Today we bid adieu to the outrageous filmmaker who assembled the above-mentioned cast in a little rock opera called Tommy. 40-odd years ago. Ken Russell – who just passed away at age 84 – was one of England’s most well-known directors, having made more than 70 movies for both small and big screen. While his name may not be super-familiar to you, chances are you’re aware of his movies – like Tommy, Altered States, Women in Love and Crimes of Passion just to name a few. His best known works came out in the 1970s and 80s, and he remains extremely influential: this was a guy who brought over-the-top imagery, flamboyant costumes, and creepy, drug-induced spectacle to audiences long before his better-known successors.
His were not films for children, or even for the faint of heart. They were dark and often horror-filled. As a child I snuck into my older brother’s bedroom daily (he was away at school) and was entirely responsible for wearing out and subsequently ruining three of his favorite LPs –the Hair soundtrack, Billy Joel’s The Piano Man, and the Tommy soundtrack. The first two records I memorized immediately and understood reasonably well, despite political themes and drug references that stymied me. The Tommy soundtrack however, while probably my absolute favorite, remained elusive as far as plot went. Thus I lodged a beyond-annoying number of inquiries about the Tommy storyline to my siblings, who grew understandably weary. “Why is he deaf, dumb and blind? He just is. That’s why. “
It was Ken Russell who put Elton John, Tina Turner, Jack Nicholson, and Eric Clapton in The Who’s groundbreaking musical and made it the surreal movie experience that many people have never forgotten. Many of today’s filmmakers who specialize in independent, avant-garde and horror cite Russell as a powerful influence. He leaves behind quite a legacy of thought-provoking cinema.
Next up, we have an obituary of sorts. For even though this person is very much alive and well, his decision to quit a certain job is being received as disastrous – even catastrophic – news by fans. Christian Bale has decided to hang up Batman’s cloak upon completion of this latest movie, The Dark Knight Rises – which opens in summer. Having bred new and wildly profitable life into the entire Batman franchise (along with a few People’s Choice Awards to boot), he’s saying goodbye. Now, this was something he’s hinted at, and director Christopher Nolan is also getting much of the credit for the BatHits, but the loss of Bale definitely changes everything. Or does it? Let’s see what you guys think…if Nolan – or somebody else – were to say okay, so let’s just carry on, would you still watch? Does Bale’s departure spell doom for Gotham City? And if not, do we need another reboot? Hmm. If they do go forward, is there an actor out there today who’d be right for the job? Let us know what you think.
1) Hugh Jackman
2) Jon Hamm
3) Ryan Reynolds
4) Jake Gyllenhaal