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jakeem

Director Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

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The Czech-born filmmaker Miloš Forman -- who directed the Best Picture winners "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) and "Amadeus" (1984) -- died Friday at the age of 86. He had lived in the United States since his departure from the then-Eastern European nation of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

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Forman won Best Director Oscars for "Cuckoo's Nest" and "Amadeus." The 1975 film -- based on Ken Kesey's 1962 novel about individualism vs. authority in a psychiatric hospital  -- was the second of three movies to win the five major Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher) and a screenwriting category (Bo Goldman & Lawrence Hauben for Best Adapted Screenplay). The two other films that accomplished the feat were "It Happened One Night" (1934) and "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991).

"Amadeus," based on the 1981 Tony Award-winning stage play by Peter Shaffer, won eight Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (F. Murray Abraham), Best Adapted Screenplay (Shaffer), Best Art Direction (Patrizia von Brandenstein, art direction; Karel Černý, set decoration), Best Costume Design (Theodor Pištěk), Best Makeup (Dick Smith and Paul LeBlanc) and Best Sound (Mark Berger, Tom Scott, Todd Boekelheide and Christopher Newman).

The fictionalized historical drama recounted the 18th-century rivalry between Antonio Salieri (Abraham) and the musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (portrayed by Best Actor nominee Tom Hulce). Salieri, the Viennese court composer to The Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, despised Mozart but also recognized his brilliance.

In 1998, the American Film Institute ranked "Cuckoo's Nest" at No. 20 and "Amadeus" at No. 53 on its list of the greatest movies of all time. When AFI updated the list in 2007, the former dropped to No. 33, while the latter was not included.  

It's been said that Forman never directed the same type of film twice. Among his other productions: "Taking Off" (1971, which won the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival), "Hair" (1979), "Ragtime" (1981, which received eight Academy Award nominations), "Valmont" (1989), "The People vs. Larry Flynt" (1996, which earned Forman a third Oscar nod for Best Director), "Man on the Moon" (1999) and "Goya's Ghosts" (2006).

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Born Jan Tomáš Forman near Prague on February 18, 1932, he grew up during the turmoil of World War II and the occupation of Nazi forces. His father, a Jewish professor, and his Protestant mother perished in concentration camps.

The end of the war brought Communist rule to Czechoslovakia. Forman became interested in filmmaking and attended the Prague Film Institute. He became a part of cinema's Czech New Wave, which flourished in the mid-1960s during a liberal period in the Iron Curtain country. His 1965 black-and-white film "Loves of a Blonde" won acclaim in the West and received a 1966 Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

He also received plaudits for his first color feature, "The Fireman's Ball." The 1967 comedy also received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

Forman's exile from Czechoslovakia occurred after Warsaw Pact nations invaded the country in a 1968 crackdown. He was in Paris at the time and elected not to return home. He moved to New York City and began the American phase of his film career.

He returned to his native country in 1983 to film "Amadeus."

Very sad to hear that the great director Miloš Forman has passed away. He had a tremendous filmography that documented the rebel heart and human spirit. I have seen 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' enough times to be able to silently mouth along with the movie. RIP.

Milos Forman was our friend and our teacher. He was a master filmmaker - no one better at capturing small unrepeatable moments of human behavior. We made two movies together and every day spent with him was a unique adventure. Milos loved life. I will miss his laughter.

qt3lA-3u_bigger.jpgDavid Poland @DavidPoland

Milos Forman was a true master. No greater biopic or musical experience on film than Amadeus. Cuckoo’s Nest, Ragtime and the wildly underrated Valmont. Man on the Moon & Larry Flynt. Even Hair, still with book issues, offered moments of genius. Rest In Peace, sir.

7skP51mK_bigger.jpgMark HarrisVerified account @MarkHarrisNYC

Very sad to see that the great Miloš Forman has died at 86. A brilliant director who made only about a dozen feature films, every one of which is worth revisiting. Hair, Amadeus, Cuckoo's Nest--an indelible legacy.

#RIP the masterful Milos Forman; Michael Douglas said the essence of 'Cuckoo’s Nest' was that "he brought out the foibles and the vulnerabilities and the humor within [the characters] without laughing at them."

Rest In Peace, Milos Forman. The rare director who truly understood freedom.

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Director Miloš Forman collaborated with the renowned dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp in three of his films. In addition to her contributions to "Amadeus," she choreographed the filmmaker's screen adaptation of the 1960s counterculture musical "Hair."

Tharp also choreographed the dance scenes in the 1981 film "Ragtime," which was based on the best-selling 1975 historical novel by E.L. Doctorow (pictured below are Elizabeth McGovern and Donald O'Connor). The picture featured early screen appearances by McGovern, Mandy Pantinkin, Mary Steenburgen, Jeff Daniels, Samuel L. Jackson, Debbie Allen and Howard E. Rollins, Jr. It also provided the final film roles for James Cagney and Pat O'Brien.

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I also enjoyed Forman's occasional acting roles, such as family friend Dmitri in 1986's Heartburn with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson, or as Father Havel in 2000's Keeping the Faith, with Edward Norton.

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May he RIP.

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, in my view, was his crowning achievement. Also appreciate his bit parts in other films.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, jakeem said:

Director Miloš Forman collaborated with the renowned dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp in three of his films. In addition to her contributions to "Amadeus," she choreographed the filmmaker's screen adaptation of the 1960s counterculture musical "Hair."

 

When people quote Hair, pretty much the ONLY scene anybody ever shows is the Aquarius opening.  There's a reason why it seems to be the single only four minutes anyone remembers from the movie, apart from maybe the title number.

That may be because Forman's directorial career was so in love with praising the Independent Troublemaker--like Mozart, Larry Flynt and Randall McMurphy--when the Hair hippies stop singing and go into the musical's book dialogue, Forman deliberately goes out of his way to show our characters, and arguably all of the 60's Hippie movement, as just a band of antisocially parasitizing, well, jerks, who knew how to spin trendy-sounding arguments for their own indulgent socially-relevant licenses to **** society off.  Forman keeps cutting away from the musical numbers to show us poor suit-and-tie Establishment dweebs (or horses) happy and amused by the sudden public bursts of free-spirited individuality, but as a whole, Joe Friday couldn't have done a more effective historical deconstruction of the Movement's hollow, hypocritically over-concocted image.  If there are any of the characters you like in this scene, Forman will make double-sure you loathe and despise them by the last reel.  (Just out of curiosity, what were the "Book issues" that David Poland tweeted about?)

As for Amadeus, looks sadly like we'll never get that un-ruined Theatrical Cut on Blu-ray, without Forman to stand up for it. :(  (He certainly threw enough restoration-issue tantrums when Cuckoo's Nest was shown on TV with commercials and without widescreen.)  Screenwriter Peter Schaffer wanted Salieri's motive to be about Catholic sex-guilt, and wrote Elizabeth Berridge's nude scene in, but Forman wisely knew to keep it all about the music, and its giggling shock-the-system imp of an artist.

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5 hours ago, EricJ said:

When people quote Hair, pretty much the ONLY scene anybody ever shows is the Aquarius opening.  There's a reason why it seems to be the single only four minutes anyone remembers from the movie, apart from maybe the title number.

The final four minutes or so features some pretty powerful stuff. Berger (Treat Williams) -- posing as the new Army recruit Claude Hooper Bukowski (John Savage) -- gets shipped off to Vietnam by mistake.

From 2003 to 2006, Williams became a favorite TV dad in The WB's drama series "Everwood." Never realized how talented he was in the musical sense until I saw "Hair."

My dear Milos. You taught me everything. My gratitude to you is immeasurable. My love for you profound. Cinema has lost a giant. RIP

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Forman was clearly one of the all-time greats. I've only seen five of his films: his two Oscar-winners, plus HairValmont and Man on the Moon. I've always meant to watch more. Hope TCM will do a tribute.

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9 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

Forman was clearly one of the all-time greats. I've only seen five of his films: his two Oscar-winners, plus HairValmont and Man on the Moon. I've always meant to watch more. Hope TCM will do a tribute.

I'd recommend The People vs Larry FlyntRagtime has its moments, and I'd recommend to classic movie fans just for the cast. Of his pre-US movies, I've seen The Loves of a Blonde and The Firemen's Ball, and liked them both.

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20 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

Forman was clearly one of the all-time greats. I've only seen five of his films: his two Oscar-winners, plus HairValmont and Man on the Moon. I've always meant to watch more. Hope TCM will do a tribute.

I definitely recommend his early Czech films Black Peter, Loves of a Blonde and Fireman's Ball. At 6:30 in this video Zizek reviews a couple of them and explains important themes and ideas you can expect from these anti-authoritarian comedies.

 

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On 4/15/2018 at 11:48 AM, LawrenceA said:

I'd recommend The People vs Larry FlyntRagtime has its moments, and I'd recommend to classic movie fans just for the cast. Of his pre-US movies, I've seen The Loves of a Blonde and The Firemen's Ball, and liked them both.

Ragtime is good if you've read the novel and wondered how it could ever be adapted into a narrative movie (and for being Randy Newman's first big "serious" score)--It's just as production-opulent for new folk who only know Forman from "Amadeus", but be warned, it was an important component, along with "Reds" and "Pennies From Heaven" in creating that legendary 1981 "Most Depressing December-Movie Season In History".  :(

People/Flynt and Man on the Moon are both serviceable celebrity-dressup bios, and appeal to Forman's anti-authoritarianism, but Larry Karaszewski had pretty much sank into a rut for pop-bio films after "Ed Wood", and could write them in his sleep for most of the mid-90's.  Despite Jim Carrey's, er, too enthusiastic imitation, "Moon" is an example of said sleepwalking, although Woody Harrelson in "People" does help flesh out (NPI) some of the backstory behind Flynt's big Jerry Falwell suit.

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Although I did love the novel RAGTIME, I was disappointed in the film adaptation.  But that had nothing to do with Forman, as it wasn't HE that adapted the novel and wrote the screenplay.

Sepiatone

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Agree, the film adaptation was disappointing after reading the novel first......

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Milos Forman certainly had a penchant for satire and lighthearted insolence as evident in much of his early catalog, especially pre-Hollywood: "The Loves of a Blonde" (1965) and "The Fireman's Ball" (1967), both acerbic examinations of existing socialism in Czechoslovakia, immediately spring to mind. "Black Peter" (1964), another seminal work in the Czechoslovak New Wave, is one of the most unglamorous and honest depictions of youth ever captured on screen. These three films deserve mentioning right alongside "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) and "Amadeus" (1984) or anything else Forman made after his forced exile in 1968. Forman's films often dealt with "the freedom to speak or worship as one pleases" because he came from a country where those rights did not exist. Even though censorship in the US was a lot different than in Eastern authoritarianism, he never took artistic freedom for granted. 

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I thought there was something off about the four American movies, all to make a facile anti-authoritarian point.  There is the way The People vs. Larry Flynt shows Flynt's crudeness, but not the considerable cruelty in his humor.  There was the contrast between the anarchism of the characters in Hair and the banality in the music.  There was the oversimplifications in Amadeus to support the dubious contrast between sober mediocrity and irresponsible genius.  And there was the whole dubious metaphor of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, where Nurse Ratched's treatment appears especially egregious because Nicholson's character (and several others) isn't actually crazy.  (He's only pretending to be to escape a statutory rape charge.)

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44 minutes ago, skimpole said:

There was the contrast between the anarchism of the characters in Hair and the banality in the music.  There was the oversimplifications in Amadeus to support the dubious contrast between sober mediocrity and irresponsible genius.  

If you'd seen Amadeus on stage, Schaffer's play was highly theatrical-stylized, told entirely from Salieri's viewpoint, and Mozart is resentfully depicted as even more of an unsympathetically lunatic giggling manchild-idiot.  Although a few of the play scenes are intact in the movie, Schaffer and Forman completely revamped the play into a more "realistic" biopic of a genius who, well, was irresponsible and self-indulgent, although not perhaps to the degree of the movie.

(The original theatrical trailer first arrived on the success of the Broadway play, and you can see it deliberately trying to play itself in more of Schaffer's original play-dialogue style.)

And the contrast in Hair seemed to be more about the free, cosmic principles in all the songs--and their over-mythologized decade reputations since then--and the fact that our anarchic heroes themselves close-up seemed to be such self-absorbed a-holes who were just talking a great game at the world.  Like the black character who walked out on his girl to join the movement, until she confronts him again with "Easy to Be Hard"...She gets the most sympathy in the entire movie, and even if you even remotely liked the characters in the first half, it gets a lot harder to after that.

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