Zestful, vigorous lead and supporting player, best known for his Tevye in the screen version of "Fiddler on the Roof" (1971)--a role he had previously played on the Tel Aviv and London stage. Since th...
Though ostensibly successful 2009’s The Final Destination represented to many a horror franchise on its last hackneyed legs. Rote uninspired and humorless it scored a (modest) hit only by virtue of the novelty -- and added ticket price -- of its 3D transfer. Two years later Final Destination 5 arrives with a slightly tweaked formula a beefed-up storyline actors you might actually recognize and genuine honest-to-goodness 3D. It’s still schlock mind you -- but artful schlock and a marked improvement over the preceding entry.
The story begins in familiar fashion with a cursory introduction to the characters followed by a grisly premonition that sees them perish wholesale. An assortment of cubicle-dwellers at a paper factory are being bused to a corporate retreat when one of them Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto perpetually bug-eyed) dreams of a massive bridge collapse in which he and his co-workers are impaled beheaded bisected crushed by cars singed by tar -- however many ways a suspension bridge can kill a person the film’s opening set-piece explores it gruesome detail. Sam awakens duly horrified and demands the bus be evacuated. Seconds later the employees watch in horror from the sidelines as Sam’s vision comes to fruition.
You know what happens next. One-by-one death stalks the survivors who meet their fate in a series of elaborately-staged incidents. Some are relatively straightforward; others involve fiendish head-fakes and red herrings. The range of victims is older and more colorful than in previous Final Destination films in which death preyed exclusively on attractive nubile teenagers but the end result is invariably the same. (Not to give anything away but those considering acupuncture or laser eye surgery would be wise to avoid the film entirely.) As death’s scheme becomes achingly evident Sam his lachrymose girlfriend Molly (Emma Bell) and his increasingly unhinged buddy Peter (Miles Fisher) become increasingly desperate. Enter the ever-ominous Tony Todd returning to the franchise after (wisely) taking the previous film off offering a potential way out. But is it genuine or just another of death’s cruel tricks?
Director Steven Quale a James Cameron protege hired principally for his 3D expertise takes full advantage of the added dimension delivering some of the most vivid and immersive 3D sequences in recent memory. Unlike The Final Destination which seemed little more than a amalgam of crude one-liners Final Destination 5 feels like a real movie one with a discernible plot an element of suspense and a handful characters who are more than just punchlines. Most of the actors are surprisingly competent save for Fisher a credible doppelganger for Tom Cruise (he parodied him 2008’s Superhero Movie) who imbues every line with couch-jumping intensity.
Final Destination 5 ends with a twist that while genuinely unexpected feels like a Hail Mary for a franchise that can’t forestall its inexorable descent into stale irrelevance despite the best of efforts from Quale. Its trademark formula has simply lost its potency -- a problem no amount of cosmetic upgrades however welcome can fix. That the film is bracketed by two pointless and time-consuming montages -- the first an animated sequence that hurtles various hazardous objects at the audience the second a greatest hits compilation of memorable kills from previous Final Destination films -- is a telltale sign that the saga’s creativity is on life support. Perhaps it’s time to pull the plug.
I’m sitting in the living room of my grandparent's house in Richmond, California. Richmond is north of El Cerrito, which is north of Albany, which is north of Berkeley, which is across the bay from San Francisco.
My grandparents raised my mom, my uncle and my two aunts in this house. They bought it for a ha’penny and a donkey a hundred years ago. When they bought it, they had across-the-street neighbors. Now they have Highway 880, which stretches down to San Jose and up to the state capital of Sacramento. They’ve been here awhile. I took my first steps here. My cousin Robert helped me catch frogs down the street. Generations of Amsbury family pets are buried in the backyard. My aunt had communist party meetings here, my mom made her firstpancakes here, I spent all of my high school years here. My grandfather died here. Not two feet from where I’m sitting. With his family all around him, feeling perhaps closer than we ever had before or ever will again.
Clifton Amsbury was a physical anthropologist, college professor, political activist, veteran of both the Spanish Civil War and World War II and devoted fan of science fiction. And none of the soft Star Wars stuff. Grampa liked the hard science fiction of Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Frederick Pohl and Jerry Pournelle. His library of signed first-editions fills much of the house and he’s long been a member of First Fandom, the collective of people who started science fiction fandom in the United States.
He was so into science fiction, in fact, that any other kind of story never really appealed to him. I remember once in High School I was reading The Sound and the Fury, and Grampa scoffed, telling me he wouldn’t ever read a story about events that could actually happen.
All of that changed after his stroke, when all of a sudden he started to really like classic movie musicals. His favorites were this week’s classic movies:
1952’s Singin’ in the Rain and 1971’s Fiddler on the Roof.
They say that if you live long enough you enter a second childhood and that’s certainly what happened to my grandfather. He always had a playful, childish side to him, but after his stroke - after he couldn’t read very well - that youthful side took over. As sad as his decline felt to all of us, it nevertheless delighted us to see him have moments of such profound joy over such simple things. For most of his life my grandfather fought for the underdog, going so far as to travel all the way to Spain and fight the attempted fascist takeover in the 1930s, a time when the U.S. was still selling oil to Austria. He risked his life for people he didn’t even know and when he got back to the states they called him a communist. As you can imagine, he could be a very serious guy when it came to politics.But later in life he absolutely loved Singin’ in the Rain. If you’ve seen it, you know why. Lately “entertainment” has come to mean big action or broad verbal comedy or romantic comedies. Singin’ in the Rain is a movie from a period when entertainment involved highly skilled, thoroughly trained stage-worthy performers strutting their stuff with very little story to be found. Nowadays the last vestiges of vaudeville have long been bred away from popular entertainment, but Singin’ in the Rain still has those elements of entertainers plying their trade.
When I saw that my grandfather loved musicals all of a sudden, I thought it would be a great idea to buy him one of my favorites, Fiddler on the Roof. Unfortunately I forgot just how depressing that film is. You could see it on my grandfather’s face. Fiddler on the Roof is based on the Broadway musical of the same name, starring Topol as Tevye. There are ways in which Fiddler on the Roof mirrors my grandfather’s own story: trying to hold on to the values he’d fought for in the face of drastic political evolution.
An emotional high point comes during the marriage of Tevye’s daughter, when all is happy until the Russian military presence lowers the boom and the wedding ends with the beginning of a pogrom. My grandfather just crumbled.
In later viewings we just stopped the movie during the wedding. He loves it. And I don’t know, maybe it’s somehow unethical to just erase part of the movie, but my grampa fought enough. He fought by going to war, by participating in political campaigns and by writing more letters to editors than anyone I know. He deserved a happy ending.
The four-time Tony winner will play lead character Tevye on the North American tour of the show, reprising a role he first played on Broadway in 2005.
Topol kicked off the production in August (09) but was forced to step down to recuperate from a shoulder injury that required emergency long-term treatment, according to Variety.
Fierstein's start date had not yet been determined as WENN went to press.
Worked as a technician in a Tel Aviv printing house at age 14
Replaced Mulka Rodensky, his acting teacher, as Tevye in Tel Aviv production of "Fiddler on the Roof" (date approximate)
Film producing debut, "Sallah" (also starred)
Starred in London production of "Fiddler on the Roof" (at age of 31)
Co-founded Municipal Theatre at Haifa (also leading actor)
Film debut in the Israeli comedy, "I Like Mike"
With army friend, writer Ephraim Kishon, started a satirical cabaret in Tel Aviv called the Spring Onion in early 1960s
Broadway stage debut in "Fiddler on the Roof" (after a 30-city US tour)
After leaving school, joined Israeli army where acted with the entertainment unit and met his wife; fought in the British/French-led invasion of the Sinai peninsula
Zestful, vigorous lead and supporting player, best known for his Tevye in the screen version of "Fiddler on the Roof" (1971)--a role he had previously played on the Tel Aviv and London stage. Since then Topol has worked primarily in the theater, making infrequent appearances in such films as "Before Winter Comes" (1968), "The Public Eye" (1972), "Galileo" (1974) and the James Bond actioner "For Your Eyes Only" (1980) and on TV in "Winds of War" (1982) and "War and Remembrance" (1988).
He is the director of the Popular Theatre of Irael.
He is the managing director, Multi-Images, production company.
Topol is the director of Multi-media Books, a London publishing company.
"Topol" means "poplar tree" and "Chaim" means "life"