A symbol more than an actor, but film actors are symbols anyway. Film actors often incarnate their times. It was Peter Fonda’s luck to star in Easy Rider, the epochal road film he also co-wrote. For him there was little of his older sis Jane’s intelligence and anxiousness; he projected a languor that millions ofContinue reading “Peter Fonda RIP”
David Berman revealed himself to me as a poet first. When I found his collection Actual Air for a buck in the remainders section of my satellite campus bookstore exactly a decade ago, I bought it on a condescending whim — “how good can a poetry collection by a rock guy be?” Then I readContinue reading “David Berman — RIP”
For as along as I was alive, the Supreme Court was John Paul Stevens’ court. The justice with a devastating interlocutory style and one of the last to write the first draft of his own opinions well into his eighties, nominated by the most conservative American president since Calvin Coolidge, ended up well to GeraldContinue reading “John Paul Stevens — RIP”
Goodbye, Weird Plutocrat Guy, one-third responsible for the first exciting presidential race of my lifetime. Empty the pockets of H. Ross Perot, called “H.” Ross Perot by Dave Barry, and the following aphorisms jingle like fresh dimes: If someone is blessed as I am is not willing to clean out the barn, who will? and:Continue reading “Ross Perot — R.I.P.”
“She embodied our national will-to-happiness,” James Monaco observed in his essential Movie Love in the Fifties. Typical of Monaco’s generosity is a chapter-length study of what the late Doris Day projected onscreen that captivated Ike and JFK-era audiences enough to keep her as the top female box office draw years after her peak. Already theContinue reading “Doris Day — RIP”
No one who lives beyond the environs of South Florida journalism need care, but the former columnist and Sunrise bureau chief of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel taught this English master’s student a helluva lot about covering local politics, concision, and fairness.
Few young filmmakers get their scripts approved and direct a film in which most things go right, and John Singleton did with Boyz in the Hood. The 1991 depiction of life in blighted South Central L.A. starring a mesmerizing Ice Cube became the kind of phenomenon that absorbs cultural currents and creates new ones; forContinue reading “John Singleton — RIP”
To regard the late Agnès Varda as a painter and writer enlarges our capacity to understand how good filmmakers capture a sense of molecules in constant motion. Think of Mary Cassatt, of her portraits of arrested movement in all their embarrassment and capacity to surprise. In Varda’s debut feature Cléo from 5 to 7, theContinue reading “Agnès Varda — RIP”
For the second time in as many weeks, I delved into an artist’s work not long before his death. Savoring the mediation on medieval Provençe called The Mays of Ventadorn and thumbing through one of his final collections The Shadow of Sirius, I awoke to the news about poet W.S. Merwin. At the same time, IContinue reading “This is how you disappear: Scott Walker RIP”
Foregoing punctuation after mastering scansion, William Stanley Merwin’s worst enemy was a productivity that made it easy to confuse with profligacy.
I had just hopped on a British Airways flight to London the weekend that The Fat of the Land topped the American chart. During the month I spent in the United Kingdom, I listened to the BBC several times, during which “Firestarter” was ubiquitous or seemed so. I heard it on car radios as IContinue reading “Keith Flint, twisted firestarter — RIP”
A wiz at choreographing complicated, whirring set pieces whose use of color and sense of balletic movement changed what we demand from movies, let alone musicals, Stanley Donen would deserve every bouquet hurled at him if all he had directed were On the Town and Singin’ in the Rain.