Monday, August 20, 2012

R.I.P. Tony Scott (1944-2012) and Phyllis Diller (1917-2012)

While I never attach myself to any celebrity death, as I have never known any personally, it's always saddening and a mood killer to hear about anybody's passing. I have not been familiar with the work of Mrs. Diller, the only film I've seen of hers being A Bug's Life (Lasseter, 1998), but she leaves behind any expansive legacy and influence in female comedians of America. It is unfair to be relegating her cinematic memoriam to a single paragraph, but I do not wish to be a blogger who will talk about a career he never followed or understood. So, I must leave it to a wish for a final peace to Mrs. Diller and a confidence in her remembrance being rightfully carried by her loyal fans.

Tony Scott, on the other hand, while not being a favorite director of mine personally (I preferred his elder brother, Ridley, director of personal favorites Blade Runner and Alien - condolences to him), his pictures have been blueprints and benchmarks for action movies around the globe. Focusing less on characterizations and more on movement that gives "movies" it's essential name from "moving pictures", Tony had an eye and feel for the energy of the screen and the pacing of the dramatic sequences of airtight tension. The plots add to these high-octane rides, such as the locomotives and jets of Top Gun or Unstoppable. An additional piece of note is his demand for the look of the film, from the mise en scene to the color shades and correction of the picture. One of my previous film professors, while educating us on editing processes and techniques, called out on Tony's masterful use of color correction, giving Domino a greenish tone to reflect the greed of the world the protagonist surrounds herself in and the grit to remind us that this is an ugly truth of a life, or Man on Fire to make us feel the heat of the sun-dried Mexican city it's set in... the chill blue of The Hunger's themes of ever-approaching and inevitable aging and death...

True Romance is my single favorite Tony Scott movie, and it's not just from the Quentin Tarantino screenplay or the wonderful cast selected by Tony. Tarantino, as much as I love him as a filmmaking influence, likes to go wordy on his scripts and this is no exception. In the hands of an amateur, it could've been a bore or an anti-action movie of substance but no style... However, Tony brought a feel of excitement and, in the words of the characters, "cool" to the picture in a way that probably made Tarantino himself envious. It felt like one enjoyable road trip and we were all along for the ride. The mafia was coming to kill us (really Clarence and Alabama, but it felt like us) and we didn't care. We were just so in love with the leads... and it helps us fall in love with cinema once more.

So what if he never had absolute critical acclaim? That's not what fuels the ambition of directing. I'll tell you what does. Love of cinematic movement. Kinetic pictures. Love of movies. That's what brings a lot together. True Romance is a fuckin' movie. - see the movie to know the true context of that statement. Thanks, Tony.

Unfortunately, I also can't refrain from empathizing intensely with his older brother as well. Not only as Ridley being an influence in moviemaking to me, not only as being acquainted with several people who had committed suicide, but as an older brother. I cannot imagine how I'd feel if my younger brother would take his own life. I do hope for the best emotional recovery for Ridley.

R.I.P. Diller and Scott. You brought an impact to the worlds of comedy and action. Both suffered a loss. But your work will continue to be admired.

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