Rest In Peace, Patty Duke
March 29, 2016

There are few performances more sublime than Patty Duke’s in Valley of the Dolls, so this little corner of the internet would be remiss if it didn’t pause to pay tribute to her pantheonic turn as Neely O’Hara.

Thank you for sparkling, Patty Duke.

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In Honor of Andrzej Zulawski’s Passing, a Scene from Possession
February 17, 2016

andrzej zulawski possession isabelle adjani

It’s being reported today that after a long battle with cancer, Polish filmmaker Andrzej Zulawski has passed away at 75. For anyone who’s a cinephile or an aficionado of cultural excess and eccentricity, it is a great loss.

I’ve only seen a couple of his movies, but one of them was Possession, and that movie really cut through the fog of my late twenties. It’s surreal and uninhibited and distressing and beautiful, and I couldn’t believe anybody made movies like this.

Possession also contains a truly exceptional performance by Isabelle Adjani. It’s wholly unrestrained and indicative of Zulawki’s weird, singular genius:

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Rest in Peace, Lauren Bacall
August 13, 2014

Lauren Bacall

[Image via Doctor Macro]

Rest in Peace, Robin Williams
August 11, 2014

Steve Jobs (1955-2011)
October 6, 2011

steve jobs

By now, I’m sure we’ve all heard the sad news of Steve Jobs’s untimely passing after a long, brave battle with pancreatic cancer. This not being a tech blog, perhaps it doesn’t quite fall under the banner of things covered by a little corner of the internet where camp is queen. That said, it would feel even more inappropriate to not offer a moment of gratitude to Mr. Jobs for all that he’s done throughout the years.

So thank you, Mr. Jobs, for the iMac and the MacBook and the iPod and the iPhone that have changed how we interface with technology and experience and enjoy music and film. They help make this blog possible.

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Elizabeth Taylor: A Nobody Puts Baby in a Horner Mini Memorium
March 23, 2011

As we’ve all without doubt most sadly heard by now, Dame Elizabeth Taylor has passed away at the age of 79 after being hospitalized six weeks ago for congenital heart failure. With a career and life as wildly storied as hers (the accolades and awards! The marriages and divorces and remarriages! Her tireless contributions to the fight against HIV and AIDS! Being Elizabeth frickin’ Taylor!), it would be wrong to not offer one of Hollywood’s greatest and most glamourous screen icons of all time a moment of elegant and somber reflection, which is precisely why you should read this New York Times‘s obituary. It really is quite the lovely tribute.

This being the particular corner of the internet that it is, however, it would also be remiss to not pay respect with a wink and a mince and the utmost devotion to the divine Dame Taylor. After all, we’ve gotta smile through the tears (and believe me, there were tears this morning. At work. And now. So awkward!), which is precisely (and perhaps a little surprisingly?) why I’m not going to make too much about this:

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RIP, Rue McClanahan
June 3, 2010

Thanks to Rue McClanahan, we can all say our lives were a little brighter from being friends with Blanche Devereaux, the greatest Southern belle the world has ever known (sorry, Scarlett O’Hara, but you weren’t slutty enough):

And not even Blanche’s unpublished novel is a greater gift to the world.  We’ll miss you, Rue.

RIP, Zelda Rubinstein
January 28, 2010

Sad news, y’all.  The AP is reporting that Zelda Rubinstein passed away yesterday at the age of 76.  Not only did she star in one of the great camp classics, Teen Witch, but she was also part of this rather fantastic AIDS awareness campaign:

But then, of course, there’s this:

And perhaps even more memorably, this:

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RIP, Brittany Murphy
December 20, 2009

Terrible news.  Variety is reporting that Brittany Murphy has passed-away at 32.  Yes, there have been jokes here in the past about her career choice, but they came out of deep affection.  She gave brilliant performances in two of the indisputably greatest comedies of the 90s (Clueless and Drop Dead Gorgeous), and she had the sort of big, expressive eyes that sparked with charm and vulnerability.  Our deepest condolences go out to her family.  She will be sincerely missed.

RIP, Mary Travers
September 17, 2009

Mary of Peter, Paul and Mary has passed away.  “Puff the Magic Dragon” and the animated short it inspired were staples of my youth, but this performance of “Early in the Morning” seems more fitting a tribute:

Is there anything more to be said that this video doesn’t already say?  No, I think not.  She was amazing, and she’ll be missed.

RIP, Patrick Swayze
September 15, 2009

patrick-swayze-dirty-dancing

Oh man, y’all.  Patrick Swazye passed away yesterday at 57 after a 20-month battle with pancreatic cancer. It should go without saying, but this news is simply terrible.

This is the actor, after all, whose career highlights include Point Break and Ghost.  Not many actors can find success as both the macho action star and the sensitive romantic lead (let alone in movies that have earned a place in the pop culture lexicon), but Patrick Swayze had the charm and versatility to have such success.  Perhaps this explains why he also made one hell of a drag queen:

MSDTOWO EC001

Yes, this fabulous vision of glamor also starred in Road House.  Fierce drag queen is hardly the most conventional career choice when you’re known for playing a philosophical surfer/bank robber and one of cinema’s sexiest lingering spirits, but therein lies the genius:

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Thank You, John Hughes
August 7, 2009

I’m pretty much at a loss for words about yesterday’s sad news.  John Hughes left a long and memorable imprint on popular cinema in a way that few filmmakers ever have or will, and his passing is a reminder of that indelible mark; nevertheless, because we all remember his movies and how they matter to us in very different ways, it seems foolish to wax nostalgic about his body of work so broadly.  Yes, John Hughes made movies that were broad in their appeal, but they were smart and sincere and–like any great piece of pop culture–capable of making you feel like they spoke straight to your own experience.  As such, I feel it apropos to share a few personal reflections on his work, and I encourage you to do the same in the comments.

My first significant experience with John Hughes as ’80s teen movie master was the sci-fi/teen-comedy masterpiece Weird Science.  I saw it in the mid ’90s, back when USA ran the comedy series of the same name and premise.  Most of the film’s humor indubitably went over my head, but even then I could appreciate Kelly LeBrock’s bawdy fierceness as she asks the lingerie saleswoman for something in barbed wire, and sweet mercy will I always love the Oingo Boingo theme song:

When you think about it, it was only natural for me to love a movie that’s essentially about two teenage boys who recreate The Bride of Frankenstein and end up creating the ultimate British dream fag hag.  Whoops, I mean girlfriend.

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RIP, Captain EO
June 26, 2009

I debated about writing anything in regards to Michael Jackson’s untimely passing.  There are bigger fans who can better articulate how much he mattered to music and pop culture as a whole.  When you realize you’re best equipped to discuss his slow descent from King of Pop to the Grand Poobah of Eccentric Celebrity Curios–the Howard Hughes of music, if you will–you kinda realize it’s quite not your place to chime in during a time of mourning.  I mean, do you really want to look like this asshole?  Hell no.  Besides, I will always appreciate the fact that I get to share my name with his 1972 ballad devoted to a rat.  Top that, people named Jude.

Anyways, I’ll simply pay my respects with one of my favorite moments in Michael Jackson’s career:

captain-eo

That’s right, Captain EO, the 1986 sci-fi/musical 3-D short film staring Michael Jackson and Anjelica Huston (who scared the living hell out of me when I first saw it).  It’s rather ridiculous in and of itself (small wonder I love it so), but knowing that it was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and co-written by George Lucas make it pretty profoundly wonderful.  There may be greater moments to highlight in his career, but I’ll never forget my parents taking me to see Captain EO at age three when we visited Disney World.  It’s that sort of unforgettable impact that is the real testament to this man’s work.  It’s part Star Wars, an ample aesthetic splash of Ridley Scott’s Alien, and all Michael Jackson magic.  After the jump, in its YouTube entirety, I give you the 80s nostalgia-bomb that is Captain EO:

Michael Jackson, 1958-2009.  You will be missed.

Rest in Peace, Jack Cardiff
April 22, 2009

I hate to be a Debbie Downer at this late hour in the day, but the BBC is reporting that filmmaker Jack Cardiff has passed away at 94.  He had a wonderfully long and varied career as both and a director and a cinematographer.  I think he’s a Technicolor genius, and his cinematography work with Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger on the exceptional melodramas Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes may be some of the greatest ever.  I cannot recommend these films enough; his work in these movies is one of the great cases for film as a true art.  It’s a testament to his talent that, even on YouTube, his ability to capture color is simply stunning.  Let’s celebrate the life of a true artist with (what I believe to be) the crowning achievement of his work:

I recall sitting in a film class and encountering this scene for the first time.  I see plenty of movies, and many of them excite me in some way or another, but this scene was something special.  I crackled with an electric shock, like I was a human battery, as I sat through these moments, and the sensation never leaves me.

If it were not for the way that Mr. Cardiff captured the redness of Sister Rose’s lipstick of eerily calm pinks of the Himalayan sunrise in the sublime manner that he did, I wonder if this scene would have the same hypnotic control over me.  Powell and Pressburger indubitably played a large and important part in crafting the perfect finale of Black Narcissus (they’re the directors, and geniuses in their own right, after all), but the colors–so necessary to the feel and mood and affect of the film–are Cardiff’s doing.  He’s a man of supreme talent, and he shall be missed.

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