Cancer has claimed the life of Adam Yauch, perhaps better known as M.C.A of The Beastie Boys. While his status as a founding member of the hip hop group will largely define his legacy, he'd also become a voice on the independent film scene, producing and releasing several films through his Oscilloscope Laboratories studio.
Oscilloscope is one of the most exciting labels operating today; the studio's releases not only include high profile recent films like "The Messenger" (which earned Woody Harrelson an Oscar nom) and "We Need to Talk About Kevin," but also vintage films that have been released to DVD for the first time. The Oscilloscope catalog is full of weird, offbeat, daring movies that found an audience because of Yauch's efforts.
With his passing, the film community has not only lost one of its better talents, but also one of its most visionary advocates.
Yauch was many things -- a musician, a director, a businessman, a philanthropist -- but a quick look at his career reveals him to be a man of myriad interests and marked by a refusal to stay within a box. One can easily hear that in the music of the Beastie Boys, which fused multiple sounds. Among the din of oily '80s hard rock and grungy '90s guitar riffs, their ever-changing blend of hip hop and rock emerged as a transcendent, fresh sound.
Yauch brought that same approach to Oscilloscope, and, while his work in film may end up a footnote in his career, it's one heck of a footnote considering the studio's staggering output during its four-year existence. Having already garnered six Oscar nominations during that time, the studio looks to continue its run by releasing "Samsara" and "Hello, I Must Be Going" later this year.
On May 3, just one day before his death, Yauch issued a press release where he described himself as "amped" for the films the company will release, a testament to his dedication to and enthusiasm for the medium till the end.
I can already hear the strains of "License to Ill" kicking up in tribute to Yauch, but let's not forget his contribution to film as well.
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- Woody Harrelson