Robin Williams

Death to Smoochy

Comedy is probably the most taste-variable of film genres, and never was that fact thrown more sharply into focus than when folks were listing their favorite Robin Williams movies in the wake of his untimely death. So many different titles to choose from! Turns out, Cargill and I share an abiding affinity for one of Williams’ most maligned films: Death to Smoochy. Now that some time has passed, we felt it appropriate to honor the great Robin Williams by delving into all the things we love about this darkly absurd oddity. We also examine the roots of the film’s ice cold reception and the slowly pervading cult appreciation it has since garnered. We can’t necessarily change your mind about Death to Smoochy, but maybe we can make a dent. You should follow Brian (@Briguysalisbury), Cargill (@Massawyrm), and the show (@Junkfoodcinema). Download Episode #23 Directly

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Genie Aladdin

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The Fisher King

Back in the 1990s, Terry Gilliam provided a commentary track for The Fisher King, which has since gone out of print. Now, thanks to the magic of YouTube and MP3s and internet tubes, it’s possible to listen to this commentary track even if the disc itself is hard to come by. Not only does this commentary give an intimate look into one of Gilliam’s best, it also lives on in cyberspace to allow film nerds like us to learn more about the production. Due to differences in running time, you can’t simply synch all versions of the video with Gilliam’s commentary. For example, the Netflix version of The Fisher King runs 131 minutes instead of the unaltered 137-minute disc and theatrical presentation. Still, with the background soundtrack intact, you have a pretty good idea of where he is in his own timeline.

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Back to the Future Biff Pleasure Palace

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Aladdin

One of Robin Williams’ most iconic roles was as the Genie in the 1992 Disney film Aladdin. For being a supporting role, he certainly commanding more than his fair share of attention (which got the Mouse House into some trouble when the character’s overt presence in advertising violated his original agreement to do the film for scale). Since the release of Aladdin, Williams became a Disney legend and lent his voice to the character later for the direct-to-video sequel Aladdin and the King of Thieves. Of course, Aladdin represents more than an iconic role for Williams. It was riding the wave of Disney’s second golden age of animation, followed by the record-breaking film The Lion King. For the DVD release in 2004, co-directors John Musker and Ron Clements sat down with co-producer Amy Pell to record a commentary of the film. So much has changed in the last ten years since this was recorded, though it is still a worthwhile listen for fans of Disney animation.

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Robin Williams Hook

We wanted to discuss magic, laughter and the difficult stuff that lies in between on this week’s show because Robin Williams was so much more than a comedian. One of the very best, to be sure, but he was like a Guinness World Record holder who somehow found time for a dozen other hobbies. Which he then mastered. So what was supposed to be a normal-length segment ballooned into a winding conversation about  a tireless artist’s power to find a human connection in everything he did. We talk funny stuff, dark stuff, and Geoff explains how Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire made him understand his own dad. Plus, we speak with To Be Takei director Jennifer M. Kroot about chronicling Sulu in his natural habitat (and a little on how to hide in plain sight with a massive camera on your shoulder). You should follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. Please review us on iTunes Download Episode #69 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society

The sudden and tragic passing of Robin Williams has had an affect on all of us, it would seem. Even tech giant Apple paid tribute to him on the homepage of Apple.com, an honor previously only bestowed upon Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and board member Jerry York. That’s the kind of company Williams was in — he was a significant talent whose comedy and passion touched multiple generations. Whether you grew up watching him on Mork & Mindy or you were born later and didn’t catch on until his Mrs. Doubtfire era of silver screen success. Or even if you knew him through his more serious work, the kind that ended with him accepting an Oscar. Somewhere along the line, we all have our great Robin Williams memories. He was an epic talent. And we’d like to remember him as such, through the best moments of his career. Personally, I’ve always remembered Mrs. Doubtfire. Not because it was a particularly great movie, but because it’s the last time I remember my entire family going out and seeing a movie together before my parents divorced. It was a hot, crowded theater on Christmas Day and we sat in the fourth row. That evening, Robin Williams was to my 10-year old eyes a giant silly man. Yet he made silly so easy to enjoy. He made the kind of movies, at least during that period of his career, that made you feel better about the darker moments of childhood such as divorce […]

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One Hour Photo

After playing the sweetly fearsome film tech in One Hour Photo, Robin Williams talked about his character in both humane and expansive terms, explaining that “the things [Sy] says are painfully true–like, my favorite line is… ‘photographs are your own personal stand against time. That someone cared enough about me to take my picture means that I existed.’ I was at an old flea market the other day and looked at this box of old photographs, and you realize that most of these people are dead. There’s a moment in time that you really get to see someone.” Sy the Photo Guy is also rummaging through old pictures when he says those words, and shortly afterward he daydreams about being a welcomed fixture in the home of the family whose blissful images he’s become attached to. It’s a deeply intimate yet one-sided relationship that exposes a simple, desperate need for connection. For someone to think he’s worth enough to make temporarily immortal. Sy is a paparazzo who doesn’t need to take his own pictures; the neighborhood celebrities he worships freely give their personal moments over to him to manipulate. Williams’ portrayal and the understanding he displayed in that quote are what gave breath to a character who could have otherwise been labeled a flat villain, a shifty-eyed presence meant solely to unsettle. Instead, he played an insecure stalker with a touch of childlike frailty. This is the same man who squeezed into tights as a middle aged Peter Pan doing his best rooster impression, the […]

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The Fisher King

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Robin Williams in Moscow on the Hudson

If you’re looking for some good movies to watch this three-day holiday weekend, I’d like to suggest a double shot of Paul Mazursky, the under-appreciated filmmaker who died Monday. A whole marathon of his work is in order, really, especially if you’ve never seen Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice or Harry and Tonto or Next Stop, Greenwich Village (come at least for Bill Murray’s first film appearance and a great early Christopher Walken) or An Unmarried Woman (a terrific feminist classic) or the crazy Alex in Wonderland (come at least for the Fellini scene). But two of my favorites are his big releases in the mid-80s, Moscow on the Hudson and Down and Out in Beverly Hills, and I think they make a perfect double feature for Independence Day. First up is Moscow on the Hudson, which in early 1984 led the wave of comedies involving immigration and migration to New York City (see Crocodile Dundee, Coming to America, Splash, Muppets Take Manhattan, Jason Takes Manhattan, Short Circuit 2, Brother From Another Planet). Despite starring Robin Williams and being a fish out of water story, this isn’t quite a laugh out loud sorta movie. Mazursky takes the idea of defecting from the Soviet Union rather seriously, for a story that celebrates the American Dream less fantastically than most Hollywood features. We start out in Russia and see it as a relatively miserable place to live, yet it’s not depicted as a total nightmare. Nor is the United States presented as an absolute utopia. […]

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Lionsgate

Henry Altmann (Robin Williams) is an angry man. When it’s not subwoofers getting his goat it’s car alarms, ATM service fees and fat people. When it’s not 99-cent stores it’s hamsters, ass-crack fashion and God. Henry’s goat gets got a lot. Today is no different, but as one bad thing leads to the next they’re capped off by a visit to the doctor’s office where he discovers he has a brain aneurysm. Dr. Sharon Gill (Mila Kunis), flustered by his obvious rage at this latest slap in the face from the universe, accidentally on purpose tells him he only has ninety minutes to live. He leaves the office intent on making those minutes count by mending his relationship with his son, spending time with friends and fornicating with his wife, but circumstance and his ongoing anger issues keep getting in the way. Phil Alden Robinson (Sneakers) returns to the director’s chair after a twelve year absence with a film that isn’t quite worth the wait. The Angriest Man in Brooklyn is essentially a tale of redemption and second chances, but in order for either of those narrative paths to be effective audiences have to give a damn about the characters on them. That never quite happens here.

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Tribeca Film Festival

Boulevard, the fifth feature from director Dito Montiel, is an intimate character study. As such, it is but one among many. At festivals, in particular those with a bevy of American independent films, you can’t swing a cat without hitting an intimate character study. And so they try to differentiate themselves, sometimes through gimmicks and sometimes through good old-fashioned artistic vision. In the case of Boulevard the elevator pitch is this: Robin Williams is 60, married to a woman, and secretly gay. His name is Nolan and he has a well-paying but dull job in a small bank. Fair enough. The dramatic conflict, therefore, is his discovery and subsequent acceptance of his homosexuality. It is perhaps tiring at this point to see yet another movie in which being gay is the primary, driving narrative force. It is no longer as interesting as Love Is Strange, for example, a drama that gets to establish the sexual orientation of its characters in the first scene and then move on to subtler themes. There’s still some room left for a film like Boulevard to say something new and interesting, but not much.

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As we all know too well, Mrs. Doubtfire – the seminal Robin Williams-wearing-women’s-clothing comedy — has been officially given a sequel by Fox 2000. Both Williams and the original’s director, Chris Columbus, are on board in the same positions they held last time around. Screenwriter Bonnie Hunt, however, has been replaced with David Berenbaum, of Elf  fame (also Zoom, The Haunted Mansion and The Spiderwick Chronicles fame, which might seem a little less impressive). We all know the decades-later sequel drill. Some get angry, some get excited, some just shake their heads and mumble something cynical about the Hollywood system (For example: the various child actors from Mrs. Doubtfire). But Mrs. Doubtfire 2 isn’t like all the other sequels: it exists under special story circumstances. One can’t just re-womanize Robin Williams and call it a day, like you could with, say an Independence Day sequel (an off-brand Will Smith punches another alien, smirks, “Welcome to Earth… again!” and winks at the camera- cue fireworks and standing ovations).

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Mrs Featherbottom

No, I’m not thinking Doubtfire vs. Madea. Technically that would involve a man fighting a woman, as Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire is Robin Williams playing a male character who dresses as an old lady while Mabel “Madea” Simmons is just Tyler Perry playing an old lady. It doesn’t sound like a fair battle. Obviously Madea would kick the fake nanny’s ass. But the synopsis I have in mind is similar for this Mrs. Doubtfire sequel that Fox 2000 has just announced with original director Chris Columbus and Williams both on board. It has to be an Expendables type movie, which means it’s not just Doubtfire 2 but an ensemble piece in which Williams as Daniel Hillard as Doubtfire is joined by Dustin Hoffman as Michael Dorsey as Tootsie, Martin Lawrence as Malcolm Turner as “Big Momma,” David Cross as Tobias Funke as Mrs. Featherbottom, Miguel A. Nunez Jr. as Jamal Jeffries as Juwanna Mann, Harland Williams as Doofer as Roberta from Sorority Boys and Amanda Bynes as Viola Hastings as Sebastian from She’s the Man, and they’re on a mission to … whatever it doesn’t matter, just like an Expendables movie.  

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Robin Williams in Angriest Man in Brooklyn

You know that old saying “live each day as if it were your last”? While it’s supposed to be inspirational and designed to get you up off your butt and out into the world doing great things like traveling and confessing your love to your best friend, there’s also the view that it could be a terrifying and wholly negative statement. Living each day like it’s your last? That means you’re dying tomorrow. There’s so much you didn’t do! The Angriest Man in Brooklyn takes this concept and amplifies it times 100 by giving America’s wacky uncle Robin Williams only 90 minutes to live. What’s a guy to do when he’s only got an hour and a half to do everything he has left to get done? The trailer for the film attempts to explain how Williams is going to attempt such a feat, and why the poor man is in this situation in the first place. The film, a remake of the 1997 Israeli feature Mar Baum, is from Phil Alden Robinson, director of Sneakers (it should be noted that this is his first film in over 10 years since the fantastic  The Sum of All Fears), and paints Williams as the titular angry man, a brash and maniacal Brooklynite who can’t control his temper for even the slightest of inconveniences: red lights, subwoofers, greeting cards, cheap cologne and people passing out flyers. When Dr. Mila Kunis attempts to explain to him that he has a fatal brain aneurysm, that’s just another thorn in his […]

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romanek

Sy is a photo technician at a SavMart development center who has a fierce, almost reverent passion for what cameras can do. They can provide a window into someone else’s life. They can preserve everything we hold dear in two dimensions. They can capture a person. Played in One Hour Photo as a quiet force of nature by Robin Williams, Sy worships photography almost as fervently as he does the blissful life of the textbook suburban family that he plans on getting closer to. With a filmmaker as visually florid as Mark Romanek, you’d expect a more bombastic debut, but the acclaimed director approached his first feature with a simple, colorful elegance that suited its precise protagonist. Sy the photo guy would approve. A little over a decade later, the film is now available on Blu-ray — giving us a new opportunity to hold it up to the light box and try to find some sympathy for the devil on the other side of the camera. I spoke with Romanek to discuss that power, his education under Brian De Palma, and the rarest thing that happens when making a movie.

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Insomnia 2002 Movie

For a man who has 8 films under his belt as a director, it seems like Christopher Nolan has been in the movie world forever. His dominance of the 2000s was so thorough and immediate that it only seemed natural to include his name amongst the greats even with a relatively limited resume. Even so, whenever conversations of the director emerge, they seem to focus on his take on Batman, his exploration of magic and deception, the idea of memory loss and toying with narrative. The movie that’s notoriously missing is his sophomore feature, his first studio picture, Insomnia. The remake of the 1997 Norwegian film of the same name starred Al Pacino as a LA detective brought to the no-horse town of Nightmute, Alaska during a time of year when the sun never sets. Brought in to help with a brutal homicide, Detective Dormer finds himself mentally unraveling after a foggy accident, many sunny nights without sleep and an internal investigation back home that threatens to end his career. It’s a strong crime film with outstanding performances that doesn’t deserve to be forgotten about in the wake of Batman, Bale and breaking into dreams. Insomnia is a movie worth a second look.

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Over Under - Large

Despite the fact that we’re getting pretty close to its 75 year anniversary, The Wizard of Oz is just as recognized and celebrated today as it’s ever been, and we’ll probably still be showing it to our kids another 75 years from now. There’s good reason for that. Its music is gorgeous and iconic, its cinematography is ageless, and its production design and in-living-color presentation must have been something to see back in 1939. But, in the grand scheme of things, is this really a movie that’s so great that we should still be treating it with so much reverence? Or has watching The Wizard of Oz simply become a tradition we mindlessly follow, like always eating a turkey on Thanksgiving or puking up green food coloring on St Patrick’s Day? Steven Spielberg’s 1991 film Hook spins off of a legendary story, continues the tale of a handful of legendary characters, and was brought to us by maybe the most legendary director there’s ever been… but to say that it isn’t considered a legendary movie would be a pretty big understatement. It’s got a tone right in line with the best of Spielberg’s work, and it’s photographed just as beautifully as anything else he’s done, but ever since its release it has largely been considered a trifle, or even an annoyance. Critics have called Hook full of bad humor, overstuffed with exposition, and devoid of any of the magic of the original Peter Pan tale. Many consider it to be […]

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Monty Python

Monty Python veteran Terry Jones has co-written (with Gavin Scott) and will direct a Sci-Fi farce called Absolutely Anything that has been said might be the cause of a mini-Monty Python reunion. Unfortunately, all of the members of the Python crew are no longer with us, but news from Variety says that Jones’ new film is now looking like it will, in fact, manage to get back together at least most of the surviving members. In addition to his own involvement, Jones has already signed up John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, and Michael Palin, and he’s currently negotiating with Eric Idle.

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Ben Affleck in Argo

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly thing that collects things about movies, television and other things. Lots of things in store for you tonight, including some more Dark Knight Rises things… We begin tonight with an image of Ben Affleck as a real life former CIA agent from the early 1980s in Argo. In a way that can only be from the 1980s, he also looks like a Die Hard villain. So much mulleted intensity.

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published: 12.23.2014
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