Remembering Bill Hunter, Donald Krim, Bruce Ricker

Updated through 5/23.

"Bill Hunter, the archetypal working class Australian of a multitude of movies including the quirky trio Muriel's Wedding, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Strictly Ballroom has died of cancer," reports the AP. He was 71. "The prolific star of Australian movie and television screens with a distinctively broad and gravelly accent and an authoritative no-nonsense style remained an actor in demand until the end. He recently narrated a two-part television documentary about the floods and cyclone that became Australia's most expensive natural disasters early this year…. Director Baz Luhrmann described Hunter in a statement last week as 'the go-to iconic actor to synthesize quintessential Australian-ness.'"

"Of all his work, Hunter's portrayal of Major Barton in Peter Weir's classic 1981 war epic Gallipoli is widely regarded as his finest," write Jim Schembri and Karl Quinn for the Sydney Morning Herald. "Charged with playing a man who must send young Australian troops over the top to certain doom, Hunter brought such power to the character it emotionally sideswiped David Williamson, the film's screenwriter. 'Bill was the perfect actor in the world for that performance,' Williamson said. 'No one could have done it like Bill. You could believe him listening to the opera the night before the slaughter. When he put the whistle to his lips, it's probably the most powerful moment in the film.'"

The Herald Sun quotes Prime Minister Julia Gillard: "Mr Hunter played a key role as an acclaimed actor in helping to define Australian culture over five decades on screen and on stage. He told us Australian stories in an Australian voice at a time when we were debating and developing our sense of national identity."

"The man was a riot to be around — didn't care what anyway thought of him, nor did he even attempt to behave in, well, whatever way an actor is supposed to behave off-screen." Clint Morris tells a few stories at Moviehole.

Update, 5/23: "For many Australians, the screen persona of the character actor Bill Hunter, who has died of cancer aged 71, was the archetypal 'ocker,' an uncultivated Australian working man who enjoys beer, 'barbies,' Aussie rules football and V8 supercars." Ronald Bergan for the Guardian: "According to Phillip Noyce, who directed the oft-bearded actor in three movies and a TV miniseries: 'Bill was the absolute essence of the Anglo-Irish Australian male of the 20th century. Seemingly gruff and impenetrable, he could convey the tenderness beneath the exterior.'"

 

DONALD KRIM, 1945 - 2011


"On Saturday, news reached Cannes that Donald Krim, who took over [Kino International] in 1977, had died a year after receiving a cancer diagnosis," writes Manohla Dargis for the New York Times. "Over the more than three decades that he ran Kino, the widely liked Mr Krim, a gentleman in a business filled with braggarts, enriched American lives by bringing some of the world's greatest filmmakers — including Wong Kar-wai, Michael Haneke, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Shohei Imamura — into American theaters and homes (through an excellent DVD catalog). Mr Krim enriched our lives and expanded our vision."

"In my early years working in the New York film world, Don Krim was one of the good guys," writes Anne Thompson.

"Throughout his long career, he handpicked excellent world cinema titles as well as the best of the American independents, creating one of the most enviable libraries around," writes Filmmaker's Scott Macaulay. "Remarkably, Krim's taste remained on the cutting edge even in his later years — witness last year's release of the extraordinary Dogtooth. He will be missed."

Update, 5/23: "Mr Krim was also known for his commitment to silent films and other classics, which he re-released both theatrically and through Kino on Video, a home video subsidiary he initiated in 1987." Dave Kehr in the New York Times: "The company issued crucial collections of the work of Buster Keaton, Douglas Fairbanks, DW Griffth and many other giants of American silent film, as well as newly restored versions of many German silent films, including The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and The Last Laugh. Kino issued Fritz Lang's 1927 Metropolis in a major new restoration in 2002, and then reissued it theatrically and on video in 2010, after 25 minutes of long-missing footage were found and restored. Martin Koerber, who supervised the restoration of Metropolis for the German Cinematheque, wrote in an e-mail, 'Lately Don sparked our interest in making a new negative of the restored Potemkin with Edmund Meisel's music, which we might had never done had he not believed in the possibility to distribute it.' Thanks to Mr Krim, both Metropolis and Potemkin are now among the handful of silent films available on Blu-ray."

 

BRUCE RICKER, 1942 - 2011


"Bruce Ricker — a Cambridge-based director and producer of documentaries whose best-known film, The Last of the Blue Devils (1979), is a jazz classic — died of pneumonia Friday in Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge," reports Mark Feeney in the Boston Globe. He was 68. "'Bruce Ricker had an extensive knowledge and love of jazz music and the Great American Songbook, which he championed so well in the many documentaries he produced throughout his career,' Tony Bennett said in a statement. Bennett was the subject of Mr Ricker's 2007 documentary, Tony Bennett: The Music Never Ends. Like most of Mr Ricker's films, it was made in collaboration with Clint Eastwood, who often served as executive producer."

Feeney follows up with a wonderful appreciation, in which he writes that Ricker "was like a Saul Bellow character. Not outsized and overwhelming, like a Herzog or Henderson or Humboldt, but one of those smaller, unswervingly colorful supporting players who bump around the edges of Bellow's books, sometimes a bedeviling presence, more often benignant. Single-minded and vigorous, they manage to combine street smarts with the immaculate innocence only the truly idealistic possess. Put another way, they're guys who know how to play the angles while themselves remaining resolutely non-Euclidean."

Jonathan Rosenbaum: "He wasn't only a man who distributed jazz documentaries and made a few of his own, all of them terrific (including a wonderful tribute to Brubeck, In His Own Sweet Way, which made my ten-best list last year), and who also played what I'm sure was incalculable role in advising Clint Eastwood in his multiple jazz ventures. He was also a lawyer, the literary executor of Seymour Krim, and an amazing human being. I already miss him, and cherish my memories of him."

 

IN OTHER NEWS


"Now an avuncular 82, Alejandro Jodorowsky still has the air of a sly wizard about him," writes Steve Dollar, introducing his interview at GreenCine Daily. "This, after all, is the guy who once claimed: 'Most directors make films with their eyes. I make films with my cojones.' Not even age can wither that kind of spirit, as the Chilean émigré remains just as provocative in thought now as when he played the macho shaman in his classic cult movies El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973), wildly influential hippie-era mindfucks that spun the tripped-out counterculture on its pointy little head." Now both films are out in Blu-ray editions, "and The Holy Mountain has a six-week run at MoMA's PS1 in Long Island City, where it will be screened three times a day in a theatrical gallery setting." Today through June 30.

Tonight, Keith Uhlich and Aaron Cutler present Kiarostami Kids: ABC Africa and shorts at UnionDocs in Brooklyn.

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