Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Jonathan Demme

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Very sad news today...

Jonathan Demme, the Oscar winning director, producer and screenwriter and screenwriter, has died at age 73.

Born in Baldwin, Long Island, Demme has had one of the great filmmaking careers of his era, rising to prominence in the 1980s with his comedy films Melvin and Howard (1980), Swing Shift (1984), Something Wild (1986) and Married to the Mob (1988). He won his Oscar for directing The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and later helmed the acclaimed films Philadelphia (1993) and Rachel Getting Married (2008), along with many seminal documentaries such as the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense, and Neil Young: Heart of Gold. 

Like more than a few iconic directors Demme cracked into features making exploitation films for Roger Corman, directing such films as Caged Heat, Crazy Mama and Fighting Mad for Corman’s New World Pictures. His first breakthrough was Melvin and Howard, not a box office hit but a film that was critically acclaimed. He established his eclectic, energetic style with Stop Making Sense, followed by the manic Something Wild, the Spalding Gray monologue Swimming to Cambodia and the New York comedy Married to the Mob. 

Demme followed that with The Silence of the Lambs, one of the last films for Orion which was released in February and was the rare film to win all five major categories — Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay for Ted Tally, Best Actor for Anthony Hopkins & Best Actress for Jodie Foster –even though the studio didn’t have a ton of money to spend on a campaign, and horror is almost always overlooked by the Academy. Demme followed with Philadelphia, an early film that focused on the hypocrisy and prejudice surrounding the AIDS crisis, which won the Best Actor Oscar for Tom Hanks, who starred alongside Denzel Washington.

He directed some great films, was highly respected as a director, and beloved for his ability to work so well with actors and creative teams on each of his projects.

He will be missed.

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