Sunday, August 17, 2014

R.I.P. Spink and Williams (and Smith)

I was driving today, and the radio played "Your Love" by the Outfield.  It reminded me that I'd never written anything about the passing of John Spinks, who was the guitarist and songwriter of that Eighties band.  Many years ago, I had a roommate who was a huge fan of that rock group, and it must have been a formative influence on me, because, well...

John Spinks died last month (of liver cancer), and went largely unnoticed and unheralded.  The band, despite having several memorable songs that played in my childhood, peaked with their first album in 1985, and it was all downhill from there.  But it would be nice to hear them on the radio again . . . or my computer.

Heck, I think I might do that right now, as background while I type.

After getting home, my nephews were watching ALADDIN, which Disney Channel was apparently marathoning.  That was a second reminder, that I said nothing about the death of Robin Williams.  It was kind of amazing how hard that hit so many different people, and I'm sure the cause of his death greatly influenced that.  That someone could be so manic, boisterous, and funny could also be haunted and miserable enough to take his own life seems like a contradiction . . . or maybe it doesn't.

To be that high, one has to eventually come down, and I can't imagine what it would be like to try to be "on" all the time the way he was.  Williams was--at least when I was in college--the funniest man on the planet.  Watching the guy in interviews or on red carpets (or in his stand-up or on "Comic Relief" specials) was almost exhausting.
Nevertheless, he was able to achieve a very eclectic career.  He was able to balance making family films like JUMANJI and JACK (yeah, I said it), animated fare like ROBOTS and ALADDIN, dramas like DEAD POETS and GOOD WILL HUNTING, broad comedies like GOOD MORNING VIETNAM and DOUBTFIRE, and dark adult stuff like ONE HOUR PHOTO and INSOMNIA.  And he made time for really bad movies like TOYS, R.V., and FATHERS' DAY.  And NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM.  And POPEYE.  But hey, I digress.

In looking over his filmography, I am reminded that I've never seen THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, AWAKENINGS, or MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON.  My friend Jeff asked me which of his movies I watched to honor the man (apparently this was a worldwide observance this past weekend, that I was not aware of), and maybe I can catch one of those.

My father despised Robin Williams, from the 1970's on, and like a lot of things, Child Rish Outfield suspected that if my father vocally hated something, then I ought to give it a look.  Kind of makes me wonder how many Ke$ha albums my own children would own, if I had any.

When I heard of Robin Williams's passing, I immediately thought of the last movie I'd seen him in, WORLD'S GREATEST DAD, where he's a father whose son chokes himself to death with a belt.  Eee.

But after that, I guess I thought of WHAT DREAMS MAY COME.  I had a very profound experience with WDMC, and it's private enough that I hesitate to share it here.  I was in a dark place at the time, and I appreciated that film in a personal way (I also walked out of the theater with my friend, seeing what I thought was an empty soda cup sitting in the snowy parking lot, so I decided to kick it.  To my surprise, it turned out to be completely full of half-frozen Sprite, and both of us were completely drenched in it, which made for an interesting drive home).  Needless to say, Williams had a huge body of work, from "Mork and Mindy" to THE BIRDCAGE, and it is a gargantuan loss to the movies, and the English-speaking world to say goodbye to the man.

So hey, carpe diem . . . if you get a chance.

Rish Outfield

P.S. Also, in preparing this blog post, I just found out that Dick Smith also just died.  Smith is a legend in movie makeup, especially in Horror circles, and is best known for this work on LITTLE BIG MAN, AMADEUS, THE GODFATHER, and of course, THE EXORCIST.  He was a great innovator, introducing the concept of prosthetic pieces and layers, and it's sad that in this digital age, those kinds of wonderful physical transformations just don't happen anymore. 
I do wanna mention, though, that his work in THE HUNGER (with David Bowie) is the best old age makeup I have ever seen in a movie, and is never mentioned by anybody ever.

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