Monday, July 30, 2007

R.I.P. Ingmar Bergman and Sherman Torgan

From CNN:

Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, an iconoclastic filmmaker widely regarded as one of the great masters of modern cinema, died Monday, the president of his foundation said. He was 89.

"It's an unbelievable loss for Sweden, but even more so internationally," Astrid Soderbergh Widding, president of The Ingmar Bergman Foundation, which administers the directors' archives, told The Associated Press.

For more info, we already have a Mahalo page up.

Also, everyone should read this New York Times piece featuring some of Woody Allen's writings about Bergman.

It feels kind of crass and unnecessary to discuss the guy's films just because he died, and I don't really have anything grand and insightful to say about his work that you won't read in that Woody Allen bit or other obituaries. Really, it's difficult to talk about Bergman dying because so many of his films discuss the nature and practice of doing that very thing. It was like he'd spent decades preparing us for this inevitability. Woody quotes Bergman's memoirs:

‘’I suffered from several indefinable illnesses and could never really decide whether I wanted to live at all.'’

He was 89, after all. These things happen. Still, I think the case can be made for Bergman as one of the reigning geniuses of the cinema, one of the most natural and well-rounded filmmakers of all time.

Sherman Torgan, owner and manager of LA's New Beverly Cinema revival house, was regrettably taken a bit sooner: he died earlier this month at the age of 63. I've clocked a lot of hours at the New Bev over this past decade. (They show awesome double features for five dollars!) I knew Sherman by sight, but not by name, and to be honest, I'd always found him a bit unapproachable and gruff.

But he did a spectacular job running that place, which routinely boasted double-bills of amazing films. It's the kind of work that's thankless unless you have a true love for movies. And not just watching movies, but watching them in a theater, with an audience, they way they were always meant to be seen. You have to respect that kind of devotion to a dying art form.

As a hardcore movie nerd, I owe Sherman a great deal. The New Bev hosted the monthy "Grindhouse" night that introduced me to a whole world of underground movies I'd never have seen otherwise. I watched Pasolini's Salo at the New Beverly, watching disgusted patrons head for the aisles in droves during the rightfully-infamous banquet sequence. One troubled night, when I was living in Hollywood, I went alone and watched Platoon and Wall Street. You know, to ease my nerves. Most of us LA movie fans probably didn't know Sherman's name, unless I'm just particularly aloof and insensitive, but we'll all miss him...

Oh, yeah, and also dead today were Tom Snyder and some football coach guy. The end.

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