Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Remembering Anthony Minghellia and Sidney Pollack

News update: The content farm Helium to which I'd contributed some 150 articles between 2008 and 2010 announced that it is closing shop and deleting their sites from existence by December 2012. I think this is a great decision as it will allow its writers to find out their true worth and expand their content from something that pays them a few cents to someone that will pay them in dollars. It will also clean up the internet a little. The article-sphere is diluted by articles written to make (quite literally) nickels and dimes. In any case, I will share some of the articles that I wrote back in those days on this blog

As everyone was mourning Heath Ledger's death and considering the loss to future moviedom from pictures he never made, I found it curious that the Heath Ledger effect doesn't work for directors as well. Within the same four-month period, the two founders of Mirage died premature deaths this past year and while Sidney Pollack's funeral was one of the most widely attended events in Hollywood this past year, no one has had the discussion about whether there will be a loss to the world of movies that he won't be making any more pictures. I imagine Pollack might have had two or three films left in him. He was 74 when he died, which is pretty old, but Altman, Lumet and Scorsesee seem on course to make films into their 80s as does Eastwood.

Minghellia is an even more extreme case. At age 54, he could have done a dozen more films before his natural death and while Pollack could be uneven, Minghellia's films were usually Oscar-caliber. He won an Oscar as the director for the English Patient (1996), and earned a follow-up nomination for best writing on his next film, Talented Mr. Ripley (1999). His adaptation of the Charles Frazier novel, Cold Mountain (2003), was the most buzzed about film of its year, and earned Minghellia his highest box office take to date. In his subsequent film, he came very close to being nominated for a second directorial Oscar and earned Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for his directorial and writing work. Breaking and Entering (2006) was quiet and not widely viewed but it was well-received among those who had seen it. Minghellia usually tackled books and challenging adaptations and while they weren't necessarily topical, they had potential to be timeless.

Not only did Minghellia tackle books but he tackled the best: Talented Mr. Ripley, The English Patient and Cold Mountain had all earned accolades as novels and one has to surmise it was the scribe in Minghellia who loved the challenge of taking good source material and capturing the essence of a good novel.

One should also credit Minghellia and Pollack as producers for having an eye for good material. It's a tribute to them that their final picture before departing the planet, The Reader, upset the Dark Knight and Wall-E to grab an Oscar nomination. The credits are currently in dispute because I imagine they want someone who's alive to pick up the statue and represent the film at the Academy Awards Ceremony, but if Heath Ledger can be honored posthomously, it is my wish that Anthony Minghellia can be honored as well.

Update: Although "The Reader" lost to "Slumdog Millionaire", Syndey Pollack and Anthony Minghellia were credited as producers for their final film and had the honor of repeating as Academy Award nominees in the first Oscar ceremony since their deaths.

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