Saying Goodbye to Tony Scott

I can’t believe I just wrote that headline. Last night, my dear wife, knowing full well that her news would probably affect me strongly, told me about the headline she’d just seen. Stunned, totally disbelieving, I got online and confirmed the news.

Tony Scott, brother of my all-time favorite director Ridley Scott, had thrown himself off a bridge in LA, ending his own life.

I was dumbfounded. Flummoxed. How could this be?

I never met Tony Scott, but through his movies, I felt like I knew him a little. The scenes in Man on Fire where Denzel’s rage is allowed to develop and the light and the frenetic moments– these showed me that Tony Scott had a dramatic and decent heart. Fury is not pleasant; violence should not be glorified. Violence might be a necessity, because you do NOT do terrible things to sweet little girls, but it was not to be glorified.

In Crimson Tide, The Last Boy Scout, and Spy Game, stories about honor, duty, human decency, and determination are told. We also see a respect for sacrifice and a disdain for abuse of authority, hypocrisy, and dishonesty.

I adored Unstoppable. There’s a finely tuned ear that honed the dialogue and the rhythm of the exchanges between characters in that film. There’s an honor, a reverence, for heroism and self-sacrifice. There’s an honesty about people with flaws who find a reason to reach beyond themselves.

Then there’s The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3. I think this is one of Tony Scott’s finest films. Your every day schlub is set back on his heels, confused by sudden brutality, and has to find a way to cope with a maniac. The schlub is weak-kneed, constantly questioning whether he belongs in this situation, but when it comes down to helping people, he steps up.

Ridley Scott is my favorite director of all time. Tony Scott is my second favorite. (FYI, Peter Weir is #3.)

The world has lost a man with a great eye for light, a great head for action and rhythm, and a storyteller of the highest caliber. I don’t know why Tony Scott took his own life. I can’t begin to imagine what pain and/or illness moved him to such a drastic, heartbreaking, final, and tragic step. I send my love and prayers to his family and call upon film-lovers the world over to celebrate Tony Scott and his contributions to the world and the art of film by popping some corn, grabbing a cold beverage, and immersing yourselves in one of his films. Be drawn in by his leads’ heroism, the frenetic action, the character of light, and the sensitivity to sound and silence.

Celebrate him and let your love of his work carry his spirit to a happier place.

I invite all readers to share in the comments your favorite movie experience created by Tony Scott. Feel free to pass this post along; I’d love to bask in everyone’s appreciation of this remarkable artist.

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Robin Hood (2010)

Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood is the second best movie of 2010. As an origin story, it has no peer. What’s more, it’s Cate Blanchett’s best ever performance.

Here’s a peek:

The deets:

Released May 14, 2010

Written by Brian Helgeland, Ethan Reiff, and Cyrus Voris (with some work by Tom (frakking!) Stoppard

Directed by Ridley Scott (favorite director)

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Matthew Macfadyen, Mark Strong, Max von Sydow, William Hurt, Danny Huston, Mark Addy, Eileen Atkins, Kevin Durand, Allen Doyle, Scott Grimes, Douglas Hodge, Oscar Isaac, and Lea Seydoux

Rated PG-13

*     *     *     *     *

Story

There’s a lot going on in Ridley Scott’s extraordinary Robin Hood. The British are out crusading and fighting the French; the British heir to the throne, Prince John, is turning out to have no morals or spine; Godfrey is helping the French with a plan to invade Britain; and British soldiers are anxious to go home.

The movie opens with a gritty battle scene and field, with the British King Richard (Huston) leading his army. We meet Robin Longstride (Crowe), who is a skilled archer and appears to be a bit of a con man. When Little John (Durand) calls Robin on what he thinks is a cheat, a tussle begins, which catches King Richard’s attention. Richard appreciates Robin’s honesty, but Robin, Little John, Will Scarlet (Grimes), and Allan a-dale (Doyle) are still taken into custody. During a disastrous battle wherein the king is mortally wounded, Robin and company escape and desert.

That’s right, Robin deserts from the British army. This is not your childhood Robin Hood, friends.

When the king is slain, his trusted commander, Sir Robert Loxley (Hodge), is given the crown to return to Britain and give to the new king, Prince John. But Loxley’s group is ambushed by Godfrey (Strong), who is a traitor to Britain. Robin and his three friends come upon the last part of the ambush, fight off Godfrey and nearly kill him, and end up in possession of the crown. Now they have a way to get back to England: by posing as Robert Loxley and his group.

Now Robin’s a criminal and is taking advantage of a dead man. But Robert Loxley makes Robin promise to return Robert’s sword to his father. On the sword’s pommel is a great inscription: “Rise and rise again until lambs become lions.” This reminds Robin of his childhood, where he remembers something about his father and a secret.

Robin and friends successfully pass off their deception, although Godfrey recognizes them. When his friends want to take off, Robin surprises them by actually sticking to his promise to return the sword. Now, Robin delivers the sword and is mistaken for Robert. Robert’s father knows Robin isn’t his son, but encourages Robin to maintain the deception for the benefit of the barony. What’s more, Robert had a wife, Marian (Blanchett), who is now Robin’s de facto wife.

These two have great chemistry and the dialogue between them as Robin grows into his role is truly marvelous. The intrigue of Godfrey aiding the french, now King John becoming a tyrant,  barons wanting to have more say in their country’s governance, and marauding tax collectors adds richness and texture to what, in the end, is a story of a rogue becoming a hero and of how love can grow from respect.

Critique

I have nothing bad to say about Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. I think it’s rich, powerful, beautifully shot, perfectly acted, incredibly well written, and stunningly scored. I believe it is the second best film of 2010, coming in right behind The Fighter. 

Russell Crowe embodies a man who, while reluctant to become a hero, feels his duty and his need to do something good and significant. Cate Blanchett is vulnerable, sweet, and tough. Oscar Isaac hits it right out of the park as Prince John. William Hurt is fine as Marshal.

Robin Hood rises and rises again and then hits you right between the eyes. Great build up, great final scenes, great music. I love this movie so much.

Content warnings: plenty of medieval violence, some sensuality

Writing: 5          Acting: 5           Overall: 5

In this case, Rotten Tomatoes critics do not agree with me, but they’re wrong and cynical and hate babies, so forget them.

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