Richard Attenborough, Actor and Director, 1923-2014

attenborough-obit-3-master315British actor and director Richard Attenborough died on Sunday at the age of 90. Although a familiar actor in Britain, it wasn’t until he was cast in the 1963 war film The Great Escape that he became established in Hollywood. He won Golden Globe Awards for best supporting actor in The Sand Pebbles in 1966 and again in 1967 for his role in Doctor Doolittle. He also acted in Indian director Satyajit Ray’s The Chess Players and in Steve Spielberg’s hit Jurassic Park. His later years were devoted to directing, including his 1982 epic Gandhi which was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won eight.  His earlier directing jobs include the 1969 satirical musical Oh! What a Lovely War; Young Winston in 1972; A Chorus Line in 1985, and Cry Freedom in 1987. Mr. Attenborough was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1967, was knighted in 1976, made a baron in 1993 and given a seat in the House of Lords. For more about this distinguished “giant of British cinema” see today’s NYT article. And check the EPL catalog for more of his films.

Laura

25th Anniversary for “Do the Right Thing”

do-the-right-thing-25-eb3aee4f3934532c65fdfc6927678013b720ad46-s4-c85The Academy Film Archive celebrated director Spike Lee’s 1989 film Do the Right Thing with a Silver Anniversary screening last Friday. Set in New York’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood “the film about racial tension reaches a boiling point on a scorching summer day in Brooklyn.” President and Mrs. Obama joined the celebration via videotape where they talked about seeing Do the Right Thing on their first date. The president said: “So Spike, thank you for helping me impress Michelle, and thank you for telling a powerful story. Today, I’ve got a few more grey hairs than I did back in 1989. You don’t look like Mookie anymore. But Do the Right Thing still holds up a mirror to our society, and it makes us laugh, and think and challenges all of us to see ourselves in one another.” You can read the entire NPR article here.

Laura

Actress and Activist Ruby Dee, 1922-2014

deeobitActress Ruby Dee died Wednesday at her home in New Rochell, NY at the age of 91. A passionate and versatile performer, she received accolades for her role in the 1970 Athol Fugard drama Boesman and Lena, and her role as Ruth Younger in Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark drama A Raisin in the Sun. She went on to reprise that role in the 1961 film version with one reviewer noting: “Is there a better young actress in America, or one who can make everything she does so effortless?” Her film career included roles in the films of Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing and Jungle Fever) as well as for a supporting role in the 2007 film American Gangster, for which she won an Oscar nomination. A lifelong civil rights activist, along with her husband Ossie Davis, Ms. Dee “lent her voice and presence to the cause of racial equality outside show business.” In With Ossie and Ruby, she wrote” The largest piece of unfinished business before humankind is, in our opinion, poverty, spiritual as well as material, racism, yes, and sexism, too; Struggle is all there is, and we are still committed.” Read more about this legendary actress in today’s NYTimes and NPR tributes.  And check the EPL catalog for more of her works.

Laura

Alain Resnais, Acclaimed French Filmmaker, Dead at 91.

resnais-obit-2-1393801146731-master675French filmmaker Alain Resnais died on Saturday in Paris at the age of 91. Most well-known for his films Last Year at Marienbad and Hiroshima Mon Amour, Mr. Resnais was often associated with French New Wave directors Jean-Luc Godard and Francoise Truffaut. “Fascinated by the ability of film editing to take apart and reassemble fragments of time, Mr Resnais incorporated the effects of scrambled memories, deja vu and fantasy into his work.” Born in 1922 in Brittany, he began making short films at the age of 14. Although most of his films were serious in nature, he loved cartoons, comedy and Broadway musicals, and was inspired by the television show Curb Your Enthusiasm. Recently honored at the Berlin Film Festival for his last film “The Life of Riley”, Mr. Resnais was editing drafts for his next project from his hospital bed. Read more about this influential director in this NYT article. And check the EPL catalog for his works.

Laura

Chaplin in the “Limelight” (Again)

Chaplin_cap2-blog480Footlights, an unpublished novella written by Charlie Chaplin in 1948 will be released Tuesday at the British Film Institute  in London. The book which inspired Chaplin’s film Limelight (the only film where Chaplin and Buster Keaton appear on screen together) will be sold on Amazon.com and through the Italian film restoration institute, the Cineteca di Bologna. It was reconstructed by Chaplin biographer David Robinson and researchers at the institute from drafts found in Chaplin’s private archive in Switzerland. The release of the book is part of the Chaplin centennial celebrating his first screen appearance in the film “Kid Auto Races at Venice” in 1914. Read more in this NYT article – and check the EPL catalog for films and related material on the legendary actor, director and author.

Laura

The Library as Film Star

marianNPR’s All Things Considered continues its series on public libraries in this story by Bob Mondello highlighting the library “on stage, on screen, and in song.” He refers to stereotypes such as Marian in The Music Man, George Bailey’s wife Mary in It’s A Wonderful Life, and Katharine Hepburn in Desk Set as well as more sophisticated images (Lucien’s Library in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, the monastery library in The Name of the Rose and the amazing library at Hogwarts. Songs are also mentioned, including Jimmy Buffett’s “Love in the Library”, and Tori Amos’s album Tales of a Librarian with tracks arranged in the Dewey Decimal System. Check out some of these films from the EPL Library collection and enjoy the entire article here.

Laura

Film in “Blume”

blumeJudy Blume has been a best-selling author since her first novel Iggie’s House was published in 1970. Although she’s sold more than 80 million books none of them have been produced as a feature film until today. Her 1981 young adult novel Tiger Eyes will open in select theaters around the country – and has already won a jury prize at a film festival screening. Judy Blume’s son Lawrence directed the film and both mother and son wrote the script. It was “a real homemade movie,” according to Lawrence, who thought the book very cinematic when he first read it as an 18-year-old. The story of teenage girl Davey who has to adjust to life in New Mexico after her father is killed stars Willa Holland of “Gossip Girl.” Ms. Blume will be in Chicago this weekend to accept the 2013 ChicagoTribune Young Adult Literary Prize at the Printers Row Literary Festival. See the articles in today’s NYT and Chicago Sun-Times, and check out the library catalog for the many books by the acclaimed author.

Laura

A Salute to Philip Roth – An American Master

13philip-1-articleLargeCelebrations are in the works to help commemorate Philip Roth’s 80th birthday next week (March 19). For those of us who can’t get to Newark for the $35 bus tour traveling to places recalled in his books, or who weren’t invited to the literary party given by New York magazine, we can look forward to the new American Masters film Philip Roth: Unmasked which  has its world theatrical premiere beginning today at Film Forum in New York City and premieres nationally Friday, March 29 on PBS stations. Although Mr. Roth grants very few interviews, he allowed a journalist to spend 10 days interviewing him on camera, culminating in this 90-minute documentary–which will be purchased for the library collection.  You can read the entire NYT article here. And check out the EPL catalog for books by and about the Philip Roth.

Laura

Move Over Citizen Kane

Sight & Sound magazine compiled the votes of 846 programmers, academics and distributors to name Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo the greatest film of all time, ousting Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. Film critic Roger Ebert called the poll “the most respected of the countless polls of great movies” and “the only one most serious movie people take seriously.” This 1958 psychological thriller was Hitchcock’s 45th feature film. See the full list of the 2012 Sight & Sound poll as well as the rest of the article here.

Laura