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Entries in RIP (69)

Wednesday
Aug132014

Lauren Bacall (1924-2014)

Lauren Bacall receiving her Honorary OscarShe arrived on the scene fully formed, the most womanly, not girlish, teenager you ever did see. In truth Lauren Bacall was newly 20 when To Have and Have Not premiered but it's tough to imagine that she made it at 19. The enormous age gap with co-star Humphrey Bogart (a full quarter century) who she'd marry offscreen almost instantly was mitigated by her steely maturity. There'd be faint echoes of Lauren later, arguably, in the great Kathleen Turner's throaty sensuality and Scarlett Johansson's uncommonly early self-possession, but like all true stars Lauren Bacall was an original and remained her own inimitable thing.

2014 has been unusually cruel in the taking of key giants from Hollywood's golden age but we'll always have their films to remember them by. And in Bacall's case the filmography stretches and stretches and stretches across the eras of cinema. Bacall died yesterday at 89 in Manhattan, bringing her unusually enduring career to an end. She might not have been the most gifted or versatile actress from her peer group, but she had real onscreen fire. Perhaps it was her agelessness - she always seemed 40ish to me, whether she was a teenager or an old woman -- that helped her age so naturally onscreen. She worked consistently right until the end, finding key roles in every decade. That's something to celebrate in and of itself, in an industry so obsessed with youth.

After the jump, 10 essentials covering every decade of her career:

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug122014

Robin Williams (1951-2014)

Robin Williams winning the Oscar for Good Will Hunting (1997)Robin Williams, Mork himself and Mrs Doubtfire... the clown, the blue genie, the Oscar winner, the charitable celebrity died Monday at 63. The actor, who had severe depression, apparently took his own life*. You never know how deep people's personal battles run but it's hard not to think of the unhappy cliche that many comics aren't laughing inside; the tears of a clown. To his credit the actor harnessed that duality in a few of his best roles.

But immediately our thoughts must go out to his friends, loved ones, co-stars, children and his wife who released the following statement.

This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin's family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope that the focus will not be on Robin's death but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.

Losing loved ones is traumatic enough when it's private. It surely can't be any easier when there are cameras and media and press releases. And there will have to be more of this since the actor had been quite busy recently, with a sitcom, three recent films and upcoming films, too. His new indie drama Boulevard about a closeted man played at Tribeca earlier this year (reviewed here) but it was only one of a handful of new projects. He recently completed work on three more films.


For my part I would just like to thank him for his best work over the years but especially that beautifully damaged and whimsical soul in The Fisher King (1991). As long as I live I'll cherish that gorgeous double date sequence with the big hearted humorous ensemble acting and conversation giving way to the hushed almost reverential moment when he sang "lydia the tattooed lady" to his new eccentric lady love. I'll just never forget it. 

The brilliant Terry Gilliam, his Fisher King director, shared this tribute to him...

Robin Williams, the most astonishingly funny, brilliant, profound and silly miracle of mind and spirit, has left the planet.  He was a giant heart, a fireball friend, a wondrous gift from the gods. Now the selfish bastards have taken him back. Fuck 'em!

 

What's your most cherished memory or role of his career?

* I know this is a horrible thing to mention but it's very upsetting that two Oscar winners have committed suicide in the same summer. Please if you are having such thoughts yourself seek help. Depression is a real illness and it shouldn't cause anyone shame and it doesn't discriminate. Successful people aren't any more immune to it than others.

Thursday
Jul172014

Elaine Stritch (1925-2014)

When Colleen Donaghy died on 30 Rock in the episode "My Whole Life is Thunder" I tried to think of it as tragicomic rehearsal. A chance to acknowledge that death was coming for the beloved theater great but to laugh at it or at least about its absurd finality.

Elaine Stritch herself wouldn't have approved of my wussiness. She might've said something like "it's me who's dying, not you!" (albeit in a much funnier manner) because she had a tart tongue and was quite a truth teller. In the documentary Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (reviewed) released early this year she references her impending death more than a little as she prepares to move back home (Detroit) and retire finally, in her late eighties, for good.

But even this documentary didn't quite convince me that she was leaving us.

I saw Elaine Stritch’s famous one woman Broadway show “At Liberty” in early 2002 a couple of years after moving to New York. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was nothing short of spiritual ecstasy but then showbiz is my religion and actresses are my only gods. 

 I had mythologized her, you can see in that excerpt of that intro to my review of that documentary. How could Death conquer such a life force?

It wasn't until after the special screening here in NYC that Stritch (or as I like to call her "Stritchieeeeeeeee!" imitating her imitation of an angry director in At Liberty) was wheeled out to greet us that it finally sunk in. She looked undeniably more like a feeble old woman than the  giant of the theater in white shirt and black tights that I was accustomed to looking up at with awe.

The last time I'd seen Stritchieeee in the flesh before that she was also in a wheelchair. It was late 2010 when she took over for Angela Lansbury in the Broadway Revival of "A Little Night Music." She sings her big number "Liaisons" from a wheelchair. But that was just acting. More rehearsal.

When Elaine set out to do something she worked her ass off until she did it right. 

So here's to the girls on the go--
Everybody tries.
Look into their eyes,
And you'll see what they know:
Everybody dies.
A toast to that invincible bunch,
The dinosaurs surviving the crunch.
Let's hear it for the ladies who lunch--
Everybody rise!
Rise!
Rise! Rise! Rise! Rise! Rise! Rise! Rise!
Rise!

And this Tony and Emmy winning legend did it right. A final round of thunderous applause please because this time there's no more encores. 

Wednesday
Jul022014

Bob & Carol & Depp & Tilda

The New Yorker on Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice by Paul Mazursky. I love that movie so much
NYT RIP the influential filmmaker Paul Mazursky (Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, An Unmarried Woman, Enemies: A Love Story
THR The Academy sues the estate of art director Joseph Wright. His family auctioned off his Oscar for My Gal Sal (1942) for $79,200. (God, imagine how much an Oscar for a famous movie or actor would get!) But auctioning off Oscars is a big big no-no. AMPAS freaks out every time.
Bryan Singer tweets a treament of X-Men: Apocalypse


Daily Mail Johnny Depp on the set of Black Mass. Lots of old age makeup
X-Finity Matt Bomer implies that his Montgomery Clift biopic is on indefinite delay
The Wire Joe talks that Eric/Jason sex scene on True Blood and what a failure the show has been in terms of the gay. Co-sign every word.
The Black Maria on the Hunger Games of the 70s, Roller Ball
The Dissolve in the greatest summer blockbusters
Comics Alliance revisits Batman to look at Vicki Vale, the 1989 version of "Strong Female Character". (I totally forgot Ms Vale was an acclaimed photojournalist - not that it matters)

The 1989 model had fluffier hair than her successors, but that’s really the only significant difference. She establishes her Totally Empowered cred early, makes eyes at the hero, then gets the hell out of the way... She ends the film in the hero’s arms, fulfilling her role as reward for his victory, with nary a whisper of the professional goals that drove her to him in the first place. She is pretty and in need of rescue and almost entirely in service to the male characters’ plot and characterization—but she gets to be vaguely spunky and is slapped with a typically male career, so it’s totally okay.

I can only imagine the interviews that took place upon the release of "Batman", touting her modernity, her break with the damsels of the past, her ineffable 1989-ness.

Towleroad Adore Delano continues to hit it hard in that tiny assured-media-interest window post RuPaul's Drag Race. Party!
Clothes on Film wonders what happens to contemporary costumes when the movie wraps. Featuring The DescendantsBrick and Silver Linings Playbook
Variety Tom Hardy reunites with Inception co-star Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant 

Tilda = Best
Tilda Swinton has proclaimed that everyone should see Julia because Tilda has great taste. She's so extraordinary in that movie and she should've won her second Oscar for it. (Sorry Oscar nominees of 2009 but you just don't compare)

I made a film with Erick Zonca called JULIA of which I am extremely proud: in the United States it had a very small release by a great little and passionate distribution company called Magnolia.. but there was only so wide they could release it.. PLEASE look for that one.. it is something else.. and I LOVE it.

Her Reddit Q&A is often hilarious. Consider this response to whether or not she's a clone of David Bowie.

The laboratory gave me strict instructions to issue no comment

I'm so proud that I've been a fan of Tilda since Edward II (1991) so she's MINE. I am so proud to have given Tilda the gold medal right here for Julia. The Film Bitch Awards are awesome. *pats self on back* Should really watch that movie again.

Wednesday
Jun252014

Eli Wallach (1915-2014)

The great character actor Eli Wallach didn't quite make it to his centennial, dying at 98½ but at least he lived long enough to get an Honorary Oscar a few years back. The Academy honored him for "a lifetime's worth of indelible screen characters" even though they'd never nominated him.

I'm sure AMPAS didn't mean to include "Mr Freeze" on the Batman TV series as one of those characters but that's the one that's indelible for me. Is that wrong? When I was a child that show was always on through the magic of syndication. But Mr. Freeze was recast frequently (curiously enough two other Oscar favorites also played the chilly bad guy: three time nominee Otto Preminger and Oscar winner George Sanders). They rarely showed episodes in order so the memories of the faces get all jumbled up. 

He made a lot of career noise with his onscreen debut in Baby Doll (1956) for which he was Golden Globe nominated. But several fine characters and classics would follow like The Magnificent Seven, The Misfits, How the West Was Won, The Moon Spinners, The Good the Bad and the Ugly and The Godfather Pt. III.


What do you remember most about this actor?



Saturday
Jun142014

Two "Dracula" Actresses

The Los Angeles Times reports that one of the last remaining silent era actors has passed away. The actress in question, Carla Laemmle, had an easy in to the movies: her uncle Carl Laemmle founded Universal Studios and invited her family to live in a bungalow on the lot.  Carla only had a small part in the horror classic Dracula (1931) but a key one: she uttered the first line of dialogue. She didn't appear in many pictures in her long life, dying at 104 years of age, but she apparently just recently filmed a role in a new horror film Mansion of Blood (2014) starring Gary Busey.

In happier news - this is not a double RIP -  Lupita Tovar, a Mexican beauty who starred in the Spanish language version of Dracula that same year (in those early days of sound they made simultaneous alternative versions for other markets with the same sets and costumes) is still with us at 103 years of age. Lupita also comes from a movie family or, rather, began one. She is the mother of Oscar nominee Susan Kohner (Imitation of Life) and grandmother to the directors Paul Weitz and Chris Weitz (of About a Boy fame)

Related: Oldest Living Screen Stars of Note