Vilmos Zsigmond, the legendary cinematographer who brought an unmistakable gift for gorgeous imagery to some of the greatest motion pictures ever made, died on January 1, 2016, according to Variety. He was 85 years old.
Born in Hungary in 1930, Zsigmond left the country at the age of 26 along with fellow future cinematography great LÃ¡szlÃ³ KovÃ¡cs (Ghostbusters). His early years in the U.S. were spent working as a still photographer and lab technician and filming exploitation features such as The Sadist, Psycho a Go-Go, and Five Bloody Graves.
Nashville, the 1975 ensemble film by famed director Robert Altman which crystallized the canon of adventurous films that symbolized the “New Hollywood” of the 1970s, celebrates its 40th anniversary today.
Released in theaters on June 11, 1975, Nashville, which is a sprawling patchwork of 24 characters who intermingle in various ways over a weekend in the famed Tennessee city, remains one of the most risk-taking and eclectic motion pictures ever committed to celluloid. Full of rich characterizations; dialogue that appears to have been completely improvised; direction and staging that in many sequences make the picture almost seem in a documentary and cinema verite vein; sound that manifests from placements of microphones that seem to emanate from all four corners of the frames and of course; a musical soundtrack in which the actors in the film actually sing and even in some cases wrote the songs themselves (especially the Academy Award-winning “I’m Easy” by Keith Carradine), Nashville remains like an indie film raised to the highest apex, a film that in essence could and would never be released in today’s day and age, a true zeitgeist of its (and our) time.
M*A*S*H, the 1970 satirical black comedy, which dipped a poison pen in so many sacred cows that had been pretty much off limits and taboo in cinema before it, celebrated its 45th anniversary on January 25th, 2015.
Set during the Korean War of the 1950s, M*A*S*H had right on its sleeve an allegorical backdrop to so many current events of the late 1960s such as Vietnam, life in general during that tumultuous time, and anti-establishment sentiments, feelings, and bents. Done sometimes with an almost cinema verite documentary style, one of the end results of the unique approach taken by the directorial maverick film legend Robert Altman, M*A*S*H was the kind of film that had been unseen before in Hollywood. Running with an almost ragtag, loose visual style, it’s almost voyeuristic in the ways we see the comedy in the film and the film in general, and there are plenty of laughs: ranging from slapstick to witty to punny to sublime and ridiculous, there’s all styles and temperatures, from cool to downright raunchy in some respects. Eyebrows must have certainly been raised when the old guard audience of old guard Hollywood first laid their peepers on the film at certain sequences without question. But all the while, it’s the kind of film that is sort of winking at everyone and everything, 100 percent conscious of what it is; there’s a reverberating feeling that hits the tinderbox every time and creates incendiary types of experiences for the viewer when they watch it.