Watching movies is a classic American pastime, and it’s certainly one I enjoy. Seeing a movie is a chance to experience the “what ifs” of life. In the case of biographical films, it is an opportunity to vicariously relive events as they might have happened — a front-row seat in history. A good movie stirs our emotions, transports us to another time and place, and widens our perspective.
Of course, movies require an investment of our precious moments, so I always appreciate when one comes recommended by someone whose opinion I respect. My favorite movies are those that fill me with hope and enrich my life in some way.
This is what each of the movies I recommend below have done for me. Truthfully, there are so many inspirational movies that it was hard to pick just this handful! From persevering through hardships to fighting for the underdogs to finding strength even in the most dire situations, these inspirational movies carry powerful messages.
In this 1962 movie based on the book of the same title, we find ourselves in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama (set in 1932), where a young black man is on trial for rape. Although falsely accused, a guilty verdict is practically assured from the all-white jury. Through the eyes of a small girl named Scout and her principled father, who defends the accused, the weighty issues of prejudice and injustice are laid out before us in thought-provoking detail. “You never know someone until you step inside their skin and walk around a little,” Scout’s dad tells her. These are words to live by.
This 1946 classic makes my heart smile every single time I watch it! On the verge of losing his business to the richest man in town, family man George Bailey thinks about ending it all, figuring everyone he loves would be better off without him. As we discover in this fantastical heartwarming look at what-ifs, George couldn’t have been more wrong! In the movie, Bailey says, “All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.” These words have great meaning to me in my life’s work and service to others.
From Paris to Germany and from Spain to India, post-World War I American Larry Darrel goes on an engaging search for answers to his questions about humanity, God, and the meaning of life, leaving behind all of the social norms of the time. This is a search many of us can relate to. In the movie, Larry says, “If I ever acquire wisdom, I suppose I’ll be wise enough to know what to do with it.” There’s wisdom in these words! There was a remake of this film, but my preference is the 1946 version.
When I talk about inspirational reading, I always make it a point to recommend books by or about the masters, saints, and mystics themselves. This 1982 movie fits right in with such recommendations, because here we can really visualize and feel what it must have been like for Gandhi during the 50 years of his life leading up to his assassination. We watch him transform from a straight-laced attorney whose eyes are suddenly opened to prejudice and injustice who will eventually become known to the world as a motivator of peaceful action.
This 1993 comedy is such a feel-good, whimsical look at what would happen if we were forced to relive one day over and over again. What would we do differently? What would we learn from the experience? Phil Connors — a weatherman who is self-centered and arrogant — finds himself in this very situation in the midst of a snowstorm. Watching his growth throughout the movie is a beautiful lesson in our own process of self-reflection and creating the experiences we want in life.
“Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.” This Talmud quote, which makes an appearance in this 1993 biographical film, beautifully illustrates the profound meaning behind the actions of German businessman Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of more than 1,000 of his Jewish employees during the Holocaust. This drama speaks to how deep compassion can be stirred in any man’s soul when he allows himself to see and act against the cruelty and injustice in the world.
The life of fictional character Forrest Gump takes us on a topsy-turvy trip through the ups and downs of the 60s, 70s, and early 80s. While Forrest comes across as a very simple character, he proves to be a multidimensional man with life lessons galore to share with us throughout this masterful 1994 film. In the movie, he says, “My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’” To me, that’s about letting go of expectations and embracing whatever comes our way. That’s certainly what Forrest does — and brilliantly so!
Admittedly, I am a football fan, so a feel-good movie with this all-American sport as its backdrop satisfies me on many levels! Partially based on a true story, a semi-homeless teenager, Michael Oher, finds a loving, supportive home with an upper-class family. Living in this new environment, the teen faces a completely different set of challenges. And as the family helps Michael fulfill his potential, both on and off the football field, his presence in their lives leads them to some insightful self-discoveries. This 2009 movie crosses racial barriers and brings you straight to the heart. It beautifully captures the essence of unity, togetherness, and family.
Inspired by a true story, this 2006 film speaks to us of overcoming hardships, the rewards of determination, the unbreakable bond between father and son, and doing whatever is necessary to provide for one’s self and children. The story of Chris Gardner and his small son teaches us through dramatic illustration that material things are not what are important in life. We can share great happiness when we are really there for each other, despite the fact that we may have little in the way of worldly goods.
Winner of numerous awards in 2002, this excellent portrayal of the true life of John Nash, a genius mathematician, gives us an up-close look at the inner and outer struggle one faces when confronted by a mind-alerting disease such as schizophrenia. The clinical aspects are secondary to the courage, love, and determination displayed by each of the characters, and especially Nash, who eventually becomes an honored member of the Princeton community. Nash’s perseverance teaches us that there are beautiful rewards in life when we don’t give up.
Yes, this 1988 animated film has made my list! Animation brings “life” to the otherwise impossible. How else would we be able to follow Littlefoot, an orphaned dinosaur, and his four young companions as they figure out life in their struggle for survival? This is truly a life-changing, heart-beating, feel-good movie. It examines issues of grief, prejudice, guidance from above, overcoming hardships, and the importance of sticking together — especially when times (and the terrain!) are rough.
I first saw this 1967 movie as a young girl, and it had such a profound effect on me. Since I was always by the book in school, the teenage students’ defiance of authority portrayed in this movie really shocked me! But what made me feel good about it was how they and their reluctant teacher eventually developed a beautiful and meaningful relationship — one of mutual respect and admiration.
This thought-provoking 1999 film is set in the 1930s and follows the story of a death row corrections officer and an encounter with a seemingly innocent man sentenced to death for the murder of two children. Through a series of miraculous events that are sure to touch your soul — they did mine — this movie reveals that there is often much more than meets the eye. We just need to be able to recognize the miracles beneath the surface.
“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world,” says John Keating in this 1989 film about an English teacher who has a profound impact on a group of students through the study of poetry. And I agree! This movie drives home the importance of self-reliance, thinking for oneself, standing up for one’s beliefs, and of course seizing the day — lessons for life no matter who you are.
Years past, going to a movie theater was the only way we could experience these cinematic masterpieces. These days, we can watch movies from our very own couch. How grateful I am for our modern conveniences! So get comfortable, relax, and hit play to be transported to a thought-provoking world that will leave you with a good feeling and warm your heart.
Please share with me some of your favorite inspirational movies for my “to-watch” list. What films touch you deeply?
IS THAT YOU? Is the story of RONNIE, 60 year old Israeli film projectionist, who has been fired from his job and is going now to the U.S. in a search for RACHEL, the love of his youth. IS THAT YOU? Is a romantic, road trip journey to ‘The Road Not Taken’ in life created by Award Winning filmmaker Dani Menkin (HBO Cinemax-39 Pounds of Love, Je Taime, I Love You Terminal, Dolphin Boy) Jewish Film Festival
You see, Ronnie and Rachel though separated for 30 years, once made a vow that whatever might come between them they would meet up for Rachel’s 60th birthday. After being fired and realizing her day was near, the laid back Ronnie decided to take up the pursuit at the urging of his more demonstrative brother.
When Ronnie’s borrowed car breaks down en route to searching out Rachel, a young film student happens upon him offering to fix, yes, fix his car while asking him to be interviewed for her film project. Ronnie thinks she’s nuts but goes along with it . Both being of film backgrounds, she offers to drive Ronnie in her own borrowed car (van) to help him find Rachel while the two make some very entertaining stops for filming during a long, circuitous route to Rachels. Does Ronnie ever find Rachel? We highly recommend you find out. The movie is an adventure, a philosophical tale, and a double love story (‘Is That You?’ has already played at the Jewish Film Festival but it will surely be available in theaters and/or video.) Meanwhile the film festival runs through Sunday and most movies appear to be winners, certainly the three we saw, Is That You, Marvin Hamlish and Run Boy Run (reviewed in next blogpost).
The movie is excellent on several different levels, offering the audience take with them some potential life changes. The movie provides an hour and a half of pure escape but also offers philosophical questions we might ask ourselves about real would-be, could-be life-changes.
1) It asks the question ‘ Do you have any life regrets’ to those interviewed in the film, while serving as a catharsis for them while providing a good philosophical question for the film audience to ponder, one that they might work on as a possible life-changer
2) Not to spoil the movie, we are reminded in a stark way that ‘life is short’ and we should, perhaps, act and take chances NOW before it is too late, as Ronnie did. We won’t say more other than Ronnie made this decision and, no doubt, it was a good decision for him , despite a later life event.
3) We see an interesting interaction between a man and a woman of two different generations, one not based solely on sex and attraction. In fact, that is almost left out of the equation until the end. It’s about two people going about their own paths, less travelled, who just happen to meet up each not expecting anything to come of it. Something does come of it , but that thing is not shoved in our face, as in so many movies, and we never really learn what eventually happens to the two. Again, that is left to the imagination. A freshingly fitting ending we think.
MARVIN HAMLISCH: WHAT HE DID FOR LOVE
The movie included the soundtrack of Hamlisch’s life, going from his early successes with movie scores for people like Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford to harder times, but during it all, Hamlisch was still beloved by his many friends and fellow musicians, who paid him great tribute. Three things particularly come to mind after watching a beautiful movie/tribute about the life of Marvin Hamlisch During the Contra Costa Jewish film Festival March 8 Sunday 2015 (Century 16, Pleasant Hill) (2013, no doubt available now elsewhere)
1) While being one of the premier songwriters and arrangers of our time, Marvin Hamlisch had a real zest for life and wanted to experience ‘ it all.’ Whether it was especially food or music, Hamlish loved all kinds and styles. ‘There was no Bad music, only good music’ he said. He wasn’t a snob about classical being better than popular. It appeared he lived his life that way with people, too. ‘Give everyone a chance.’ He was a positive person and always had good things to say. He was kind and generous, all his friends and fellow musicians repeated in the movie.
2) His song from one of his film scores was something about ‘while we still have the time’… And that was about doing things NOW , to experience life while you can.
Hamlisch certainly packed in a lot during a premature 68 year life. He said one of his songs best summed up his life, the conflicting ‘The music is me or I am the music’ was his inner conflict much of his life ….
3)Relationships were perhaps the bain of Hamlisch’s existance. As much as he sought out true love amidst all the love songs he wrote about, Hamlisch could never find it, despite dating some of the most beautiful, talented women. Finally, when his career was waning in the 1980s , as was his love life, he finally met the woman of his dreams, Terry, on a chance blind date. Though, the funny thing is that they never actually met until months after talking for hours on the phone. But, by the time they met , he Hamlisch felt like he KNEW her enough he proposed just before she opened her front door of their first meeting. She said yes. Terry said what attracted her to hamlish was his kindness and unassuming nature . She recalled when they were first supposed to meet he told her he had to pick up some cleaning when it fact he was going to accept a big award. After writing iconic love songs like ‘Memories’ and soundtracks for movies like ‘The Way We Were’ and ‘The Sting’, Hamlisch finally was able to live out his last years with the love that had escaped him for so many .
Perhaps Hamlisch was one of those rare people, both genius and humanitarian, who seem to often leave us too soon. Robin Williams is another who comes to mind. Perhaps they’re just TOO GOOD, TOO KIND if there can be such a thing, and while their flames burn brightly they don’t last long.
New Holocaust Movie Should Make People Take Stock of MidEast Today
For this recent movie-goer, RUN BOY RUN was emotionally-wrenching. Scene after scene almost made me one to escape myself – the theater that is. From the scene when Jurek’s new dog and travel companion is shot by Nazi’s to Jurek’s severed hand that he loses only because the Nazi-sympthazing doctor refused to operate are emotionial enough, yet there are many more scenes I had to endure – scenes in which Jurek comes within inches of being caught, and then, in the flashback , having to watch his Dad give himself up to the Nazi’s so Jurek can RUN in the opposite direction, and only after excellent guidance and instructions from Dad.
Anyone with a compassionate heart would once again be reminded of the terrible atrocity of World War II. To think that this kind of stuff was happening only 70 years ago is hard to believe. But worse, to see this same sort of thing happening again today, a short 10 years since 3,000 Americans were burned to death not in a Nazi concentration camp but a towering inferno called the World Trade Center at the hands of equally vicious religious extremes . How more and more people and politicians, especially Jewish ones, are quickly forgetting these recent events while criticizing Israel opposition to US dealings with Iran and other terrorist countries which threaten to wipe out Israel is rather unbelievable, we believe.
Film Review: ‘Run Boy Run’
Lauf Junge Lauf Run Boy Run (Variety.com)
FEBRUARY 25, 2014
Based on a bestseller that was itself based on a true story (the real-life protagonist appears under the end credits), “Run Boy Run” sticks faithfully,
albeit highly unimaginatively, to its source. For his Holocaust saga of an 8-year-old Jewish child cast adrift in Nazi-occupied Poland, vet German helmer
Pepe Danquart relies on the pathos inherent in the situation to carry his film emotionally as the kid’s struggle for survival increasingly reflects the
Jewish people’s struggle to maintain their identity in the face of genocide. A natural for Jewish viewers and older arthouse-goers, “Run Boy Run” feels
too old-fashioned and by-the-numbers for a wider audience.
Srulik (played by twins Andrzej and Kamil Tkacz) escapes the roundup in his hometown to hide out in the woods. He hooks up briefly with a small bunch of
Jewish kids also on the run, who have banded together to forage off the land, roasting stolen chickens around a fire and keeping morale alive by swapping
displays of bravado. But after an unsuccessful chicken-snatching raid results in the capture of some kids and the scattering of others, Srulik once again
finds himself alone as bitter winter and the Gestapo close in.
Calling himself “Jurek” to disguise his Jewishness, he seeks temporary shelter or employment at a succession of farmhouses, encountering slammed doors
and an occasional odd job until he arrives at the home of Magda (Elisabeth Duda, excellent), wife and mother of partisans, who teaches him everything
he needs to pass as Catholic. Magda is the closest the film ever comes to an authentic character. Even Jurek, in virtually every frame of the film, is
defined almost solely by his will to live, functioning mainly as a witness to events with little personal coloration or interiority.
By the same token, the people whom Jurek encounters on his desperate, years-long wanderings function like a running tally of relative Polish
innocence or guilt in the Holocaust, rather than distinct characters. Thus, when a farm accident costs Jurek his arm, a “bad” doctor refuses
to operate because the boy is a Jew, while another, “good” doctor tends him and helps him to escape.
Danquart’s anecdotal, checklist-style approach furnishes fodder for the simplest kind of identification with his hero, and the sheer presentation
of these terrible grievances may prove sufficiently empathy-inducing for the target audience. Changes of tone, although possible, are rarely pursued;
in the film’s one foray into humor, the handicapped Jurek delights in inventing more and more outrageously heroic stories about how he lost his arm,
but this entertaining, tale-spinning talent disappears without a trace. If the Tkacz twins’ thesping never hits a wrong note, it rarely provides access
to any process of consciousness. Even the character’s ultimate choice between assimilation and the assumption of his Jewish heritage reads merely as a
choice between signposts. For this recent movie-goer, RUN BOY RUN was emotionally-wrenching. Scene after scene almost made me one to escape myself – the theater that is. From the scene when Jurek’s new dog and travel companion is shot by Nazi’s to Jurek’s severed hand that he loses only because the Nazi-sympthazing doctor refused to operate are emotionial enough, yet there are many more scenes I had to endure – scenes in which Jurek comes within inches of being caught, and then, in the flashback , having to watch his Dad give himself up to the Nazi’s so Jurek can RUN in the opposite direction, and only after excellent guidance and instructions from Dad.
Anyone with a compassionate heart would once again be reminded of the terrible atrocity of World War II. To think that this kind of stuff was happening only 70 years ago is hard to believe. But worse, to see this same sort of thing happening again today, a short 10 years
since 3,000 Americans were burned to death not in a Nazi concentration camp but a towering inferno called the World Trade Center at the hands of equally vicious religious extremes . How more and more people and politicians, especially Jewish ones, are quickly forgetting these recent events
while criticizing Israel’s opposition to US dealings with Iran and other terrorist countries which threaten to wipe out Israel is rather unbelievable,
A beautiful message on ‘Mornings 9’ reputedly from Zelda Williams, about her Dad, Robin:
“My family has always been private about our time spent together. It was our way of keeping one thing that was ours, with a man we shared with an entire world. But now that’s gone, and I feel stripped bare. My last day with him was his birthday, and I will be forever grateful that my brothers and I got to spend that time alone with him, sharing gifts and laughter. He was always warm, even in his darkest moments. While I’ll never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay, there’s minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss, in some small way, is shared with millions. It doesn’t help the pain, but at least it’s a burden countless others now know we carry, and so many have offered to help lighten the load. Thank you for that. To those he touched who are sending kind words, know that one of his favorite things in the world was to make you all laugh. As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car. Right after you’ve had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too… Dad was, is and always will be one of the kindest, most generous, gentlest souls I’ve ever known, and while there are few things I know for certain right now, one of them is that not just my world, but the entire world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence. We’ll just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again.”#RIPRobinWilliams #Mornings9Remember, Tributize ROBIN WILLIAMS with Wall Posters:
THE TRIBUTES CONTINUE TO POUR IN…
FROM SCREENCRUSH.COM… A REVIEW OF ROBIN WILLIAMS MOVIES
DAVID LETTERMAN tells touching story about ROBIN WILLIAMS greatness and humility and his 50 appearances on the show and 38 years of friendship
Robin Williams’ death is shocking and heartbreaking and touches us in a way usually reserved for close friends. Maybe that’s because we’re of a generation that grew up on Robin Williams. He’s been making us laugh and cheering us up since we were kids; like a big-screen father figure. That he died suffering from severe depression, makes the news all the more tragic. As director Garry Marshall, who first cast Williams in ‘Happy Days’ and later ‘Mork and Mindy,’ said today, “He could make everybody happy but himself.”
He made everyone happy and in that spirit, we’d like to celebrate his work, and we asked a few of our writers to look back at their favorite moments of his career because maybe looking at the best Robin Williams moments will cheer us up.
In 1992, as Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ and Dre’s “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” were single-handedly reinventing the music scene and what we think is “cool,” it was probably not very “cool” for an 8th grader to be listening to the soundtrack to a Disney musical. But, there I was wearing out the cassette tape on the ‘Aladdin’ soundtrack. Disney had a tradition of casting classically trained singers for its animated features, not superstars, and it’s Robin Williams’ performance in ‘Aladdin’ that made the film, and its soundtrack so alive. While they never reached the top of the charts like “A Whole New World,” let’s be honest: it was Williams’ work that made the movie and soundtrack memorable. Williams brought all the personality and life and humor that we come to associate with Robin Williams to his role as the animated Genie. He was one of the first A-list stars to voice an animated film in the modern era and changed the way animated movies would be developed. His voiceover work was so transcendent the Golden Globes made up an award just to recognize his work on the film. ‘Aladdin’ may never be as cool as Nirvana or ‘The Chronic’ but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t as influential, and that’s all Robin Williams. – Mike Sampson
When people remember ‘Mrs. Doubtfire,’ they recall Robin Williams doing what he did best: a larger than life, chameleonic presence who was able to seamlessly switch between imitations and characters. In the film, Williams played a voice actor and father whose wife absconds with his children; in a desperate bid to spend more time with his kids, he poses as an old British nanny. It wasn’t the silliness of his falsetto and seeing him in drag as Mrs. Doubtfire that struck me, but how much Williams reminded me of my own father, who wouldn’t let anything stand in his way of providing for me and being the best father he possibly could. Like Williams’ Daniel Hillard, my dad was also flawed, but that didn’t keep him from striving to be a great dad. Throughout the course of the film, we watch as the Mrs. Doubtfire disguise enables Williams to learn how to be a better father and to realize how much and how deeply his family is hurting — and like Dustin Hoffman in ‘Tootsie’ or Mel Gibson in ‘What Women Want,’ it takes living life as a woman to teach him how to be a better man. I watched ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ with my dad countless times, wearing out our VHS copy as we chuckled and cried along with Williams, a man who was able to elicit immense empathy while making you laugh until your stomach ached. – Britt Hayes
Every kid dreams about escaping into their playthings — it might be the most enduring childhood fantasy we have — but no one really gets to do it. Robin Williams got to do it in Joe Johnston’s ‘Jumanji,’ a film that sounds like, well, like all fun and games until the thing really gets rolling. ‘Jumanji’ works on a big number of levels, but Williams is the lynchpin that holds it all together. He was always able to tap into a wide-eyed, child-like spirit before zinging into far more adult and dramatic shades, but Williams’ role as Alan Parrish is probably the best combination of those talents (it’s probably even better than ‘Jack,’ a film designed to portray such duality in the most obvious way possible). He’s an actual man-child, a full-grown adult trapped in the mind of a terrified kid. The film is funny and silly (and packed with insane animals and still weirder villains), but it’s also wrenchingly sad, a tough combination to pull off while still being actually entertaining. Because Williams could do both things and be both things, ‘Jumanji’ worked. It’s easy to toss around words like “gravitas,” but that’s exactly what is on display in ‘Jumanji’: Williams’ gravitas and skill and presence. It’s not just a kid’s fantasy, it’s a classic, and Williams’ performance is what elevates it to that status. – Kate Erbland
‘Good Will Hunting’
Robin Williams won his first and only Oscar for a supporting role in ‘Good Will Hunting,’ opposite the dynamic duo, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. In the film, Damon plays a 20-year-old working-class Bostonian and a genius when it comes to mathematics. The problem is that he’s got a bit of an attitude problem. After assaulting a policeman, the young man gets some leniency if he goes to see a psychiatrist, played by Williams. In one of their most memorable interactions, Williams’ Sean Maguire attempts to connect with Will Hunting by telling him a tale of how he skipped “the greatest game in Red Sox history” to go meet his future wife. If you’re not bawling your eyes out by the end of the scene, a shame on your house! This role helped re-establish the actor as a dramatic force to be reckoned with — years earlier, he wowed audiences with turns in such works as ‘The Fisher King’ and ‘Dead Poets Society,’ but ‘Flubber,’ ‘Jumanji,’ ‘Aladdin,’ ‘The Birdcage’ and even a turn on ‘Friends’ flexed his comedic chops. ‘Good Will Hunting’ was a welcome reminder of Williams’ versatile breadth. – Nick Romano
Williams was an incredibly versatile actor, and his performance as Armand Goldman in ‘The Birdcage’ is, like many of his best roles, both hilarious and deeply touching. Goldman is a gay cabaret owner who, along with his drag queen partner (Nathan Lane, also giving one of his best performances), play it straight when Goldman’s son comes home to visit with his fiancee and her exceedingly conservative parents. Looking back on Williams’ roles, the ones that move me the most are inextricably linked to my nostalgia, and here again he plays a father who will go to any length — no matter how exhausting, humiliating, or absurd — for the love of his child. What could be a performance couched in stereotype is instead exuberant and full of warmth, and a bit more restrained than the roles he was often known for playing. What makes him so special is his commitment to understanding his characters and finding their humanity. His manic tendencies allowed him to play in a very broad range, and within that range were so many shades of emotion — he made it seem effortless when he honed in on any one particular feeling, and as Armand Goldman, he gave us more than just a character, as he so often did — he gave us a real person. – Britt Hayes
‘Dead Poets Society’
While Williams’ only Oscar win was for ‘Good Will Hunting’, he was certainly nominated for others, one of which was for ‘Dead Poets Society,’ the film that produced such memorable quotes as “Oh Captain, my Captain” and “Carpe Diem.” Yes, those are the words made famous by Walt Whitman and John Keating, respectively, but Williams gave them new life while teaching his onscreen students to love poetry. What’s great about this moment, is that he’s teaching the audience watching the film just as much as he is the characters. Come the tearjerking moment of the final sequence, you want to stand atop your coach, shouting “Oh Captain, my Captain” along with the newly awakened kids. Even now, fans reciting these lines as a memorial sendoff and poetic declaration for how Williams touched our lives. And, of course, this film wouldn’t be a Robin Williams performance without a few impersonations thrown into the mix (our favorites: his Shakespeare (“Oh Titus, bring your friend hither”) and Marlon Brando). – Nick Romano
‘Mork and Mindy’
Let’s be honest: there’s no way ‘Mork and Mindy’ should’ve worked. A spinoff from an episode of ‘Happy Days’ where an alien named Mork comes to Earth looking for a human specimen and attempts to abduct Richie Cunningham (only to have his plan foiled – natch – by The Fonz), the sitcom should’ve been a bad joke. One of those high concept 70s sitcoms that we wonder how they ever got greenlit. With any other actor, there would’ve been no ‘Mork and Mindy.’ But, Robin Williams came in and just did what he does: made people laugh no matter what material he was given. It didn’t matter how silly the premise was, you couldn’t not watch Robin Williams. After just one season on air, Williams was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. ‘Mork and Mindy’ was his first ever on-screen role, but it was obvious to anyone watching it was just the beginning. – Mike Sampson
‘Good Morning, Vietnam’
No kid sits in History class thinking they’re going to enjoy a movie their teacher shows them. They were, at best, the chance to stack up your books like a makeshift pillow and take a nap in the darkened room. But, I’ll never forget my middle school teacher who one day, likely without permission from the administration, wheeled in the TV cart and played for us ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’ during a lesson on the war. It was shocking, not just because, as a rated-R movie, it was wildly inappropriate for a classroom of kids in junior high. But, shocking also, because – gasp – we loved it. We probably didn’t get half the jokes, but it was impossible not to be mesmerized by Robin Williams’ performance as motor-mouthed radio DJ Adrian Cronauer (a role for which he would be nominated for his first Oscar). Williams hooked us in with the jokes, and, wouldn’t you know it, when things turned serious, we actually learned something. Our History teacher probably got himself in trouble, but he (and Robin Williams) did the job better than any stale old filmstrip could have. – Mike Sampson
‘The Fisher King’
No one will ever say that Williams’ role in ‘The Fisher King’ was a big stretch for the actor. While his other two Oscar nominations were for more against-type characters (in both ‘Good Will Hunting’ and ‘Dead Poets Society’), his work in ‘The Fisher King’ is filled with all the manic zings and quirks for which we know him best. But, his work is buoyed by equally strong performances from Jeff Bridges, Mercedes Ruehl (who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar) and Amanda Plummer. Other directors sometimes struggled to rein in this version of Williams (see: ‘Patch Adams’), but Terry Gilliam was deftly able to balance his performance with the darker moments in the script. – Mike Sampson
Robin Williams was like a blazing comet, who passed through our lives adding greatness only to burn out sooner than we’d like. If the good trulydie young, Williams personifies that ten fold.
ROBIN WILLIAMS – BIGGER THAN LIFE, One-Off
Genius Missed Already
Perhaps once in a generation we’re lucky enough to have a special person sent down from above to give us his or her gifts, whether it be comedy, acting,humanitarianism, etc. Like Charlie Chaplin before, Robin Williams is that one person who graced us with such talents and more. Now he’s gone in a time when we could really use him
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So goes a piece of all of us with the man who gave us so much. Rarely is there such an outpouring as there has been for Williams.
Perhaps we didn’t deserve him. He deserved to go out in a better way.
A LOOK BACK AND THE LIFE and TIMES and CAREER of ROBIN WILL Hollywood had to flook hard a genie bottle big enough for Robin Williams Robin Williams was, admittedly, a lonely man despite his very public persona. It’s easy to dismiss celebrity as caught up in it’s own excesses. Yet, Williams was different. He never played the Hollywood game, living hundreds of miles from its epicenter. He was always himself, never changed, treating everyone as he would want to be treated. Hearing people who grew up in Williams’ San Francisco Bay Area pay tribute, it seems everyone here has at least one personal Robin Williams story. Like the KTVU weatherman, Bill, who told about Robin coming into the camping store where he was working in 1974 and spending twenty minutes entertaining his new daughter in one of the tents; even though Williams hadn’t achieved major fame yet, Bill was impressed by Williams’ fatherly ways – and remembers it well to this day. We remember being at the Holy Ciy Zoo comedy club in San Francisco for one of Williams’many ”drop ins.’ You never knew back then whe Williams would surprise an audience by coming on stage to enhance one of his fellow comics’ shows. Who else would take time froman already busy life to do this? ROBIN WILLIAMS’ FIRST APPEARANCE ON JOHNNY CARSON Notice any nervousness in the seemingly unflappable Willams?Another local offered this tribute. Whenever he heard that Robin Williams was going to be on Johnny Carson or a similar late night show he would make a point to stay up to watch it. We did exactly the same thing. It was always a treat when Williams came on and you never knew where he was going to go with his sponteous, laugh-out-loud, over-the-top yet quality comedy. Perhaps only two others come to mind with such quick-witted talent – Don Rickles and the great Jonathan Winters, Williams’ no. 1 mentor who, himself , passed away recently but a ripe old age. Now we’re down to Rickles, who at 88 doesn’t quite have what Wiliams did at 63. And, that’s it today. Lots of great fellow comics and actors of the day in additon to Rickles – Dana Carvey, Bobby Slayton, Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Rodriquez and a few others, but none coming close to matching Williams’ God-given and Julliard-honed skills. Frankly, I did often wonder how Williams could keep up his pace. Just this past year, age 63, Williams had recently cancelled TV Series (The Crazy Ones) (sp), made four movies (which we’ll be fortunate enough to see later this year) numerous TV /humanitarian appearances –all while trying to be a good father and husband (recently remarried to his third wife) living a non-Hollywood life in suburban San Francisco. Not so surprising that Williams was hospitalized for heart problems in 2009. Just happened to be discussing ‘what is genius’ yesterday with a friend, before getting the news of Williams’ passing. Couldn’t readily define genius or think of any living genius’ right off the bat… until we heard a tribute from James Lipton of the Actor’s Studio in Los Angeles. GENIUS: To do effortlessly what the rest of us can’t do Lipton could come up with only one example before going into Williams. ‘Willie Mays was a genius. You can’t acquire genius. He was able to do what no one else could do, ‘ stated Lipton, emphatically. During a TV interview last night on CNN, Lipton talked about Williams in glowing terms. Lipton said that he had come to know William very well over 20 years, while running the Actors Studio. Of the 250 guest actors to visit the Actors Studio, Williams was the FAVORITE guest of all, according to Lipton. That pretty much says it all. Some wonder how Williams so easily transitioned from comedy to acting so easily .
According to Lipton, ‘All great comedians are great actors. Williams gave us miralces. He was a miracle.’ Meanwhile, the tributes to Robin Williams began pouring in from the masses.Nice words, but perhaps falling short of an honest appraisal of Williams life and life work. Maybe Williams’ co-star Pam Dawber, Williams’ co-star in his first and break-through TV series, came closest in her choice of words, honoring the late Williams, ‘I am completely devasted. Nothing more can be said.’ (i.e. words cannot express) Depression is nothing new to comics and actors like Williams. It’s known that they often ‘hide’ behind their work. They try to work through their own demons and, when for those few moments or hours the audience is laughing or clapping, these comics and actors are at peace. Then they go back to their personal despair. Many think that actors and celebrities have it made, but quite the contrary. No price can overcome what has taken its early toll on so many. The demons may not always result in suicide; it could be marital, drug and/or other problems. In Williams case, it may have been all the above. Yet , on the outside, Williams kept up a cheery demeanor and maybe fooled us into thinking everything was o.k. Maybe next time we show envy of a celebrity we should think twice of what is really going on behind the scenes. Williams was raised in a upper-middle class home in the Detroit area. As such, he was able to go to the Julliard School of acting. Yet, he never forgot the little guy and always was big on humanitarian causes, whether it be his five tours to Iraq and Afghanistan or Comic Relief, for which he helped raise $50 million. Robin Williams was simply on a higher plain than the rest of us. He was an over-achiever who packed more into his 40 -year career than 100 of us could think about doing. But, Robin Williams was an over-achiever in humanity, too. When others were in trouble, Williams was right there as with John Belushi’s family following the passing of Belushi. Williams Tiburon neighbors in Tiburon said that Robin was a great , friendly neighbor – who DID NOT hide behind his celebrity; he was often seen riding his bicycle in the neighborhood . Nobody seemed to have a bad word about Williams – something you rarely hear about today’s celebrities. Williams often paid tribute to his mentors and those he admired, like Jonathan Winters and Sid Caesar. Yet, the ‘curse of success’ lived with Robin Williams. 728×90 Leaderboard
More tributes come in. ‘Condolences to the world,’ from Drew Carey.‘We will carry on but it won’t be fun anymore without you‘ – anonymous ‘Words fail,‘ says Terry McGovern. ‘I met Robin in 1974 when I he was working at Baskin Robbins. I came in for some ice cream and he regaled me stories from his native Scotland. Two nights later I happened to be at the Holy City Zoo comedy club and who was there but Robin Williams, putting on an amazing show!’ Robin Williams had to have REAL empathy in his own make-up to be able to portray the various characters in his many different roles, such as the psychiatrist in Good Will Hunting, for which he won an oscar. Williams was able to fulfill the DUAL roles of both feuding husband and wife in Mrs. Doubtfire. Williams was NEVER typecast, with a string of blockbuster movies , mostly in the 1990s , including Fisher King, World According to Garp, Dead Poets Society, Good Morning Vietnam, Bi-Centennial Man and Jack. All the while through the years, Robin Williams could be seen returning ‘back home’ to San Francisco between making movies, surprising old friends with continued drop-ins’to comedy clubs. Fellow comedian Bob Sarlotte started with Williams at the Holy City Zoon in 1976. ‘Shocking. Robin seemed to have calmed down in recent years. But he still had that energy, not duplicated in anyone. James Lipton remembers one conversation he had with Williams, discussing the topic death. When asked by Lipton what he would like to see when he arrived at the Pearly Gates, he said, ‘I’d like to see Mozart, Elvis and have God offer me a couple good seats in the front row.’I think Williams is more than deserving of such. Lipton concluded his thoughts of Robin Williams, ‘We loved him. We felt our love. He was always just himself while filling those thousands of different character creations.’ Don’t ever blame Robin Williams if he did, in fact, take his own life As one person said, he was used up. Perhaps after having him with us for 30 years we began to take this talent for granted… the 20 plus films, TV shows, many standup appearances, humanitarian causes, spontaneous visits, Johnny Carson appearances. He gave and gave and gave like no other. That energy. No wonder he had some heart problems… despite in a man whose heart was bigger than most . They say that depression is easily cured in 95% of people. Why couldn’t Robin Williams be one of those. 63 years is much too young to go. Perhaps if more of us reached out to him and told him how much he brought to our lives it could have made a difference. Maybe not. The man who helped many of us cope via his many roles ,eg with depression by playing the comedic Wife – and Husband in Mrs Doubtfire to the sensitive counselor Good Will Hunting… I’m afraid we could never give back to Robin what he gave to us… Williams talks to Larry King about the ‘fluke’ how he got his first big break on Mork and Mindy Final notes… Williams was generally a-political but did go after primarily conservatives such as Sarah Palin, as has been de riguer today. Yet, Williams got along with the other side as he was an admirer and friend to fellow neighbors conservative-leaning Mort Sahl and Michael Savage. Perhaps there is more to the story than we’re being told. If 95% of depressives are generally able to cope why wasn’t Williams. He could afford the best of care – and recently was treated at a facility in Minnesota. Could it be that such care may not always be what it’s cracked up to be with, perhaps, certain drugs having deterious effects. We’ve heard past allegations against Prozak. Just food for thought. Williams was the greatest comedian, by far, of this generation. Many of us grew up with him. His movies actually helped many of us cope. That’s why this death is an especially difficult one to deal with us. Ironically, Robin Wiliams has followed his friend, John Bellushi, whose similar situation he had tried to help. May we learn from this tragic loss. Click here to subscribe to my mailing list
Then we’re shown how America and capitalism have always been challenged, be it with the Indians claiming their land was stolen to everyone else of lower means upset with those of higher means. The fact was the various Indian tribes mostly killed off each other and disease wiped out the remaining 80%.
Same goes for other problems. America has always lived by the constitution and freedom for all eventually has won out in every case, be it slavery, McCarthyism or other examples. The fact is that nothing was stolen from anyone. In fact, America has always prided itself on how immigrants and minorities have been able to come to America and thrive , whether opening their own tailor or butcher shop , or working on an assembly line in Detroit. (In one later scene, we see a now decaying, shuttered Detroit, devoid of many of those old auto assembly lines and other businesses that helped build America. D’Souza warns that this could happen in other cities, too.
But there have always been those who would gather together the lower income people – and pit them against the rest of society ala socialism / communism.
D’Souza shows how many , such as Saul Alinsky took advantage of the times of the late 60s when there was already disorder in the country and revolutionized impressionable young college kids who were trying to find themselves. One such person was Hillary Clinton, who became friends with Alinsky and, for a time, followed his teachings in his book, ‘Rules for Radicals.’
Alkinsky wrote about community organizing from the top on down, trying to show how people are or should be dependent on big government. His goal was to show them that they can’t do things on their own. We see Alinsky’s teachings brought forth today when President Obama – another student of Alinksky’s- says that entrepreneur’s ‘don’t build things’ themselves but are enabled through government, be it the roads they drive on to work or the trees that are turned into paper they use at work, etc…. a real stretch.
Hillary Clinton, according to one of many scholars and people of the Sixties interviewed by D’Souza, departed somewhat from the Alinsky plan to a goal of controlling people from within government rather than as an outsider, like Alinksy. We now see the initial bond that developed between Obama and Hillary through their similar beliefs in Alinsky. Interestingly, Hillary’s husband,Bill Clinton, doesn’t seem to share those exact same beliefs; he ran a more moderate,smaller government,even cutting back welfare during his reign as President .
D’Souza interviews people like Howard Zinn, another disciple of Alinksy, who fashioned his own revisionist American history in a book now required reading in many secondary schools today. Like most of the other ’60s radicals, Zinn writes that America ‘stole’ from the Indians and undermined the poor and minorities throughout history to this day, thereby pitting the lower echelon of society against capitalism. Other Sixties radicals are , surprisingly, available to D’Souza as interviewees including Noam Chomsky and Ward Churchill – real characters who add color to the movie and offer contrasting opinions to DeSouza’s .
No wonder we see Obama and others as anti-business, according to D’Souza. They are more interested in controlling the masses ala socialsm and communism with promises and handouts along the way. These folks, many no longer in the labor force -or ‘low-information voters’ as some call them today – become accustomed to the easy way out, not having to work ,etc. and readily follow those ‘enablers’ like Alinsky and Obama who have , in effect, brainwashed them. They no longer have the motivation or desire, like,say, a Star Parker, one who was strong enough to go against the grain as a young black woman on welfare to rise up and found her own organization.
These folks may not be wealthy but they become comfortable with their welfare, food stamps and creature comfort handouts- getting enough putblic assistance (via remaining middle class and upper class taxpayers) they no longer have to work. D’Souza shows how ‘Obamacare’ fits perfectly in the scheme of controlling the masses with big government while forcing ‘his’ insurance on those who may not want it.
D’Souza interviews Parker , who, along with himself , compare the ‘Alinsky’ process to modern day slavery, where people are no longer taught the ideals of capitalism and free enterprise the nation was founded upon – that there should be no limits to what a person can do or how much he or she can earn. Instead, one encouraged to live off the dole* and be comfortable with a modest, if comfortable but limited lifestyle instead of the ability to ‘reach for the stars ‘.
*The dole is money that people without jobs get from the government per fortnight. So if you’re living off the dole, you’re living off the money you get from the government.
We believe D’Souza well lays out his real message that the Obama government is trying to change the country from its captialistic roots of free enterprise to a socialistic one where government is a stronger force in America while less respected as the world leader it has always been.. However, D’Souza might have finished off the movie with this concept in a stronger warning just as he opened the movie, ‘What would the world be like without America?,‘ perhaps adding, ‘In these technological times devastating CHANGE for the worse could happen even more easily than in Washington’s, Lincoln’s or Hitler’s day. ‘
We strongly recommend the movie to everyone. It may not be perfect but we’ll give it 5 stars as an important warning and wake-up call for all those who are sitting back all too comfortably with their Obama entitlements – and for those who are working very hard to stop and pay attention and not take for granted an American lifestyle that could quickly and easily disappear; it may be already .
AMERICA Movie Review – Dinesh D’Souza – Buy Movie Tickets , Buy movie tickets online, New Movie, Movie Websites, Movie Times,Movies Out in Theaters, In theaters now, Movie Guide
For more, see ‘AmericaTheMovie.com’ or get the book:
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