Let's face it, August was a crappy month.
ISIS, Putin and the conflict in the Ukraine, the police shootings here in the US, and the loss of several Hollywood legends. All of these things were bad.
Robin William's death by suicide in early August shocked everyone--especially since he was such a terrific comedian and actor; the man's manic energy left all in stitches, and yet behind the humor were personal demons that he was always fighting. Lauren Bacall was not just the wife of the legendary Humphrey Bogart--she was an excellent actor in her own right, moving from film to Broadway with ease and even lending her voice to Howl's Moving Castle. Sir Richard Attenborough was known for his role as John Hammond in the first two Jurassic Park films, but he was also an Oscar-winning director (Gandhi), narrator, and actor.
Two other notable passings were makeup legend Dick Smith and actor James Shigeta. Smith was called the godfather of modern makeup effects, and that's certainly on the mark--he was the bridge between the makeup effects of the past and makeup effects involving use of new materials and animatronics. His specialty was making an actor old--look at Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man, Marlon Brando in The Godfather, David Bowie in The Hunger, and F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus. Of course, there were the other effects he created--the possessed Regan in The Exorcist, the gruesome transformations in Altered States, and the terrifying spirits of Ghost Story--Smith was a true artisan. Not only that, he mentored others (like Rick Baker) and shared his knowledge with others and even taught courses on makeup effects. He lived a long and productive life--92 is a great run--but he will be missed.
James Shigeta broke a major barrier in the 1950s when he became one of the first Asian-American actors to play leading roles in Hollywood. Considering the state of America at the time, this was important--and Shigeta did not play stereotypes, he played people. Many today know him as the ill-fated boss of the Nakatomi Tower who's aced by Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber in Die Hard, but Shigeta was more than that. Although born in Hawaii, he studied acting in Japan and became popular over there.
I did see Guardians of the Galaxy. I loved it. It's jockying with Edge of Tomorrow for the best movie of the summer. It isn't perfect--there are flaws in the film--but overall, the good stuff far, far outweighed the bad. It was funny, exciting, an excellent space-opera romp. I was not very familiar with the original comics (although I did know of Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon), but I tip my hat to writer/director James Gunn for pulling off one hell of a gamble.
Plus, it's also a colorful science fiction adventure--some of the images from the film reminded me of the covers of science fiction novels from the 1970s-early 1980s. Others have pointed out the same thing (and better than me, I might add):
Not everyone will like the film, and that's fine with me.
Yep, I was gone for quite a stretch. No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth (is that even possible? Hmmmmm......), but what did happen was my own damned fault. At the start of August, I simply shut down. I just could not get anything going. No one is to blame but me--as it turns out, I had neglected my own health, both physical and mental. Even when I went away to visit relatives I still brought work with me, but I should have given myself distance from my work, to take a break once in a while. Also, dealing with a failing computer and finally getting a new one which I'm currently putting through its paces.
I hope it doesn't happen again any time soon, but thankfully with a new machine and just pacing myself, I should be back to normal. I hope, anyway. There's a few requests and commissions I need to get through--it's about time I put them to bed.