There is no duty we so much underrate as... being happy. -Robert Louis Stevenson
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Trying to not look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet seeing her, like the sun, without even looking.
Re: The RIP Celebrities Thread
Bill Paxton was seemingly always engrossing in every film and television role (not that I have seen all of them; never seen an episode of Big Love, for instance) and his subtlety as one of the finer character actors of his generation could easily be missed by the broad strokes he provided which rested above all of the depth of his performances.
He almost steals Aliens from a terrific ensemble and the leading Sigourney Weaver who was at the top of her game because his Private Hudson demands to be at the center of attention. The character lives on a knife's edge metaphorically speaking (James Cameron provides such exquisite character detail in the exchanges between Lance Henriksen's Bishop and Hudson as depicted in
's signature). When things are clearly going poorly, many actors would have rendered Hudson unsympathetic but Paxton's interpretation, aided by Cameron, was markedly different. He just has to lead the veritable parade, whichever way it is going; only by being reined in and refocused can he "fall back in line" so to speak. He was also blessed by having some of the more memorable one-liners in the entire Alien franchise.
Branching outward and accepting a role which was ostensibly more straightforward but also one of the most delicious of Paxton's career was his turn in Kathryn Bigelow's cult classic Near Dark.
Paxton's gift at displaying all-too-human weakness was repeatedly one of the integral highlights of films starring him as he became at least halfway leading man in the 1990s. One of the best, most underrated Hollywood crime dramas of that decade is Carl Franklin's achingly humane One False Move. This was a deeply troubled and profoundly flawed man Paxton was portraying, and the viewer is informed by this devastating melancholy at the performance's heart that his Arkansas police chief Dale "Hurricane" Dixon feels perpetually trapped and letdown by what life had to offer him. This is one of those films that lodges itself into the labyrinthine warren of one's mind due to the sublimely realized verisimilitude of the entire project, stemming from a screenplay co-written by the wonderful Billy Bob Thornton, but it is Paxton's searing turn which continues to haunt.
And there is the melodramatically charged, deathly ashen A Simple Plan, another towering crime drama from the 1990s, given moralistic weight by Sam Raimi first and foremost but also by the entire cast and crew, and the tip of the spear is yet again Paxton. His character is once again arguably ensnared by the vicissitudes of fate but the critically resonant touchstone is in how he undeniably makes one choice after another choice which leads to a sort of unraveling of the soul. This was another indelibly flawed personage played by Paxton, but the actor forces the viewer to understand and even at turns sympathize with him through sheer force of will as agent of empathy. His Hank is outwardly the most respectable of the three men at the film's dark center but he is also the most adept at compartmentalizing when he deems it necessary to do so. Several moments of quiet, of mere facial expression on Paxton's part, linger, including a moment of self-reflection after being verbally categorized as "too respectable" to follow through with a threat of violence. Pangs of ruefulness are sketched upon Paxton's countenance in what Robert Blake may have called fearful symmetry.
There is the boyishness and the goofiness of Paxton that is readily rediscovered in the film
quotes, Tombstone, and Paxton's turns in True Lies and his driven protagonist in Twister. His sensitivity and almost indecipherable charisma were on display in equal measure in Titanic, as he supports a storytelling device that could easily have sunk to the bottom as quickly as the ship had not such an effortless performance rested at its center; as well as in Apollo 13. In the latter film, Paxton plays what most would consider by far the least appealing astronaut character, a man who admittedly becomes terribly sick and constantly shivers in space. So many dull leading man types would have fallen flat in the unpalatable role, and so many haughty thespians would have hammed it up; Paxton was simply present and engaging, as always.
Yet for all of the brilliance and humanity of so many of his performances, he oscillated with almost discomfiting ease toward the nearly downright villainous, as in Near Dark and the more recent Nightcrawler. Yet even his most unforgivable characters were comprised of recognizable emotion and ambition. It was as though he peppered those parts with pieces from Chet Donnelly in Weird Science, one of his most demanding early parts sandwiched between his bit part in The Terminator and his breakout in Aliens. They were all at times loathsome but they all felt prodded toward that dismalness, even if only by themselves. There was always an understated romanticism to his wicked characters as though they were in their own movie which had them cast as the hero.
There is also this...
He gave a fine performance as Frank James in one of the most sympathetic tellings of the James Gang saga, Frank & Jesse, overshadowing the rest of the film without even trying to, seemingly.
His no-nonsense lieutenant from Kentucky has stayed with me more than just about all of the supposedly highly pertinent plot points in the Tom Cruise-starring Edge of Tomorrow (an interesting science-fiction action film that I should probably revisit). And thanks to LC's recommendation I was able to enjoy Paxton's grizzled, vaguely neurotic turn as Randall McCoy in the History Channel miniseries, Hatfields & McCoys. Another character doomed to become ensnared in a trap of sorts, decades-spanning and to a large extent of his own making, but he remained sympathetic while Kevin Costner's Hatfield patriarch was utterly, remorselessly cold.
Paxton's leading man days seemed to peak in 2000 with his performances in the enjoyable World War II submarine thriller U-571 alongside Matthew McConaughey and Harvey Keitel (!) and Martin Campbell's Vertical Limit.
That abdication seemed to be by design by Paxton, however, who went on to direct the fantastic psychological horror film, Frailty, costarring once again with McConaughey--both are mesmerizing in their own specific ways--and this time directing. His directorial chops were considerable as the blocking of the film stood out right away upon seeing it. The shocker ending works primarily because it comes from outside of Hollywood's typical wheelhouse with this sort of story. I have not seen Paxton's directorial follow-up The Greatest Game Ever Played but now I need to. Have heard good things.
On "Larry King Live" a few years ago Paxton confessed that somewhere around the year 2000 he wanted to move on from acting and become a director. He said that he thought he was a far better filmmaker than an actor, telling King that this trait was why he found himself most comfortable inhabiting roles defined by leadership. Otherwise, Paxton said through gritted teeth, he had to force himself to act. A most fascinating revelation and it makes one wish he had been given many more opportunities to direct.
Have One False Move on now in the background. Such a wonderful picture. Perhaps the single most representative moment of Paxton's acting career is a moment involving him and his character's son.
Fun interview to watch:
I look forward to catching up with Mean Dreams, another small town corrupt cop role for Paxton, as well as The Circle, which comes out in a couple of months and sees Tom Hanks play a creepy Silicon Valley guru, haha.
Going to have to watch Frailty yet again soon. Such an apropos directorial debut--which also has Paxton giving yet another painful, nuanced, crazy performance--for human frailty is what Mr. Paxton explored through his acting.
Miriam Colon, iconic U.S. Latina movie, theater actress, dies at 80
Miriam Colon, a pioneering actress in U.S. Latino New York theater who starred in films alongside Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, died Friday.
Her husband, Fred Valle, told The Associated Press that Colon died early Friday in a New York hospital because of complications from a pulmonary infection. She was 80 years old.
Colon — whose image appeared on posters throughout the American Southwest for her role in the 2013 movie adaptation of quintessential Chicano novel "Bless Me, Ultima" — had been active as late as 2015 with a cameo appearance on the AMC-TV series "Better Call Saul."
Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Colon participated in the theater during her school years and was allowed to audit classes in the drama department at the University of Puerto Rico before she graduated from high school
She came to Los Angeles in the 1950s to study at the Actors Studio and earned small roles in various television shows and films.
In 1967, she founded the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in New York, where she helped cultivate young Latino actors and writers and staged work that would later be read in Latino Studies classes across the Americas.
During her career, she appeared in more than 90 films and more than 250 television episodes on programs including "Bronco," ''Bonanza" and "Law & Order." But Colon is widely known as the Cuban-American mother of Tony Montana, played by Al Pacino, in the 1983 movie "Scarface." Her voice later appeared in underground hip hop songs as her character chided Pacino for his role in the drug trade.
Colon would go on to star as Tejana restaurateur Mercedes Cruz in the 1996 film "Lone Star." In that film, she played a former immigrant living in the country illegally who lived near the Rio Grande and was quick to call federal immigration authorities on immigrants crossing the border.
Colon earned wide acclaim for her role as the New Mexico Hispanic healer Ultima in the movie "Bless Me, Ultima" based on the novel by Rudolfo Anaya. Her character mentored a young boy and taught him about traditional methods of healing and the New Mexico desert.
Posters advertising the popular movie with Colon's image were seen throughout New Mexico. When the movie finally was screened in Albuquerque, audiences were heard crying in reaction to one of the film's final scenes as the film's young boy asked Colon, "Bless me, Ultima."
"That was her most beautiful role in my opinion," Valle said. "I saw the movie three times. She was la gran madre in the film."
In 2015, President Barack Obama presented the National Medal of Art to Colon for her work as an actress and theater founder. It was an honor Colon cherished, Valle said.
"We were married more than 40 years," Valle said. "I was so proud of everything she accomplished."
Paxton underwent surgery to replace a heart valve and correct an aortic aneurysm when complications arose.
According to the death certificate, Paxton had surgery on Feb. 14 and died 11 days later on the 25th after suffering a stroke. He was 61.
From the way it was announced the day of, I assumed he died relatively soon after surgery. On Marc Maron's WTF podcast, Bill said he had rheumatic fever as a child and it damaged his heart so I'm assuming that's the reason for the valve replacement.