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A Final Goodbye: Tributes to Some of the People We Lost in 2023 | Tributes




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TERENCE DAVIES

Terence Davies was once called “the keeper of British cinema.” He kept it well. It felt like watching a film by Terence Davies was to spend time with Terence Davies. More than most filmmakers, he poured himself into his work, using his craft to reflect his memories and dreams. His films are often portrayed as stuffy, but they were more often the exact opposite of those willing to engage with them, more full of life in a single scene than some filmmakers pull off in their careers. His loss this week after a short illness at the age of 77 is a major blow to the international film scene, the exit of a true titan of empathetic filmmaking, one of the best to ever do it.

WILLIAM FRIEDKIN

Everybody who has seen horror movies remembers the image that most frightened them, that put the hook in them, that alerted them to the idea that a movie could contain more than its fair share of the malevolence of the universe in its images. How could this thing fit into a single frame? How did someone dream this up? I remember what mine was. I opened Entertainment Weekly in 1999 because of a dare of front cover offering up the scariest movies of all time. I flipped to the centerfold and saw Linda Blair, her face scarred and craggy, her eyes staring into your soul and finding nothing they could not destroy, her head turned around as her legs sat like a doll’s uselessly the other way in a room whose disheveled arrangement offered a short story of its own. I couldn’t look at it squarely. I couldn’t get it out of my head. This was “The Exorcist.” This was horror. This was William Friedkin. And he was just getting started.

PAUL REUBENS

His unique brand of absurd humor, dainty mannerisms, quirky facial expressions, and subversive nostalgia infused with progressive inclusivity (and plenty of innuendo) spoke to many queer people, young and old. He was a weirdo through and through, free to express that weirdness at top volume, and for most of the 1980s, he was embraced by the mainstream in a way that few such oddballs had been afforded.

TREAT WILLIAMS

The fact that Treat Williams was not one of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars has to rank as one of its most egregious failures. Here was a guy who had all the qualifications one might look for in such a person—the looks, the charisma, and the sheer, unquestionable talent—and while he worked steadily until his tragic death on June 12 at the age of 71 in a motorcycle accident, he never quite became the top-shelf star that, by all rights, he should have been. If there’s anything resembling a bright side to such a horrific event, it’s that the interest brought about by his passing may inspire people to take another look at his career, to discover for themselves why Williams was indeed one of the great actors of our time.

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