MORIARTY Asks, 'Is 2001 The Year Of Robin Williams'!'
Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.
As this year began, if someone had told me that I'd be pinning some of my fondest hopes for this year on Robin Williams, I would have said they were crazy.
And, no, I'm not saying that I dislike him as a performer. Far from it; in many ways, he's been as influential on my developing taste over the years as anyone in front of or behind the camera.
Instead, let's just say I'd become disillusioned with the majority of what Robin was up to. He seemed to be locked in some sort of career stutter, hacking up the kind of live-action family oriented dreck that Eddie Murphy seems to be taking over these days. His live appearances had all taken on a familiar tone, and for the first time, I found myself bored by him each time he appeared.
So as I sit here on a Sunday evening, recovering from the rollercoaster second half of the third game of the NBA Finals (go, Lakers!), I find myself stunned by the glimpse I've had this weekend of the next three films Robin is part of. Not only has he put together a line-up that may go a long way towards salvaging this painfully bland film year, but he may have even found the key to saving his cinematic soul.
DEATH TO SMOOCHY
Adam Resnick and Danny De Vito are a match made in Hell. Both of them have sick streaks a mile wide, and with them goading each other on, it's a safe bet that DEATH TO SMOOCHY is going to be one of the darkest mainstream comedies since THE WAR OF THE ROSES, and as of the August 11, 2000 draft, it's enormous evil fun.
The script's opening sets the stakes, so we know right away just how far Resnick is willing to go to prove a point. We see a children's show taping in progress, a giant foam Rhino dancing with a bunch of kids. It's a joyful image, and it's jarring when we cut suddenly to a parking garage after the show. The Rhino comes walking out, ready to go home, and gets jumped by a bunch of Mob thugs who wrestle him into a stairwell where they beat the shit out of him before putting six bullets in his head, making sure he's dead.
Children's television... it's a tough racket.
And just like that, we've gone back in time to a year before that shocking image, to a time when RAINBOW RANDOLPH was the biggest thing in children's television. This is the role Robin's playing, and if he's looking to put an end to his safe family image, he couldn't have found a more direct stake to the heart if he'd tried. Randolph is a scumbag, and as the film opens, he's taking a meeting with some parents in a bar. They want their kid to get a good spot while dancing on Rainbow Randolph's show, right down front by the cameras. They offer him a stack of cash, and he tells them to pitch in even more next time, then stands to go. That's when the feds move in and Rainbow Randolph's career ends.
The network is scandalized, and the pressure to find a replacement falls squarely on the head of FRANK STOKES (Jon Stewart), head of children's programming, who then passes the pressure on to NORA BISHOP (Catherine Keener), his second in command. Their mission is simple: find a squeaky clean replacement for Rainbow Randolph, someone who is completely beyond reproach. There's really only one name that fits the bill, and both Frank and Nora are horrified at who they're stuck with.
It's no wonder. When we meet Smoochy The Rhino, he's performing at a methadone clinic, singing happy songs about kicking heroin to the assembled addicts. Inside the Smoochy suit is perpetually cheerful SHELDON MOPES (Edward Norton). It's a great role, the innocent afloat in a sea of sharks, and a good deal of the first half of the script deals with his initiation into the horrifically corrupt world of children's television. He wants to be a Captain Kangaroo or a Mr. Rogers for the new millennium, but everyone else just wants to use Smoochy to sell cereal, toys, and bogus children's charities, and when he tries to stand up for what he thinks is right, the full force of the industry comes to bear against him.
There's some pointed satire here, but for the most part, it's just dark absurdism, and that's where De Vito has always been at his best as a director. As things build to the debut of SMOOCHY ON ICE, there are any number of twists and turns, and the way the film wraps back around to that opening scene surprised me quite a bit. Williams has been given a great role to play here as Rainbow Randolph gets dragged further and further into the gutter, then past the gutter and into the sewer, then deeper even still. He goes completely insane, and begins to plot the actual death of Smoochy, and some of the funniest material in the film comes from Randolph's dissolution. There's something great about Williams playing broken men, people who can barely hold themselves together. What's impressed me the most over the years is the way he manages to bring new grace notes to this type of character time and time again, and I'm willing to bet he does the same here.
There's going to be a lot of attention focused on Christopher Nolan when his follow-up to MEMENTO is released, and I think that's a good thing. He can handle it, and I think we're going to be spared the sort of embarrassing sophomore slump that's hit so many young filmmakers after their breakthrough films recently. Nolan's an exciting filmmaker with a strong visual sense that has developed a strong list of supporters with his first two films. I still haven't seen FOLLOWING, his debut feature, but I should be taking a look at it later this week.
There's another reason this film will be under extreme scrutiny, and that's because so many people are so fond of the original film by Erik Skjoldbjaerg. I haven't seen the whole film, having tuned in late to it on IFC, but now that I've read Hillary Seitz's American screenplay, dated 5.2.00, I'm definitely going to rent the Criterion Edition DVD and take a look. Once again, it looks like George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh's Section Eight Films has come up with a winner, the right combination of talent and material, and have given Nolan the blueprint to craft a powerful, striking major studio debut.
Al Pacino's the star of the film, playing Detective WILL DORMER, a legend of sorts from Seattle, an old-fashioned good cop who's been working with his partner HAP ECKHART (Martin Donovan) for quite a while. Their reason for visiting Nightmute, Alaska in the film is two-fold. First, they've been invited up to help on a case, and second, they're escaping the pressure cooker of a major Internal Affairs investigation that's underway. They're welcomed by an old friend and by ELLIE BURR (Maura Tierney), a newly-minted detective who idolizes Will for his history, and they meet a number of supporting characters that include strong roles for Nicky Katt and Hillary Swank.
At first, it appears they've been asked to help on a simple, if unusual, murder case involving a young girl. Her boyfriend RANDY STETZ (Jonathan Jackson) is one of the first people to fall under suspicion, but Will's not convinced. Her blue knapsack is found in a small cabin by a lake, and the cops search it, coming up with nothing more damning than a hairbrush, some "Hello Kitty" stickers, a couple of mystery novel paperbacks by Walter Boyd, a local author. They put the bag back and watch to see who comes to claim it, which leads the cops to a foggy beach on an early morning, a scene unfolds that changes Dormer's world, leaving his partner dead and the suspect free. Discussing the plot beyond that point becomes difficult, especially since I'm not sure how much of the plot was in the original and how much is invention for this remake, so I'm gonna toss a little spoiler space in here. I'll pick back up with the blue non-spoiler text a couple of paragraphs down.
DO NOT KEEP READING IF YOU WANT TO SEE INSOMNIA TOTALLY FRESH!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!
Robin Williams shows up as Walter Byrd, author of the J. Brody mystery series. The film is not so much a mystery about who killed the girl as it is a terrible game that evolves between Byrd and Detective Dormer after the morning on the beach. Seems that Hap and Will are under investigation by Internal Affairs back in Seattle, and Hap has made up his mind to come clean when they return from Alaska. It's Will who shoots his partner, and Byrd sees him do it. When he contacts Will, he tells him that they're "partners" now, and what unfolds is a sad, doomed game of cat and mouse between these two men who each have trouble controlling their rage. Williams is going to be able to give his inner sonofabitch free reign in this one as he tightens the screws on Dormer, expecting a free pass on his own transgression just because he's learned Dormer's secret.
OKAY. FINISHED WITH THE SPOILERS. COME ON BACK AND JOIN US, WON'T YOU?!
Hillary Seitz has crafted a strong piece of suspense writing here that doesn't depend on comparisons with the original for its greatness. Her style is clean and spare on the page, and the complex story unfolds at a quick clip, confident, without a single misstep.
Oh, wait... I take that back. There's one. The last two lines of dialogue in the script... well, frankly, they stink. You can't deliver such a smart, confident, clean build to your audience, then smack them in the face on their way out the door. They'll remember. Make sure that last beat plays as well as everything else, and this could be Nolan's ticket to the A-list.
A BRIEF PAUSE, IN WHICH WE RECAP...
Both DEATH TO SMOOCHY and INSOMNIA are what I would describe as supporting roles, and damn strong ones. They both represent strong choices by Williams, and even though SMOOCHY is a comedy, Rainbow Randolph isn't your typical Williams role. There's no room for familiar shtick here, and that's a good thing. One of the reasons GOOD WILL HUNTING featured such strong work by him was because it was such a tight script, such a particular voice. These roles have typically given Williams room to do some of his most charged work, detailed and specific, in films like DEAD AGAIN and THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN and Christopher Hampton's THE SECRET AGENT, which featured one of the most frightening Williams appearances to date.
If you don't count PATCH ADAMS, of course.
These supporting roles, including his appearance as "Dr. Know" in Spielberg's A.I., are just warm-ups, though, for what I feel will be the main event, the project most worth paying attention to, and one that's already been deeply misunderstood by some online critics in their rush to judgement.
ONE HOUR PHOTO
One of my current fascinations is studying the careers of the various members of Propaganda Films. I find it difficult to get a bead on any talent pool that can include David Fincher and Spike Jonze alongside Michael Bay and Simon West. It's like finding out that the Jedi and the Sith are holding mixers; it just don't make no sense.
I've been particularly curious about Mark Romanek, especially while he was circling URBAN TOWNIE and considering the film. It was a strong, personal piece of writing that could have made a great little film, and when it didn't happen, I heard a number of reasons why. All I knew for sure about Romanek's involvement was that he moved on to a project he wrote himself.
This is that film. You've probably seen an image or two from the film by now, and you may have read a few early reactions to the script on DARK HORIZONS or IGN FILM FORCE. There's a few misconceptions that seem to have crept into the coverage and some of the Talk Backs that I'd like to address. First, this is no thriller. I don't think it was meant to be a thriller, not in the FATAL ATTRACTION thuddingly obvious commercial carbon copy sort of way that we've gotten so used to. Instead, this is an intimate character study about a broken soul who has become fixated on an image of something he's never had. It's also not a RED DRAGON knockoff. That would again imply that this is a thriller. When I first read people talking about this, they boiled down the plot in a way that made it sound like something moderately interesting that boiled down to a glossy slasher film. But that's the problem with reading descriptions of something instead of actually reading what's being described. You're at the mercy of the person describing it to you, and their bias is going to slant the way they describe it. I'm as guilty of it as anyone out there. When I like something, I can't help but be enthusiastic in describing it. When I dislike something, I find it hard to contain my sarcasm and scorn, leading to things like my CELL review.
That's one of the reasons that even if other people have dismissed a project, I like to try and approach it with an open mind. When I picked up the script for ONE HOUR PHOTO, I had no idea what sort of ride to expect or how far Romanek was willing to go. As a result, I found myself completely absorbed in the world of Sy Parrish, and I feel confident in saying that this is one of the projects I'm most looking forward to between now and the end of the year. Romanek is a writer of uncommon elegance and humanity, nothing like I expected. He has crafted something that is achingly real, almost embarrassingly intimate, and he's given Robin Williams one of the best roles he's ever had to play in the process.
For one thing, this script features the best use of narration since FIGHT CLUB or ELECTION, and in some ways, it's even better. Romanek has experience as a still photographer, and he's made great use of that knowledge here, giving Sy Parrish a particular voice that is captivating and honest. Romanek makes devastating use of subtext here, allowing Sy to speak about some fascinating things even as he's also giving us information that adds up to a series of major punches over the course of the film.
The premise is simple. Sy works at a local store, a WalMart type chain, where he has been developing pictures for over a decade. There's one family who comes in almost every week with new pictures, The Yorkins. Sy has developed a fixation on NINA (GLADIATOR's Connie Nielsen), the mother, and Jake, the family's 11 year old son, that manifests in a creepy but harmless way. Sy keeps copies of all the photos he develops for the family and displays them in a chronological montage on one wall of his apartment. He loses himself in the pictures, in the life that those pictures portray, and does his best to insinuate himself into their real life in his brief encounters with them at the store.
Two things happen, though, that raise the stakes and force Sy to change his behavior, one right after the other. First, he learns through the pictures he's developing that Nina's husband WILL is having an affair. Second, his store figures out he's been printing copies of something, thousands of copies, and they fire him.
What happens then is not what I expected, and it doesn’t unfold for the reasons you'd think.
What I find most impressive is the way Romanek avoids the easy beats, the shortcuts that have derailed similar mainstream films in the past. This is an indie movie in spirit, if not in origin. Romanek refuses to give in to formula, and that's what makes it so breathtaking. You keep waiting for that misstep, that move that's going to make the film fall in line with everything else we see, but it never comes.
Instead, Sy Parrish is portrayed as a person, as someone with a major piece of himself missing, and he's allowed to remain human all the way until the closing frames of the film. Romanek isn't writing some cheap thrill ride with a stock monster at the heart of it. Instead, he's trying to take an unflinching look at just how someone can get so broken that they become a menace to the people they think they love.
The keen intelligence of the script, both in terms of what it says and the style of how it's written, suggests to me that Romanek is one of the good guys, and I'm excited. This is what we always hope for when these strong visualists like Chris Cunningham or Jonathan Glazer or Fincher or Michel Gondry or even Tarsem make the switch from videos to features. I always pray that we'll see a perfect marriage of substance and style, and Romanek is already ahead of the game. If he can write a script like this, then I have faith that his heart and his head will steer him towards worthwhile stories as his career progresses.
And so the gauntlet has been thrown down. Robin Williams has picked a slate of smart, challenging, adult roles that could very well rennovate his image with demanding film fans who miss the daring of roles like GARP or GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM or DEAD POETS SOCIETY. If anything, he's raised the bar here by taking on a handful of roles that will push him in new ways. It's nice to see someone who could very easily coast on their past work choosing to reach for new heights instead, and I hope it pays off in all three cases.
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June 11, 2001, 8:34 p.m. CST
How can anyone, even in the abysmal armpit of civilization known as Los Angeles, root for that team?! Between Phil Jackson's bullshit zen routine and wannabe hip "soul patch" to Kobe's arrogance to fuckhead see-and-be-seen non fans like Jack Nicholson to Shaq's...actually, I've got no particular problem with Shaq... rooting for the Lakers is like rooting for the Yankees - it takes no courage, no balls, no soul, no imagination, nothing but the desire to be associated with a probable winner. Fuck LA. Give me two guards playing on broken ankles, a center with a broken finger, a hip-hop gangsta rap wannabe heist with a bruised ass, throw in a broken foot, separated shoulder and a general lack of talent instead, and give me Philly! Go Sixers. And all you LA bandwagon geeks shut the fuck up.
June 11, 2001, 8:34 p.m. CST
June 11, 2001, 8:43 p.m. CST
I was almost first. Anyway, I hope these films can get Robin back on the right track. After the last few years of his films, I started getting embarrassed for him. And that's never good for an Oscar winner. But then again, I'm embarrassed for Marisa Tomei, too.
June 11, 2001, 8:47 p.m. CST
Thats a great job man. Wonderful article. I saw Robin Williams on the Bravo Actors studio on sunday in between the first and last 5 minutes of the game. Hes still as funny as ever... Cant wait to see his films this year.
June 11, 2001, 8:48 p.m. CST
by Ice Tray
So folks, Robin Williams is the name of the game and i'm ready to take a swing if you don't mind. He is an absolutely brillaint comedian when it comes to making things up on the spot. I saw him live at the T.O. Film Fest premier of Jocob The Liar. He went on stage and adlibbed the funniest shit i've heard in a long time. It is this type of off-the-wall comedy that makes him so enjoyable to watch on film, but because you know he is so funny, he has to work extra hard to get accepted as a dramatic actor. These films above can show case his comic and serious acting abilities, but i think the directors of these films will impact how Robin comes off to the viewer. Ed and Brad would not have been the same if it wasn't for the brilliant work of Mr. Fincher. Robin hit a double by chosing the right roles, now it's the directors job to drive him home. Oh BTW, FIGHT CLUB IS THE BEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME, BAR NON, GREATEST FILM ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH AND NOTHING CAN BEAT IT!!! P.S. Go Sixers!!!!
June 11, 2001, 8:59 p.m. CST
by Sgt. Bilko
I respect your opinions and love of film, Moriarty, but some constructive criticism: Edit your work a little more. Please. I think you would be able to make much stronger points if you took out some of the fluff. It's not your fault- all writers get it when they put down what immediately comes to mind, as one is compelled to do when writing for the internet. But a piece like this doesn't require immediate posting as it's not really a 'scoop.' Maybe you can increase readership and cut down on backlash towards your style if you take a class or something. Some say you're pretentious and a whiner, but I just think your work needs a little more polish until you have a real expressive, professional style.
June 11, 2001, 9:17 p.m. CST
heheheh, I got a kick outta that line.
June 11, 2001, 9:19 p.m. CST
by Sith Witch
June 11, 2001, 9:21 p.m. CST
by Red Army Chimp
Sure, Williams has starred in some pretty shoddy fucking flicks lately, but if you look at the stories behind such schlock as Bicentennial Man and Jakob the Liar, you'd probably think there's hope. Then you look at the direction behind it, and, automatically, you know why it sucked. Bicentennial Man suffered from bad production: the robotic, peachy-looking Williams to the cityscape. Also, the little girl in the family Williams belonged to - the actress - was shitty; with her "I hate you" forced sentimentality, you felt like shitting your brains out with how lame that scene carried back, which you can credit to Columbus. The only way Columbus will ever be liked is as a nostalgia director - thanks to Home Alone and, eh, Mrs. Doubtfire. Hell, one of my favorite Spielberg films starred Williams (yes), Hook. That was a slump-era for Spielberg, but regardless, the fucking story had heart and magic that extended to the filmmaking, so I can understand why Williams joined that production; though it failed critically. As for A.I. and Williams recieving a part there, I think it might somehow validate Hook. (Obviously, A.I.'s going to be a special film.) 'One Hour Photo' sounds like a great film. Romanek, like David Fincher, works in music video and knows narrative (no, not spoken, overlapping dialogue, but rather visual metaphor), so obviously it's going to be a film which plays out without an excess of dialogue, but rather letting the images speak for themselves. I notice GOOD video directors like Fincher understand this in some way, giving them an edge - a true filmmaker wit about them regardless of the caliber of their films. This film will probably be disliked and so be it. Not every mediocre mother fucker has taste in film. Death to Smoochy sounds a bit TOO dark, but that's what'll make it great. Ed Norton as Smoochy validates it all. The problem with most people nowadays is they expect so much out of films with the "indie-spirit" i.e. bizarre, and cheesy-to-the-point-it'll-offend-your-average-film-goer's-intelligence. But then again, it seems everyone liked Being John Malkovich (also directed by music video director Spike Jonze) because it was off-beat, regardless of its lack of integrity and INDEPENDENT thought, it's still a thoroughly entertaining film. After all, it's not really the story that counts, but the filmmaking/illustration. Fuck, 'Citizen Kane' is next to God SIMPLY because of the filmmaking. (Filmmaking includes acting and production.) Now, as for Insomnia, it's going to be a fucking silly marketing gimick soon to adapt foreign films into americanized productions. But then again, the only other instance I'm aware of is Vanilla Sky adapting Open Your Eyes. Open Your Eyes had a great fucking story (ending notwithstanding), but the filmmaking resembled that of a Cinemax pay-channel production and hopefully Cameron Crowe can breathe a little life and magic into it. Then again, I've yet to see Insomnia, so maybe it sucked bad enough to be remade. If it doesn't, then there's no excuse for remaking whatso-fucking-ever! Oh, FUCK, I missed another A.I. commercial during writing this! But I like Robin Williams enough to miss a 45 second glimpse into magic, and I think you should, too. (Hey, it's only 45 seconds!)
June 11, 2001, 9:26 p.m. CST
Now, it won't surprise me if most people on here aren't rooting for the Lakers, cuz Los Angeles (and CA) is to the rest of the US what the US is to the rest of the world (Not liked all that much, to put it lightly). But there's a reason for that. Anyways, I love it here in L.A. and like most of my friends, love (and have loved) the Lakers (and the Clips -- but the have a long way to go before they become fun to watch). Oh and devil0509... its Kolbe (not Kobe). This year, Kolbe has improved exponentially... primarily in the "selflessness" deptartment. Hell, Charles Barkley (a great friend of Jordan's) says he believes Kolbe is better than Jordan was at that age. Oh and Jack Nicholson has been a hardcore Lakers fan for YEARS and not just some celeb trying to ride the Laker's popularity train. True, Lakers ARE the new Bulls, and its uber trendy to root for them and even more trendy to root against them. I like the Sixers. I respect the Sixers. I think Iverson is an absolutely great player, and I'm glad he and the rest of his team is giving the Lakers a little pressure. But being a Los Angelian, I have to root for the home team. Honestly, to flat out "hate" a particular person or team (especially cuz they are successful -- rightfully or not) is just sad. Sorry for this off topic rant, but I'm just backing up Moriarty who has every right in the US to root for whatever team he likes. Oh, and I'm glad to hear Robin is continuing on even after the mediocre Patch and the not so great (imho) Jacob the Liar.
June 11, 2001, 9:37 p.m. CST
by Haystack Calhoun
Firt off, kudos to Moriarty for a well written,heartfelt post(don't see too many of those around here). You can almost feel the lve of film dripping off the words. This is a post that has me very excited, Robin Williams has been in a big slump since Goodwill. Except for Bicentenial Man, I think everyone just immediately panned it because of its association with Disney,give it a chance. I really found the choices he's made in playing these roles suprising. This is after all the man who turned down the role of the Riddler because he thought he was "too evil". But like Moriarty said he must be out to cover new territory and challenge himself. Can't wait to see these movies whenever they make it to the screen(provided the studios haven't gotten their hands on the scripts and jacked everything up). By the way, i'd like to encourage everyone to go see MOULIN ROUGE. It is one of the greatest movies i've seen in my life. I think most of you will agree(those of you who can actually enjoy a movie instead of just looking for faults that is).
June 11, 2001, 9:44 p.m. CST
...but what is with these assholes whining about how long it is? Moriarty writes long sometimes, but guess what...this isn't one of them. Do you people have NO attention spans? It's an article about Robin Williams, the directions his career has gone and is going, and THREE SCRIPT REVIEWS! Too long, my ass. Keep 'em coming, Mori.
June 11, 2001, 10:02 p.m. CST
I mean, really.
June 11, 2001, 10:06 p.m. CST
Damn right, fuckin guy.
June 11, 2001, 10:28 p.m. CST
The Lakers could have had the past two games taken away from them. I will admit that Philly has just been way too eager, thought. Otherwise, when they play cool-headed, I think they are a much better team. Lakers just rely on raw talent. And I hate Shaq, I hate his lil smirk. I have my hopes for the Sixers (not that high, because I have been used to disappointment, coming from the NY w/ the Knicks: boy, does is it hard work to try to be a fan, game after game), and if they win Wednesday, I think it's over for the Lakers.
June 11, 2001, 11:01 p.m. CST
by Easy Rider
How is it possible for a person to say, "Fuck the Lakers! Go Sixers!" ? What makes the Sixers so much better than Lakers and vice versa? That's why I never understood the appeal of sports. All it appears to be (viewer-wise) is a bunch of people living their lives through others, more often than not a bunch of Johhny-Come-Latelys who only root for the most successful team. And also, bar the "Hometown-Pride" thing. That never made any sense either. Why would you love a team just because they live in your town? You aren't participating. So why would you get worked up by it and love the team passionately? It just makes sports all the more pointless, the silliness of "This Team Sucks! That Team Rules!" You're forgeting that these are a bunch of guys dribbling balls or running down a field or cracking a ball with a stick. Aside from the occasional player, like Jordan, Shaq, etc., who stand out, all of them are all relatively interchangeable. It's just luck one team wins, the otehr loses. There really isn't anything special about any one player. You assemble a skilled enough team, of course you're bound to do fairly good. That's why I always drifted to movies and literature. It just seemed a little bit more advanced than sports(I'm NOT cracking on anyone, so don't yell at me). It took a little bit more than a well toned body to create a wonderful piece of film or write a fabulous book. I don't know....Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm the only man in this country that doesn't get sports.
June 11, 2001, 11:20 p.m. CST
Great review, Moriarity. Robin's the man, ever since I saw his stand-up routine from his hometown of Frisco back in '85. I really hope he gains some critical freedom after this picture, so he can make a really wacky, light-hearted Comic Relief reunion pic like "Eddie II", with Whoopi Goldberg as the head coach of the Spurs and Robin as the unusually hairy and hilarious point guard who takes over to beat the Lakers with his only move, the deadly pinpoint alley-op passes he throws for David Robinson, Tim Duncan, and Georghes Murehesan, with Shaq managing to foul out of every game without scoring a point due to referee Billy Crystal's whimsical penchant for calling technical fouls on him for laughing at Robin's dirty improvised sketches while "ball-handling". The only plot hole will be the Zena-esque lack of explanation for the mid-game pie fights that seem to erupt without provication.
June 11, 2001, 11:55 p.m. CST
by pogo on my own
I hope you were kidding, the kids name is Kobe.
June 12, 2001, 12:04 a.m. CST
Dude Mark Romanek and Spike Jonze ARE NOT part of the Propaganda roster. Propaganda roster: Antoine Fuqua, MArcel Langenegger, Scott Marshall, Mark Pellington, Dominic Sena, Michael Bay, Paul Boyd, Steven Hanft, Renee Eller, Simon West, Keir McFarlane, Kuntz & Maguire, Jason Harrington, Stephane Sednoui, Nzinghga Stewart, Dante Arola, Charles Wittenmeier, and Andy Morahan.
June 12, 2001, 12:21 a.m. CST
...I *have* "dealt with Moriarty personally," in fact I've met him, and he's a pretty nice cat all around. He does tend to react poorly to assholes, though. Food for thought?
June 12, 2001, 12:54 a.m. CST
June 12, 2001, 1:21 a.m. CST
For starters, lay off the man's team. If he wants to cheer for LA, let him. Hell, I'm a Pacers fan, and always have been...guess where I was born and raised. Now, on to my two cents. I promise to keep it short. The movies all sound great, and it was fun to see the old Mork and Mindy crap that you only see on ebay anymore. I had heard about all three movies, and have the highest hopes for smoochy, but I have to admit, now I'm really looking forward to all three. Especially since I got dragged to "The Animal" this weekend. Okay, that wraps my comments on the origional article. Now for everybody else. First off, those of you who keep bitching about the length of Moriarty's articles...quit your bitching or start turning in your own reviews. Moriarty, you have a presence in your writing that shows that you really love what you do. That is a rare thing in the world today. Everyday, when I get home from work, the first thing I do is bitch about how dumb the people I deal with on a daily basis are. I'm not the biggest fan of my job, but I can tell you are, and for that, I hold you, and all of the AICN staff, for that matter, in the highest of regard. Personally, I appreciate the extra effort used to craft perfect sentence time after time. Those who think the posts are too long, just don't get it. Finally, to the idiot wanting Robin to "come out of the closet". Get a clue, wanker. Most of Robin Williams' comedy is based off of the extremes of personality. One of the side effects of bi-polar disorder, which Williams has. What you said was insulting. And by the way, the actual expression is "queer as a three dollar bill" at least get the insult right.
June 12, 2001, 3:23 a.m. CST
by Bill Carson
And the answer of course is, "Doolittle is Back...Eddie Murphy in Doolittle 2, June 22 only in theaters."
June 12, 2001, 3:58 a.m. CST
Robin Williams was called the most talented actor of his generation (along with Richard Pryor). About time he picked some talented scripts.
June 12, 2001, 4:40 a.m. CST
First of all, it is Kobe Bryant, not Kolby Bryant - if I'm wrong, then so is ESPN AND Sports Illustrated AND about every sports reporter in the country. Perhaps you should enlighten us all on this. Second, you're a Los Angeleno, not a Los Angeleian, or whatever you said. Third, yeah, Jack's been a Lakers fan for years...ever since Magic Johnson got there (in all seriousness, much credit to the Lakers for maintaining a high degree of success for that long!) Finally, when you're rooting for the defending champs who are up 2-1 in the series and some loudmouth fan (like me) from the overmatched challenger du jour comes along ranting, you've GOT to respond with a little more verve than you did. Give me some proper smack, dammit! You're a tinsel-town boy - channel Samuel Jackson or something. Have some Tofu and sushi, get some protein. Then start talking shit like you mean it. Or come on over to Philly and chuck some iceballs at Santa Claus, just to get the juices flowing. Sam Cassell once called the UNC Tarhole fans at the Dean Smith Center a wine and cheese crowd (being a Duke grad, I love that)...hearing your weak pseudo-smack, I wonder if the same could be said about the Staples Center crowd. How about it?
June 12, 2001, 5:09 a.m. CST
by drew mcweeny
Ah, Mali, you poor softskulled simp, I know you want desperately to prove me wrong, but allow me to back up my assertation about Romanek and Jonze with the following, which we'll call "evidence" just so you can follow along, okay? First, try cutting and pasting this link --http://www.jamcaster.com/JamMoviesArtistsJ/jonze_spike.html for a series of stories about Spike Jonze archived all the way back to 1997 when he... gasp!... signed with Propaganda Films. As far as Romanek is concerned, you can either check this link -- http://www.boardsmag.com/articles/online/20000323/atom.html or if you want one that features both Jonze and Romanek, you can check this link -- http://www.clipland.com/Pro/production_companies_2.shtml, and before you say, "They're with Satellite Films, not Propaganda," check the addresses for both companies and read a little deeper. Besides, MaliOcean Who Seems To Be Hiding Under A New Name, I never said they were CURRENT Propaganda filmmakers, did I? I just remarked on how one company has been a home to such a disparate group of voices. Which is my way of saying, "You're wrong." Enjoy.
June 12, 2001, 5:53 a.m. CST
but couldn't let the Phil Jackson slam go. I won't slam Philly (other than that whiney-ass Iverson- just shut up and play dammit!), but you have to give it up to the only coach who could find a way for 2 of the biggest egos on the planet to work together and look beyond their own self-obsession to find a measure of respect for each other. He's more of a teacher/mentor than coach. Any doubters need to read his book.
June 12, 2001, 6:03 a.m. CST
by Sgt. Bilko
But a little rough. Moriarty constantly says the same about many films he sees, like Evolution or Unbreakable, while so I'm sure he can understand what I mean. I love the man's writing, but with a little more development of some of his better ideas, he'd have some real classics. Your'e right...he does have more skill than most AICN posters, but he could be at a whole other level. I'm not complaining, just encouraging him to go for that!
June 12, 2001, 6:14 a.m. CST
by Elston Gunn
Good show, Moriarty. I was thinking about these films the other day and I'm glad you wrote this fine article. Maybe one day Harrison Ford will get it together. By the way, ONE HOUR PHOTO will have a limited release on 9/28. Hope that doesn't change.
June 12, 2001, 6:17 a.m. CST
Screw the bloated, arrogant Lakers. They have had their taste. Shaq and Kobe are two of the most arrogant fucks I have ever seen. Anyway, on to the real business. I hope that these movies bring RW back to the place he belongs. It's just unbelievable the mediocrity he has gone through in the past several years. The last two things that he did in recent times that were good were Mrs. Doubtfire and (to a point) Hook. I really wish him well on these new movies!
June 12, 2001, 7:12 a.m. CST
by General Idea
Robin Williams does much better work when given a serious role, & allowed to bring humor into it when necessary. His characters in Garp, GoodWill Hunting, Fisher King, Dead Poets Society, even Awakenings were not based on humor. Jack, Father's Day, Hook, Jumanji, Flubber, Patch Adams, all these characters were supposed to be funny. I suppose Jacob the Liar and Being Human buck this trend, and I didn't see What Dreams May Come or Bicentennial Man, but I'm just sick of him being silly throughout an entire movie. He's a funny enough guy where he can add humor to a movie without having to do stand-up through the whole thing. Crap, Good Morning Vietnam was good though. Ah, hell with it. One Hour Photo gives me visions of Falling Down for some reason. Cool...
June 12, 2001, 7:21 a.m. CST
Nice article Moriarty, although the gallery of Mork & Mindy stuff was terrifying. But: I'm also a fan of Williams that has always wished he'd return to the glory of his abilities. He's done a lot of fluff over the years, and he does fluff well enough, but he can do something with an edge powerfully. The guy is so plainly talented, and yet he so often has shyed away from projects which could use those talents in their enormity. I'm excited for Williams and for these flicks!
June 12, 2001, 7:29 a.m. CST
by The Reef
Excellent post from Mori. One thing though..this whole thing of Williams being unfunny and playing a character with a 'hole in his mind', resulting in misdirected imaginings and associations that create for his character and full and rich fantasy existence...? Does the 'Fisher King' ring any bells with anyone? Bless Terry Gillam for this, Williams never had a chance to stretch his legs before this (in my opinion) so maybe once he realised he didn't have to pull faces for a living anymore he started looking for stuff like "One hour photo". Then again what WAS 'Bicentennial Man' all about anyway. The guy must have some serious alimony, that's all I than think of. Keep it up.
June 12, 2001, 8:46 a.m. CST
by SilentBob X
Wouldn't surprise me. Anyway, I highly doubt that 2001 is the year of Robin Williams. It's the year of Angelina Jolie(Tomb Raider). But, I will say this: Death to Smoochy sounds like a good comeback flick for Williams. A big refresher from all the family shit he's dived into and a welcome return to his killer 80s self. Here's hoping. Snoogans.
June 12, 2001, 8:54 a.m. CST
by Ghost Who Walks
The original Insomnia was a brilliant, cold, uncompromisingly grim film. Ballsy as hell. No way I see them going the same route with the remake. Anyone seen the original The Vanishing? Compare that to the watered down, overblown remake with Jeff Bridges. This despite the fact that the same man directed both. Hollywood just has no courage.
June 12, 2001, 9:04 a.m. CST
Red Army Chimp: its refreshing to see an intellegent, comprehensive and rational posting on these talkbacks. You make some very good points. Moriarty: I definitely agree with your editorial. I think Williams has made some poor career choices over the last few years, but I think its a slump that all great actors go through. Its a very long, winding road from the script stage to a completed film. When I first heard of Bicentennial Man, I was looking forward to seeing it. I knew it would be a bit..hmm..."soft" because of the direction, but Williams, a good script and some decent special effects could make up for it. I was wrong. And Williams probably thought something similar when his agent pitched him the idea. Anyway, it will be good to see him back in good form. That Oscar on his mantle was no mistake. It was well deserved, and it will be good to be reminded why.
June 12, 2001, 9:05 a.m. CST
by Andy Travis
He's reeaaally scary. In a good way. The ending is worth the price of the rental.
June 12, 2001, 9:15 a.m. CST
Great post Mori! Nice insight, plenty to read and lots of great info. Like the old Robin memorabillia also!
June 12, 2001, 10:16 a.m. CST
by Buzz Maverik
Hollywood told me,"They are completely different, asshole. Sideshow Bob is always trying to kill Bart Simpson. We couldn't get Bart Simpson for this picture. Besides, the SIMPSONS is a cartoon."
June 12, 2001, 10:41 a.m. CST
by Ninja Nerd
Sir, I've seen Robin Williams live and he is VERY funny. Yes, his rapid fire delivery had some folks laughing for no apparent reason, but I caught 95% of what he said and IT WAS FUNNY! Hell, the phrase "heat seeking moisture missile" alone (he was grabbing his crotch and chasing a hot blonde across the stage) was worth the price of admission. And how old is the "Elmer Fudd does Bruce Springsteen" bit? That was PLENTY slow and...it's still funny. 'Nuff said...boot to the head!
June 12, 2001, 10:48 a.m. CST
Is it just me, or does that thing look just like Tony Danza? Now there's an actor!
June 12, 2001, 10:50 a.m. CST
Sportscenter just did this piece on if Michael Jordan comes back, could he handle the young guys, and Kobe said he's ready for MJ. To that I say, BAH!!! MJ could be 87 with a walker and he could hand Kobe his ass! Oh, and Robin Williams has always been one of, if not the, best. I can't wait for these movies. Welcome back, Robin.
June 12, 2001, 2:17 p.m. CST
...cause he's the best thing to happen to ANY movie he's ever been in. Bicentennial Man and Patch Adams were sappy, true, but guess what? The rest of the world who aren't FRICKIN GEEKS can admit that that is not such a bad thing...imagine that! If you didn't get a tear in your eye during either of those movies you don't have a heart...frickin jackass evil americans.
June 12, 2001, 3:39 p.m. CST
by penniless writer
June 12, 2001, 3:40 p.m. CST
by penniless writer
Can you say "microwave" children? Robin Williams standup used to be funny, especially when he was Mr. Rogers.
June 12, 2001, 4:50 p.m. CST
Thank you M. That was a thoughtful, informative and entertaining review. It sounds like Robin's snagged a trio of films that will challenge him like he hasn't been challenged in years. I always like him better when there's a dark edge to blunt the saccharine flavor he has always gravitated towards. While I don't like the results, I honor his intention to make work that embodies decency. that's a really rare abition in any part of life, much less Hollywood. Even if the results are Patch Adams. (Was there ever a porn movie Snatch Adams? just asking.) On a side note, I really dug Insomnia when I saw it. I don't like it when Hollywood takes the script,, the soul of a great foreign-language film; planting it into an english speaking movie wholesale and hoping to find a beating heart. It didn't work for the Professional, nor that really lame movie with Keifer Sutherland. Finally, I just enjoy reading Moriarity's reviews, especially when he likes the flicks.
June 12, 2001, 5:37 p.m. CST
by Lenny Nero
Those are two incredible videos, and if he can really write as well as Mori says he can, we are in for quite a treat.
June 12, 2001, 7:17 p.m. CST
June 12, 2001, 7:45 p.m. CST
...as co-writer/director: Static. A guy becomes convinced that TV static is a live feed from heaven. Everyone thinks he's crazy but, when a major accident occurs and many people die, people start looking at the TV static to visit their relatives. I've been slightly misleading and non-specific here to avoid giving away surprises but you get the idea. It's kinda pretentious but it's also an intriguing and mature parable about religion or, more specifically, spirituality. It's kind of like "Dogma" if it was made by Stanley Kubrick, instead of John Landis, I mean Kevin Smith. Anyway, Nolan, Romanek and Danny DeVito are all interesting directors so...three cheers for the newly reformed Robin Williams.
June 12, 2001, 7:56 p.m. CST
Always a pleasure to read your pieces. Hmmm, mali has changed his name then? Well, it's unfortunate he has returned to the tb's, but then, it just wasn't the same around here without those fond wishes that he would be arrested and convicted of theft in Saudi Arabia after reading one of his posts.
June 12, 2001, 8:43 p.m. CST
by Kung-Fu Bot
Because it hurts not to.
June 12, 2001, 8:52 p.m. CST
First off, I didn't even have to go to the links you listed because I know Spike and Mark WERE NEVER part of Propaganda not even remotely involved with them in any way. Nonetheless I still went to those links you and found NOTHING, NUFFIN' about backing up your desperate move to back your embarassing mistake up. You posted those links hoping I wouldn't check it out but I did and there's nothing on them that backs your shit up bro. And Sattelite IS part of Propaganda moron, they're the same company. Dude you crack me up so much. I would also provide the website address for Propaganda, but I want you to remain ignorant about this company. Have some balls to accept your mistake bro, jesus no wonder you're writing "pro bono" for this website. Let me guess, you work at a Hollywood video or Blockbusters right? You also mention my name change, dude, you know and I know the name Mali_Ocean's been permanently banned from AICN because I was consistently correcting your mistakes in articles. Now here you are butterball, trying to make it seem as if I still have a choice in using that name. I also love your excuse bro, "I didn't mean those two directors were currently signed under Propaganda" I love that, you're a character. Keep up the good work butterball. ahhhhhh so soothing.
June 12, 2001, 9:04 p.m. CST
You probably think since Spike Jonze helmed the Propaganda films production of Being John Malkovich, he was signed with the company. He was NEVER signed, he did a few spots for them in the past but he was never a part of the Propaganda roster. Mark Romanek, I don't know where you got the notion he was ever with the company, you are again assuming he was because of this internet shorts thing a lot of the Propaganda directors are going to be involved with.
June 12, 2001, 10:37 p.m. CST
They're smug. They're arrogant. When they play you don't get the impression that they want to win; you get the impression that they think they deserve the championship just for showing up at the arena. They're what Wal-Mart is to small towns, what Starbucks is to coffee shops and what Nazi Germany was to Europe. They're the Corporate America Dream Team: extraordinarily talented, but bland and almost impossible to love. Now, look at the Sixers: they're playing Rocky to Shaq's Superman. They play every second of every game like it's their last. They're playing with so many injuries, they should just change the name of the team to the M.A.S.H.ers. And look at their superstar: Iverson, 5'11", 160 lbs., misunderstood and hated his entire career, plays with the heart of a warrior, never giving up, never saying die, giving everything he has in his body, mind and soul just to give his team a chance to win. Now, look at "Kolbe": 6'7", 210 lbs., bland, smug, arrogant. So how the hell can somebody root for them?
June 12, 2001, 11:50 p.m. CST
by Haystack Calhoun
You are one sorry fuck with way to much time on his hands. If anyones working the counter at Blockbuster it's you. I kept expecting you to say somewhere in the talkback "Just kidding,i'm not that pathetic",but you were serious. I quote Robin Williams from Good Morning Vietnam when he said "You are in more need of a real job than any other white man in history."
June 13, 2001, 1:40 a.m. CST
Before I say anything about the Lakers, let me say that despite his ridiculous attempts at rapping, Allen Iverson is probably the gutsiest player in the league. He's an Isiah Thomas who takes 40 shots a game, and real basketball fans will understand the compliment. But why boo the Lakers so much? Here's a team that was successful for years, then, within a five year span, lost 3 Hall of Fame players and a Hall of Fame coach. They swam in place for a few years, never threatening anyone, and were still the most hated team in the league. When Shaq showed up, they said he wasn't a championship center. When he failed to win a ring for his first few years, they said he'd never win the big one. When Kobe Bryant came up, they unfairly proclaimed him Michael Jordan II, and when he didn't put up Jordan numbers his first two years, he was basically labeled a talented but erratic average player. These guys have been (and still are) fighting the notions that they: Shaq-Is nothing but a big bully who has no talent other than dunking...Kobe-An arrogant poser who wouldn't be anything without his 7-foot bodyguard Shaq. Both of those assumptions are bullshit. The Lakers have swagger and attitude, yeah. But do they sleepwalk through games with no fire inside? More bullshit. Look at Derek Fisher... Guts, guts, guts. Robert Horry... Ice water in his veins at crunch time. Rick Fox... push past the pretty boy and you have a guy who would take a bullet for his team... Tyronn Lue... same size as Iverson, not as talented, but he's out there busting his ass just to keep up. Kobe... two years in a row in the Finals, Shaq has fouled out with a lot of game left, and two years in a row, Kobe's poise and crucial points kept them in them in the game. Shaq... even after winning the MVP, a ring, and all kinds of other goodies, he's still labeled as one-dimensional and not given his due as the best center in the game and the most dominant player since Wilt. Most people just focus on his bad free throws and his movies and make fun, even as they secretly wish they had him on their team. Which is what it's about. All you haters (and for L.A. teams, there's more hate than anyone except possibly the Yankees) can puke up all the excuses that you want about "pampered, lackadasical, overrated, etc..." players can shut the fuck up because THE SINGLE BIGGEST ARGUMENT I have in favor of Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, and most of the other Lakers, is that no matter what you all say, the goddamned fact is that any one of you would want them on your team. Don't even try to lie about it, because 29 NBA general managers would call you an idiot. I respect the hell out of Philly, but the lack of respect being given the Lakers is getting ridiculous. If they had no heart, they wouldn't be in the Finals, and certainly not up 2-1 on a team with the exact same record as them, who received almost all of the major awards that the NBA gives out. Period. And Robin Williams hasn't been funny since 1985. Let's all hold our breath.
June 13, 2001, 6:33 a.m. CST
I'll agree with you about Shaq. I like Shaq and yeah, he's the most dominant center in the game today (not since Wilt, though, since Olajuwon if anything). And I would kill to have Shaq on my team. But not Kobe. My problem with him is, he doesn't have heart. He can't be relied on to bring it every game, or to lead a team. And maybe it was unfair to call him "the next Jordan", but the problem was he started to believe it, and once he started to believe it, he needed to play to that level and he didn't. He never will. That said, he's the 5th best player in the game (my list goes Shaq, Tim Duncan or Iverson, Vince Carter, Kobe) and he deserves props for that. But I still wouldn't want him on my team.
June 13, 2001, 12:47 p.m. CST
Here are 2 words that explain all you need to know... PHIL JACKSON without him, you fan-boys would be cheering for the sixers right now.
June 13, 2001, 10:48 p.m. CST
Did anyone see his stellar 2-hour tour-de-force this past week on Inside The Actors Studio? I was among those who thought he'd lost it. Or at least peaked. Until he turned in one of the most brilliant, violently funny, comic performances I've ever seen on James Lipton's pompous Greenwich Village stage ("Look at the car! Look at the car! Look at the car!"). I think Robin is back.
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