men: Apocalypse
Towleroad Natalie Portman as Ruth Baader Ginsburg?! 
CHUD the ongoing drama of Jennifer Lawrence's paycheck for the upcoming Passengers, a sci-fi drama with Chris Pratt. She's not budging on her 20 million,which is double Pratt's salary though he's the lead. Will Sony cave to save face from all those wage disparity complaints after leaked emails?
Boy Culture tells us about a new LGBT movie That's Not Us about three couples on a weekend getaway. Sounds good
Empire Charlize Theron to star as a spy in The Coldest City, based on a graphic novel
Pajiba highlights from the Alex Garland's Ex Machina AMA 
Antagony & Ecstasy another fine take on Ex Machina 

Small Screen
Coming Soon NBC picked up a series based on Steven Spielberg's Minority Report. I know it was probably impossible to top Samantha Morton's precog but the series will focus on a precog only a male precog zzzz. No offense Stark Sands who I've enjoyed in other things!
/Film ... and that's not the only movie becoming a TV series. Next season will also give us serialized versions ofUncle Buck and Limitless 

Cannes News
Cannes Mother of the French New Wave Agnès Varda (Cleo from 5 to 7, Vagabond, The Gleaners and I) to receive an Honorary Palme D'Or. Yaaas.
Film Doctor UK advice for filmmakers attending Cannes -- this is from last year but there are lots of practical thoughts that apply to any year, non filmmakers and other smaller festivals, too
Guardian with Gaspar Noé's Love on the way a look back at the festival's history of erotic cinema
Awards Daily Sasha geers up for Cannes but still seems hung up on last year's awards race dramas

Playbill looks back at very tight Best Musical races from the past (West Side Story vs. The Music Man, etcetera) with Fun Home, Something Rotten, and An American in Paris battling it out on Tony supremacy this season
Gold Derby Outer Critics Circle Awards. With Fun Home ineligible American in Paris snatches up trophies. Kristin Chenoweth prevails in the very tight Best Actress race (will Tony go for Chita, Cheno or Kelli O'Hara?)

Showtune to Go
With American in Paris celebrating its Tony nominations, why not a little Gene Kelly to brighten your Monday? Here's Kelly doing "Tra La La." Hollywood never had a more cheekily charming male movie star, give or take Cary Grant.


Goodbye, Master of the Light, Andrew Lesnie

Glenn here with some sad news that broke late as America was tucking itself away in bed. Academy Award-winning cinematographer Andrew Lesnie has died of a heart attack at the age of 59. Most will know Lesnie as the man who photographed all of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, but he will also be well-remembered by the local Australian industry for a 35-year-long career that covered the broad spectrum of scope and genre.

Lesnie got his start in the Australian film industry just after the new wave of the 1970s. Unlike fellow countrymen and Oscar-winners John Seale, Dean Semler and Russell Boyd, Lesnie more or less remained in Australia and New Zealand. He only ventured over to work in America once his work on Middle Earth gained him a level of industry respect that would bring him to I Am Legend and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

His early career was made up of low-budget indie works and 'ozploitation' films like Fair Game. He lensed Kylie Minogue’s big screen debut in the delicately shot The Delinquents, and eventually found international acclaim working on Babe. He won an “Australian Oscar” for his superb sun-drenched work on Doing Time for Patsy Cline and would bring the visual extravaganza of Babe: Pig in the City to life before shuffling over to New Zealand to work on no less than eight Peter Jackson movies. Despite his newfound global success, he kept working locally on the indigenous pop-musical Bran Nue Dae, anthology film The Turning with Cate Blanchett, and last year’s ex-con drama Healing.

Devastating news from home. The master of the light, genius Andrew Lesnie has passed on.
Russell Crowe

Andrew Lesnie was a treat to work with. I am blown away by all he achieved. He'll be missed greatly. RIP.
Jamie Bell 

Lesnie died on Monday (Australian time). His final work was for Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, The Water Diviner, which was a giant success at the start of the year in Australia and has just opened in America. Perhaps it was his stubbornness to remain at home in his corner of the world that saw him never receive another nomination after winning in 2002 for The Fellowship of the Ring, but he won more than enough awards for the trilogy to make up for it. At only 59 he's far too young, but he leaves behind an admirable dedication to his home country's industry and an enviable roster of work.


Letting Go of "Looking" Has Not Been Easy

This article originally appeared in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad. It is reprinted here with minor adjustments. 


The first Sunday night without HBO's "Looking" came and went. Of course there would have been no "Looking" this past Sunday night even had the show been renewed, since the second much improved season had just wrapped. One of the funniest things I heard after the cancellation was this:

The good news is Looking thinkpieces are also cancelled."

Well, yes. Those are almost at an end, too.

The autopsy reports have to run their course and so does the mourning process. And if HBO makes good on its promise of a wrap-up movie (believe it when you see it), the cycle starts all over again in miniature even if the end point is still goodbye. Given all this finality, it's strangely apt that the second season's finest episode "Looking for a Plot" took places at a funeral (Doris's father) and sent Dom, Doris and Patrick spinning emotionally, even if they didn't quite realize it at first. But the mourning is real. At least for those of us who loved the show for what it actually was. More...

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