SUNDANCE 08: WHY SO DECEASED? Image

Credit to Vonder Haar for the subject’s play on Why So Serious. If today was notable for anything, it was probably that moment during the final minutes of the press screening of Morgan Spurlock’s “Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?” when text messages hit journalists throughout the screening informing all of us of Heath Ledger’s demise. I personally had 6 text messages letting me know all about it, though others in attendance got more (I think Erik Childress got 9?). To this Ledger news, I can only say that it is sad, as sad as it is when anyone dies but I couldn’t get quite as choked up about it as I saw other people get. Why? Don’t know the guy, he’s not family… just because he’s a celebrity, doesn’t mean his death was more important than any other death the world over.

Focusing back on the festival, today I saw the new Peralta doc about the Bloods and Crips, “Made in America,” saw the Spurlock doc and saw the Pahlniuk (sp?) adaptation “Choke.” Out of those three, the Spurlock doc was by far the best, definitely the most entertaining. Morgan continues his knack for amazing openings, as the first ten minutes of WitWiObL is some of the most-fun film I’ve seen in a while. “Choke”? It was a fine adaptation, probably the best that could be done of that book, but it was visually flat and nothing too amazing to write home about. Sam Rockwell and the rest of the cast did a fine job but… eh. I liked it, but middle-ground appreciation.

Tomorrow I get to check out “Adventures of Power” and “Hell Ride,” and get to interview the respective filmmakers and casts. Really looking forward to both films. Air drumming and motorcycles!?! I’m there…

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  1. Really?! Wow. I may have to.

  2. Pete says:

    I didn’t see anyone making light of Adrienne Shelly’s murder

    You weren’t looking very hard.

  3. “I don’t think either statement is true.”

    I disagree. I thought he was very much in the midst of ridding himself of the Tiger beat persona and becoming a straight and serious adult actor who could provide a strong performance.

    And I’m in disagreement with your assessment on his performance in Brokeback Mountain. Ennis was a very confused and restless man, I think Ledger’s mumbling brought a very interesting substance to the character.

    But let’s not go down that road.

    No matter who it is, I’m in the mindset that making light of someone’s death is still in bad taste. Especially when that someone died pretty miserably, and left behind a child.

    I didn’t see anyone making light of Adrienne Shelly’s murder, interestingly enough. Why is Ledger fair game?

    Well, either way, Mark, that’s not the topic here.

    Thanks for letting me in on the Sundance coverage! Love your blogs.

  4. Don’t worry. Just having a little fun.

  5. Maybe the inability to read would have even garnered him an Oscar.

  6. I didn’t care for his performance in “Brokeback Mountain” (mumbling is not acting and being inaudible is not the same as emoting inarticulateness).

    Agreed. All they had to do was show him struggling to read aloud and failing, and that would have proven it.

    As for his other films — does anyone even remember “The Four Feathers” or “Ned Kelly” or “The Brothers Grimm”?

    Yes.

  7. Phil Hall says:

    The odd thing about the coverage of Ledger’s death was the insistence that he was a rising star of great talent. I don’t think either statement is true. He was actually in Hollywood for a decade and was a child actor in Australia before that. And as for “rising,” he was the star of more than a few well-publicized and well-financed films that all bombed at the box office. As for talent, almost all of the news coverage is focusing on his work in a single overrated movie — and he got the role after Mark Wahlberg turned it down. I didn’t care for his performance in “Brokeback Mountain” (mumbling is not acting and being inaudible is not the same as emoting inarticulateness). The only Ledger film in release where I think he came alive was “Casanova,” which came out two months after “Brokeback” but died at the box office. As for his other films — does anyone even remember “The Four Feathers” or “Ned Kelly” or “The Brothers Grimm”? That said, I am genuinely sad to hear that he passed away.

  8. Vita Lusty says:

    We care because in this day in age we are more familiar, and see celebrities more often than we see each other. I watched Heath Ledger and Brad Renfro grow up more than I did kids in my neighborhood and old college buddies. We are disconnected, and the one goo that keeps us in common is media. I am more sad than usual, too. I am still evaluating why.

  9. Mark Bell says:

    I guess what bothers me is that there are people, many people, who die everyday. Some of them are rising talents in their given careers, some are great fathers or mothers, some are children… I don’t cry over every tragic death that exists. But a celebrity dies and folks who didn’t know him beyond the roles he played in a movie get what seems to be disproportionately sad.

    Was he a great guy? Maybe, I don’t know him, I never met him. Am I sad that his talent is gone from cinema? To a certain degree, yes, but… I’m more sad that his kid no longer has a father than I am that he won’t be playing any other characters in any flicks.

    Anyway, feelings are feelings and I respect that people feel the way they do. It’s just not my way, s’all.

  10. Mark, with all due respect it’s easy to say all that about someone who died because he’s a celebrity, but I was stunned and kind of choked up because simply he was a rising star, seemed like a genuine talent, and the alleged details of his death seem tragic. I’ll take the hipper than thou declarations of “So what? I didn’t know him,” but I was saddened nonetheless.

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