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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 10:49 am 
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Jonathan Demme


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 Post subject: Re: Passages
PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:43 am 
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Ribs wrote:

A real loss, especially given how active he had remained. In fact, his last completed work, an episode of the Fox TV show Shots Fired, airs tonight.


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 Post subject: Re: Passages
PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:00 pm 
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Wow, I was really hoping for that commercial comeback that always seemed just around the corner. At least his last few films have been great for the most part.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:10 pm 

Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 1:43 pm
I'm sure this is the wrong place for this but I couldn't find a Jonathan Demme filmmaker thread. Unfortunately, legendary director Demme has passed away at 73 from complications from esophageal cancer.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:34 pm 
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Truly awful news. My favorite filmmaker, and someone who actually made the world a better place with his work.

Thank you for everything, Mr. Demme.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:50 pm 
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HitchcockLang wrote:
I'm sure this is the wrong place for this but I couldn't find a Jonathan Demme filmmaker thread. Unfortunately, legendary director Demme has passed away at 73 from complications from esophageal cancer.

So you know (not now since there has already been a threadsplit) but the appropriate thread for news of this nature is our Passages thread.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:56 pm 
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Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK
Demme seemed like one of the few directors to be successful in all sorts of different areas: exploitation films (Caged Heat (NSFW) is one of the more entertaining 'women in prison' films; and Fighting Mad, with Peter Fonda and Lynn Lowry, is one of the better 'man driven to vengeance' films of the 70s), concert films, romantic comedies that turn into horror films, horror films that become romances, and so on. There's always a heady mixture of religion and morality mixed with the thrilling abandoment of walking on the wild side and being briefly transgressive and naughtily bad (usually set against the really irredeemably bad guys) that's kind of unique to his work. Plus a bit of suspicion of authority in all its forms (especially policemen and doctors, well represented by though not limited to 'Doctor' Lecter! I always thought it a funny joke that the doctor steals the policeman's face to make his escape, trading one form of authority for another and slipping between which suits him best like a mask! And that rookie Clarice kind of has to get over her hero worship of both the charismatic villain and Scott Glenn's FBI boss!)

I'm still, perhaps vainly, hoping for that director's cut of Swing Shift that gets talked about on the forum. And maybe for Beloved to get some overdue attention. But in particular I'd love if Criterion, or anybody really, could put out his documentary Cousin Bobby. Or even Melvin and Howard.


Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:59 pm 

Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 1:43 pm
mfunk9786 wrote:
HitchcockLang wrote:
I'm sure this is the wrong place for this but I couldn't find a Jonathan Demme filmmaker thread. Unfortunately, legendary director Demme has passed away at 73 from complications from esophageal cancer.

So you know (not now since there has already been a threadsplit) but the appropriate thread for news of this nature is our Passages thread.

Thank you and my apologies. I read much more than I post.

I'm pretty devastated. I wouldn't say he was one of my favorites but I've thoroughly enjoyed every film of his I've seen, and Storefront Hitchcock, in particular, had an unusually profound impact on me (before I even knew who Robyn Hitchcock was--now I'm a huge fan, and I have Demme to thank).


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:09 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:14 am
What is the concensus on everything up to and including Swing Shift (except for Last Embrace which I don't care for)?
I've heard great things about Melvin and Howard...
But while I haven't seen everything, or liked everything, I enjoyed Storefront Hitchcock, and absolutely adore Swimming to Cambodia and Stop Making Sense is a masterpiece that made me fall in love with Talking Heads.
Most people will remember him for Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, but hopefully that will lead most to his more interesting experiments


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:54 pm 
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Very sad news. He was one of the interviewees in the Richard Linklater documentary Dream is Destiny and I didn't think he looked too well in that.

I saw him in person at the NFT in the late 80s when he did a Guardian interview there - just after Married to the Mob came out, I think. He seemed genuinely happy when someone I knew made a point of telling him how much he'd liked Something Wild.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 2:37 pm 
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I'm just gutted by this news (although, as mentioned by GaryC, I've been dreading it ever since seeing Dream is Destiny at SXSW last year & thinking that he seemed unwell). After Robert Altman, he was my favorite director, yet he had such a large & eclectic filmography that it's been hard for me to see everything. I'd been spending the past several months trying to track everything down; turns out I'm really lucky to have seen Neil Young Trunk Show at SXSW since it inexplicably never got a home media release, even though Heart Of Gold & Neil Young Journeys both did. The direction in both The Silence Of The Lambs & Philadelphia is phenomenal. I really like The Truth About Charlie, for years have wished for a Blu-Ray upgrade to go with my Criterion Blu of Charade. And Melvin And Howard is a masterpiece, one I don't understand why Criterion hasn't jumped on.

I twice got to meet him briefly at SXSW & saw him live at a few other events (including this great discussion between him & Paul Thomas Anderson), but had been working on a project where I'd hoped to get to interview him more in depth. Sad that won't get to come to pass now.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 2:57 pm 
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I suppose one shouldn't be shocked that a fellow dies of cancer at age 73, but I was.
I've always thought of him as youthful, and there's a youthful playfulness in all of his best films.
I agree with pf that "Melvyn and Howard" is his masterpiece, though I have a great fondness for "Citizen's Band", which is so difficult to see these days.
A sad day.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 3:26 pm 
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This is brutal, I had no idea he was even sick. Stop Making Sense and Rachel Getting Married are both extremely important movies to me, and I've probably watched the commentary on the former more than a dozen times- which means that I feel unjustifiably as though I've lost a friend.

I had the thought that I would love to do a Demme Auteur list, but I think he might be just under the cut for the stringent standards of how many films one needs to have made- and obviously, he couldn't be penciled in for probably a year and half anyway.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 3:34 pm 
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Guess it'll be Silence of the Lambs night at my house (probably not a phrase I should say out loud). I've always loved that film's steady escalation of tension to delirious heights; when I first saw it around age 14 or so, the climactic sequence of Lecter's escape was one of the first I'd seen that so was so horrifying and exhilarating that I felt compelled to more closely examine how the editing and staging made it so effective.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 3:41 pm 
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I've got more complicated feelings around that movie than I used to (though I don't feel like rehashing the trans issues thread we had about it here) but god damn is it effective suspense filmmaking- in part because Demme succeeds at locking you inside Starling's head without actually letting you in on everything she's thinking, such that we actually feel more helpless in her place than she does.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 3:47 pm 
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A great loss. Does anyone know if Demme had anything to do with the brilliant David Byrne self-interview re: Stop Making Sense (or really any other intel on it)?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 3:54 pm 
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I'll second tojoed on Citizen's Band. I think that might be my favourite Demme film!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:14 pm 
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Terribly shocked only because he had been so active and visible around NY, appearing at screenings and festivals with great regularity. Oddly enough I was talking about him with a friend yesterday afternoon at great length, lamenting the studio films he had been doing over the past decade or two but praising his documentary work over the same time span. Citizen's Band and Melvin and Howard are his two greatest, and Stop Making Sense is the best concert film ever.

Something Wild was the end of a beautiful run - despite their merits, I'm not that big on the very problematic Lambs and the timid Philadelphia - but the later docs like Heart of Gold are indeed wonderful. It's a bit grating but Rachel Getting Married was promising - I had hoped it meant a return to the uncompromising personal work he had been known for, but it didn't quite play out that way.


Last edited by hearthesilence on Wed Apr 26, 2017 6:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:07 pm 
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Terribly sad news. Something Wild has always been a particular favorite of mine.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 6:51 pm 
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Quite simply, the humanity he displayed in so many of his films will be greatly missed. Very sad news.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 8:23 pm 
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Two reviews from one of his biggest and earliest supporters:

Dave Kehr's original review of Melvin and Howard (reproduced in a book that itself is reproduced on Google Books)

Kehr's original review for Something Wild

And "The Perfect Kiss" is one of the great music videos. The man had impeccable taste in music.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:36 pm 
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Watching a bit of Something Wild, besides Thurman's Louise Brooks wig, one wonders if Waltz's pipe was also lifted from this movie.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:51 am 
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Pretty sure that DK's review motivated me to see Something Wild (and when I got a chance -- Melvin and Howard).


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:57 am 
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This is as good an opportunity as any to encourage folks to check out A Master Builder, one of the most underrated Criterion releases of the last couple years


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:03 pm 
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An hourlong 2012 NYFF discussion with Demme and Paul Le Mat on Citizen's Band and Melvin and Howard, well worth watching (and just hearing in the background for those at work) with some marvelous anecdotes.

David Byrne's tribute to Demme


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