Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

I was lucky enough to meet Robin Williams twice – once on the red carpet for Happy Feet 2, and then the following day in a 1:1 interview. He was a hero of mine since childhood (Aladdin was the first movie I ever saw at the cinema) and I was charging into ‘needs-sedation’ levels of excitement. excited-gif10Interviewing comedians is two things: fun and scary. Fun, because they often improvise at 100-mile-an-hour (400 if you’re Williams) and come up with the most unexpected things. I remember one Aussie journo was handcuffed during a chat with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum for 21 Jump Street (we had fake shootouts in mine). But that off-the-cuff stuff is also what makes it freaking terrifying. You really have to be on your toes. Williams was everything you expect he would be. Intensely clever, kind and off-the-walls funny. Within minutes he was impersonating a drunken Aussie flying fox, or as he said, a “flying cat” . Much like the rest of the world, I was absolutely gutted to hear of his death. Writing about it all day did not help either. It was as if a chunk of my childhood had been ripped away, wrapped up in Hook, Mrs Doubtfire, Jumanji and Aladdin. So when I found out one of Sydney’s oldest cinemas, The Orpheum, was holding two Robin Williams double-bills (which $2 from every ticket going to Beyond Blue), I was there.

Good Morning, Vietnam, which I’d never seen before, played to a packed theatre before a screening of Dead Poets Society, with most of us leaving the cinema red-eyed and wowed at the late, great Robin Williams.

IMG_3623But onto the movie. GOOOOOOOD MORNING VIETNAM! This really surprised me. Honestly, in the first 20 minutes, I was thinking “where on earth can this story go?”. It just felt like there wasn’t a lot to this movie about rebellious, but popular Army DJ Adrian Cronauer, but I was also way off. Robin-Williams-Good-Morning-Vietnam-Gif Of course Williams’ on-air rants are hilarious, but driven by his immense talent and charm, Good Morning, Vietnam also goes to some unexpected, and frankly, quite dark places, as Adrian comes up against the propaganda and bureaucracy of the US Army. Amid all the banter, there are some real blubber-worthy moments – when he chats to the troops heading out of the city, finds himself speechless at the beginning of a tough news day, and is confronted with a twist I sure as hell didn’t see coming. It was wonderful to see Good Morning, Vietnam on the big screen and kudos to The Orpheum for putting the double-bills on. It’s not my favourite Robin Williams flick out there, but I have to admit, I was impressed with how hooked (no Peter Pan pun intended) I was.


Manhattan (1979)

Want to talk about coincidence? Today for work I watched The Giver – a black and white film shot by Aussie director Phillip Noyce that stars, amongst others, Meryl Streep. Then I casually sit down to watch Manhattan, another black and white film that I had no idea a young Streep was also in.

c77d90e34370e15f0da895fe8d9733aa069b93fb06_copy2 Now I’ve got that off my chest, I have to admit, I was hooked by Manhattan from early on. And despite being made in 1979, it was still surprisingly relevant.

Allen’s Isaac was finding it tough to “exist in a society desensitized by drugs, loud music, television, crime, garbage”.

Three decades later, and I have to say Isaac, I feel the same way. Actually Isaac, you had it easy – no Twitter, no Facebook. In 1979, if a celebrity posted a picture to Instagram of their new dog, it wasn’t a story. Now, it’s just that OMG HUGH JACKMAN POSTED A #TBT PIC.

Sorry, got distracted there.

Anyway, it turns out I do ‘get’ Allen’s humour. This was the first time I really enjoyed watching Allen onscreen, although his anxiety is borderline over-the-top at times.

But most surprising was Diane Keaton. I finally saw why she is so wonderful.

Mary is nothing like the screechy, shrill roles I’ve watched her tackle of late, where she seems to always be shaking her head around and screaming.

Here, she’s charming and completely endearing.

For all her faults, I found Mary brimming with passion and electricity.  Which was the complete opposite to Mariel Hemingway, whose Tracey was bland, airy and aside from her eyebrows, unmemorable.

It’s baffling to me that she was nominated for an Academy Award for this role. Was the standard that low then? Especially when you compare it to some of the tour de force performances that find themselves in the running these days.

Let’s compare to this year’s winner Lupita Nyong’o

Much like Midnight in Paris felt like a love letter to Paris, Manhattan feels like a love letter to the city that never sleeps (I suppose people who watched these in the right order would say the reverse).

Clarinets v Saxophones – The openings of Manhattan and Midnight in Paris


Except this feels less dreamy (not in a bad way). From escaping the rain in a silhouetted Planetarium, to eating Chinese take-out in bed, to old corned beef sandwiches in the fridge, Manhattan has an authenticity.

It’s all summed up in that wonderful opening, where even though it’s black and white, you can feel the vibrancy, the culture, and the energy of New York surging through the streets and leaping off the screen.