Goodbye, Robin Williams

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone”

Good Morning Vietnam

The news is out.

The memories are amazing.

Personal demons. Depression. It’s all so terribly sad.

I’m on IMDb as I write, reading over Williams’ filmography and trying to work out exactly how many Robin Williams performances I have and haven’t seen. Having watched Insomnia a couple of days ago, I was already in the mood to start the exploration into his body of work but waking up this morning and learning of his passing has only compounded that desire further.

In reverse-chronological order, please find below the list of all Robin Williams’ films that I definitely have seen. Followed by a list of films to watch if you want to do something nice for him today/tonight/this week.

Let’s do this.

ROBOTS (2005).
Surprisingly watchable non-Pixar animated film. Having a kid brother, I’ve seen ROBOTS at least fifteen times – and it still doesn’t bore me.

INSOMNIA (2002).
I picked this up recently after realising it was the only Christopher Nolan film I hadn’t seen. If you’re familiar with Nolan’s work you can see that his efforts here, while good, are still developing. Also a decent point of note: Insomnia marks the second time (after MEMENTO) that Nolan hired Wally Pfister as his director of photography. Against the backdrop of the crisp green and whites of Alaska, you can see how and why these two men have stayed partners for so long.

I digress.

I went for Nolan, was unsurprisingly impressed with Pacino (a man whose entire acting palette can be defined by the weight of the world he is carrying – but it’s still awesome), and then mesmerised by Williams. There’s a play by the name of ‘Our Country’s Good’, I was in it once, and a character in it named Ketch. Ketch is supposedly a killer, but no one thinks it possible – least of all him – but the quietness and the intensity eventually gives him away, both in words and in violence. This felt like that.

Worth seeing if you haven’t already.

A. I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001).
Written by Kubrick, directed by Spielberg, this film should be a mess. And it is really. However, I can neither remember much about it nor for the life of me which part Robin Williams played. IMDb says it was ‘The voice of Dr. Know’. Nope, I got nothing. A re-watch is required.

GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997).
Robin Williams won his first and only Oscar for his turn as Matt Damon’s father-figure / psychologist. I don’t think I’ve seen this since the 90s. I’m going to fix that.

FLUBBER (1997).
Yeah, I’m pretty sure this was terrible.

JUMANJI (1995).
I remember being wowed by the CGI in this film; I wonder if it still stands up? Probably not. But still. Interesting fact: JUMANJI is actually based upon a 1981 children’s picture book of the same name. I don’t remember much of Robin Williams (I’m beginning to realise how young I was when I saw most of his work) but I guess that means it demands a re-visit.

NINE MONTHS (1995).
This Hugh Grant ‘comedy vehicle’ is about a commitment-phobe guy whose girlfriend, Julianne Moore, finds out she’s pregnant. Geez, the 90s. Robin Williams appears in what is ostensibly a cameo performance as the latter’s obstetrician. There’s a funny moment involving an accidental of the gestation period of a cow, but that’s about it.

MRS DOUBTFIRE (1993).
Robin Williams stars as an actor who, after going through quite a messy divorce and only being awarded time to see his kids once a week, disguises himself as a woman (an older Scottish nanny, to be precise) so that he can stay in contact. This film is magnificent. First off: it’s classic Robin Williams. Second, from a cultural standpoint, this film was huge.

This was the the early 90s. Everyone’s parents were breaking up. It was just a thing that happened. But MRS DOUBTFIRE was first time, I think, when a film not only addressed the effects of what long-term separation of two parents might do to children but also looked at that separation from the father’s perspective. The emotional impact of ‘You can only see your children at weekends’ puts Williams’ character through turmoil which in turn, drives him through this transformation. A worthy re-watch.

ALADDIN (1992).
The number one box office smash of 1992 (beating Home Alone 2, Batman Returns, and The Boydguard, to name but three) and it’s so easy to see why: this is both Walt Disney Pictures and Robin Williams at the top of their game.

If you’ve not seen this already, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? If you have, I doubt very much you’ve only seen it once. Still laugh out loud hilarious in places, Disney’s ALADDIN is pitch perfect.

HOOK (1991).
The synopsis is wonderful: Peter Pan (Williams) has grown up to be a cut-throat merger and acquisitions lawyer, and is married to Wendy’s granddaughter. Captain Hook (Hoffman) kidnaps his children, and Peter returns to Never Land with Tinkerbell (Roberts). With the help of her and the Lost Boys, he must remember how to be Peter Pan again in order to save his children by battling with Captain Hook once again.

Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook? Sold.
Bob Hoskins as Smee? Sold.
Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell? Sold.
Maggie Smith as Granny Wendy? Sold.
Robin Williams as Peter…? SOLD.

THE FISHER KING (1991).
Christ, I haven’t seen this since the 90s. I will fix that this week. I love Gilliam and this deserves a revisit. Williams’ third Oscar nomination too.

DEAD POETS SOCIETY (1989).
This film means more to me than any other; and there isn’t much else I can say.

THE ADVENTURE OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN (1988).
My Dad took me to the cinema to see this mental, mental acid trip of a film. Terry Gilliam left to run riot with a cast of thousands and sets that seemed to travel through space and time itself. I LOVED it when I saw it and Robin Williams it bat-crazy as ‘my-head-is-detachable-at-will’ King of the Moon. This film is such a huge chunk of my childhood, I might watch it first.

GOOD MORNING VIETNAM (1987).
We have arrived at ground zero, ladies and gentlemen. This is the performance that announced Mr Williams’ departure from TV and that, from now on, Hollywood is where it’s at. Endlessly quotable but of course known best for that title (you couldn’t walk two metres in the playground without hearing another kid yell it) Robin Willams, as ever-so-slightly-based-on-a-real-armed-services-radio-DJ-but-not-really, Adrian Cronauer, is just brilliant.

Unsurprisingly, Williams picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role – and that’s not to be sniffed at for what was fundamentally his breakthrough gig.

A truly great film.

_____________

I’m pretty sure that covers off all the Robin Williams films I have seen. Going through his filmography on IMDb reminded me that I’m still yet to see ONE HOUR PHOTO or THE BIRD CAGE which I’m sure some of you will balk at.

The sad thing is, Robin Williams is gone now.

But to celebrate his life, and the effect on mine that he had, I’m going to work my way through the following list of films as soon as I can:

  • Dead Poets Society
  • Good Will Hunting
  • The Birdcage
  • A.I.
  • Jumanji
  • One Hour Photo
  • Mrs Doubtfire
  • Aladdin
  • Hook
  • The Fisher King
  • Good Morning Vietnam

Did I miss any?

Mork

You’re not alone any more. I don’t think you ever were. But then again, I don’t think you ever knew. All over the world tonight people are going to enjoy you again. It’s sad that it takes a loss to remember the joy. But it is what it is.

Nanu Nanu, Mork.

Robin Williams. 1951-2014.

 

 

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2014: Year of the Raccoon

Rocket Raccoon is coming your way…

Rocket Raccoon Awesome

via Screenrant.

Don’t know what I mean?

Do pay attention.

 

__________________

Basically, I’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy – and it is AMAZING.

See it.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-trailer-teaser-rocket

 

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NEW TRAILER: INTERSTELLAR

Sometimes, space is the only escapism.

INTERSTELLAR POSTER

Catch me on a particularly passionate day (hint: the ones that end in the letter ‘y’) and ask me about Christopher Nolan and I will gladly tell you that we are extremely lucky to be living in the time of his film. In years to come, his films will be regarded in the same breath as Scorcese, Spielberg, and Kubrick. Such is in influence on modern cinema; he is literally history in the making (argue with me, I dare you).

Nolan’s next project, INTERSTELLAR, is months away and the third (and final?) trailer has arrived and it is beautiful. I can’t wait for this film.

Trailer 2 is below, the third trailer can be viewed at the new website (entry code: 7201969) and it is well worth 180 seconds of your time.

“Mankind was born on Earth, it was never meant to die here.”

__

 

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Review: Transformers: Age of Extinction

No spoilers.

TF4

A little over a week ago (and thanks to my childlike and somewhat ridiculous public excitement – I blame the Superbowl) those super lovely people at Paramount Pictures invited me to a ‘super-fan screening’ of Transformers: Age of Extinction (TF4), at the biggest screen in Britain, the London BFI IMAX.

TF4 Superfan Invite

I’m not kidding around, when that first trailer dropped, I admit it: I was so much SUPER FAN NUMBER ONE that my excitement was palpable.

Optimus Prime. Riding a dinosaur (or Grimlock as we geeks know him). You can’t get any more balls-to-the-wall nerdgasmic than that. No siree Bob.

tf4

Now, let’s fast forward to the super-fan who has seen the film. First off, if you’d spoken to me the moment I left the cinema I probably would’ve said something like: ‘Transformers 4 is probably the most unintentionally hilarious film I’ve seen all year.’ – it’s almost tongue in cheek with its brazen audacity and the belief-suspending leaps of faith it puts before you.

Example: yes I accept we’re dealing with house-sized transforming alien robots but MARK WAHLBERG IS PLAYING AN INVENTOR. Think about that for a second.

If you go into the film capable of accepting that as a fact (or as a running joke) then you’re in for a fun ride.

Story wise, it’s not bad: four years after The Battle of Chicago (see Transformers: Dark of the Moon- well, don’t see it, just know that it happened in that film) Transformers of all kinds are hunted all over the world and have, in the main, gone into hiding. Marky Mark’s CADE YEAGER (great name), a modern day rag-and-bone man, happens to find an old truck that he wants to break up and sell for parts.

Thing is, the old truck just happens to be one Optimus Prime (rocking an awesome nod to his original 1980s form) and then, well, someone tells the Feds and everything rolls out from there.

Before we carry on, let’s get the whole MICHAEL BAY thing out of the way. In my last Five things on Friday post I linked to an 8min video of what makes a Michael Bay movie (it’s 8mins long, worth watching, and embedded below).

TF4 is no break from this style.

In fact, Bay embraces it.

TF4 is pure Bayhem.

Soft country music, US flags flowing in the wind, low shots looking up (for no reason whatsoever), slowed down battle scenes – it’s all there. In fact, TF4 it so Michael bay, it almost verges into self-parody.

This is a man that loves American sunsets so much that in the opening chase, you go from glorious daylight, to an orange dusk, to a sunset over farmland, back to daylight (racing through fields), back to sunset (this time in the city), then to daytime (escaping on what can only be an actual race track – with the action and editing such that maybe he hoped you wouldn’t notice) to sunset again but this time out on the desert plains.

Obviously all these places exist in or near Chicago (probably) but are they all within 15mins of a farmhouse? With bonus magical yo-yo sunsets to boot? I don’t think so.

Example: these two images take place within minutes of each other.

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 11.14.36 Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 11.14.49

Notice anything about the lighting?

Jesus.

It’s easy to criticise Bay. Too easy. But y’know what? The man nails bombastic action like no other and while the story may not be the best in the world, it’s better than previous efforts and jettisoning the ineffective Shia LeBeouf means what plot is there isn’t being held up by the acting equivalent of a damp cloth.

‘Yeah but, it’s just another robot smash up, but this time with dinosaurs, right?’

Well, yes (that’s the whole point) and no.

The first Transformers film was pretty good (purely because, aside from a novelty dancing robot car commercial, we’d never seen the Transformers made real before) but the following two sequels were rubbish. Terrible even. Age of Extinction breaks that mould and, contrary to the finality of its title, actually breathes new life into the franchise.

The Transformers themselves, leaving the obvious war hero tropes aside, are given at least some attempt of being different from one another, as well bit of personality to them (thank you John Goodman and Ken Watanabe). Plus, for the geeks, we get a new set of Decepticons, a couple of new kinds of Transformers (oh hey Drift, what’s that? You’re a Bugatti Veyron and a helicopter? Sweet!) and a brand new Decepticon leader.

But no more on that one…

On the character front, probably the best addition to TF4 is that of Lockdown, the gun [for-a-head] toting robot seen in nearly every bit of promotional material you would’ve seen.

This guy, standing in front of the monster space ship -

Lockdown

He’s a bounty hunter, with no affiliation to either side, and his presence not only mixes with motivations and ideologies of the characters we’ve known so far but also alludes to a larger story yet to be told.

Lockdown is a badass

Plus he’s a badass. That helps.

In closing, TF4 is Michael Bay doing his best impression of Michael Bay and it’s got robots that transform into dinosaurs and Mark Wahlberg saying things like ‘I think we found a Transformer!

It doesn’t matter what I say to you (really, it doesn’t), I doubt very much my opinion will sway you. If you’ve decided to see it, you’ll see it (see it BIG) and if you haven’t well, you know you’re not missing out.

I started off this review saying that TF4 is basically a joke but the more I think about it, the more it’s been growing on me. Put it this way: I can safely say Transformers: Age of Extinction is the best and most Transformer-y Transformers since the first one.

You’ll love to hate it or you’ll hate yourself for loving it.

In cinemas now.

ROARRRRGGHH!

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New Batman (in colour)

Thanks to Stephen for this -

Colour Bats

So awesome.

 

 

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