Offscreen Notes

  • Diahann Carroll (1935 – 2019)

    October 14th, 2019

    Diahann Carroll was alluring, intriguing, a fulfillment of what one hopes for in an entertainer. Consider her work: Claudine (John Berry, 1974) – the story of a single mother in Harlem, a working maid, Claudine (Diahann Carroll), struggling to keep her children Charlene and Charles, played by Tamu and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, on a straight path. Paris Blues (Martin Ritt, 1974), centered on two musicians (Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman) and their romances in Paris with American tourists (Diahann Carroll, Joanne Woodward). Actor-director Robert Townsend’s treatment of music and the carnivorous industry surrounding it in The Five Heartbeats (1991) featured Diahann Carroll and Henry Lennix, Lamont Johnson, Harold Nicholas, Theresa Randle, Leon Robinson, Tressa Thompson, and Michael Wright. Eve’s Bayou (Kasi Lemmons, 1998), a story of youth, family, transgression, and punishment, set in Louisiana, mixing realism and magic, featuring Diahann Carroll as a spiritualist who may have access to powerful curses. If Diahann Carroll had appeared in only one of these films, she would have been a memorable presence in cinema; but she appeared in all of them and more; and yet, for her charisma, intelligence, and skill, Carroll might have been an even greater and more popular star in a more just world —something that can be said of many African-American artists, but of her most of all. Diahann Carroll (1935 – 2019) was born in New York, and went to the School of Performing Arts in Manhattan, debuted in House of Flowers (1954) on Broadway and in Carmen Jones (1954) in film. Carroll won a Tony award for the theatrical musical No Strings in 1962, and a Golden Globe for her work on television’s Julia (1969); and received an Academy Award nomination for her performance in the gritty (and funny) melodrama Claudine, but may be best known for her work as Dominique Deveraux on television in Dynasty in the 1980s. Many regretted that she was not able to star in an announced stage production with Denzel Washington in a 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun. She was wonderful.

  • Obituary on the great writer Toni Morrison

    August 10th, 2019

    The great writer Toni Morrison, born in 1931 as Chloe Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, educated at Lorain High School, Howard University, and Cornell University, an editor at Random House, a professor at Texas Southern University, Howard University, the State University of New York, and Princeton, and, most importantly, the author of The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved, and Paradise, and other books, has died in New York, August 5, 2019. She published the essay collection The Source of Self-Regard earlier in 2019. Her book Beloved was made into a 1998 film by director Jonathan Demme, starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. Toni Morrison herself has appeared in several documentaries, including The Foreigner’s Home (2018) by Rian Brown and Geoff Pingree, inspired by an interdisciplinary exhibit Morrison curated at Louvre, focused on the idea of the stranger, the foreigner, the immigrant and featuring screening of Charles Burnett films, literary discussions, and musical performances; and the audio-visual life and career retrospective, The Pieces I Am (2019) by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, featuring Morrison and several of her friends and colleagues. (Morrison participated as well in the 2005 Cannes film festival as a juror, along with Javier Bardem, Agnes Varda, John Woo and others.) Toni Morrison is known for her editing and writing, and for being the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved, and for being the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize.

  • John Singleton (1968-April 29, 2019)

    April 30th, 2019

    One of the most important Africa American directors of recent years, John Singleton has died at the young age of 51. Singleton came to prominence with his striking debut about LA street gangs Boyz N the Hood (1991) and followed that with Poetic Justice (1993), Higher Learning (1995), Rosewood (1997), Shaft (2000) and many other films, often featuring strong black characters and urban social issues. Along with Spike Lee Singleton was a powerful voice of creative expression for the experiences of Black Americans in the 1990s and 2000s.

  • Larry Cohen

    March 24th, 2019

    The generation of great American horror auteurs of the 1970s, when horror was wedded to social unrest without sacrificing scares, is slowly leaving us with the most recent to fall, Larry Cohen (1941-March 23, 2019). Cohen was 77. Cohen started as a scriptwriter and always hung on to his ability to write great eccentric characters and stories on the pulse of the underdog. Cohen spared no punches with his social criticism and was less concerned with visual style as he was with critical subtext (consumerism in Stuff, political paranoia in The Invaders TV show, religion and cult indoctrination in God Told Me To, greed and opportunism in Q, vigilantism in Maniac Cop, class in Bone, etc.). He was outspoken, brash, funny and a bit of an iconoclast. His wry social satire and gritty style will be missed.

  • Diversity Calendar for 2019

    February 8th, 2019

    This link of a wonderful idea was sent to me by an Offscreen contributor, a diversity calendar that will hopefully get people thinking inclusively.

  • Dick Miller: RIP, 1928-Jan. 30, 2019

    January 31st, 2019

    Somehow I thought Dick Miller would just never die. Small people seem to just live longer. Miller was in too many Corman films to remember, pretty much all the good ones, and was a good luck charm for many other directors, who loved to have him on their set. Like Joe Dante. No role was too small for Dick. And no role was too small for Dick to not leave a mark on. A sixty plus year career that finally comes to a stop.

  • Dusan Makavejev R.I.P (1932-January 25, 2019)

    January 27th, 2019

    Great Serbian director Dušan Makavejev has passed away at the age of 86, leaving behind a unique body of political and radical work:

  • Richard Marks dies at age 75

    January 5th, 2019

    Great Hollywood editor Richard Marks passes away at age 75, leaving behind an impressive body of work that includes editing The Godfather 2 and Apocalypse Now.

  • Sondra Locke Dies (1944-Nov. 3, 2018)

    December 13th, 2018

    Actress Sondra Locke died Nov. 3, 2018 at the age of 74. Locke will be most likely remembered as the long-time former girlfriend of Clint Eastwood, acting in six of his seminal films during his heyday of the 1970s, 1980s. I will remember her for her turn in a little seen and practically forgotten chiller from 1972 A Reflection of Fear, where she plays a young mentally disturbed woman named Marguerite who suffers from serious Daddy (played by a pre-Jaws Robert Shaw) issues, that come to the fore when estranged father returns to Marguerite’s coastal town in the company of a sexy girlfriend, played by Sally Kellerman. It is a creepy, get-under-your skin film brimming with sexual tension and one heck of a knock-down twist ending.

  • Bernardo Betolucci 1941-November 26, 2018

    November 26th, 2018

    A few days ago it was Nicolas Roeg (Nov. 23) and today cinema loses another legend, with the passing of Bernardo Bertolucci (Variety). Bertolucci was at the forefront of International cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, managing to breakthrough into more mainstream acceptance, with films such as Last Tango at Paris, Last Emperor, and The Sheltering Sky, while still maintaining a formal elegance and complexity. The two films, made back to back in 1970, were The Spider’s Stratagem and The Conformist. Essays on both films can be found here and here.

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