I’m thinking now of an Act Two barroom scene in Tony Gilroy‘s Michael Clayton. The titular character (George Clooney) and his boss, Marty Bach (Sydney Pollack), are talking about the apparent suicide of Arthur Edens ( Tom Wilkinson), and Clayton says it just doesn’t figure that Arthur, a manic, high-energy eccentric, would kill himself…”why?” And Bach snaps right back: “Why? Because people are fucking incomprehensible, that’s why. ‘Why’!”
Tony Scott — 1944 – 2012
The apparent suicide death of Tony Scott, 68, is completely incomprehensible, but what do I know? I know that I’m hugely sorry, that I didn’t know Scott well but that I’d met him at three or four LA press junkets, the first being the one for Crimson Tide in ’94 in Marina del Rey, and that he was fun to shoot the shit with…bright, direct, quick, good-humored. Which means absolutely nothing tonight.
How could someone as connected and thriving and plugged-in as Tony Scott figure that the nothingness of death would be better than what life held in store? Good effing God. My sincere condolences to his wife, children, older brother Ridley, everyone who knew and loved him…a whole lotta people.
I know that perhaps my all-time favorite escapist director of the ’90s and the aughts — a guy who made better straight-ahead commercial action-thrillers than just about anyone else in the business, who was always high-styling and side-riffing and slam-banging with supercool scattershot pizazz and never (and I mean never) delivering profound undercurrents or deep spiritual themes or anything that stuck to your ribs, and yet a guy who always portrayed the adult world out there with absolute needlepoint accuracy and complexity…okay, in melodramatic terms with super-flash cutting and authentic performances and cool, handsome cinematography…a guy who had no aesthetic other than to be Tony Scott and produce like Tony Scott, and nobody was as good as he in that regard…this guy is suddenly gone for no reason that makes any sense. At all.
It doesn’t figure, it doesn’t figure, it doesn’t figure, it doesn’t figure. Scott reportedly left a suicide note. Either his family and co-workers will decide to share it or they won’t. But even if they do it won’t make any sense.
For me, Scott’s four best films were Crimson Tide, Man on Fire, Revenge and — yes, I’m perfectly serious — The Taking of Pelham 123. And then True Romance, even with the cop-out happy ending. And then Enemy of the State. And then Unstoppable, Spy Game and The Hunger. That was it for me — nine films that really worked. Okay, the top four with honorable mention for the bottom five.
I’m sorry but I wasn’t a fan of Deja Vu, Domino, The Fan, The Last Boy Scout, Days of Thunder, Beverly Hills Cop II or Top Gun. But when True Romance came along, I lit up. That’s when I started falling for Scott. And then came Crimson Tide…God, I love that film! I watch it once or twice a year.
Gene Hackman to Denzel Washington, final scene: “You were right and I was wrong. (Beat, beat, beat, beat) About the horses, the Lipizzaners. They are from Spain and not Portugal.”
“Several people called 911 around 12:35 p.m. to report that someone had jumped from the Vincent Thomas Bridge spanning San Pedro and Terminal Island in Los Angeles Harbor, according to Los Angeles police Lt. Tim Nordquist”…and the news only began to get around two or three hours ago? That’s because his body wasn’t recovered until 4:30 pm or thereabouts.
A story I heard once about Scott suggested he had a glint of madness in him. I was told by a friend that he wiped out on a motorcycle really badly a few years ago, that he was tear-assing along like a bat out of hell on some Hollywood or West Hollywood boulevard. I never investigated or read a police report, but that’s what I heard. He was going really, really fast.
I did an interview with Scott during the Man on Fire junket. I was admiring his very cool-looking hiking boots, which had a nice medium-brown deerskin color with brightly colored violet laces (or so I recall), so I asked him “Where’d you get the great-looking boots?” At one of the department stores, he said, but it was a pair of women’s hiking boot…hah! Scott’s feet were small enough, and we all know that women’s footwear are often made with a keener sense of style and attractiveness than men’s. Scott knew this, I knew this, we chuckled…a moment.