Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Sydney Pollack (1934-2008)
Sydney Pollack was by every account a nice, humble guy, and I'd say an underrated director. He was never that flashy with the medium, but he was a solid director who I agree made "films for adults," that were often quite good. Coming from a theater background, Pollack consistently got good performances from actors, nothing to sneeze at by any stretch. As an actor, Sydney Pollack often wound up playing "the Sydney Pollack role," probably because he played those roles so grounded and so well — the standouts for me off the top of my head were his performances in Tootsie, Eyes Wide Shut, A Civil Action and last year's Michael Clayton. Desson Thompson has a good short piece on Pollack in The Washington Post (I think the Howard Hawks comparison is fairly accurate), while Roger Ebert, Kenneth Turan and A.O. Scott also weigh in.
Fresh Air re-ran an interview with him full of some great anecdotes (particularly about Tootsie, and his start as a director, thanks to Burt Lancaster!). You can hear NPR's basic story, also quite good, on the same page. Fresh Air's Cannes recap with John Powers also makes brief mention of Pollack near the end. My review of Michael Clayton is here and brief review of The Interpreter is here (scroll down for both).
(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)