Tag Archives: RIP

RIP Rip Torn (1931 – 2019)

Rip Torn was an American actor. To an international audience he is remembered for his roles in Coming Apart (1969), Maidstone (1970), Tropic of Cancer (1970) and The Man Who Fell to Earth (1974).

Excerpt of Coming Apart
Famous hammer hitting scene of Maidstone
Tropic of Cancer, full Italian dubbed version
The Man Who Fell to Earth trailer

The book Cult Movie Stars describes his integrity and says that he “took parts only in films that he considered artistic and/or politically correct.”

He was also known for his on-set conflicts. While filming Maidstone for example, Torn struck director and star Norman Mailer in the head with a hammer. With the camera rolling, Mailer bit Torn’s ear and they wrestled to the ground. The fight continued until it was broken up by cast and crew members. The fight is featured in the film.

RIP João “bossa nova” Gilberto (1931 − 2019)

João Gilberto was a Brazilian musician known for pioneering the musical genre of bossa nova in the late 1950s.

The history of bossa nova starts with this recording:

Canção do Amor Demais (1958) by Elizete Cardoso

Canção do Amor Demais (1958) by Elizete Cardoso features the compositions “Chega de Saudade” and “Outra Vez”, both featuring João Gilberto’s guitar beat, which would go on to become a staple of bossa nova.

Then there is bossa nova’s defining moment, the release of “Bim-Bom” (1958), most often claimed to the first bossa recording.

Bim-Bom” (1958)

While researching Gilberto’s death it came to my attention that bossa nova is considered a nobrow phenomenon, i.e. the mixing of high and low culture .

Perhaps Caetano Veloso was the first to make this point in 2013 in The Guardian:

“It [bossa nova] was possibly the first popular music where the themes were existential […] It’s part of what makes it high art. Third-world countries usually produce raw materials that are then transformed into capital by first world nations. This happens in industry, but it also happens in the arts. What was revolutionary about bossa nova is that a third-world country was creating high art on its own terms, and selling that art around the world.” —Caetano Veloso in “Why bossa nova is ‘the highest flowering of Brazilian culture”.

When I further investigated, I came upon this quote by José Miguel Wisnik in Robert Stam’s World Literature, Transnational Cinema, and Global Media (2019) which makes the nobrow point explicitly:

The result within MPB (Popular Brazilian Music) was a perhaps unprecedented synthesis of “high” and “low” culture. Wisnik notes the “permeability established, beginning with Bossa Nova, between so-called culture and popular cultural production, forming a field of encounters that cannot be understood within the binary between music of entertainment and creative and informative music.

RIP Artur Brauner (1918 − 2019)

After the death of Ben Barenholtz, another film producer expires.

Artur Brauner was a German film producer and entrepreneur of Polish origin.

I came upon him by way of Jess Franco (Brauner produced Vampyros Lesbos) and also via the film adaptations of Edgar Wallace (The Devil Came from Akasava, also directed by Franco).

Hollywood Reporter summarizes my sympathy for this man in this soundbite: “while his dramas won awards, it was sex and sensationalism that often paid the bills”[1]. This also explains why Brauner too is a bit of a cinematic Losfeld who typically financed high art with exploitation.

The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960, full film)

The Good Soldier Schweik (1960, excerpt)

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970, full film)

Vampyros Lesbos (1971, Soledad Miranda dance)

RIP Latsploitation queen Isabel Sarli (1935 – 2019)

Isabel Sarli was an Argentinian model and actress known for her risqué films. As such, she was the Latin American Brigitte Bardot. The first film to show her nude was Thunder Among the Leaves (1957) which has her skinny-dipping from 50:09 to 51:38. There are also nude indigenous females (26:34 and subsequent scenes).

Thunder Among the Leaves (1958)

If you are more into the wackier films like I am, there is Carne (1968) with Isabel Sarli as Delicia, a worker in a meat-packing factory; Fuego (1969) with Sarli as a nymphomaniac; and Fiebre (1970) in which Sarli falls in love with a horse when she sees a stallion mounting a mare.

Carne (1968)

Fuego (1969)

Fiebre (1970)

Searching for “Isabel Sarli”, “sexploitation” and “Latsploitation” brings up snippets such as “generally boring sexploitation film about one of those favorite characters in male reveries, a nymphomaniac.” ([on Fuego] in Cue – Volume 40, Issues 1-13 – Page 67 (1971)); “Isabel Sarli breasting her way through further south-of-the-border sexploitation affairs. […] There’s never been a nudie movie queen more amply endowed than Argentina’s Isabel Sarli who simply has to shed her clothing to make things like story and characterization seem irrelevant.” (Film Bulletin – Volume 39 (1970)); “Woman and Temptation is zero as art, but the talents of the buxom Isabel Sarli make this a top sexploiter entry.” (Filmfacts – Volume 12 (1969)) and “While we cannot claim that Sarli’s films would adhere to a feminist agenda …” (Latsploitation, Exploitation Cinemas, and Latin America (2009)).

RIP Maurice Bénichou (1943 – 2019)

Maurice Bénichou was a French actor, best-known internationally for his part in Amélie. His other work includes three collaborations with director Michael Haneke (Code UnknownTime of the Wolf, and Caché). He has also played in Peter Brook’s 6 hour film version of The Mahabharata.

The death of Bénichou may be a good occasion to dive into the work of Haneke, one of the more interesting of contemporary directors.

Majid (Bénichou) committing suicide in Caché.

Bretodeau (Bénichou) receiving a phone call and his youth treasures in a box in Amélie.

Unnamed character (Bénichou) defending Binoche from sexual aggressors in Code Unknown.

RIP Sylvia Miles (1924 – 2019)

Actress Sylvia Miles died. She was 94. I discovered her via the book Cult Movie Stars (1991) which I bought the year it came out. It describes Miles as a “quirky, funny, busty blonde New York character actress.”

The 1990s was the time of video rental stores and I after I had read Cult Movie Stars from cover to cover I scoured Antwerp looking for old films. So I saw a handful of Miles’ films including Heat (1972) [above], as well as many other Warhol films. Heat opens with the wonderful John Cale song, “Days of Steam” from the album The Academy in Peril (1972).

Sylvia Miles is mainly known for her part in Midnight Cowboy (1969) but she also starred in Denise Calls Up (1996), one of my canonical films.

RIP Dr. John (1941 – 2019)

Dr. John was an American singer-songwriter best-known for his single “Right Place, Wrong Time” (1973).

There are two songs from his debut album Gris-Gris (1968) on YouTube, “Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya” and “I Walk on Guilded Splinters”, both have very nice percussion breaks.

Of note is the likeness of “Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya” to the work of Tom Waits (think Swordfishtrombones, 1983), esp. the aforementioned percussion breaks.

Dr. John is one of these figures one could study for a week, there are so many connections. Below is him reading “Berenice” by Edgar Allan Poe.

Trivia: the beginning of “Right Place, Wrong Time” sounds like the beginning of “Spirit in the Sky” (1969) and the whole of “Right Place, Wrong Time” is very much reminiscent of a seventies groovy soul song with a chorus of “your love, your love” with something added like “is unforgettable” or “is extraordinary”, the title of which escapes me.

RIP Roky Erickson (1947 – 2019)

Roky Erickson was an American singer-songwriter, lead singer of the garage punk band The 13th Floor Elevators.

You’re Gonna Miss Me

He is best-known for his song “You’re Gonna Miss Me” (1966) which was featured on the compilation Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968 (1972).

From his later period, this very charming “Goodbye Sweet Dreams” from the biographical movie ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’.

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