Fond Farewells of 2010

Jill Clayburgh. Dennis Hopper. Arthur Penn. Jean Simmons. Lynn Redgrave. Eddie Fisher. Eric Rohmer. Lena Horne. Tony Curtis. Peter Graves. Barbara Billingsley. Leslie Nielson. Sally Menke. Patricia Neal.

These are just some of the actors and filmmakers who passed away this year.

Embedded below are two lovely videos, from Turner Classic Movies and Time, that feature clips and quotes from many of the stars and public figures who left a lasting impact on culture.


Vodpod videos no longer available.

Dennis Hopper (1936-2010)

“Somewhere in my strange career, someone has liked something.” – Dennis Hopper, in 2002.

Two months ago I watched a livestream of Dennis Hopper receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was an event, poignantly marked by an appearance by Hopper’s longtime friend Jack Nicholson, I made sure not miss. But the moment was bittersweet as the longtime Hollywood hellraiser was battling advanced prostate cancer.

It was announced today that Hopper has died at 74.

Hopper perhaps best work is Easy Rider (1969) but looking at his credits on IMDb, he was an actor, writer, director, and producer who showed up in almost everything. His appearances in everything from Hoosiers to to True Romance to Blue Velvet to the (thankfully short lived) television series Crash made these movies and t.v. series infinitely more enjoyable.

If only more actors were like Dennis Hopper. Hollywood would be a much better place.

Crash: Small screen adaptation falls flat

In 2005, Crash became the little movie that could when it unexpectedly won the Academy Award for Best Picture, beating out the heavily favored Brokeback Mountain. The movie, starring Hollywood heavyweights Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock and Terrence Howard, depicts a three-day period in Los Angeles where several interrelated events bring strangers together. It is a compelling look at race and gender relations, discrimination and bigotry. The executive producers of Crash have adapted the successful film into a television series for Starz.

Like the film, the television series brings to the forefront the tensions between ethnicities, religions and gender. Through a collection of interrelated cases of prejudice, the show serves as a window into the quiet injustice that occurs within law enforcement, the rich and powerful and the world of medicine.

Veteran actor Dennis Hopper headlines the cast as a drug-addicted music producer looking for his next star, who may just be his driver, played by Jocko Sims. Other characters include a model-turned-police officer, a Brentwood housewife, a real estate developer and an illegal Guatemalan immigrant.

The pilot episode begins with a steamy sex scene that twists into an eye-opener on gender discrimination. After this scene, the episode walks the viewer through several more instances that reflect the crimes committed behind-the-scenes: bribery, indecency, robbery, discrimination and unfair arrests.

The show focuses upon issues of national identity versus race and heritage. A Korean gang member-turned-paramedic, played by Brian Tee, must make a choice between his past and his future, placing him at a constant crossroads with his former friends and co-workers. At one point, a homicide detective tells him, “Make a choice, Korean or American.”

Crash exposes the racism and sexism within law enforcement which is supposed to be representative of justice and equality. There are two-faced cops and sexist agents. In episode three, homicide detective Axel Finet (Nick Tarabay) abuses his power and holds the father of a suspected murderer at gun point in order to arrest his son. This reveals inequality in both society and the forces that regulate it.

The overall coverage of prejudices in the show is very touching, exposing the subtle instances of abuse through discrimination that occur every day, unchecked and overlooked. It seems that in a world which feels the need to systemize and govern its own, those with power never really escape from their own personal prejudices.

However, Crash certainly isn’t afraid to show a little —or a lot—of skin, to indulge the fantasies of its viewers. But when sex is used in this sense, it becomes a gimmick and unfortunately, this alone cannot keep the audience’s attention.

Crash benefits from being a 13-episode series and not a two hour film. While the film can feel as though it is simplifying issues and placing a very obvious

Hollywood message onto events, the television show goes into great depth. Characters and situations are not just cornerstones and stereotypes of a larger picture.

This being said, there is still nothing spectacular about Crash as a television series. While there is a possibility for amazing characters and intriguing story lines, in the first five episodes, the viewer is left without a tangible connection to the series. Instead of generating a necessary conversation about race, like the movie did, the audience is left thinking, “So what?”

What made the 2004 film so compelling for audiences was its overall message and reminder that we are all more alike than we imagine and what we do affects others. This message is not carried throughout the television series. The relationships between the characters are not apparent or profoundly moving.

Adapting a successful movie is a difficult task. Sometimes it works (MASH) and other times it does not (My Big Fat Greek Life). Crash, unfortunately, represents the latter.

Crash airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on Starz.

Published: November 13, 2008
The Mount Holyoke News

Crash: The Television Series?

Dennis Hopper has been announced as the star of the new Starz television drama, Crash. Based on the Oscar winning film, Hopper will portray Ben, a veteran maverick music producer looking for his last big score, in the 13-episode multi character drama. Hopper joins the previously cast Clare Carey, Luis Chavez, Ross McCall, Jocko Sims, Brian Tee and Arlene Tur.

The creative team of this series is headed by Glen Mazzara (“Life,” “The Shield”) and it includes writers from The Sopranos, NYPD Blue, Deadwood, Without A Trace, and The Wire

Crash as a television series can go two ways. It can be better than the movie by having actual character development and more meaningful story lines that don’t seem overtly forced. Or it can be exactly like the movie and ensure that the audience suffers through contrived plot lines that are intended to make us think but only make us angry.
But with the creative team in charge of this series, I think it will be good and much better than the movie.