Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Remembering Jonathan Demme

I am terribly saddened about the news concerning the passing of director Jonathan Demme who died this morning in New York City from esophageal cancer and complications from heart disease, During a 13-year period that stretched from 1980 to 1993, I’m not sure there was a filmmaker who could match him. Just consider these titles: Melvin and Howard (1980); Swing Shift (1984) featuring Christine Lahti’s breakout, Oscar-nominated performance; Stop Making Sense (1984), the best rock music documentary ever (I rank it above The Last Waltz, because Waltz was edited out of sequence and featured added, staged — thus non-documentary — footage, as well as Woodstock, which glamorized what, anyone who attended will tell you, was a natural disaster); Something Wild (1986, a tour-de-force from Melanie Griffith and one of the best, if not the best, debut performances ever from Ray Liotta); Swimming to Cambodia (1987); Married to the Mob (1988) and then the two films that sealed the deal, The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Philadelphia (1993).

He seemed to slide into the shadows after that, although I thought his remake of The Manchurian Candidate in 2004, while not great, was far superior to most remakes and much better than I expected it to be. Then he completely, albeit briefly, emerged from the shadows in 2008 with the wonderful Rachel Getting Married, which, in effect, was Demme telling the world "In case you think I no longer have what it takes, then take this."

No one ever slipped from the end of a film to its credits better than Demme did here in Something Wild.

Ray Liotta stealing scenes in Something Wild.

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