Seriously, though, I'm not usually one for eulogizing (or eugooglizing, if you're Derek Zoolander), but they've been happening so fast and furious lately that I figured I should say a few words. There's plenty of biographical information out there, so I won't bore you with that, but rather I'll relay my personal thoughts and feelings on each person. In chronological order:
Kevin McCarthy (age 96...he died a bit outside of the current "wave" but I'm including him anyway)
I'm not gonna lie and pretend that I've seen his work outside of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (although apparently he had a small role in The Misfits). But the film is a favorite of mine - I don't have much nerve for horror films, but I love this one for its eerie restraint. Nothing jumps out at you, there's no blood, and the villains are carbon copies of people you know. McCarthy makes a great transformation from suave and charming to frenzied and terrified. And apparently he had no qualms about parodying or referencing his most famous role in other films.
Gloria Stuart (age 100)
Three digits! You go, girl! I haven't actually seen all of Titanic, where she played her most famous role (I was watching it with a spacey friend who fast-forwarded through any part she found boring, which included all of Stuart's screen time). However, I can heartily recommend two of her earliest films - The Old Dark House (1932) and The Invisible Man (1933). Throw them both on at Halloween and bask in a time where horror was mixed with humor and snappy writing. (Side note: she was kind of a babe pre-Titanic, huh?)
Sally Menke (age 53)
A week ago, I could not have told you who Sally Menke was (to be fair, I probably only know a few editors by name, one of which [Roderick Jaynes] isn't even real). I obviously knew who Quentin Tarantino was, and I guess I could've figured that SOMEBODY edited his films. It's great to hear that they developed the working relationship that she did - she's edited all of his films from the start, and it almost makes you wonder how much of the Tarantino style is actually hers. From the chop-socky cuts of Kill Bill Vol. 1 to the tight but meditative pacing of Inglourious Basterds, it's clear that she was very talented. I imagine that his films won't be the same without her.
Arthur Penn (age 88)
Enough has been said about Bonnie and Clyde that I doubt I could really add anything meaningful, especially since I saw it a long time ago. But we may never know the full extent of its influence. He seemed like a visionary guy, and I'm definitely bumping Night Moves and Little Big Man up on my list of movies to see.
I'm ashamed to admit that I've only seen Sweet Smell of Success and Some Like It Hot from Curtis, but that's all you'll need to adore him. That, and his fantastically irreverent personality and swagger. Oddly enough, I was reading his Proust questionnaire in Vanity Fair the day before he died and chuckling at his witty answers. When asked how he'd like to die, he said "Alone." He also wishes to be reincarnated as the son of Ali Baba. Let's hope he gets his wish...
Greg Giraldo (age 44)
I'm not really familiar with Giraldo's ouevre, but I'm mostly including him because it's just senselessly sad. Accidental prescription drug overdose. I take medication, and there have been times that I almost took too much in a day because I can't remember if I took it already. He died from that. May he judge "Last Comic Standing" in heaven.
Which of these people (if any) affected you, and how?