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Tag: "deaths"

Powers Boothe, RIP

[ 58 ] May 15, 2017 |

Powers Boothe is dead.

Sadly, I guess this means that Cy Tolliver won’t be in the film version of Deadwood that may eventually happen, hopefully before all the other actors are dead too.

Of all the characters in Deadwood, Tolliver was probably the single most vile, outside of George Hearst. Meaning that Boothe must have had a really fun time playing him.

Then of course there was Powers Boothe literally parachuting into the middle of Red Dawn.

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Demme

[ 80 ] April 26, 2017 |

Jonathan Demme has died.

Robert Osborne, RIP

[ 63 ] March 7, 2017 |

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The much beloved host of Turner Classic Movies is dead at the age of 84. Osborne is the kind of person no one can really say anything bad about. TCM is probably Ted Turner’s second greatest gift to the world (outside of his massive conservation efforts in the West). It’s certainly a better gift than the Wolf Blitzer News Network. But Osborne became the real face of TCM, bringing great movies to the broad public without commercials and in an always classy style. He provided great knowledge and great love to the films.

It’s also interesting to me that he came out of Colfax, Washington to become what he became. Colfax is a pretty awful town in southeastern Washington that mostly subsists on wheat farming. It’s true that it is probably the only town in the United States that is presently festooned with flags showing the face of Grant’s corrupt Vice-President Schuyler Colfax, so that’s exciting. But these stories of individuals escaping the deepest recesses of rural America to live these incredibly urbane and interesting lives is interesting.

Mary Tyler Moore, RIP

[ 70 ] January 25, 2017 |

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Mary Tyler Moore has died, at the age of 80.

We actually made it through over three weeks of 2017 without a major cultural figure dying. And I guess it’s kind of a fitting time to go, a pioneering figure in feminist portrayals in popular culture leaving life when the nation’s government has declared war against everything that stood for.

Vo Quy, RIP

[ 15 ] January 12, 2017 |

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Vo Quy, the pioneering Vietnamese environmentalist and communist who not only convinced Ho Chi Minh to create Vietnam’s first national park, but also played a critical role in bringing his nation and the United States to an agreement on dealing with the ecocide the Americans committed after the war, has died at the age of 87.

Here is more about him.

Craig Sager, RIP

[ 30 ] December 15, 2016 |

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The affable and loudly dressed sideline reporter for TNT’s NBA coverage has died after a long battle with cancer.

Buckwheat Zydeco, RIP

[ 19 ] September 24, 2016 |

Another great musician is gone.

Gene Wilder, RIP

[ 109 ] August 29, 2016 |

Big loss, although not unexpected.

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[SL]: Great tribute from Roy.

Irving Fields, RIP

[ 9 ] August 23, 2016 |

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The wonderful Irving Fields has died at the age of 101. Fields was a brilliant piano player and probably the last living man on the Catskill circuit of the postwar years who in the 1950s combined Jewish music traditions with Latin rhythms. His most famous album is 1959’s Bagels and Bongos, the height of this combination. It’s simply a wonderful album that is a tremendous amount of fun to listen to. Fields, having great success on that album, recorded a bunch of other albums combining European lounge and Latin traditions. I also Champagne and Bongos, which builds on French cafe music. It’s good, but not as good as Bagels. In his late career, he was picked up in the John Zorn circle, which allowed him to record some albums of Zorn’s Tzadik label. His album Oy Vey! Ole! with the percussionist Roberto Rodriguez is absolutely fantastic. His solo album on Tzadik, My Yiddishe Mama, is quite good, although in my view it has the limits of most solo piano albums which is a lack of varied sound. Fields played weekly in an Italian restaurant in New York until just a few months ago. I am disappointed with myself for not finding a reason to go see him play. Here’s a few available clips from his long career. RIP.

Kiarostami

[ 4 ] July 5, 2016 |

Title: THROUGH THE OLIVE TREES / UNDER THE OLIVE TREES ¥ Year: 1994 ¥ Dir: KIAROSTAMI, ABBAS ¥ Ref: THR132AB ¥ Credit: [ FARABI CINEMA/KIAROSTAMI / THE KOBAL COLLECTION ]

Bilge Ebiri’s remembrance of Abbas Kiarostami’s work is well worth your time.

These movies identify the filmmaker as a student of behavior. But the repetitiveness also has a cumulative power. By the end of each film, you’re overwhelmed by the humanity you’ve witnessed; all those individual interactions, coming one after the other, suggest a world of breadth and density. The word that always comes to mind when I think of these documentaries is voracious: You get the sense that Kiarostami could spend his whole life in that principal’s office, or that intersection, or that classroom, just watching people be. And you might gladly stay there with him, sharing his fascination.

Even in these early works Kiarostami questions form, occasionally undercutting directorial authority and supposed objectivity with clever edits or random digressions that draw attention to the artificiality of his endeavors. But he never undercuts sincerity; rather, the structural and stylistic playfulness always ends up reasserting the dignity of his subjects.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the incredible run of narrative films the director made from the late 1980s through the 1990s. The most seismic of these was 1990’s Close-Up, based on a real-life case in which a poor, movie-obsessed hustler took advantage of a bourgeois Tehran family by pretending he was the celebrated Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Kiarostami restaged the events of the case, with the real people — victims and perpetrator — playing themselves, and then intercut those scenes with what appears to be documentary footage of the man on trial. Except that the documentary footage itself would turn out to be staged: Kiarostami had scripted the defendant’s lines, as well as the family’s forgiveness; he’d even handled some of the questioning from off-camera. The endlessly fractured perspective complicates our ideas of reality and fiction, of celebrity and identity, of directorial distance and intervention. But unlike so much of what we call “self-conscious cinema,” Close-Up never denies us emotion: At the end, the con man meets the real Makhmalbaf and promptly bursts into tears — a discomfiting and deeply heartbreaking moment. All the frames collapse into one; postmodern need not mean post-human.

The Dear and Departed

[ 162 ] July 2, 2016 |

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As you probably know Elie Wiesel died today. I don’t have anything particular to say here, but figure many of you may.

As you might not have known, Michael Cimino also died today. Personally, I find The Deer Hunter overlong and so racist as to be unwatchable in parts, but many believe him to be a great talent, even if little came of it.

And as you may not have seen, Scotty Moore, Elvis’ guitar player, died recently. I had no idea he was still alive, which isn’t surprising since he basically stopping playing after he no longer worked with Elvis.

James Green, RIP

[ 12 ] June 25, 2016 |

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James Green, preeminent labor historian, has died. His books reached far beyond the academy to transform popular understanding of the United States’ most dramatic labor incidents. Probably his most famous book is Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and the Bombing that Divided America. His last book was also brilliant. The Devil Is Here In These Hills: West Virginia’s Coal Miners and Their Battle for Freedom brought the reality of the incredibly terrible lives of these workers and their rebellion that led to the Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest civil uprising in the United States since the Civil War, into the public consciousness. His book was adapted by PBS into a documentary for The American Experience titled The Mine Wars, which is also quite excellent. A great historian and a great loss.

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