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Showing posts from June, 2021

Fred Dellar - An Obituary

Fred Dellar – Writer, music historian   Born May 29, 1931; died May 15, 2021    Fred Dellar, who has died aged 89, was a music writer revered by both colleagues and readers as the fount of all musical knowledge. During a lengthy tenure with NME and subsequent positions with Mojo and Q magazines, he came to be regarded as a living encyclopaedia. His Fred Fact column became an essential source for arcane and illuminating revelations of some of the lesser-known details of the rock, pop, jazz and country music worlds.   In the days before Wikipedia, a letter to Fred Fact was the only way of settling a pub argument between music obsessives. His answers were always delivered with precision, wit, and a warmth that saw him respected, admired and loved for his wisdom. In this sense, he was music journalism’s great elder statesman.   Fred Dellar was born in Willesden, north London. His father ran a fish and chip shop, while his mother’s keen but not always tuneful piano playing introduced him to

Ned Beatty - An Obituary

Ned Beatty – Actor   Born July 6, 1937; died June 13, 2021      Ned Beatty, who has died aged 83, was an actor who more often than not played the perennial sidekick and subservient foil to the more handsome tough guy leads, even as he talked big. Swithering between affable befuddlement and pugnacious pomposity, he could appear both ridiculous and vulnerable. This was the case in an array of supporting roles in some of the 1970s’ key films. These ranged from playing the hot-shot lawyer unable to connect emotionally with his deaf children in Robert Altman’s sprawling ensemble piece, Nashville (1975), to a turn as the investigator tipped off about the Watergate scandal in All The President’s Men (1976).   He hammed it up as Otis, the dullard whipping boy of Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor in Superman the Movie (1978) and Superman II (1980). More recently, his voice was heard in Toy Story 3 (2010), as Lotso, the pink teddy bear who runs the nursery with an infinitely less cutesy approach than hi

Joseph Siravo - An Obituary

Joseph Siravo – Actor, producer, educator   Born March 11, 1955; died April 11, 2021      Joseph Siravo, who has died of cancer aged 66, was an actor whose onscreen stock-in-trade was playing Italian American gangsters. He made his mark in The Sopranos (1999-2007) after making his film debut in Carlito’s Way (1993). Away from the screen, Siravo was an accomplished Shakespearian stage actor, and taught Shakespeare workshops for thirty-five years. Both milieus he occupied dealt with epic tales of family, revenge and usually death, as flawed sociopaths fated themselves to their own doom.    In The Sopranos he was seen in flashback as Tony Soprano’s father, Giovanni ‘Johnny Boy’ Soprano. While a small role spread out over a handful of episodes, it was a crucial one that revealed how the roots of some of Tony’s dysfunctionality lay in the influence of Johnny’s violent bravura.   In Carlito’s Way, Brian De Palma cast him as Vinnie Taglialucci, a man in search of revenge following the murder

Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern Two) until February 22nd 2022. Long time ago, in an imaginary kingdom that existed before CGI, Ray Harryhausen was king. Now, after this definitive phantasmagoria of the near legendary stop-motion animation pioneer’s work across half a century almost faced COVID induced extinction, it lives again.   Lovingly put together by the National Galleries of Scotland with The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation to honour the 100 th anniversary of his birth in 1920, this comprehensive retrospective of Harryhausen’s transformation of widescreen cinematic fantasy runs riot throughout Modern Two’s entirety. As it follows its own evolutionary path, the exhibition tells an epic yarn of how a little boy was so enraptured by seeing Willis O’Brien’s giant ape brought to life in King Kong (1933) that he created his own miniature worlds.    From being let loose by O’Brien on the far cosier creature feature, Mighty Joe Young (1949), through to his ever more

B.J. Thomas - An Obituary

B.J. Thomas – Singer Born August 7, 1942; died May 29, 2021     B.J. Thomas, who has died from lung cancer aged 78, was a singer whose rendition of Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head became a defining moment, both of his own career, and of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (1969), the buddy based western it soundtracked. The sunny joie de vivre of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s composition was the perfect accompaniment to Paul Newman’s outlaw on the run Butch and Katharine Ross’s Etta Place – lover of Robert Redford’s Sundance - larking about on a bike in George Roy Hill’s William Goldman scripted film. Thomas hadn’t been Bacharach’s first choice, and originally wanted Bob Dylan to sing his song. It was also offered to Ray Stevens. Thomas had been recovering from laryngitis when he recorded the version that appears in the film, and Bacharach worked him for several takes until he was satisfied. Thomas sounds less husky on the recording released as a single. Made after his voice had reco

Eva Sereny - An Obituary

Eva Sereny – Photographer, filmmaker   Born May 19, 1935; died May 25, 2021     Eva Sereny, who has died aged 86, was a self-taught photographer who worked behind the scenes on film sets to capture some of the biggest stars of the 1970s and 1980s. Jane Fonda, Sean Connery, Mia Farrow, Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep were all caught in her lens. Directors similarly framed by her included Francois Truffaut, Werner Herzog and Federico Fellini.   While Sereny provided numerous publicity stills, it was her pictures of actors and directors off duty that revealed something more intimate than the professional personas usually presented to the world. Sereny did this by staying unobtrusively in the background, so her subjects were barely aware of her presence.   This approach made for some classic shots. A barefoot Paul Newman carries two bottles of beer in each hand while wearing a ‘get really stoned’ t-shirt. Malcolm McDowell smokes a cigarette on the set of Lindsay Anderson’s film, O Lucky M