It is always sad that at the end of every year we not only look back with fondness of the films, music and current developments, but also the notable names that have departed through the year.
As we say our bittersweet goodbyes to the year 2013, we also want to say our thanks to those whom have gone, both local and abroad, who we would surely sorely miss as we enter into 2014.
The highly controversial Japanese director Nagisa Oshima breathed his last at a hospital in Tokyo on 15 January 2013 after being ill since a stroke in 1996.
Oshima got into filmmaking while being an active radical in politics. This would help to his inform his unconventional methods of film making that would defy structure and the purpose of films during a post-war Japan. The director would forever be remembered for his sexually charged films such as “Realms of the Senses” in 1976 and “Empire”, which won him the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1978, among a slew of other films that challenge the conventions of sexuality being shown on film and anti-propaganda commentaries against his home country.
Often cited as the founder of the Japanese New Wave, it was a title that Oshima had personally detested, but had a major influence on future generations of filmmakers, both in Japan and outside of the country.
World renown film critic Roger Ebert died on 4 April after battling thyroid cancer for 11 years which also took away his jaw. Ebert started out as a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967, and would go on to co-host the “At The Movies with Gene Siskel and Robert Ebert” show with fellow film critic Gene Siskel, that would trademark the phrase of two thumbs up in movies reviews.
Even after having his jaw removed due to cancer, Ebert would continue to write extensively about films by embracing new technologies until his death. Few film critics today could say that they have never been inspired by Ebert and they mourn for a voice that have truly been lost.
Visual effects master (when the term didn’t refer to anything digital) Ray Harryhausen’s death was announced on his Facebook and Twitter on 7 May at the age 92. Harryhausen started getting into stop-motion animation after watching “King Kong” in 1933 and would make his first credited effects in “It Came From Beneath the Sea” in 1955. He would eventually go on to create landmarks in visual animations with his creations in “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad”, “Jason and the Argonauts” and his masterpiece in “Clash of the Titans”, after which he retired.
Harryhausen’s works were a major influence to the next generation of filmmakers that would follow him such as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and George Lucas. Lucas himself had said that if it were not for Harryhausen, there wouldn’t have been “Star Wars”.
Malaysian comedy actor S. Shamsuddin passed away on 4 June at his residence in Singapore. The 84-year-old actor got his first acting gig by chance when he visited a set in 1948, and got his break when he appeared beside P. Ramlee in “Aloha” in 1950.
Since then, Shamsuddin would be well known throughout the 1950s for his staple appearance beside the late P. Ramlee in “Hang Tuah” and “Panggilan Pulau”, but his most memorable role would be as one of the trio in the “Bujang Lapok” series.
Shamsuddin would continue acting even after the studio where he worked for, Studio Malay Productions, was closed in 1967, with film “Eee…Hantu!!!” by Majed Salleh being his last appearance.
Just less than a week after S. Shamsuddin’s passing, Malaysian actress Latifah Omar was due to undergo surgery for her colon cancer at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre on 9 June, but she didn’t make it to the operating theatre when she passed away earlier that day.
Best known for her mole and playing as the challenged married woman (though she was only 17 and unmarried at the time), the 74-year-old actress became popular from the 1950s to the 1970s and is famed for her appearance beside actor Nordin Ahmad. Among her memorable roles are in “Raden Mas”, “Hang Jebat”, “Bawang Merah Bawang Putih” and “Panggilan Pulau” (also starring the late P. Ramlee and S. Shamsuddin).
James Gandolfini was found unconscious by his son in a hotel while they were on vacation in Italty on 19 June. He was later confirmed to have suffered from a heart attack and died at the age of 51.
Although Gandolfini’s most recognisable role to date could be in the television series “The Sopranos” as mobster Tony Soprano, Gandolfini has made several well-loved film appearances in “Get Shorty”, “Zero Dark Thirty”, “Where the Wild Things Are” and this year’s “Enough Said”.
Lau Kar Leung
Lau Kar Leung’s two-decade battle with lymphatic cancer ended at the Union Hospital in Hong Kong on 25 June. Lau started his stuntman career in the 1950s in the movies based on the life of master Wong Fei Hung, whom Lau is a fourth generation disciple. He would eventually used his martial arts skills to become an action choreographer for the Shaw Brothers Studio in the 1960s, and would become the first choreographer to transition into becoming a director.
Lau’s best known works as a director is “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin”, starring Gordon Liu, and “Drunken Master II’ with Jackie Chan. When not directing, Lau would continue being an action choreographer for films such as “Drunken Monkey” and his last work for Tsui Hark’s “Seven Swords”.
Corey Monteith was found dead in his hotel room at Vancouver on the afternoon of 13 July. The 31-year-old Monteith was confirmed to have died from a lethal mixture of drugs and alcohol in his system and has a history of substance abuse since he was a teenager.
Monteith would be better known for being Finn Hudson in “Glee”, but Monteith was on his way to being a name in the movies with appearances in “Monte Carlo”, “Sisters & Brothers”, and “Final Destination 3”. He was also due to appear in major lead roles in “All the Wrong Reasons” and “McCanick”.
Datin Umi Kalthum passed away peacefully in her sleep on the morning of 24 July when her daughter went to wake her for morning prayers. The 57 year old actress, whose real name is Patimah Bahudin, was known as a beauty when she first appeared in “Raden Mas” in 1959, and would be well known for being the devious counterpart in “Bawang Merah Bawang Putih”, starring beside Latifah Omar, who had passed on a month earlier.
Umi would star in films throughout the 1960s to the 1980s, such as “Dosa Wanita”, “Esok Masih Ada” and “Medan Jaya”. Her last appearance was in Eddie Pak’s “Syukur 21” in 2000.
It was a tragic afternoon on 30 November when the world learned that one of the men burned in the fires of the car wreck at a parkway in California was actor Paul Walker. Although reports stated that the 40 year old Walker had died upon impact, they had to identify him through his dental records as his body was burned beyond recognition.
Walker started out young as an actor, but wouldn’t find great success as an actor until his role in “The Fast & The Furious” alongside Vin Diesel in 2001, and was in the midst of filming the seventh installment of the series when the accident happened.
Other roles played by Walker were in “Pleasantville”, “Into the Blue”, “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Vehicle 19”. His last appearance would be in “Hours”.
Notably known as the lead of the band The Velvet Underground, musician Lou Reed had a solo career that spanned decades which included working with Metallica, Gorillaz, Metric and more.
Early this year Reed had undergone a liver transplant, but just a few months later in October, he had succumbed to liver disease at the age of 71.
Herald by everyone as a great leader who defended human rights, the death of Nelson Mandela struck close to the hearts of many. The first black President of South Africa died on 5 December at the age of 95-years-old due to a prolonged respiratory infection.
Having inspired many by his kindness and his resilience in spending over 27 years in prison due to being convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state, Mandela still returned to politics to lead the country, the only way he knew he could make a difference.
The 25-year-old British-American Bollywood actress took her life back in June by apparently hanging herself at her apartment in Mumbai. The actress who shot to fame with roles in big Hindi movies like “Ghajini” and “Housefull”, was on her way to stardom, but unfortunately in an emotional 6-page letter written by the actress which was released to the media by her mother after her death, Jiah explained her actions and revealed a recent abortion. She expressed her disappointment with her live-in boyfriend Suraj Pancholi, whom she indicated was emotionally abusive towards her.
It was Clancy’s 1984 novel “The Hunt For Red October” that brought him to fame. The novel introduced Clancy’s signature hero, CIA agent Jack Ryan, who went on to appear in several other Clancy novels.
The novel “The Hunt For Red October” was adapted into a live-action film featuring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin in 1990. In the sequel to “The Hunt For Red October”, “Patriot Games”, the role of Jack Ryan was essayed by Harrison Ford, who also went on to reprise his role in “Clear And Present Danger”. The sequel to “Clear And Present Danger” titled “The Sum Of All Fears”, saw Ben Affleck cast as Jack Ryan. The upcoming film “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is directed by “Thor” director Kenneth Branagh, and will feature Chris Pine as Jack Ryan.
Like Mandela, Margaret Thatcher too was one who made the history books for being the only woman who has held the Prime Minister’s post in the United Kingdom. The ‘Iron Lady’ passed away early this April at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke.
She was so put together as a woman of status and power, that even details of her funeral were agreed with her in advance during her final days.
While many may not know the actress herself, many had grown up watching “The Simpsons” and the character she voices; Bart Simpson’s elementary school teacher, Edna Krabappel for which she won an Emmy for back in 1992.
Having been diagnosed with breast cancer since 1985, most of “The Simpsons” crew was aware of her illness and had made plans to retire her character.