British-born movie director and producer, Tony Scott, aged 68, committed suicide by jumping from the Vincent Thomas Bridge, in Los Angeles, California. He started out as an Art School graduate with aspirations of living as a painter. That changed when the success of his older brother, Ridley (director of Alien (1979), and Blade Runner (1982)), inspired him to follow into movie directing. Tony’s artistic talent is evident on screen in the vibrant photography he used. Like Ridley, he had a natural talent for using light to add tremendous atmopshere and depth to his scenes. His frenetic editing style and way of merging digital effects with the live action was a unique and visual joy. Often criticized for emphasizing style over substance in his work, his movies were nevertheless exciting, visually stunning and always hugely entertaining – three of the main reasons movies are made in the first place. Top Gun (1986) was the highest grossing movie of its year, securing Tony Scott on the A-list of directors, and providing star, Tom Cruise, with his career-making role.
My personal favorites are:
The Hunger (1983): Tony Scott’s debut movie, based on the novel by Whitley Strieber, is a slick cinematic feast for the eyes, with a memorable and highly collectable soundtrack. The gorgeous Catherine Deneuve plays vampire Miriam Blaylock. David Bowie plays her husband, John. They enjoy an easy existence, but problems start when John suddenly starts to age … and age rapidly. Susan Sarandon co-stars as Miriam’s next companion-to-be, Sarah Roberts. The movie opens with an unforgettable nightclub scene where Miriam and John stalk their next intended victims, as Bauhaus perform their classic song: Bela Lugosi is Dead.
The Last Boy Scout (1991): Action-comedy far superior than the usual ‘buddy movie’, with private detective Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) teaming up with ex-football star, Jimmy Dix (Damon Wayans), to solve the mystery behind the death of Cory, Jimmy’s girlfriend (Halle Berry, in an all-too-brief role).
True Romance (1993): Clarence Worley (Christian Slater), a comic bookstore clerk, and call-girl, Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette), fall head over heels in love and get married. Violent circumstances soon have them on the run with a suitcase full of cocaine and both police and gangsters on their trail. With a hilarious script and stellar cast, this movie gets better with repeat viewings.
Enemy of the State (1998): Fast-paced and action-packed spy-thriller with Robert Dean (Will Smith) on the run from rogue agents and aided by Edward Lyle (Gene Hackman), with blackmail and intrigue surrounding the murder of a Congressman. Excellent supporting cast including Regina King and Lisa Bonet.
Man on Fire (2004): Denzel Washington delivers a blistering performance as John Creasy as he goes after the organisation that kidnapped, Pita (Dakota Fanning), the girl he was employed to guard. One of the most powerful and best revenge-thriller movies ever made.
Domino (2005): highly stylized biopic of real-life bounty hunter, Domino Harvey (Keira Knightley). Highly entertaining with another excellent ensemble cast.
Déjà Vu (2006): imaginative sci-fi thriller with ATF Special Agent Douglas Carlin (Denzel Washington) racing to prevent the bombing of a ferry during the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. A great twist on the genre of time-travel.
At the time of this writing, I have not yet had chance to see either the remake of The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009), or Unstoppable (2010), but I will review them in future blogs.
For those who love movie trivia: Tony’s faded red cap appears somewhere in his movies.
Whatever the underlying circumstances, Tony Scott’s death was tragic and untimely.