Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks - Movies Featuring an Actor/Actress that Passed Away in 2016

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join in the fun by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing a bit about them. It's fun... promise!

Well, we all know 2016 was a bit of a downer on the whole "celebrities dying" front. So let's start celebrating them!

I'll be honest, I kind of want to make this just a celebration of mother-daughter duo Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, but that would be somewhat unfair to everyone else who passed away last year. And there were some great talents among them.

The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006) I ask you: Is there an actor better suited to play Nikola Tesla than David Bowie? He has the perfect presence for the enigmatic mad scientist, and he perks up Nolan's dour tale of dueling magicians something fierce. This is probably my favorite Christopher Nolan film, a perfectly realized vision of the male psyche and the way jealousy can consume your life and fester into something ugly. Top of the line performances from Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Michael Caine in addition to absolutely gorgeous cinematography make this one of the best, most memorable films of the '00s, with one of the most brilliant endings.

Dogma (Kevin Smith, 1999) Honest to God, this may be my favorite Alan Rickman performance. As the sardonic, exasperated, perpetually soused angel Metatron, he is an absolute riot in Smith's assault against all things holy. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are perfectly cast "against type" as bad-boy fallen angels trying to get back into heaven, Chris Rock is a hoot as the forgotten thirteenth apostle, and honestly, Alanis Morissettte gives what is perhaps my favorite portrayal of God ever put on screen. Dogma is a sick dirty joke of a film, but it's one that makes me laugh EVERY TIME.

The Producers (Mel Brooks, 1967) One of my All-Time Favorite movies, with one of my favorite performances. That performance being, of course, Gene Wilder's as the unbelievably neurotic accountant Leo Bloom, who offhandedly comes up with the perfect idea to make money on a flop Broadway show, which faded producer Max Bialystock (a brilliant Zero Mostel) takes completely seriously. The problem? Well, in their effort to make all the wrong choices, they inadvertently make all the right choices to create a camp classic: Springtime for Hitler. I just CAN'T with how funny this movie is.

17 comments:

  1. Great picks! I also chose Alan, but with a different film. I love Dogma though, that's one of my favorite comedies. I'll never forget Metatron pulling his pants down to prove he had no dick. lol

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  2. Huh, it looks like I've got an out of schedule saved! I haven't seen 2 of your picks, but I'm adding them to my watch list now :)

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  3. Great choices...though I don't love Dogma but Alan Rickman is terrific in it. Love The Prestige there's a lot to it besides Bowie but he definitely added a special allure to his role. The Producers is a zany film and Wilder zany in it.

    Though it's a sad theme it's interesting to see that even if the same performer is chosen, and we have two matches, different films are picked as favorites.

    This Happy Feeling (1958)-Debbie Reynolds-When her boss makes a pass at a party in the Connecticut countryside New Yorker Janet Blake (Debbie) dashes into the rain just as Bill Tremaine (John Saxon) is passing and offers a ride to the subway. When she misconstrues a comment Bill makes as a come-on she jumps out and makes her way to the nearest house which belongs to retired star Preston “Mitch” Mitchell (Curt Jurgens) which he shares with his live-in housekeeper, the tippling Mrs. Early (a hysterical scene stealing Estelle Winwood). Stuck and soaked to the skin she stays the night in his guest room but when Mitch’s lady friend, the droll Nita Hollaway (a standout Alexis Smith) stops by in the morning she assumes the worst. Mitch sets her straight and hires Janet as his secretary beginning a charming romantic comedy with Debbie falling for Curt while John falls for her and she being pulled one way and another while Alexis makes caustic remarks from the sidelines. Little known Blake Edwards comedy is a hidden gem and a first-rate showcase for Debbie’s special magic.

    Sense and Sensibility (1995)-Alan Rickman- When the Dashwood sisters Elinor and Marianne (Emma Thompson & Kate Winslet) and their mother are forced to move out of their home by their brother’s rotten wife they move to a cottage on their cousin’s estate in the English countryside. There Marianne becomes enamored of the dashing Willoughby (Greg Wise) while the more sedate Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) pines for her. Meanwhile Elinor yearns for the unavailable Edwards Ferrars (Hugh Grant). There’s so much more in this top flight Jane Austen adaptation directed by Ang Lee but this is a great example of Alan Rickman’s versatility. Best known as the suave but ruthlessly evil Hans Gruber in Die Hard he is the complete opposite here and makes both characters fully formed people.

    Me, Natalie (1969)-Patty Duke-Natalie Miller (Patty) is an average looking Brooklyn teen who has a developed a complex from her mother always telling her she’ll be beautiful someday so don’t worry about being plain now. Her traditional father’s no help, he’s bribed a nerdy family friend (Bob Balaban) to marry her so she can be the housewife he thinks is all she should or can be. Encouraged by her jovial Uncle Harold (Martin Balsam) she breaks free. Renting an apartment from the dotty Miss Dennison (Elsa Lanchester) in Greenwich Village she embarks on a sometimes rocky journey of discovery where she finds that being comfortable with herself is more important than how she looks. Somewhat heavy with late 60’s trappings but aside from The Miracle Worker this is Patty Duke’s best big screen performance. Al Pacino makes his screen debut in a short scene at a dance.

    Silver Streak (1976)-Gene Wilder-While traveling to his sister’s wedding on the Silver Streak train easy-going George Caldwell (Gene) falls smack dab into murder and intrigue when he becomes smitten with Hilly Burns (Jill Clayburgh) the secretary of seemingly innocuous Professor Schreiner. When he thinks he sees a dead body thrown from the train it’s the start of a wild ride both on and off the train during which he partners up with escapee Grover Muldoon (Richard Pryor) who gets him in and out of one crazy situation after another. Mix of comedy, slapstick, thriller and adventure was the first and best pairing of Wilder and Pryor.

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    1. LOVE Sense & Sensibility, so perfect on every level. And Silver Streak is just hilarious - it's easy to see why Pryor and Wilder kept on pairing up for movies, if unfortunate that none of the others were as good as this.

      I haven't seen your picks for Debbie and Patty, but am most curious about Me, Natalie as I've not seen any of Patty's work outside of her insanely impressive performance in The Miracle Worker.

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    2. You mean you haven't seen Valley of the Dolls!?!?! It's glorious trash with everybody except Sharon Tate and Susan Hayward giving awful performances, including poor misguided Patty. In her later years she was able to look back and kid about it.

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  4. I almost went with David Bowie, but with another film. I loved The Prestige though. It's not my favorite Nolan but it comes very close to that and David Bowie was fantastic in it.

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    1. I almost feel bad for picking a film in which Bowie has such a small part, but he's SO FREAKING GOOD in it! The Prestige and Memento battle it out daily for my favorite Nolan.

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  5. I just watched The Prestige about a week ago and it's really great...love David Bowie in this role. I love Dogma...Love it! I almost chose this film as well but went with another. The ugliest is when they must fight the shit monster. The Producers is simply brilliant. Love Zero Mostel and the neurotic Gene Wilder. Dick Shawn playing Hitler is perfect and love Kenneth Mars

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    1. EWWWWWW the shit monster is the only thing I really don't like about Dogma. Everyone in The Producers is so perfectly cast - Dick Shawn singing "Love Power" and then sinking down the wall to suck his thumb gets me EVERY TIME.

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  6. I have the answer about Tesla.... NO ONE!!!! Bowie was perfect as Tesla as he is also the one person that can do Andy Warhol in Basquiat.

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    1. hehe YES - totally forgot about him doing Andy Warhol in Basquiat! Another great movie.

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  7. Great picks! Bowie is always a performance I look forward to in The Prestige. And The Producers is hysterical. Mostel and Wilder are a perfect pair and couldn't be replicated with the remake.

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    1. It's really sad about the adaptation of the stage musical of The Producers, because the show itself is so good but the film is overdone.

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  8. Love The Prestige, totally forgot Bowie was in it as Tesla.

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    1. It's a small part, but he's PERFECT.

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