Tagged: r.i.p.

Roger Ebert, 1942-2013

Ebert, 70, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic, died Thursday in Chicago. …

His colleagues admired him as a workhorse. Ebert reviewed as many as 285 movies a year, after he grew ill scheduling his cancer surgeries around the release of important pictures. He eagerly contributed to other sections of the papers — interviews with and obituaries of movie stars, even political columns on issues he cared strongly about on the editorial pages.

The Chicago Sun-Times announced Thursday afternoon that Roger Ebert, the paper’s legendary film critic, had died.

You should without a doubt read “A Leave of Presence,” his final blog post, published less than two days before he died. I will excerpt only the final line, which I admit is completely cheap (and you should still read the entire thing), because it is one hell of a final line:

So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies.

Longform has put together a few key Ebert stories, and additional collections, reflections and reminiscences are sure to come. [UPDATE: Here’s the Longreads page with additional stories.]

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Ebert truly was one of the all-time greats. He remains an inspiration for countless people, myself included, who cannot begin to express how much we learned from him and enjoyed what he did and how he did it. Many of us who never met him, and who only knew him through his words, cannot help but feel like we lost someone we knew.

Sherwood Schwartz, 1916-2011

Sherwood Schwartz, the comedy writer and producer behind “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch,” died Tuesday morning in Los Angeles. His career began on Bob Hope’s radio show and included stops on “The Red Skelton Show,” “I Married Joan” and “My Favorite Martian.” But in the 1960s, he created “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch,” two critically-abhorred shows that were hits with audiences and even more successful in the decades since thanks to syndication. (He also wrote the classic theme songs for both shows.) He was 94.

Sidney Lumet, 1924-2011

Sidney Lumet died Saturday morning in Mahnattan. The great director of “12 Angry Men,” “Serpico,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” “The Verdict,” “Network,” “Fail-Safe” and “Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead” was 86 years old.

It would be a cliche to say they don’t make them like this anymore, but, just scanning that filmography, they really don’t make them like this anymore. It’s easy to look at the cinematic revolution of the 1970s — the ascension of the “film school brats,” the era that gave us Coppola, Scorsese, Spielberg, Bogdanovich, Ashby, Friedkin and many others — and focus only on the epochal and enduring works like “The Godfather,” “The Exorcist,” “The French Connection,” “Chinatown” and “Taxi Driver,” or the louder, more media-ready characters that were directing those films.

Lumet wasn’t one of them, of course, separated by time and geography. His film version of “12 Angry Men” came out in 1957 and he was a prolific director of television shows and movies before and after that movie. And he was in and of Manhattan, first acting in Broadway shows and later directing theatrical productions. But he was the connective tissue between the New Jersey dock workers of Elia Kazan’s “On the Waterfront” and the grim New York of Scorsese’s vision of the region; Lumet’s films seemed to link the morality and lost promise of yesterday with the very real decay of his present.

His most enduring works are likely “Dog Day Afternoon,” “Serpico” and “Network,” though you could honestly make the case for seemingly any of his most towering films. I would also argue that his best five films (“12 Angry Men,” “Serpico,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” “The Verdict” and “Network”) would stand up well against nearly any other director of his or any other era.

He had four Best Director nominations, one writing nod and no wins, though the Academy did give him an honorary award in 2005. It’s rather remarkable that 25 years after his last great film, “The Verdict,” the guy was able to craft a return to form with 2007’s “Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead.” It would become his final film.

The archetypal Sidney Lumet character was a pillar of virtue in an immoral world, somebody trying to stem the oncoming tide of insanity with calls for calm and rationality and reason. You can clearly see the connection between Al Pacino’s crusading Serpico and Peter Finch’s ranting Howard Beale and Henry Fonda’s dissenting juror. These were movies about something, and not in the same vein as the bland, black-and-white moralizing of Stanley Kramer’s movies.

There were many directors similar to Lumet, who worked with similar themes and crafted similar stories and drew great performances from the same stars. But there were none quite like him. And there weren’t enough movies quite like his best ones.

Elizabeth Taylor, 1932-2011

Elizabeth Taylor died today of congestive heart failure at the age of 79.

Taylor won two Best Actress Oscars for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “Butterfield 8,” and she was also nominated in that category for “Suddenly, Last Summer,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Raintree Country.” To people of a certain age, Taylor represents perhaps the last remnant of Old Hollywood, a human link to the days of class and glamour and glitz in cinema. She represented a time when stars were bigger than life itself. To younger people, she had been famous for so long that she seemed famous just for being so famous.

She was born in London to American parents and started out as a child star. Her fame as an actor transformed into something else entirely over the years. She was a philanthropist and an icon, but she was probably best known for her eight marriages, which included a pair of unions with Richard Burton. The two of them worked together multiple times, most notably on 1966’s “Virginia Woolf” (a huge success) and 1963’s “Cleopatra” (the biggest debacle in cinema at that point).

Yet she was also ahead of her time in recognizing that she could translate her stardom to business success as well as put it towards worthy causes. She was a major advocate for AIDS and HIV research, raising money and drawing attention to fighting the diseases. Sadly, her most famous moment in the last decade was her Golden Globes appearance in 2001, the kind of thing that went viral before things like that really went viral. The last big movie she worked on was 1994’s “The Flinstones,” and in the years before that was known for her colorful history, varied marriages and other off-screen endeavors.

Taylor was hospitalized last month for congestive heart failure, and she turned 79 during her time at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

R.I.P. Pete Postlethwaite

Pete Postlethwaite, the actor known best for his roles in “In The Name of the Father” and probably his small role in “The Usual Suspects,” has died. He could always be counted on to class up American productions like “Inception” (where he basically laid in a bed for his few scenes in the movie) and, most recently, “The Town” (where he was wonderfully evil). His biggest audience came when he played the big game hunter in “The Lost World,” providing one of the few sparks in Steven Spielberg’s iffy sequel. He was 64.