Skip to main content

What Dreams May Come


Confession time. The comedic roles of Robin Williams are like nails on a chalk board to me. If someone wanted to to torture me, just a few minutes of Good Morning, Vietnam, Mork & Mindy, RV, or any of his stand-up routines would do the trick. The only exception to this would be Mrs. Doubtfire, a movie that just works. Having said that, I do appreciate the joy and laughter that Williams' manic persona brought to so many people.

For me, I loved Robin Williams the serious man. Here's where I think he sits atop the mountains of greatness, along with Brando, Stewart, Finch, DiCaprio, Braugher, Hanks and many others who were or are masters of their craft. In a serious role, I found Williams to be riveting. He won an Oscar (for 1997's Good Will Hunting), but could have been nominated (and won) for many more performances. He was that good.

Consider what was perhaps Williams' best, darkest role, that of suspected murderer Walter Finch in the American version of Insomnia. His co-star, Al Pacino, is a giant of the dramatic arts, yet it was Williams who stole the show. Solemn, creepy, terrifying. He owned that movie. What of Dr. Malcolm Sayer in Awakenings? The physician who helps bring catatonic patients out of their stupors, only to see them return to them later on, he was so depressingly brilliant in that role.

Last night, I re-watched Williams in the 1994 Bop Gun episode of Homicide: Life on the Street, wherein his on-screen wife is shot by a random thug. A young Jake Gyllenhaal plays his son. Williams plays the part to perfection, showcasing stages of shock, grief, anger and guilt. Kenneth Branagh even cast Robin in his superb adaptation of Hamlet. And he was perfect as Dr. Know, providing somber narration for Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

In The Birdcage, Robin Williams was the straight man (no pun intended) to Nathan Lane's over-the-top antics. Lane's character was in-your-face and most memorable, but it was Williams' uptight, serious character who compelled us more. The actor -- known for his comedy -- managed to convey so much, often with such subtleness, about the beleaguered Armand Goldman.

Obviously, I did not know Robin Williams, yet I feel as though we were seeing more of the real him (if such a a statement can be made without sounding assumptive) in these serious roles, the side of him that didn't feel the need to make you laugh every second. I've always been drawn to that side of a person, the part of them that is, perhaps, the most vulnerable.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

If You Could Read My Mind

Dance clubs are a funny thing. They contain within their walls a life force and vibrancy sometimes unmatched anywhere else. When dusk settles and the lights come on, people will flood the dance floors to gyrate to music with hypnotic beats and songs about love, lust and fun at the disco. At gay bars, this sort of scenario usually increases ten-fold. It isn't for everyone, but for many it is a respite from the harsh realities of the real word. It is a place that isn't just a structure, but a sanctuary where folks -- minorities in their own communities -- can take shelter and unwind with abandon, at least for a few nighttime hours.
As someone who benefited greatly from such an aforementioned gay dance club, you can imagine my dismay at news of the closing of Chester Street Bar. In business for over three decades, gay-owned and operated, there was a time when C-Street (as it was known by most) was the only haven for those in the LGBT community, near and far, to enjoy themselves …

Third Death

My father has had three funerals. The third (though perhaps not final) one, was last night.
In reality, Lewis died in 1997. Cancer. Aged 52. He had a real funeral. I was there. The next two funerals occurred only in my dreams, yet they seemed real at the time, and their impact during the waking hours was keenly felt.
You see, during the intervening nineteen years, Lewis has come back to life in my dreams, many times. It is more than simply having a dream about him. During these nighttime images, it is noted that Lewis shouldn't be there, that he died of cancer and is resting six feet under. How, then, could he be alive and, seemingly, healthy?

Thoughts on an Election

Before I get started on the ruminations of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, I'll begin by saying I really have no clue as to who our next president will be. I've always fretted over the outcome of elections, regardless of the polls, and this year is no different. Especially this year. A good case can be made as to why Hillary Clinton will become our 45th president. All one has to do is look at the polls. Clinton has a comfortable lead in many states, enough to make one think that she will win handily on November 8th.
Of course, polls can be wrong. 538 gives Clinton's changes of winning in the low-mid 80 percent range. Several polls would seem to agree. Many Republicans are jumping ship from Trump. The race looks over. But of course, humanity isn't as easily predictable as polling would have us believe. Things happen. People can surprise us. And, for better or worse, I think that Donald Trump may very well become our next president.