Tuesday, March 18, 2008

RIP Anthony Minghella

The Oscar-winning writer/director of The English Patient has died, age 54. I warmed to that film on a second viewing, and genuinely enjoyed Minghella's follow-up, 1999's The Talented Mr. Ripley, the film that best uses its co-star, Jude Law. (Their trail together went askew with 2003's Cold Mountain and his final feature, Breaking and Entering.) There's nothing on his resume as unconventional as 1990's Truly Madly Deeply, a ghostly, humorous love story with Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson, but there is something to be said for good, middle-of-the-road talent in an age where basic craftsmanship is lacking. I hear his Madame Butterfly, a sensation at the Met, is excellent, and his writing and direction of the kickoff episode of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency for the BBC and HBO should yield Minghella, the chairman of the British Film Institute, another hit. Two other screenplays are in the pipeline. He appeared briefly at the close of Atonement, interviewing Vanessa Redgrave, and is survived by his actor son Max, the star of Art School Confidential.

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