Just a quick word about the film-world tragedies that came out in the news this week:
Lauren Bacall was a beautiful and talented actress, and she passed away at age 89. I was very sad to hear of her death because Bogart and Bacall films have been a staple of my movie-watching since my childhood. I know 89 isn't exactly a young age, but I felt like she would be around forever.
I'm sure that some younger folks only know her from her brief appearance in The Sopranos, but I really hope that this inspires people to look back at her CV. They'll realize that she was every bit the powerhouse as Katharine Hepburn, and as much of a beauty Veronica Lake.
I only wrote about her three times - she came up in a "15 Questions Meme" post, when I declared Lauren and Humphrey to be my favorite film couple, and when I reviewed the excellent To Have and Have Not, which was the only one of the quartet of Bogey and Bacall movies that I hadn't seen.
Words cannot express how much I respected her.
But a young death is, of course, more tragic than one that comes in old age. Robin Williams, at 63, passed on so much before his time. And it's worse because he committed suicide, leaving behind his wife and three children. For both Robin and Lauren, we can try to remember them in their best moments, but Mr. Williams' death complicates such simplistic thoughts; to that end, I hope everyone takes a long look at depression, and does whatever they can to fight it, in their own lives or the lives of others.
Depression is a terrible thing, as bad as cancer and probably as hard to treat. Please, if you or people you know are having a hard time with it, seek help. Call a friend, get therapy, calla suicide prevention line; hell you can contact me about it if you want...
I'm sorry if this interview makes you cry a bit, as it did to me:
I have loved comedy for as long as I can remember. I used to watch comedy specials, owned a hell of a lot of comedy albums... and, to this day, I still go to comedy clubs or shows. And Robin Williams was, of course, one of my favorites.
To my shame, I never reviewed a Robin Williams film on this site. He was in so many that I loved, too! His best work is most likely The Fisher King - Terry Gilliams' incredible, moving 1991 drama. There, Williams plays a fascinating homeless man whose life was destroyed because of the irresponsible antics of a shock jock played by Jeff Bridges.
Robin's work in tFK is superlative, and you'd need a hard heart not to be moved by his story. It's also a surprisingly-deep film, as the hallucinations experienced by Williams' character give the film a modern-day Don Quixote aspect. I cannot praise this picture highly enough.
His next best dramatic works include an amazing episode of Homicide (for which he received an Emmy nomination), his supporting work in Good Will Hunting, and a cameo in Dead Again, an old favorite of mine. I also love his part in The Best of Times, a 1980s pic that few people remember. Nut no one should forget his fine work in Awakenings, Dead Poets Society, and What Dreams May Come, which was a thoughtful, but flawed, movie about the afterlife.
And, hell, I'm still leaving out some of his better comedies, like Aladdin and The Birdcage - he was, for me, the real highlight in both.
But, being a busy man and a blogger with too much to write about and not enough hours in the day, he's come up on this site very seldom. I did post about a decades-old Robin Williams biography this March, but that's the most coverage he's ever gotten from me here.
Instead, I gave him serious, brief snark: once, I wrote about how much I don't like the trailers for the films he made after the 20th Century. And, on the same front, I quickly referenced his "career implosion" a few years ago, when I posted about the glut of sequels in Hollywood.
I only mention those posts because I want to be upfront about my occasional dickishness. It wouldn't be fair to give the man nothing but glowing praise now. I'll miss him a hell of a lot, and I'm so sorry that depression got the better of him. He deserved to overcome his problems and live to a ripe old age.
Wherever you are now, Mr. Williams and Ms. Bacall, I hope you're well, and happy. My heart goes out to both your families.