Sydney Film Festival 2015 - Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon

Next up at the Sydney Film Festival was another documentary - Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon. Like Lambert & Stamp, this is a straightforward documentary that follows a similar path of two very different young men creating something in reaction to post World War Two conservative western society. In this case the subject is comedy rather than music, but the trajectory is similar to that of a band making it big, setting a trend, blowing out and having a tragic end to one of the founders. Just like Lambert & Stamp. What is quite astonishing in this documentary as you track the rise of a very American style post war comedy that started out as political and social satire and ended up as frat boy humour. It is a very particular type of humour that started as the brain child of Henry Beard and Douglas Kenney, who met at Harvard University. They took what was then Harvard Lampoon and made it a national magazine. They tapped into the end of the counterculture in the USA at the beginning of the 1970s and gave the establishment the big finger. As it was said in the documentary, US culture from 1946 to 1970 with subjects such as Nixon and the Vietnam War were a rich source for satire. The National Lampoon magazine provided the Second City comedy group of John Belushi, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Harold Ramis, and Gilda Radner a stepping stone to Saturday Night Live and beyond, and launched comedy radio programs, books and finally they made it in Hollywood with Animal House.   And the rest they say is frat boy comedy history. It is an interesting documentary if you are into the history of this type of comedy and the influence it had.  Here is a great review on the documentary below.

Mourning a Well Known Actor

In February, there have been two very high profile deaths of two American actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman (46) and Harold Ramis (69). Much has been written about their contributions to film, theatre and writing, and rightfully so. However, this month also saw the death of the following actors from around the world. Here is a little bit more about them:

- Oscar winner Maximilian Schell (83) the Austrian-Swiss actor. You can read a great obituary on him here.

- Puerto Rican actor and comedian, Luis Raul. Here is an article.

Luis Raul

Luis Raul

- Zsuzsa Csala (80), Hungarian actress. Some additional info here as I do not speak Hungarian.

- Greek singer-songwriter and actor, Sakis Boulas (59) who died of cancer. Here is an article.

- Georgette Rejewski (104), Belgian-born Dutch actress. More info here.

- Djoko Rosic (81), Serbian-born Bulgarian actor. Interesting piece here.

- American actor, comedian and Vine personality, Nick Spears (35), who died of cardiac complications. An article about him can be found here.

- Toni Ucci (92) Italian actor and comedian. Some additional info here.

- Malcolm Tierney (75), British actor. Click here for his obituary.

- American actress, Mary Grace Canfield (89), who died of lung cancer. Here is an article on her.

- Christopher Malcolm (67), Scottish actor. More info here.

- Bob L. Harris (91), American actor. An article can be found here.

- British actor, Ken Jones (83) who died of bowel cancer. Click here for an article.

- Georgy Martyniuk (73), Russian actor, who was the People's Artist of Russia (2003). More info here, not much though, as it was hard to find something in English.

- American actor, Ralph Waite (85). Click here for an obituary.

- American Emmy-winning comedian and actor, Sid Caesar (91). An article can be found here.

- Filipino actor, Roy Alvarez (63) who died of cardiac arrest. More info here.

- Alice Babs (90), Swedish singer and actress, who died with Alzheimer's disease. An article can be found here.

Alice Babs

Alice Babs

- Albanian comic and actor, Skender Sallaku (79). You can read a great obituary on him here.

- Irish actress, Ronnie Masterson (87). Click here for more information.

- Shirley Temple (85), American actress and diplomat, Ambassador to Ghana (1974–1976) and Czechoslovakia (1989–1992), who died of natural causes.

- Chinese-born Hong Kong actor and director, Wu Ma (71), who died of lung cancer. An article can be found here.

- Richard Bull (89), American actor, who died of natural causes. More info here.

- American actress, Louan Gideon (58), who died of cancer. Click here for more information.

- Pal Skjonberg (94), Norwegian actor. Some sparse info here. 

- Arduino Colasanti (78), Italian-born Brazilian actor. More info here.

- Ed Vassallo (41), American actor, who died of leukemia. Here are some reviews of Ed's work on Broadway.

- French actor, model and singer, Quentin Elias (39), who died of a heart attack. Click here for more information.

- Rabi Mustapha, Nigerian actress and singer, Click here for her obituary.

- American stage actor and Helen Hayes Award winner (2010), Laurence O'Dwyer (77). More info here.