With the passing of Mr. Mandela it feels as if the 20th Century is has officially signed off and closed shop. More here.
It’s with a heavy heart that we report to you tonight that Paul Walker, awesome star of the Fast and Furious franchise passed away today in a car crash that took two lives in Southern California. Walker was 40 years-old.
Walker was a passenger in a friend’s car and both were attending a charity event for his organization, Reach Out Worldwide, in the community of Valencia in Santa Clarita, about 30 miles north of Hollywood. The website for the charity said the Saturday event was intended to benefit victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
We’re going to miss the man around here as some of us have really been defenders of the man’s talent in acting, energy and charisma. Although superficially he did make it on my shallow list last year. Obviously Fast and Furious wouldn’t work as well without him and I’m not sure how the rest of that franchise is going to play out due to Walker’s untimely death – especially since part seven is in the midst of filming right now. Walker is also the star of an independent film that is scheduled to hit theaters later this year titled Hours.
Most people just wrote-off Walker as a sub-par actor with just a pretty face – and you could argue there’s some truth to that – but looking at films like Noel and Running Scared, or even Joy Ride, there was something more to this guy than just looking like a bleach-blonde haired meathead. When he wanted to put on the acting hat, he could do it and he could actually carry a film. Of course it has to be the right film, but he could do it.
So yeah, I always enjoyed seeing Paul in films. Probably he was never destined for an Oscar, but he almost always worked for whatever film he was tapped for. It’s too bad that after Hours, I won’t be seeing him again. Coincidental that I just bought copies of Fast and Furious 5 and 6 today. Weird. RIP sir.
Dozens upon dozens of excellent novels, hundreds of memorable characters, and one heckuvalot of excellent film adaptations of his work, from westerns to noir crime tales of redemption to satirical comedies, Leonard was a Titan of pop-literature and popcorn entertainment for grown-ups. He’ll be missed. He passed on today from complications from a Stoke earlier in Detroit, Michigan (the setting of many of his novels). You cold remember by popping in Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, probably the best adaptation of his work, although many might argue Jackie Brown which was adapted from his novel Rum Punch by Quentin Tarantino, or either version of 3:10 to Yuma (whether your preference is Glenn Ford or Russell Crowe), or Charlie Bronson in Mr. Majestyk, or Roy Scheider and Anne Margaret vs. John Glover in John Frankenheimer’s delightfully trashy 52-Pickup, or goofy Hollywood spoofing in Barry Sonnenfeld’s Get Shorty, or Paul Newman’s sparkly blues and pearly whites in Hombre. Then there was TV shows Justified, Karen Cisco and the Twin Peaks-y Maximum Bob. Even if you don’t watch the films, and wanted to go right to the Leonard-source, the novels read like films and play like films in my imagination while I turned pages at the cottage or on the beach.
The key theme in his work was seedy down on their luck types with criminal backgrounds making a play for redemption; this is of course not always by going straight or living on the up-and-up, but rather finding their own moral code in the face of a sea of less than ethical deadbeats. The man has nothing for which redemption requires, he did the good service for entertaining millions with quality stuff, and made us look a second or third time at people we would cross the street to avoid. That’s fine, fine work.
This one is a bit of a sad shocker. Legend character actor Dennis Farina died tragically on Monday morning after a hospital stay for a blood clot in his lung.
I’ve always enjoyed Farina for his biting humor and “hammer-on” approach to his characters. I’ve been watching the guy since I was a kid and can name countless roles of his I enjoy; whether he’s working with Soderbergh or Spielberg, on the big screen or on TV. But for some reason his role in Guy Ritchie’s Snatch is always the first role that springs to mind.
He’ll be sorely missed in movie world.
Some of these reviews were written in joyous zeal. Others with glee. Some in sorrow, some in anger, and a precious few with venom, of which I have a closely guarded supply. When I am asked, all too frequently, if I really sit all the way through these movies, my answer is inevitably: Yes, because I want to write the review.
I would guess that I have not mentioned my Pulitzer Prize in a review except once or twice since 1975, but at the moment I read Rob Schneider’s extremely unwise open letter to Patrick Goldstein, I knew I was receiving a home-run pitch, right over the plate. Other reviews were written in various spirits, some of them almost benevolently, but of Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, all I can say is that it is a movie made to inspire the title of a book like this.
-Roger Ebert, Your Movie Sucks (2007)
Roger Ebert, unquestionably the most recognizable film critic in the world, has died at the age of 70, according to NPR.
You can check out his vast archive of reviews over here. It’s worth spending some time browsing through his old reviews.
Also, thanks to Kurt for pointing out this essay of Ebert’s from 2011 titled “I Do Not Fear Death.”
From the Earth to the Moon… and now the great beyond. A childhood (and adulthood) hero has today passed from our presence. A daring and courageous guy who captured the world’s attention and hearts with just a single step. If anyone on this Earth is to be remembered for something truly amazing, noteworthy and awe-inspiring, it is surely Neil Armstrong.
Go luck sir. And God speed.
A bizarre bit of news, one that sort of belies any sort of understanding commentary at this point. BBC and other sources are reporting that Tony Scott, director of The Hunger, Top Gun, True Romance, Crimson Tide, Spy Game, Domino, Unstoppable and many other flashy hollywood studio action thrillers, and brother and producing partner of Ridley Scott, jumped from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro, California, to his death just after noon on August 19th. His body was recovered shortly thereafter and a suicide note was found in his office.
FYI, the large greenish bridge has been featured prominently in films such as William Friedkin’s To Live and Die In L.A., Michael Mann’s Heat and McG’s Charlie’s Angels.
Sad, but inevitable I’m afraid, news out of Toronto today, as one of the last few fully independent Repertory Cinemas, The Toronto Underground Cinema, announced that it was shuttering its doors permanently come September. Issues with the building owners (involving a liquor license) as well as the ongoing slow death of 35mm print distribution have pushed the financials of operating a 700 seat repertory house beyond any fiscal sense for the three owners: Nigel Agnew, Charlie Lawton, and Alex Woodside.
More than a few patrons were often confused by the well spaced scheduling of regular programming at The Underground since it quite successfully hosted Toronto After Dark’s sixth year (The Bloor Cinema, TADFFs usual haunt, was under massive renovations before gathering Patronage from HotDocs as a supported repertory venue. TADFF announced a few weeks ago that it was however returning to the Bloor come October.) With the Lightbox just around the corner, and even the corporate Cineplex up the street getting into the Rep Cinema game (showing Roman Holiday, Blazing Saddles, Robocop and such on occasional Sunday afternoons), not to mention Cinecycle, The Bloor, Projection Booth, and several other operational Rep cinemas all vying for the same eyeballs, it was only a matter of time before the shoe dropped on someone. That someone is Toronto Underground.
Personally, I’ve seen such diverse films as Hard Core Logo, The Innkeepers, A Lonely Place to Die, Speed Racer, Ghostbusters II, Fright Night, Manborg, Pontypool, and Mad Monkey Kung Fu. The venues specialty was always 1980s trash cinema, something that has a close place in my heart. TUC opened its doors in 2010 with a double bill of Clue: The Movie and Big Trouble in Little China and will close September with screenings of apocalyptic horror film Night of the Comet and concert Doc, The Last Waltz.
In the immortal words of Jack Burton, Toronto rep cinema-goers should heed the following advice: “You people sit tight, hold the fort and keep the home fires burning. And if we’re not back by dawn… call the president. “