News broke this morning that 68-year-old film director Tony Scott was found dead, apparently by his own hand. Like Terry Gilliam and even Wes Anderson, Scott found and developed his own unique style of cinema storytelling over a long and varied career. The younger brother of Alien and Blade Runner icon Ridley Scott, Tony took a more commercial path after his first film The Hunger, with David Bowie, flopped and Michael Bay came calling after seeing a particularly flashy commercial—featuring a fighter jet!—Scott had produced.
In recent years, his big budget action films like Unstoppable and The Taking of Pelham 123 had diminishing returns, though Scott did help produce his brother's big summer hit Prometheus as well as the critically-acclaimed TV series The Good Wife and indie comedy Cyrus—a crossover hit for New Orleans-born filmmakers Jay and Mark Duplass.
Though best known for directing the quotable Tom Cruise pop culture classic Top Gun for Bay, bringing Quentin Tarantino's first script to the screen with the caterwauling gangster chase True Romance and summer crowd-pleasers like Beverly Hills Cop II, Crimson Tide and Days of Thunder, Scott also carved out time for less commercial, more experimental fare. For a guy with his resume, he has a surprising number of films that have fallen far below the radar.
Among Scott's seemingly forgotten gems are Robert De Niro's 1996 baseball stalker drama The Fan and 2001's China-set Spy Game, an overlooked CIA thriller staring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.
Based on the true story of Domino Harvey, an English model and DJ who later became a gun-toting bounty hunter in Los Angeles, 2005's Domino finds Scott's signature, fast-cut, surrealist hand-held style at a feverish zenith. Of course, it's edited like a schlocky music video—Scott's cinema language was always more playful patois than King's English—parts of it are flawed or even flat-out ridiculous, but it is not without considerable charms.
Boasting the best role of Keira Knightley's career—she actually stretches into dangerous territory here—Mickey Rourke resplendent in his own gruff-as-nails wheelhouse and choice performances by a series of leave-you-wanting-more supporting actors like Jacqueline Bisset, Delroy Lindo and Christopher Walken, Scott turns what could have felt like a direct-to-DVD cash-in into a dark pop confection.
Though his films were never considered highbrow, and his style was not to everyone's taste, Scott will be missed for his bold vision, keen sense of action and suspense and the memorable, all-in performances he was able to pull from some of today's biggest stars.
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Better Block BR
On Saturday the two blocks between Bedford and Beverly drives on April 13, 2013, residents will get to see a model of what Government Street could look like if we push local and state officials to update the roadway to a safer, more "complete street" model.