The “Release of the Week” is a part of this blog that I have gotten away from for the most part. Certain weeks it is a challenge to strongly suggest you watch anything but the pretty blue sky. However, I am going to highlight certain films a bit that I think you’ll all enjoy in one way or another. This week I am going with THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS, the film that will always be known as Heath Ledger’s final movie.
Thinking of Heath made me contemplate other great talents that left us early in the film world, and so I present to you, my top seventeen movie stars that died young.
Adrienne Shelly – The writer, and actor who made THE WAITRESS, was tragically murdered right after that film was made.
River Phoenix –Man, I still can’t believe this one…
Marilyn Monroe – She was only 36 when she died of an overdose.
John Candy – Died at 43 of a heart attack.
James Dean – My gosh; he was 24 when he died in a car accident.
Leslie Howard – He was 50 when he was shot down from the sky during WWII
Judy Garland – 47, drugs.
Carol Lombarde – 33, airplane crash.
Natalie Wood – She was 43 and just finishing the film BRAINSTORM when she drowned in very suspicious circumstances while sailing with Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken. Alcohol definitely played a role.
Bruce Lee – 32, accidental OD. And we really must remember his son Brandon who died young, too.
John Belushi – He was 33 when he OD’d. Thanks drugs!
Andy Kaufman – This super kook was 35 when a rare form of lung cancer took him.
Chris Penn – Drugs were involved, but they say Sean’s little brother died of an enlarged heart.
Jayne Mansfield – She died in a car accident at 34
Gilda Radner – Ovarian cancer took this brilliant comic actor at 42.
Sal Mineo – James Dean’s co-star in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE and GIANT died of a stabbing wound in a robbery at 37.
Heath Ledger- On the verge of superstardom died of an apparently accidental overdose.
I am sure I missed many important ones…please comment here, on the blog any important actors whose early deaths were especially tragic to you.
Hey, on a positive and evolutionary note. It just occurred to me that Assembly Bill 2254, the taxation of Marijuana bill, introduced by our very own Tom Ammiano and on the California State ballot in November, has a great chance of passing. Because most people either smoke pot casually, or recognize that it is less harmful then alcohol, or just want it to be taxed to help bring our state and country out of debt. So, I have decided to bring it up here and there. And here!
So remember to vote YES in November. Moderation is the key to life, people. With all things.
Love and Kisses,
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............//RELEASE OF THE WEEK//............
THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS.****BD****
Christopher Plummer/Heath Ledger/Johnny Depp/Colin Farrell/Jude Law/Lily Cole/Tom Waits.
Directed by Terry Gilliam.
* The “Imaginarium” is a device the good doctor has that enables people to enter their imagination and make certain dreams come true…ah, but it is dangerous in the imagination, as we all know, and things don’t always go as planned. Actually, the Imaginarium itself isn’t really focused on much in this fantastical film, thought the images we see while inside are extraordinary, and remind us of other visually stimulating images from Gilliam’s wild films. Actually, the film mostly revolves around Dr. Parnassus’s really bad judgment, especially regarding his dealings with the Devil (played wonderfully as usual by Tom Waits). He, like so many others before him, has made a deal with the devil that has gone poorly, and continues to go poorly. Currently, it sees Parnassus contemplating the loss of his beautiful daughter (Lily Cole) to give the Devil his due, and what a lucky devil he is! In truth, we will never know what this film was supposed to be, because Heath Ledger, fresh off his enormous success in THE DARK KNIGHT, died tragically during the making of this film. His character is a sort of wrench in everyone’s plans, which represents the chaotic element of life and he generally does what he pleases, annoying everyone involved. After his real-life death, Colin Farrell, Jude Law and Johnny Depp were hired to play him in separate scenes inside the Imaginarium. The effect is fine, if not perfect, but it leads to more questions about the original intention, and gives the film a slightly maudlin vibe making it a sort of homage to the actor instead of a stand alone piece of art. In any case, it is worth seeing just to marvel a bit at all the skilled acting, and to give huge props to Christopher Plummer (THE SOUND OF MUSIC!) for continuing his magical career.
John Malkovich/Jessica Haines.
Directed by Steve Jacobs.
* Adapted from the novel by J.M. Coetzee (“Waiting for the Barbarians”), this film concerns the politics of life in South Africa, as a teacher (Malkovich) attempts to rehabilitate his life and reputation by moving away from Cape Town where he got into trouble for having an affair with a student.
DISTRIC 13: ULTIMATUM.****BD****
Directed by Patrick Allesandrin.
* More super action filled cops and robbers in French (Ou est la bibliotheque?) in this blood pumping sequel to 2004’s DISTRICT 13. In that one, no ultimatum. This time, they are a bit more definitive.
FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN.****BD****
Liam Neeson/James Nesbitt.
Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel.
* Well-acted film about former UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force; a loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland) member Alistair Little (Neeson) who served 12 years for the murder of Jimmy Griffin who he shot in front of Jimmy’s little brother Joe. Now it is another 25 years later, and a media program has arranged a meeting between Joe and Alistair ostensibly to see them make up and move on. However, Joe has other revenge-oriented plans. This film won awards on the circuit, including the Best Director award at Sundance last year.
44 INCH CHEST.****BD****
Ray Winstone/Ian McShane/Tom Wilkinson/John Hurt/Stephen Dillane/Joanne Whalley.
Directed by Michael Venville.
* It’s kind of a buddy film, if your buddies thought that killing someone they’ve kidnapped would help you get over some problem you’re having…like say you’re partner is cheating on you with the bloke they want you to kill.
Directed by Serge Bozon.
* A woman who receives a letter from her soldier husband during the first World War telling her that he is leaving her packs up and heads to the front lines to find and confront him.
THE FUGUTIVE KIND.
Marlon Brando/Anna Magnani/Joanne Woodward/Maureen Stapleton.
Directed by Sidney Lumet.
* Sidney Lumet, whose long and illustrious career includes 2007’s BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOUR DEAD made this film in 1959. Based on Tennessee Williams' play "Orpheus Descending” the film is about a drifter who gets involved with two lonely ladies in a small town in Mississippi.
Joan Allen/Jeremy Irons/Tyne Daly.
Directed by Bob Balaban.
* This historical film focuses on the relationship between the famous painter and her hubby, photographer Alfred Stieglitz.
THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS.****BD****
* See Release of the Week above.
Meryl Streep/Alec Baldwin/Steve Martin/John Krasinski/Zoe Kazan.
Directed by Nancy Meyers.
* I kind of doubt that it is. He loves her, but she loves him. And he loves somebody else, you just can’t win. And so it goes, and on and on, as J. Geils sang it back in the 80’s. However, since all of these actors are awesome, this is probably a funny little romantic comedy.
Ellen Page/Susan Sarandon/Cillian Murphy.
Directed by Michael Lander.
* An accident exposes a quiet man and his community to his secret personality, the woman who cooks and cleans for him.
RIDE WITH THE DEVIL.
Skeet Ulrich/Tobey Maguire/Jewel Kilcher/Jeffrey Wright/Jonathan Rhys-Meyers/Jim Caviezel.
Directed by Ang Lee.
* Ang Lee, who has successfully made films in nearly every genre out there, made this Western in 1999 that is now being given the Criterion treatment. It’s about a couple southern young men who get caught up in the Civil War. They join a guerrilla-type battle force that spends its time picking off Yankees.
Maggie Q/Andy Lau.
Directed by Daniel Lee.
* The story of a modest man who joins the military during a time of civil war and rises to become a great commander and leader.
FIVE YEARS ON MARS.
Directed by National Geographic.
* This documentary about the two NASA rovers Spirit and Opportunity that lasted on Mars gathering data from 2004 to 2009, (far longer then they were expected to last) was nominated for an Emmy last year when it premiered.
THE UNQUIET DEATH OF JULIUS AND ETHEL ROSENBERG.
Directed by.Alvin Goldstein
* This is the first DVD release of the 1975 film about the trial and execution of these two so-called “Atomic Spies”.
WHY WE LAUGH: BLACK COMEDIANS ON BLACK COMEDY.
Angela Bassett/Bill Cosby/Bill Bellamy/Many Wayans/Katt Williams.
Directed by Robert Townsend.
* There is much standup comedy, as well as lively discussion in this documentary about black comedy, and what it means to be a black comedian.
WILLIAM KUNSTLER: DISTURBING THE UNIVERSE.
Directed by Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler.
* From the imdb: William Kunstler was one of the most famous lawyers of the 20th century. The New York Times called him "the most hated and most loved lawyer in America." His clients included Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Phillip and Daniel Berrigan, Abbie Hoffman, H. Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and Leonard Peltier. In Disturbing the Universe: Radical Lawyer William Kunstler, filmmakers Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler explore their father's life, from middle-class family man, to movement lawyer, to "the most hated lawyer in America."
AZUR & AZMAR: THE PRINCES’ QUEST.
* More amazing animation from Michel Ocelot (PRINCES AND PRINCESSES, KIRIKOU AND THE WILD BEAST) from a modern master of this genre.
MISTY SHEEPDOG TALE: HELPING PAW.
THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN: V08.
............//NEW ON BLU/............
* Boom boom.
* I love Sting in this movie. “I will kill him!” Dude rocked. Like: here and here.
* Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliot, Bill Paxton, Charles Heston, Powers Booth!
* Poor guy.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (PLATINUM SERIES SPECIAL EXTENDED EDITION).
* Jet Li taking off.
30 ROCK: SEASON ONE.
* Just another copy, thank you.