Richard Attenborough had a pretty good career as a character actor. From the 1940s to the mid-2000s, he appeared in nearly 80 films, including the 1963 World War II epic The Great Escape, in which he played the mastermind of a daring flight from a Nazi prison camp, to 1992's Jurassic Park, in which he played bioengineering genius John Hammond, the owner of an ill-fated theme park stocked with cloned dinosaurs.
When I glanced at my e-mail alerts on Sunday and saw that Philip Seymour Hoffman, arguably the greatest film actor of his generation, had died of a probable drug overdose, I felt the same mix of sadness and anger that came over me when Whitney Houston died.
Action flicks of the 1970s featured an army of two-fisted tough guys with hard stares and gritted teeth, who angrily defied the establishment and did things their own way, especially if that entailed acts of violence at frequent intervals. But none was angrier, more defiant or more willing to kick butt and take names than Billy Jack, the protagonist of a trio of films by actor-director-producer Tom Laughlin.
The season finale Sunday of Homeland marks the climax of a trifecta of sorts. The Showtime spy thriller is joined by a nearly surefire Oscar nominee for Best Picture ( Silver Linings Playbook) and one of the best-reviewed Broadway musicals of recent years ( Next to Normal) - completing a trio of powerful genre-busting works of art in which bipolar disorder drives the plot and is at the heart of the main character's identity.
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