A few movie greats we've lost this year...
Overall, this year sucks balls in terms of the death toll. We've lost musicians, writers, directors, actors, activists... I mean, the list goes on. It's been terrible. The worst I've seen in my lifetime thus far. Most recently, we lost Gene Wilder; a hilarious filmmaker and writer who gave me off colored jokes the way they were meant to be... often times with Richard Pryor.
I know there are still a few more months in this year, and some time to continue to hurt my soul, but I wanted to talk about a few who have gone and more importantly, what they left to remember them by.
Maybe by the end of this, there'll be some other films that you would like to add to your collection as well.
Kenny Baker left this galaxy on August 13th, 2016, but he left behind a series of Star Wars films that have fed the wee nerd inside of me since I was at eye level as the beloved R2-D2. He brought the character to life in six of the movies, countless specials, and television appearances. But, he was also in the Goblin Corps in the movie Labryinth as well as an uncredited role in Willow. He was kind, and full of life and will truly be missed. But, go back and watch the Star Wars movie whenever you're feeling sentimental. The first three made (technically 4, 5, and 6) are the ones I'd stick with, because they're simply better in every way. Or, take another gander at the Labryinth. There, you'd even get the added bonus of the next man on the list.
Speaking of the Goblin King, the next man on the list isn't actually an actor but a musician. David Bowie went of to his castle early this year on 10 January 2016.
Before you say anything, I know that he's a well known musician who was brilliant at it, but I'm a filmmaker, and I love films. I also love love love the film Labryinth. It really doesn't make any sense why a grown man with an incredibly defined nut cup is stealing babies and trying to get a young Jennifer Connelly to fall in love with him, but that's a question left for Jared Fogle.
Regardless, it's a cult classic, he was wonderful in it, and thanks to Terry Jones' wonderful writing, the film gave me feelings of simultaneous joy and nightmares. Whenever it's played in a theatre, I try to make a point to see it, but if I can't, and I'm feeling the need to look into Bowie's dazzling heterochromia, I will just watch it at home. At night. To be scared and excited. and maybe a little bit confused.
Prince rogers nelson
The death of Prince Rogers Nelson on April 21st, 2016 still sits heavy on my heart. He was the only man who wore that much makeup that I still couldn't stop thinking naughty thoughts about.
His music was transcendent, as was his personality. I believe his energy still lives in Minnesota (also my hometown) and he continues to inspire young artists like myself to this day.
The movie Purple Rain was a pseudo-biographical business about a young man named "The Kid." It shows Prince in his film debut having a good time, showing off First Ave, and all the beautiful parts that make up Minnesota, and also, produced one of the best soundtracks I've ever experienced. Not listened to. Experienced. When I say I cried at the end when he sings Purple Rain. I'm getting goosebumps just writing about it.
And of course, the best line in that entire movie, "You have to purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka."
For you, Prince, I surely would.
Not only are these some of the greatest movies ever, but they gave you actors like Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Robert DuVal, James Caan... I could go on.
There was another actor who recently passed named Abe Vigoda who left us January 26th, 2016
If you don't remember Abe in these films, first, you're an asshole, but also, he was Tessio. He started with the Don only to betray Michael in the end. His famous last words, "Tell Michael it was only business."
On a lighter note, he was also the grandfather in Look Who's Talking. He's sweet as pie, just don't take his chocolate or his lady. Also, he played in the movie Good Burger as an employee of the burger joint.
If that ain't a bit of variety for you, then I don't know what it is.
The youngest actor on this list, and one of the most tragic is Anton Yelchin who passed on June 19th, 2016 at the tender age of 27.
Anton, to me, was a young man full of endless of amounts of talent and opportunity. I first became aware of him in a movie titled Alpha Dog. And while the movie is problematic for many reasons, Anton's performance in it was well worth watching. I then began to look for other performances of his to include films like Along Came A Spider, Charlie Bartlett, Like Crazy, Only Lovers Left Alive and the Star Trek series. A few years younger than me, I consider him one of the few peers that you could only watch in awe knowing there was so much more to come from such a talented individual. I am looking forward to watching Green Room and a few of his other posthumous releases and will miss him.
Garry Marshall... Y'all don't know how this man shaped the summers of my early childhood with shows like Happy Days and Mork & Mindy. I've watched something with his name on it just about every year of my life and that's no exaggeration.
On July 19th, 2016, he passed away leaving behind a bit of a gap if I'm honest.
Along with countless television shows, Marshall has countless films under his belt to include Overboard, Beaches (tears), Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, The Princess Diaries series, and Georgia Rule. The last film wasn't the greatest, but it touched on an interesting subject and how families can sometimes cause the most hurt. And, Lindsay Lohan was not that bad.
Plus, he's been in some of my favorite films. A League of Their Own got me into playing softball. I believe I'd have been a great professional ball player. He was also in Hocus Pocus which features one of Bette Midler's catchiest songs ever. Plus, countless appearances on television. The man's career was expansive and he seemed to be able to easily navigate from tv to film back when it wasn't cool to be doing both. I'm going to miss the light brand of humor and that kind smile.
Snape. Hans. Sheriff of Nottingham. These are a few of my favorite things. Alan Rickman's picture hangs in the Hogwarts halls as of 14 January, 2016. An underrated actor in my book. Rickman had the "chameleon" status where you'd take a minute before you realized it was him. Though he's played many serious characters, and was pivotal in the Harry Potter series, my two favorite films of his were Galaxy Quest and Dogma.
Galaxy Quest was about actors from an old television show getting sucked into space after an alien race builds their entire existence on the show. Rickman played Alexander Dane or Dr. Lazarus who hated that he was a renown actor simply known for the line, "By Grapthar's hammer, you shall be avenged!"
The film originally had an R rating, but had to be brought back to PG-13. Honestly though, I would've been just as happy seeing it in it's R rating.
And then of course, Dogma where he played the Metratron, the voice of God with Ken doll body parts. Throughout the film, his sarcasm is well placed and hilarious in a film that's loaded with biblical humor.
Shit, you know what other film I forgot about? A Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Marvin the paranoid android was one of the greatest characters. A miserable, depressed robot voice by Alan Rickman is probably the best thing you'll ever experience in your entire life.
Last but hardly least in any way shape or form, we talk about the man, the myth, the legend that is Gene Wilder. He just left our lives on the 29th of August and chocolate will never taste the same.
A lot of people only know him as Willy Wonka, the original Hunger Games, but he's been pushing his funny for years in many roles and as a writer/director.
One of my favorite films of his is The Producers. He plays a character named Max who is sucked into a scheme to make a flop of a play only to have it blow up in their faces. His deadpan portrayal was fantastic. And of course, the song, "Springtime for Hitler" is an instant classic. lol. It's also one of his earlier film roles. It simply shows he was made for film.
No one can possibly say they love Gene Wilder without saying they love Blazing Saddles. If they do, they're a terrible person, and should be beaten. (not really.... maybe.)
And then there's Young Frankenstein which was written by Wilder as well continuing to prove that he is and will always be one of the funny greats.
He also left me with the belief that you can write, and you can direct, and you can act. As long as it's what you love, and you're passionate about it. If there's nothing else, I will always take that with me.
Well that and the fact that he's up there yucking it up with Richard Pryor and Gilda Radner right now. And that's not a dig to the wonderful wife who was with him up until he passed, because she's great, and I'm sure when it's time, she'll be laughing along with them.
Anywho, I've cried enough. Talk amongst yourself. Enjoy some good cinema, and if there's anything you have to add, refer to the meme below.
Reviewing movies. I tried to go to once a week, but I think it's best if I post whenever. Right?