Offscreen Notes

  • Michael Ballhaus, cinematographer (August 1935- April 11, 2017)

    April 17th, 2017

    Long-time Werner Rainer Fassbinder and Martin Scorsese cinematographer has died at the age of 81.

    The Guardian obit:

  • Tomas Milan: 1933-2017

    March 23rd, 2017

    Cuban born American-Italian actor Tomas Milan died at the age of 84 on March 22, 2017. Though best known for his run of well over two dozen Italian western and crime films of the 1970s and 1980s Milan’s career also spanned films in England and the United States, plus art house films in Italy (Boccaccio ’70, Ro.Go.Pa.G., Identification of a Woman, in which he starred as Michelangelo Antonioni’s alienated movie director Niccolo ). Milan excelled in both serious roles, comic roles, and roles that blended both comedy and tragedy (a trait of Italian popular cinema). His poor anti-hero Manuel ‘Cuchillo’ Sanchez, who first appeared in the classic 1966 Spaghetti western The Big Gundown, became a symbol of the lower class, Mexican underdog in a series of politicized westerns. In 1967 Milan starred in Giulio Questi’s surreal, baroque western masterpiece Django Kill….If You Live Shoot!, which saw him depicted as a Christ-like Stranger. In my own words from an earlier Offscreen essay, the film is “…perhaps the most violent, surreal, horrific, Biblical and apocalyptic Western ever made. Thomas Milan plays the mysterious Christ-like character yet again christened The Stranger who returns from the dead in the opening scene of the film –he literally crawls out of his grave and is brought back to life by a pair of Indian witch doctors– and is later crucified in a prison cell in one of the most blatant Western gunfighter-as-Christ images ever put to celluloid.” Milan starred in only one giallo, but it was a great one, Lucio Fulci’s 1972 Don’t Torture a Duckling. One of his most impressive later star turns was as General Arturo Salazar in Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic (2000). Milan left Cuba after his father committed suicide and settled in Italy for 25 years, becoming a naturalized Italian citizen. Milan would return to the United States where he worked in both film and television until his death in his home in Miami. It is hard to imagine such a varied career, spanning seven decades across so many genres and countries, to come our way again any time soon.

  • William Peter Blatty, RIP, (January 7, 1928 – January 12, 2017)

    January 17th, 2017

    American author and filmmaker William Peter Blatty has died at the age of 89. Blatty’s novel The Exorcist is perhaps the single most influential and defining horror creation of the 20th century. With the recent reboot of the classic tale of religious and psychological horror as a television series, Blatty’s influence continues strong into the 21st century. Even though the creative history between the Roman Catholic Blatty, and the director of the adaptation, William Friedkin, an atheist Jew, was fraught with differences both spiritual and aesthetic, in the end it was a perfect marriage. A perfect union of two creative minds who, over the years, came to understand and appreciate their creative differences. Blatty was also a film director of considerable talent, especially his uniquely operatic and theatrical debut film, The Ninth Configuration. The Ninth Configuration was based on a novel by Blatty and adapted by him to the screen as a novel blend of psychological art therapy horror. The film is wonderfully literate, visually sophisticated and blessed with one of the most remarkable male casts of character actors ever put together: Stacey Keach, Jason Miller, Scott Wilson, Neville Brand, Ed Flanders, Moses Gunn, Robert Loggia, Joe Spinell, Alejandro Rey, Tom Atkins, and Richard Lynch. And then there is The Exorcist 3 and the hospital corridor scene. Perhaps the single greatest jump scare in horror history. Blatty’s place in the horror pantheon is secure.

  • Music & Moving Image Conference

    October 21st, 2016

    Conference: Music & the Moving Image on May 26 – 28, 2017.

  • Preview of the FNC 2016

    October 2nd, 2016

    With around 380 films and events to choose from, a little guidance may be necessary to help you decide what to watch at the 45th edition of the FNC. Click here:

  • H.G. Lewis RIP: September 26, 2016.

    September 27th, 2016

    Horror legend passes on at age 87 on September 26, 2016. A year after the Grand Guignol theatre shut down its doors forever in 1962 Lewis took over the mantle of goremeister with his groundbreaking Blood Feast (1963). Horror was never quite the same. Lewis followed Blood Feast with Two thousand Maniacs! (1964), Color Me Blood Red (1966), A Taste of Blood (1967), and others. Lewis’ films were never the slick article but showed the hand of an exploitation wizard, always pushing the envelope for taste and trying to offer audiences the type of sensationalism they would never find in mainstream cinema. R.I.P. Lewis.

  • Curtis Hanson: 1945-Sept. 20, 2016

    September 21st, 2016

    Hollywood director-writer Curtis Hanson, like many others, got his start working with Roger Corman, writing the Lovecraft based The Dunwich Horror. Hanson’s breakthrough film was LA Confidental (1997), though he had a string of effective thrillers in the late 1980s, and early 1990s (The Bedroom Window, Bad Influence, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle). Hanson died of natural causes.

  • Abbas Kiarostami Dead at Age 76 (1940-July 4, 2016)

    July 5th, 2016

    Cinephiles all over the world are mourning the loss of arguably the greatest filmmaker of his generation, Abbas Kiarostami. We are particularly touched here at Offscreen because of what he has meant for the journal since its inception in 1997. By then Kiarostami had established himself as Iran’s greatest cinematic export, and was recognized in 1997 by Cannes with its top award, the Palme d’or for A Taste of Cherry. My own introduction to Iranian cinema came a few years before this when a few Iranian film students introduced me to the riches of their National cinema. Kiarostami along with Makhmalbaf were two of the first filmmakers they told me to watch. As such Kiarostami and Makhmalbaf became my guides into a whole new cinema culture which has continued to enlighten and entertain me for over 20 years now. Kiarostami’s death, though not unexpected —a current Iranian student told me a few months ago that he was very sick— is still a shock, and more importantly, sad because of the realization that there will be no more new Kiarostami films. Things do not get much sadder than that for a cinephile.

  • RIP Prince

    April 22nd, 2016

    A death that has come too early in his life, at age 57. Interview with Prince on Larry King Live.

  • Tony Conrad, Experimental Artist Dead at 76

    April 10th, 2016

    Jonas Mekas’ brief tribute

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