Offscreen Notes

  • Don Owen: 1931- Feb. 21, 2016

    February 24th, 2016

    Canadian pioneer feature filmmaker Don Owen is dead at age 84. Owen, along with Larry Kent, was a trailblazer for the fiction film industry in Canada, directing the first NFB fiction feature in 1964, Nobody Waved Goodbye. Listen to this excerpt of Don Owen talking about his art.

  • Douglas Slocombe, RIP:

    February 24th, 2016

    The great British cinematographer Douglas Slocombe died on Feb 22, 2016 at the age of 103. Slocombe began as a photo-journalist for seminal magazine Life before making the switch to filmmaking with Ealing Studios. Slocombe worked on a variety of films, totalling 80 over-all, and many awards. One of this most impressive achievements was Joseph Losey’s The Servant, a brooding examination of power and manipulation which used stark black and white imagery and reflecting surfaces to jarring effect. Slocombe became an important collaborator with Steven Spielberg, who used him on many key films. The Guardian obituary.

  • Angus Scrimm (1916-Jan. 9, 2016)

    February 22nd, 2016

    Angus Scrimm will always be remembered for his villainous turn as the spooky Tall Man from the 1979 surreal horror masterpiece Phantasm. Scrimm was typecast as the Tall Man but in the best way possible, repeating the role in several sequels and transplanting the character’s persona into other horror roles. The Tall Man was a unique horror icon, a hearse driver (dressed in black suit and tie) with one foot in the grave and the second in a nightmarish dreamscape. Scrimm has left a lasting impression on the many people he has worked with, as reported here.

  • Andrzej Zulawski: 1940-Feb 17, 2016

    February 17th, 2016

    The great Polish director Andrzej Zulawski has died of cancer and leaves behind a legacy of idiosyncratic works that will linger in the hearts and minds of cinephiles who enjoy the challenge his works often present. I was fortunate to have met and interviewed Zulawski when he was in Montreal as an honored guest of The Fantasia International Film Festival, and was struck by how much of a gentleman he was throughout our interview. Rest in Peace Andrzej:

  • Important DVD release from Icarus Films

    February 10th, 2016

    With her recent death the timing could not be better for this new box-set of the later works of Chantal Akerman, from Icarus Films.

  • Jacques Rivette: 1918-2016

    January 29th, 2016

    One of the leading figures of the French Nouvelle Vague has passed away on January 29, 2016 at the age of 87. Oddly enough Rivette’s death coincides with the recent home video release of both versions of his hard to see super long feature Out 1, released in a limited edition by Kino Video. For interesting links to interviews and short films, you can read David Hudson’s obit on Fandor.

  • Ettore Scola: 1931-Jan. 16. 2016

    January 22nd, 2016

    It has been a sad stretch of late with recent losses of David Bowie and Alan Rickman, and now the death of Italy’s important screenwriter turned director Ettore Scola, at the age of 84. Scola may not have been in the upper echelon of greats along with Fellini, Antonioni, De Sica, and others, but he was a rare talent with the gift of matching comedy with bittersweet melancholia. Still my favorite of his films is La Famiglia (1987), which follows six decades of a middle class family from the 1920s to the 1980s. Structurally the film is fascinating in the way it marks movements forward in time with successive slow, tracking shots through the house’s main corridor. The film never leaves the house and shifts in time are noted by the mise en scene. Another standout is A Special Day (1977), which is also bound mainly inside a large tenement building and takes place on the day of Hitler’s first visit to Italy in 1938. The heart of the film is the unlikely friendship that grows between two tenants largely from their mutual dislike of Fascism, a left wing homosexual named Gabriele (Marcello Mastrioanni) and housewife Antonietta (Sophia Loren).

  • Alan Rickman, RIP: 1947-January 14, 2016

    January 14th, 2016

    Only a few days after the passing of David Bowie, England loses another of its bright stars, the great actor of the stage and screen, Alan Rickman, at the same age as Bowie, 69, of the same illness, cancer. BBC obit.

  • David Bowie: 8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016

    January 11th, 2016

    David Robert Jones, better known as David Bowie, died at age of 69 of cancer. Bowie is of course rightly feted for his groundbreaking work in music, blending rock, pop, avant-garde and electronica with verve and style. Bowie managed to transform himself continuously like a chameleon, shedding one layer after another with a persona that ranged from operatic to minimalist. Bowie’s musical work always had a visual quality to it so it is not surprising that he also left his mark in cinema, both as an actor (best works being The Hunger, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence) and composer. A true one of a kind who brought class and rebelliousness to whatever he touched.

  • Recolletcion by Kamal Aljafari

    January 8th, 2016

    Kamal Aljafari’s new film, Recollection, a found footage film using Israeli fiction films dating as early as the 1960s.

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