The entertainment news has been filled with deaths as of late. Just a few weeks ago, Lemmy of Motorhead fame kicked off. He had cancer. Only a few days ago, David Bowie of Labyrinth fame kicked off. He had cancer. Less publicized but equally important, David Margulies of Ghostbusters fame died only a couple days ago as well. He was old as shit.
I was never a huge fan of Motorhead. That’s not to say I didn’t like the band or anything but they just never made my playlist. I watched a great tribute by HHH of WWE fame for Lemmyand it was really impassioned and moving. I think I could express the same sentiment about David Bowie in that I didn’t actively dislike any of his work but it was never my speed apparently. I watched a tribute to him that Conan O’Brien did and it made me appreciate the comedic timing Bowie appeared to have, but I’m not about to run out and purchase his entire discography. On a related note, Seu Jorge just killed it on the soundtrack to Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, playing his renditions of Bowie songs with only a classical guitar and the Portuguese language. I think of those named, David Margulies actually meant the most to me because he was the mayor of New York City when it was being plagued not once but twice by ghosts. I remember Bill Murraybarging into the room and stating “Lenny! You… Will have saved the lives of millions of registered voters.” so vividly. I don’t think I could name another role he was in, but IMDb tells me he was in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Sopranos. There you go.
Again, I don’t want anyone to think that I didn’t like any of the aforementioned people. I’m sure they all had a fanbase that is forever crushed by their individual demises. I respect what they all did and have no reason to think they were anything but wonderful people. That being said, I’d like to shift gears and actually speak about a piece of life-ending news that really does apply to my tastes.
I have a habit as of late in which I read the news every single morning when I wake up. I check the Huffington Post (Canadian and American versions), The National Post, Raw Story, and The Friendly Atheist. From there I go to IMDb and Facebook to see what I’ve missed since I slept. It’s a normal routine for me and it keeps me relatively informed. Every now and again (as with this morning), I check IMDb first with the explicit thought of “oh great, who died today?”. Such was the case this morning and my thoughts came to fruition in that Alan Rickman lost a battle to cancer. On a side note, fuck cancer. Why hasn’t anyone cured this shit yet? Back on track however, Rickman was 69.
Alan Rickman played many seminal roles and I’d like to briefly speak about the ones that really stood out to me. I’ll preface now by stating that I won’t be making mention of Harry Potter whatsoever. I’m sure he was absolutely fantastic but outside of the first film, I never saw any of the other ones. Just a choice, no malice or harsh reasoning. Hell, I might watch them sometime simply for the cast that brought it to life. I’ll start off with Die Hard, obviously. Hans Gruber was a fantastic villain. He was witty, angry, and an absolutely formidable antagonist to go head-to-head with John McClane. As with many roles, Rickman was able to provide a special form of disdain towards idiocy. His smug and unimpressed look will forever be worth its weight in gold. That similar look appeared in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, where Rickman brought The Sheriff Of Nottingham to life. I saw this film when I was young and my then only real sense of who The Sheriff was came in the form of an obese wolf in the Disney adaptation. Rickman was cruel, angry, and was one of the first on-screen villains to really make me cheer for the bad guy. I wouldn’t feel poorly in giving him credit for this actually, as his performance was that good. In my younger years, I had a huge crush on Rachael Leigh Cook and that led me to watch pretty much every movie she’s ever been in. One of the true gems that came from that is Blow Dry. In a lighter role, Rickman played a hairstylist struggling to make his way through the trials and tribulations of the everyday. Bill Nighy, Josh Hartnett, and Natasha Richardson also starred in it and it’s a really good film. I need to watch it again.
I was late to the scene in getting to know a beloved Rickman film. I’d heard about it, knew what it was, and was attacked for having not seen it by both family and friends. I don’t know what took me as long as I did to watch it, but I believe I finally got around to it only last year. Time blurs as we grow older, so it might even be the year before last but regardless, it took at least ten plus years since its release to finally absorb Galaxy Quest. I chose to give this movie a new paragraph as it deserves a bit of extra focus. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give it the (albeit truncated) write-up I now feel it deserves. Galaxy Quest might be the best space-themed science-fiction film out there. Obviously, it pays homage to Star Wars, Star Trek, and probably every space film ever. The depth of its humour and silliness resonate today. Rarely do comedies age well as I disappointedly learn more and more each day, but Galaxy Quest stands the test of time. The entire cast is wonderful, with a special shout-out to Sam Rockwell. I just have a sweet spot for that guy. Rickmanplayed Alexander Dane, a Shakespearean actor suffering through years of having to deal with regrettably being known for his iconic role in a cheesy sci-fi space show. As usual, his performance was priceless, both hilarious and wonderful. I regret not having seen this movie dozens of times since it came out and make up for it presently by watching it as often as possible. It’s definitely on the list.
In another science-fiction turn, Alan Rickman voiced Marvin in Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. If memory serves, Marvin is a depressed robot. I can’t give too many other details as I haven’t seen this movie in a great many years and remember it not being very good at all. I’ll have to watch it again as the cast alone should make it decent. I was actually slagging this film last night over dinner and made a mental note to give it another try. Weird how quickly that came up again.
Finally, let me speak of Love Actually. Another Richard Curtis masterpiece, this is not only the best romantic comedy of all time bar none, it is also one of my favourite movies ever. Ensemble pieces usually wind up being gong-shows, with storylines being wasted and too much time given to the wrong themes (you heard me, Danny Ocean…). Love Actually is a rare bird in that it gave the right amount of time to each of the necessary stories, blended them all together seamlessly, and was a genuinely enchanting ride the entire time. Alan Rickman’s character was probably the most prominent antagonist in the film as his particular storyline was the darkest. Dealing with the struggles of marriage and fidelity, Rickman’s character succumbed to temptation in one form or another. A strong choice by Richard Curtis came in that the actions by Rickman’s character were never truly spelt out. There was implication and some evidence to suggest that something had happened, but it left the breadth of his wandering to the imagination of the viewer. What an absolutely wonderful film this was and it might worth starting a little debate online as to which storyline resonated with people most. I can say without a doubt that Laura Linney’s storyline with her brother was so amazingly heartbreaking. Cut from the movie, a deleted scene on the home release goes further into detail how heartbreaking their dynamic is. I digress. Back on track.
It’s been a shit year thus far in terms of people succumbing to cancer and old age. Obviously it was bound to happen sooner or later and will continue to do so. That being said, feeling a little less bright and sunny today is acceptable because the world lost one of its best film actors and from all accounts showing up online, a genuinely sweet and magnanimous person. The essence of Alan Rickman lies now and eternally with the cosmos and we should all watch one of his films in memoriam this evening.