Geoffrey Lewis. 1935-2015

Character actor Geoffrey Lewis passed on yesterday leaving a legacy of hundreds of wonderful character parts. He appeared in everything from Clint Eastwood westerns to The Devils Rejects and Fletch Lives.

Personally, I always used to confuse him with fellow character actor Marshall Bell, who I assume, both he fought tooth and nail for the same time of roles; namely grizzled, slightly authoritarian, often sympathetic but just as likely, a turncoat or a villain. Notably, Lewis is also the father of actor Juliette Lewis, who can be equally feisty and unpredictable on screen as her father ever was.

The Guardian has more.

Manoel de Oliveira. 1908-2015

Our oldest living filmmaker, prolific Portugese director, Manoel de Oliveira, has passed on at the incredible age of 106. To put things in perspective, his first work in the film industry was in the SILENT FILM era; specifically 1927. And his career spanned more than 60 Features, Documentaries and short films. Although I do not believe I saw a single one of his many films, much of which are from an industrious run in the past 20 years, his passing underscores once again to me, just how young filmmaking is as an artform.

Working steadily into his hundreds, Manoel de Oliveira’s final feature screened in 2012 at the 69th Venice International Film Festival; Gebo and the Shadow stars Michael Lonsdale, Jeanne Moreau, Claudia Cardinale, Leonor Silveira, Ricardo Trêpa and Luís Miguel Cintra and is based on the play The Hunchback and His Shadow by Raul Brandão.

The Guardian has more.

Albert Maysles 1926-2015.

“Making a film isn’t finding the answer to a question; it’s trying to capture life as it is.”

he elder half of the famous Maysles documentary filmmaking team, Albert Maysles died yesterday at 88. David (who passed on in the late 1980s) and Albert documented The Rolling Stones in one of the best documentary films ever made, Gimme Shelter, shot during the infamous Altamont Concert; a touch-point considered the end of the Hippie movement, and the beginning of the flower-power narcotics hangover. (We did a Movie Club Podcast on the 1970 doc here.) They were leading proponents int the Direct Cinema Movement which aimed to minimize cinema tricks in the documentary form to represent their stories honestly (and as the name states, directly.) They also documented The Beatles, IBM, The extended Kennedy family (Grey Gardens)the dynamic of the modern salesman in the classic documentary, Salesman. In his solo career Albert Maysles made an equally diverse stretch of films from the 1950s all the way up to 2009. Maysles was a titan of the documentary field, as important to its development as Robert J. Flaherty, Frederick Wiseman, Werner Herzog and Errol Morris.

The New York Times has more.

Leonard Nimoy: 1931-2015

With much sadness, I report that Leonard Nimoy, Actor, Director, Singer, Photographer, Poet, purveyor of Vulcan logic-and-heart-of-gold, has passed on. Whether you were a Star Trek fan (he was in pretty much every reboot and incarnation of the show in some capacity), an admirer of the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or just enjoyed songs about Hobbits, Nimoy always delivered the goods.

Not to be too obvious, but he lived long and prospered, and his legacy allows that we benefit from such fine work.

The Hollywood Reporter has more.

Mike Nichols – 1931 – 2014

Comedian, stage director, and one of Hollywood’s great film directors, Mike Nichols has passed away at 83. Blasting onto the movie scene with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in the mid 1960s, a film that was nominated for nearly all the major Oscars that year (it won for actress, best supporting actress and cinematography), and closing his career with the quite underrated Charlie Wilson’s War, Nicols made accessible satire a specialty, a feat that is not easy to do. Along with Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl, Closer, Biloxi Blues and the pure paycheck flick Day of the Dolphin, his career made fine use of movie stars, while always finding a way to the take ‘celebrity vehicle’ out of the equation.

Along with Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges and Ernst Lubitsch, before him, Nicols’ voice is already missed as one of the most intelligent human-comedy directors Hollywood has ever employed.

The Guardian has more.

Sir Richard Attenborough 1923-2014

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Film star turned director, Richard Attenborough will be known to one generation as the founder of InGen, the dinosaur cloning company that invites Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum to the island of Nublar in 1993’s Jurassic Park. He will be known to the previous generation as the director of Oscar heavyweight 1982 film, Gandhi, that starred Ben Kingsley in brown-face. And he will be know to yet another, older, generation as prolific actor who capped a very busy 20 year stretch of acting in his native England the forties and fifties as gangsters and soldiers with his pivotal role in the 1963 classic The Great Escape.

He was also Santa Claus (er… Kris Kringle) in John Hughes’ produced remake of The Miracle on 34th St., directed a very big studio biopic on Charlie Chaplin, and directed about half a dozen war films himself, including the star studded A Bridge Too Far (which has, perhaps the definitive “explain the mission with a gigantic map” scene).

Personally, my favourite role is as creepy serial killer in Richard Fleisher’s criminally underseen 10 Rillington Place, in which he kills old ladies, babies and torments a young, drunk and naive John Hurt.

The Guardian Has More.

Lauren Bacall 1924-2014

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From the heights of Hollywood glamour and sizzle to delightfully acerbic grand dame, Lauren Bacall was the type of movie star that we do not see anymore, and for that matter did not see much of even then. From classic noir pictures To Have and To Have Not and The Big Sleep in the 1940s all the way up to the 21st century arthouse fare such as Birth, The Walker and Dogville, Bacall was always a woman in control, grounded, and any attractiveness and desirability came as much from her assured self confidence as it did from her feline grace on screen. At 89 years old and still working (both on screen and on the Broadway stage) up to the time of her death, yesterday, she has a rare 7 decades of career that are well worth exploring.

The Guardian has more.

Robin Williams 1951-2014

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This one is a punch to the gut. But, details aside, let’s take some time to remember the man, the legend, and share our favorite moments from his illustrious career.

Here’s a great scene from the awesome and underappreciated Death to Smoochy:

Be sure to share your favorite and most memorable moments!