RIP Jonathan Demme (1944-2017) - The acclaimed Oscar winning director of the masterful classic The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Philadelphia (1993) died today. Director, writer, producer and actor, Demme was one of the most versatile filmmakers and professionals in the industry, and that also applies for the many films and themes he worked with which includes light comedies as with Melvin and Howard (1980); dark comedies (Something Wild (1986) and Married to the Mob (1988)), dramas like Beloved (1998); remakes of classics - The Truth About Charlie (2002) and The Manchurian Candidate (2004); extensive passages to musical genre, from New Order and UB40 clips to Talking Heads mega-documentary Stop Making Sense (1984) and more recently Neil Young - Heart of Gold (2006) and Ricki and the Flash (2015); and several kinds of documentaries, from Spalding Gray’s monologues in Swimming to Cambodia (1987) and Demme’s own cousin in Cousin Bobby (1992) to cover figures from politics like Jean Dominique and Jimmy Carter. Very few directors in recent years were responsible for developing a unique style that captured our attention and made us see films in a different way. Interspersed shots between hand held and stead camera (courtesy of regular director of photography Tak Fujimoto) and those close-ups with characters looking directly into the camera were part of his trademark; along with his great team of supporting actors who frequently appeared in his movies: Charles Napier, Obba Babatundé, Tracey Walter, Paul Lazar, Jason Robards, Kenneth Utt (producer of his films) and Roger Corman, with whom Demme made his first films.
Despite an extensive resume which also includes TV series direction and some acting roles, Demme highest peak in the 1990′s is what most audiences will remember: for presenting Hannibal Lecter in presence, style and reverence in The Silence of the Lambs; and with Philadelphia, breaking taboos as the first AIDS mainstream film in a time where the topic was usually avoided. Other credits include Handle with Care (1977),
(1979), Swing Shift (1984), Rachel Getting Married (2009) and A Master Builder (2012).
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