Tribute: Jeanne Moreau

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We mourn the loss of Jeanne Moreau, one of the most enchanting performers in film history, who has died at age 89. The Washington Post’s Adam Bernstein captured her exquisite screen presence, dubbing her “the thinking man’s femme fatale.”

There was the dry, husky voice that hinted at a million smoked Gauloises. There were the dark eyes, carnal and enigmatic. There was the brooding, slightly downward curve of her lips, a sultry pout that could flash capriciously into a beguiling smile. She was playful and dangerous….Critics and audiences found Ms. Moreau spellbinding, particularly in roles in which she embodied liberated sexuality or in which her outward composure masked boundless complexity. Movie scholar David Shipman once described her as the “art-house love goddess.”

She exemplified the French “New Wave” of filmmaking, intimate and provocative. One of her best-remembered performances is in “Jules and Jim,” the story of a love triangle. She enchanted her audience the way her character enchanted her two co-stars.

A.O. Scott talks about the film here, calling Moreau “incomparably alluring.”

May her memory be a blessing.

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Tribute: Voice Actress June Foray

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We mourn the passing of June Foray, just shy of her 100th birthday. You might not have heard of her, but I am certain you heard her voice, or, I should say, her voices. She was one of the most versatile actresses in Hollywood history. She provided the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha the spy, and Dudley Do-right’s Nell Fenwick. She played Tweetie Bird’s owner, Granny and Cindy Lou Who. She appeared in “Mulan,” “The Flintstones,” “Scooby-Doo,” “Rugrats,” and “The Twilight Zone” (playing a creepy talking doll). She was also Chatty Cathy, a somewhat less creepy talking doll. She was Jokey Smurf. Animation expert Mark Evanier wrote:

Most of all, she was June Foray, a talented workaholic who for decades, drove into Hollywood every weekday early in the morning and went from recording session to recording session until well after dark. Everyone hired her because she was always on time, always professional and what she did was always good. It was her good friend, director Chuck Jones who said, “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc. Mel Blanc is the male June Foray.”

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Interview: “Baby Driver” Actor CJ Jones

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“Baby Driver” has great action and music, but the heart of the film is in the quieter moments with Ansel Elgort’s character, Baby, and his deaf foster father, played by deaf actor CJ Jones.  I spoke to Edgar Wright about working with Jones, and so I was especially glad to see this interview with Jones by Haben Girma.  Here’s an excerpt:

Haben: Film is very visual. Deaf culture and American Sign Language are very visual, too. Do you think being Deaf gives you an advantage over hearing actors?

CJ: Oh, that’s an interesting question. Well, Haben, it is not about being hearing or Deaf, it is not about being black or white, it is not about labels. It’s about talent, integrity, uniqueness, and passion. I got the role because I demonstrated that I have the talent the director was looking for. I fit his vision. He was very happy that he made the right decision hiring an authentic Deaf actor.

Here’s a clip from Bleeding Cool:

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Tribute: Martin Landau

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We mourn the loss of Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau, who died on July 16, 2017 at age 89. His career goes back to the legendary years of the Actors Studio, where his classmates included Steve McQueen. He rode motorcycles with James Dean and appeared with Cary Grant and James Mason in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.

In the 1960’s, he and then-wife Barbara Bain starred in the hugely popular television series Mission Impossible.

He won an Oscar for a wonderfully witty portrayal of real-life horror movie star Bela Lugosi, making his final film with worst-director-ever Ed Wood, played by Johnny Depp.

May his memory be a blessing.

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Angelica Jade Bastien on Michelle Pfeiffer

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 is one of my favorite writers on film.  Anything she writes reflects a deep understanding of film and culture.  I especially love this tribute to Michelle Pfeiffer, an actress who does not get enough credit for her extraordinary range and technique.

Yes, she may lack the classic Hollywood pedigree of Anjelica Huston or the supreme training of Meryl Streep, but of her generation, she’s the actress with the most fascinating thematic through line. Pfeiffer won early acclaim when her career first hit its stride in the ’80s, followed by a string of hits in the ’90s and early ’00s. Though she hasn’t been much of a presence in recent years, that’s thankfully set to change with a trio of releases: Darren Aronofsky’s Mother!, a new adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, and the HBO film Wizard of Lies, in which she plays Ruth Madoff opposite Robert De Niro.

I’m especially glad that she mentions Pfeiffer’s role in “Stardust.”

And I love her in “Frankie and Johnny,” in part because it is so much fun to see her with her “Scarface” co-star Al Pacino in completely different roles.

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