Movie Journal
J. Hoberman on movies and movie-related things

MOVIE JOURNAL: J. Hoberman on movies and movie-related things

Archive for the ‘Obituary’ Category

Mario Montez 1935-2013

Asked to name his favorite superstar, Jack Smith singled out the appealing madcap known as Mario Montez, explaining that “he [sic] immediately enlists the sympathy of the audience.”

Mario—who was born Rene Rivera in Puerto Rico in 1935 and died of a stroke last week at his Florida home—was an unclassifiable gender blur and underground luminary of the first order. A post office clerk “discovered” and given his stage name by Smith, he first graced the screen as a Spanish dancer in Smith’s “Flaming Creatures” (1963), billed as Dolores Flores and making a regal, giggling entrance that’s all the more impressive for its false start.

Although Mario would appear in subsequent films by Smith, including “Normal Love” (1964), in which he appeared as a mermaid, and “No President” (1968), as well as movies by Ron Rice, Bill Vehr, Piero Heliczer and José Rodríguez-Soltero, and various productions in the Theater of the Ridiculous, his best-known performances were in a half dozen or more Andy Warhol films, made during the Factory’s mid ‘60s Silver Age. Mario appeared in Warhol’s first sync-sound movie, “Harlot” (1965), wearing a platinum-blond wig while lasciviously peels and eats a bushel of bananas; he starred in “Screen Test #2” (1965), auditioning for the role of the gypsy girl Esmeralda in a remake of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

Read the full article here.

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Les Blank (1936-2013)

Les Blank, who died Sunday at age 77, was King of the Folkie Filmmakers, a professional Stranger in Paradise, the ramshackle poet laureate of a lost American gemeinschaft.

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Aleksei German (1938-2013)

The Cold War isn’t quite over I guess. Aleksei German’s obituary, published yesterday in the New York Times, identified him in the headline as “Director of Anti-Soviet Movies.” How about “Great Soviet Director” or “Audacious Russian Filmmaker” or “Controversial Director of Soviet Films”?

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Stephen Dwoskin (1939-2012)

Returning from holiday, I got word that the American avant-garde filmmaker Steve Dwoskin had died June 28 in London, his home for nearly five decades.

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Andrew Sarris (1928-2012)

Andrew SarrisAndrew Sarris, the most influential movie critic of his generation, died today at age 83. From 1960 through 1988, Sarris was a fixture at the Village Voice where, over the course of his hundreds of learned, yet colloquial, reviews, he — more than any other individual — educated American moviegoers on the history of the medium.

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Amos Vogel, 1921-2012

A heroic cinephile and major figure in the creation of America’s post-World War II film culture, Amos Vogel died yesterday in his adopted hometown New York. Cinema 16, the film society that Vogel, a refugee from Hitler’s Europe, established with his wife Marcia in 1947 was, throughout the 1950s, New York’s preeminent venue for avant-garde, independent, and “difficult” foreign films. (“Cinema 16,” Scott MacDonald’s 2002 anthology of Vogel’s correspondence and Cinema 16’s film notes, is an evocative history of the period.) Vogel went on to co-found the New York Film Festival in 1962; in 1970, he curated an influential group of movies distributed by Grove Press; his 1974 book “Film as a Subversive Art” continues to be an invaluable resource for film students and programmers alike. Vogel taught widely, founded the film program at the University of Pennsylvania, worked with numerous film festivals, and continued to write for Film Comment.

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