Friday, May 30, 2008

Sydney Pollack

Last Monday, May 26th, was a sad day for the world of film. Director, producer, actor Sydney Pollack died. He was truly one of the best director’s working in Hollywood today: he could make a mainstream film with big stars that had meaning and purpose for today’s audiences. He began his career as an actor and an acting teacher and was known for his ability to get the best performances out of his actors because of this background. He also had broadly commercial instincts and a perception and understanding of the world that allowed him to make successful and important films. Film critic Jeanine Basinger says, "Sydney Pollack has made some of the most influential and best-remembered films of the last three decades.” He won 2 Oscars for directing and producing the film Out of Africa which also won the best picture award. He won again for directing Tootsie. Pollack directed 20 films and produced and acted in many others. To see some samples of Pollacks’ work check out some these titles:

Jeremiah Johnson (1972) A western starring Robert Redford (with whom Pollack collaborated on 6 films) as a mountain man in a battle with the Crow Indians who murdered his wife and child. “…moments of great beauty and terror and deeply earned pathos”—NYT
The Firm (1993) A fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat thriller with Tom Cruise, this is one of the best of the Grisham films.
The Interpreter (2005) An exciting, touching and thoughtful thriller with Nicole Kidman as an interpreter who has overheard an assassination plot and Sean Penn as the Federal Agent assigned to investigate.

The Library also own the following films in which Sydney Pollack acts:
Eyes Wide Shut (1999) Stanley Kubrick’s final film, with Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Pollack. Roger Ebert calls the film “…an erotic daydream about chances missed and opportunities avoided.”
Avenue Montaigne (2006) Pollack has a small part in this cheerful French film.
Michael Clayton (2007) In this legal/business thriller, Pollack plays the head of the law firm that employs the title character, played by George Clooney. He also produced the film.

I for one always looked forward to any film which had connections with Pollack. He always struck me as a down-to-earth likeable guy. Plus his movies were great. The films he directed have stayed in my memory long after the final credits and his acting…well, he was great as a good guy or a bad guy. Roger Ebert says of his performance in Michael Clayton “it's one of those Pollack performances that embodies authority, masculinity, intelligence and knowing the score.” Pollack never played down to the audience. His films and his performances were intelligent, straightforward and something to savor. I will miss him but he left us with a great legacy. I look forward to going back and watching his films all over again.
For more information on Pollack see :

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