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Robin Williams Tribute

Robin Williams Tribute

By Sean Daly

Robin Williams 1

Robin Williams merits the highest praise one can bestow upon any artist—he was courageous.  In an industry where so many performers mail it in or conform to expectations, Williams was never content to be mediocre or even just good.  Such ambition sometimes produced spectacular results, sometimes not so much, but a lack of effort or passion never doomed a Robin Williams performance, as he always strived for greatness.  While he wasn’t a complete original in that sense, he was damn close to it.

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His career was also close to completely original. Indeed, it’s challenging to compare Robin Williams to any other mainstream performer of the past 50 years.  There are some parallels, at least in a comedic sense, between the manic energy he often displayed and that of other comic actors such as Jim Carrey, Chris Farley, and his good friend John Belushi but Williams easily eclipsed them all in terms of his dramatic work.  Oddly enough, I’ve always likened the career of Robin Williams more to that of Tom Hanks than anyone else.  It makes more sense than it seems at first glance.

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Both Williams and Hanks first came into the public eye about 35 years ago on iconic-but-dated ABC sitcoms (Williams with Mork and Mindy; Hanks with Bosom Buddies).  Both quickly parlayed their modest television success into starring roles in films that played a lot during the cable explosion of the mid-1980’s (Williams in Club Paradise and The Best of Times; Hanks in Bachelor Party and The Money Pit) that, in reality, weren’t very good but branded them as film stars nonetheless. Both finally found a project in 1987 worthy of their immense talents (Williams with Good Morning Vietnam;  Hanks with Big).  Both then rocketed to numerous other acclaimed performances and box office smashes—as well as enduring several flops.  Both despite being known initially for comedy generally excelled more in dramatic roles. And both, despite their wildly contrasting personas and lifestyles, oozed decency, though Williams was always able to distort his innate goodness to fit a villainous character better than Hanks ever dared to.

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Yet while the legend of Hanks results in pedestrian fare like Captain Phillips garnering mass critical acclaim and hundreds of millions in worldwide box office gross, Williams’ film career sagged to the point of being demoted back to Sitcom-land with 2013’s The Crazy Ones, a show canceled after just one season.  The career gap between the two actors became depressing, particularly since Williams was arguably the superior talent, but, with superior talent often comes insurmountable personal obstacles, as constantly striving for greatness will take its toll on anyone.  But I’ll stop with dime store psychology and skip any discourse on addiction, depression, or suicide. I’d rather just pay tribute to a singular actor by listing what I feel are his best five film roles.

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Honorable Mention: Insomnia (2002); The Birdcage (1996); Mrs. Doubtfire (1997); The Fisher King (1991); The World According to Garp (1982)

5.)           Awakenings (1990)

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Williams played Dr. Malcom Sayer, a socially awkward neurologist at a Bronx psychiatric hospital whose experimental use of a drug leads to one of his patients, Leonard (played by Robert DeNiro), emerging from years of catatonia. Similar to his role in The Birdcage, Williams is essentially the straight man here, reacting to DeNiro’s flashier performance in a way that grounds the viewer and makes them invest in the story.  While Dr. Sayer’s noble professional efforts ultimately prove to fail with Leonard, the confidence he gains from nearly succeeding brings him out of the shell that mirrors the awakening of his patients.  DeNiro predictably received more critical raves coming out of Awakenings but without Williams to anchor the film, it wouldn’t have worked nearly as well as it did.

4.)           One Hour Photo (2002)

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Here’s the one entry on the list you maybe haven’t seen but go out of your way to do so.  Williams plays Sy Parrish, an unstable photo processor who takes his job more than a little too seriously, especially when it comes to a young married couple with a son who are frequent
customers.  Sy places the family on such a pedestal that he deludes himself into thinking he’s part of it, only for everything to crash down when he sees a provocative picture of the husband with another woman.  Similar to his role in Insomnia, Williams brings no humor or
charm whatsoever to his performance, making it all the more chilling when he snaps.  It’s a spot-on portrayal of a desperately lonely, ultimately psychotic man who we probably see every day and think nothing of…but may, in turn, be thinking a lot about us.  Does that
creep you out? See this movie—and Williams’ brave performance—and you’ll really be creeped out.

3.)           Good Morning Vietnam (1987)

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Good Morning Vietnam represented the breakthrough for Williams in that all of his mania was finally harnessed for the good of a film. The movie is based on the true of story of Adrian Cronauer, an ad-libbing, motor mouth disc jockey who gains great popularity broadcasting to the troops in Vietnam.  A lot of Williams’ improvised comedy bits in the movie don’t necessarily hold up outside of a movie theater filled with laughter but he crushes the role despite this, slowing down long enough to also provide the humanity needed to give the viewer a full picture of the hell of war.  Give credit to director Barry Levinson for being the first filmmaker to help Williams shine.

2.) Dead Poet’s Society (1989)

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One of the three Williams films to be considered classic in the minds of most (along with Mrs. Doubtfire and the still to-be-announced number one entry), Peter Weir’s Dead Poet’s Society reels in its star way more than Good Morning Vietnam did but gives Williams enough room to also charm his students with improvised humor.  With his outward energy pulled back a touch, Williams effectively internalizes his passion to display more magnetism in Dead Poet’s Society than in any of his other roles.  He actually appears in well under half of the movie’s scenes but his work was strong enough to be what you take away and keep in your memory above all else, even 25 years after the film was released.

1.)    Good Will Hunting (1997)

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Williams plays Sean Maguire, a from-the-projects psychologist made good who counsels Will Hunting, “a boy genius from Southie” in Maguire’s words.  Williams, whose Julliard background occasionally left him prone to sounding like he’s reading Shakespeare lines, is
perfectly convincing here, able to outwit his gifted, street smart patient in a way that felt legit.  Scenes between shrink and patient are more often than not melodramatic in film but Williams and Matt Damon manage to make them standouts.  Part of this was due to the sharp dialogue in the script, something the notoriously improvisational Williams was wise enough to leave alone.  The result was the most
enduring performance in a career that will endure long after his tragic demise.  May you find the peace in the next life you weren’t able to find in this one, Robin Williams.

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{ 6 comments }

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow

edge-of-tomorrow-poster3

Director: Doug Liman 

Writer: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Hiroshi Sakurazaka (wrote the novel “All You Need is Kill”)

Starring:  Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton

 

Plot:  An officer finds himself ccaught in a time loop in a war with an alien race.  His skills increase as he faces the same brutal combat scenarios, and his union with a Special Forces warrior gets him closer and closer to defeating the enemy.

 

 

Rate It: (0 to 3 guys)

 

Adam:

2guys copy

 

 

ABG: 

2andHalfGuys

 

Griff:

2guys copy

 

 

So what did you think? 

Adam – A time travel movie with Tom Cruise fighting the monsters from The Matrix, must be summer time.  A good way to spend two hours on a hot summer afternoon that got spoiled a little bit by a sappy nonsensical ending.

ABG- Quite a bit of humor for an action movie.  Action movies are apparently still nice to Tom Cruise.  2 hours of my life that I don’t regret. Took me most of the movie to figure out why I recognized General Brigham.

Griff – Pleasantly surprised by this one. The trailer made this look awful but it is a surprisingly effective and enjoyable sci-fi action movie. It suffers a bit from the usual suspension of disbelief but it is a enjoyable watch and a decent summer movie.

 

 

Any thoughts before you saw the movie? 

Adam – I hope this is better than Oblivion.

ABG – ANOTHER “live the same day again” movie?  Thankfully director Doug Liman has some experience with action films and that maybe this one might actually be good.

Griff – This really looked awful. I wasn’t looking forward to watching this movie at all.

 

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Did you think this movie was fresh and/or innovative? 

Adam -  This was sort of an alien invasion version of Groundhog Day.  So while not exactly what I would call original it was highly entertaining.

ABG - The idea of time travel has been done A LOT in Hollywood.  Sometimes it works and sometimes not.  I’m not sure if this really qualifies as “time travel” so much as a “time loop.”  (Sorry…geek moment.)

Griff – This time travel trick seem to be the sci-fi plot of the moment but Liman manages to keep things feeling fresh and interesting.

 

 

Did you think the script was well written? 

Adam – I actually did not have many complaints script wise with the exception of the films conclusion.  The ending seemed a bit contrived as well as not making much sense from a time travel angle, based on what was presented in the film previously.

ABG – On the whole I had no problems with the script.  The characters all behaved exactly the way they I thought they should considering the fantastic situation they’d been thrust into.  The dialog never felt forced.  The bit about what the alien blood did seem a bit hokey.

Griff - The ending was a bit contrived and wrapped things up a little too neatly but otherwise I don’t really have any complaints here.

 

 

Was there a performance you really liked or really hated? 

Adam – Bill Paxton as Master Sergeant Farell cracked me up.  I wish he had been given the lead.

ABG - No bad performances that I can think of.  I was actually quite impressed with Bill Paxton.  The one thing that did bother me, (although I can’t possibly explain why), was the way the aliens moved.  As I sit here and think about it they kinda reminded me of the aliens in Darkest Hour (2011).

Griff - I am not a huge Tom Cruise fan but he was a effective in this one. This is his type of role and he performs well. Emily Blunt also had a decent performance.

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Do you remember a song from the film?

Adam – Not an actual song I could recall but the score by Christophe Beck sort of reminded me of playing Halo.

ABG - There were a couple of songs that I did not recognize.  Sometimes it’s nice NOT to have songs that are familiar.

Griff - Hmmmm… nope.

 

 

What was your favorite line? 

Adam – “Come find me when you wake up!”

ABG – During a training montage: “Again.  Again.  Again.”  “The only thing I can feel are my lips,” comes in a close second.

Griff – “We should just reset”

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What would have made this a better movie?

Adam - I would have reworked the ending, otherwise I have few complaints.

ABG – Maybe I missed it in the movie, but I really wanted an explanation of why they were called “mimics.”  And maybe some more of Major Cage’s training.

Griff - There are some elements of this film that are very derivative. The aliens look a little to close the baddies in the Matrix movie and the ending is a little bit meh.

 

 

Is it worth seeing in the theater? Or could you have waited for the DVD/Stream?

Adam - If you are looking for a movie to watch at the theater you could do a lot worse than checking this one out.

ABG – In my opinion every movie could benefit from being seen on IMAX. With this movie I think you’re okay on a regular screen.  But definitely don’t wait for the disc, catch this one in the theatre.

Griff – This is an enjoyable summer movie that is worth checking out in the theater.

 

 

What other movies would you recommend if someone enjoyed this film? 

Adam – A few of my favorite time travel films include Donnie Darko, 12 Monkeys and The Terminator.

ABG – I’m gonna go with Battle Los Angeles (2011) for the alien invasion aspect, Groundhog Day (1993) for the time loop and Bill Murray aspect, and Minority Report (2002) for another good Tom Cruise sci-fi movie.

Griff - War of the Worlds (1953), Starship Troopers (1997), for the alien invasion thing, for the time travel thing… Triangle (2009), or Time Crimes (2007).

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Any final thoughts on this movie? 

Adam -  I love making fun of Tom Cruise but I have to admit despite all his shortcomings the guy can carry and action film.

ABG – I was kinda disappointed that the movie deviated so much from the source material.  If you get a chance read the book on which this movie is based.  The ending is different for both of the leads.  I’m also pretty sure that the battle armor they wear in this movie is pretty similar to the jump suits that would’ve been in Starship Troopers (1997) had Paul Verhoeven chosen to follow that path.

Griff - Edge of Tomorrow is a good movie. It has an interesting story and plenty of action. It moves along at a good pace that keeps the time travel aspect from becoming boring and repetitive. So far, this is my most surprising movie of the summer.

{ 3 comments }

New on DVD (June 2nd, 2014)

New On DVD

 

5 new releases to discuss this week and a few that look somewhat interesting.

First up we have

Robocop

RoboCop

This reboot was getting a lot of hype upon release but that hype quickly faded.  I do have an interest in seeing this and will look to rent this soon.

Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor

Marky Mark stars in this one minus the funky bunch.   People were pretty pleased with this in the theater and looks like a good action flick.

Son of God

Son Of God

Another in a long line of films about Jesus, not getting the best reviews but I love a biblical tale when it is done well, we will see.

Goodbye World

Goodbye World

This dramedy revolves around a family who live off the grid but when a cyber attack invades the country they escaped from this family gets overwhelmed by people seeking shelter.

The Pretty One

The Pretty One

A coming of age film where a girl breaks out of her shell by pretending to have a twin. She plays both in what seems to be a comedic look at finding oneself.

{ 2 comments }

Godzilla

Godzilla

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Director: Gareth Edwards
Writer:
Max Borenstein, Dave Callaham
Starring:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston

 

Plot: The world’s most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.

 

*** We had our friend and resident Godzilla expert AGB (Angry Bald Guy)  help us out with this. *** 

 

Rate It: (0-3 guys)

 

Adam:

2guys copy

 

ABG:

2guys copy

 

Griff:

2guys copy

 

 

So what did you think? 

Adam – Silly summer time giant monster fun.  The acting was a bit hammy and Elizabeth Olsen keeps her clothes on so there is that.

ABG - Glad that I saw it in IMAX 3D.  Anything else would’ve been a letdown.  It’s the least I could do for Godzilla.

Griff – It is fun movie to watch. Is it perfect? No. But it is a good time. The acting is a bit flat, that characters are one dimensional, and special effects are amazing. Yep, its a summer movie.

 

 

Any thoughts before you saw the movie? 

Adam – I liked Director Edwards first film Monsters (2010) and was hoping this was gonna be similar but with more familiar monsters.

ABG – If this movie sucks I swear to God I’m going to kick Gareth Edwards square in the ass.

Griff – I was a big fan of Edwards Monsters so I was interested to see what he brought to the table.

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Did you think this movie was fresh and/or innovative? 

Adam -  This has got to be the tenth Godzilla film I have seen and this installment had a lot of similarities to several other films.  However, I think some of that sense of familiarity may have been a conscious decision on the part of the director and writers.

ABG - Kinda hard to be fresh when your source material is 60 years old, but I was pleasantly surprised at the spin they put on Godzilla’s origin. As much as they told us about, anyway.

Griff – Well, yet another Godzilla film. They have been making them since the 1950’s but this manages to stay fresh while still paying homage to its predecessors.

 

 

Did you think the script was well written? 

Adam -  Delaying the large monster battles to the end of the film was a no brainer.  The rest of the plot was a bit ridiculous.  Why does everyone have to destroy the Golden Gate Bridge?

ABG – The action scenes seemed pretty spot on to me.  The dialog came off a bit hokey although that had more to do with poor Ken Watanabe.  He was really given drivel to work with.

Griff - Truthfully it’s a bit silly. I don’t mind the delay in seeing Godzilla but you need to make the side story a little more engaging.

 

 

Was there a performance you really liked or really hated? 

Adam – Was that Bobcat Goldthwait reprising his performance from One Crazy Summer (1986) in a Godzilla costume?

ABG – I absolutely did not like Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s performance at all. He really just seemed to be going through the motions.  I was disappointed with Ken Watanabe but, as I stated earlier, I blame the way his character was written.

Griff - Ken Watanabe spent the whole movie with a look on his face like he was having bathroom issues. I can never get enough Elizabeth Olsen in any film. I just wish she was utilized better.

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Do you remember a song from the film?

Adam – Nope but the score by Alexandre Desplat was dark and brooding as it should have been.

ABG - Was there music other than the movie’s score?  I do remember a definite lack of reference to any of Akira Ifukube’s original Godzilla scores.

Griff - I saw monsters fighting…

 

 

What was your favorite line? 

Adam – Roarrrrrrr with some atomic breath

ABG - “Let them fight.”  (And it turned out to be a pretty good fight, too.)

Griff – “Let them fight!”

 

 

What would have made this a better movie?

Adam -  I would have ditched the Elizabeth Olson character and kid subplot. Or at least had them eaten by a MUTO.  It would have also been nice if they had secured the licensing to some other monsters rather than the MUTO from the film.

ABG - A female lead I actually cared about and more for Ken Watanabe to do than just stand around and look curious.

Griff - A more engaging story in the beginning. Some stronger performances from the leads and some characters that weren’t so one dimensional.

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Is it worth seeing in the theater? Or could you have waited for the DVD/Stream?

Adam - Not gonna lie this looked pretty sweet in IMAX.  Especially since it was Mark’s turn to pay.

ABG – If you don’t see this this on the big screen you are missing out.  I strongly suggest IMAX 3D if it’s still available.

Griff – If you are going to see it, you may as well go big and see it in IMAX. It was a spectacle.

 

 

What other movies would you recommend if someone enjoyed this film? 

Adam – The Troll Hunter (2010) and Them (1954) are both entertaining giant monster films for you to give a watch.

ABG – Pacific Rim (2013), not the greatest but admit it: you’re waiting for a sequel; King Kong (1933), the original “monster” running around town; Gojira (1954), not the Americanized version…

Griff - If for some reason you haven’t seen the original film Gojira (1954) that is a must see. I thought Troll Hunter (2010) was surprisingly entertaining for the budget and it is worth checking out as well.

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Any final thoughts on this movie? 

Adam – Where is my Hollywood big budget Gamera remake?

ABG – My brother once said to me that Morgan Freeman was put into subpar movies not to rescue them, but to add credibility. Ken Watanabe is like a Japanese Morgan Freeman.  I’m not saying this was a bad movie. Far from it.  It just seems to me like Gareth Edwards brought him in to help and then didn’t give him anything to work with.  My complaining about poor Ken Watanabe aside I enjoyed this movie.  I hope the sequel (yes, it’s coming) has characters I care about.

Griff - This was leaps and bounds better than the last hollywood Godzilla film. Hopefully the sequel will get us some more of the the other classic monsters from the Godzilla franchise. Overall this was a fun summer movie. It’s worth checking out but don’t spend a lot of time working over the plot. Just watch and enjoy it for what it is.

{ 6 comments }
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