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August 11, 2014

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Petey

Amazing comedian. Amazing stuff when young, onstage and on teevee.

Somewhat thin film career for someone of his talent. Got to Old Bob De Niro stage at a younger age.

But The Survivors, Moscow on the Hudson, Club Paradise, Cadillac Man, The Fisher King, Deconstructing Harry, One Hour Photo, Insomnia.

Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all. RIP.

Jose

The last thing I saw him in was a cameo on Louis C.K.'s show. It was a brief scene at the start of the episode, but he was brilliant in it. It was the sort of thing I wish he could have done all the time, weird, dark and hilarious. Along with the movies Petey mentioned, I'd also throw in Mike Nichol's remake of The Birdcage and Dead Again. And I'd like to check out the movies he made with Bobcat Goldwaith one of these days. But I don't think Hollywood ever captured what he was probably truly capable of.

He'll be missed. RIP.

george

Surprised no one has mentioned GARP. I keep thinking of this scene:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBGrTbbV_aQ

Grant L

Strikes even harder because last year I had a friend who ended his battle with depression in much the same way. Said my wife, who's also dealt with it quite a bit: "Sometimes it gets so hard to stick around."

Petey

"I'd also throw in Mike Nichol's remake of The Birdcage"

It was utterly spoiled for me by seeing the (superior) original first. If I hadn't, it's certainly possible I'd have enjoyed it more. I generally worship the ground Mike Nichols walks upon.

"But I don't think Hollywood ever captured what he was probably truly capable of."

Yeah. That was my point too. (Though his performances in a few of his early, unfairly neglected films are amazing.) But as a result of his somewhat thin Hollywood career, I don't know if he'll get membership in the Forest Lawn Memorial Golf Club In Heaven on the first ballot.

Dale Wittig

I had almost forgotten how good One Hour Photo and The Birdcage were (though the latter might have been truly great had Elaine May directed in addition to writing it) and one shouldn't forget William's brilliant turn as the King of the Moon in Gilliam's masterpiece, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, but for me Williams's best performance in a truly great film was his first: Altman's (and Feiffer's and Nilsson's) underappreciated Popeye. To my way of thinking, his transformation into a live action cartoon is as good as anything Jerry Lewis ever pulled off, and, better still, he showed there that he could be genuinely sexy. (Of course it helped that he had Warren Beatty's McCabe as a kind of model to parody.) It's a shame that the American film making community wasn't able to provide him more opportunities to do such work.

Petey

Kudos to Glenn for calling out Moscow on the Hudson in his Vanity Fair piece. Definitely in the running for his greatest film performance.

Melissa

"Because he eventually lost the battle with one of the things he struggled with does not, I think, make him any less of a hero."

I did not understand that this was true until I read it. Thank you.

george

As if this week didn't suck badly enough, Lauren Bacall has died.

https://www.yahoo.com/movies/lauren-bacall-hollywoods-icon-of-cool-dies-at-89-94579236487.html

Michael Dempsey

An especially memorable Robin William performance is his unbilled portrayal of the assassin in Christopher Hampton's 1996 adaptation (he wrote and directed it) of Joseph Conrad's "The Secret Agent" (also the source of Alfred Hitchcock's "Sabotage").

His performance in this seemingly forgotten film captures his character's unnerving nihilism, which sees absolutely no value whatsoever in the entire human project, with a precision and a passion that I've never seen surpassed in the cinema for sheer blood-chilling intensity.

Could this be why he is unbilled in the cast list? Could the shattering bleakness of this characterization, so unlike what anyone then could have expected from the Williams who was so celebrated and loved (properly so) for the seemingly inexhaustible fertility of his comic inventiveness, have been a glimpse into whatever drove him to end his life?

Let's not speculate. Instead, let's consider making this atypical Williams film a bit less obscure so that it can join his more famous achievements when we pay tribute to his career and life.


Kurzleg

@Michael: I vaguely recall this film when it came out, but I had not idea until looking it up just now how much acting talent is in the cast. I will certainly have to check it out.

I come from a generation that mostly remembers Williams as the zany sit-com actor and stand-up comedian that he often was. This might be why the breadth of his performances is so surprising. Even now, it's hard to believe how often and well Williams reined in the manic energy that he so often put on display in favor of developing restrained, recognizable human characters. (As a point of comparison, Jim Carrey has managed to do the same only sparingly. In fact, "Eternal Sunshine..." is the only film that immediately comes to mind.) I suppose such acting range shouldn't be all that surprising coming from a Julliard-trained actor, but Williams' manic comedic persona burst on the scene so forcefully and left such an indelible mark that it obscured the full extent of his talent.

george

http://www.avclub.com/article/gene-simmons-continues-asshole-tour-telling-depres-208204

KISS front man Gene "Asshole" Simmons says depressed people should kill themselves. Great timing, Gene.

At least an Australian radio network responded by banning KISS songs, with the network chief describing Simmons as a "dickhead."

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