Robin Williams was one of our time’s greatest comedians and character actors. Now, he’s dead at 63.
My heart broke when the headlines started flowing in. The victim of depression and an apparent suicide, a great actor was lost today. How does this happen? How can a man who brings joy be darkly tormented and leave this world so sadly? It doesn’t make sense and it’s heartbreaking.
As a young kid in the 90s, I grew up loving works Robin Williams was associated with, most notably Aladdin, one of my all-time favorite movies. I’ve always loved the joy and charisma of Genie – all of which is owed to Robin Williams. I remember how I loved him as Mrs. Doubtfire – and how I fondly remember other movies like Jumanji or Flubber. But one of his most important cinematic moments for me was his cliff-top conversation with God about compassion in Patch Adams. I remember his emotional reach from that moment – it was the first time he ever made me cry.
…but within minutes, his infectious smile had returned along with joy to warm my heart.
As Maya Angelou once said,
“People will never forget how you made them feel.”
Robin Williams brought a great deal of joy to a lot of people, myself included – his legacy will forever be seen in their smiles and heard in their laughter. Thank you for the memories Mr. Williams. My thoughts and prayers are with your family – may they find laughter once again.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tweeted (and broke my heart again):
I’ve just finished reading Erin Morgenstern’s fantasy novel The Night Circus.
I found Morgenstern’s novel to be a read that captivated me with gorgeous sensory writing and vivid imagination. The idea of a circus (Le Cirque des Rêves) that’s only operational at night and of magicians, or illusionists rather, bound to one another – for the duration of a magical exhibition in a strikingly monochromatic world – tends to be quite breathtaking – and tragically beautiful. Every tent in this circus provides you (the reader) with an opportunity to imagine a place entirely – through physical and sensory descriptions. There are constantly sights, sounds, tastes, touches and emotions referenced that allow you to draw from your own past, and most importantly imagination, to envision this enchanted world.
While I came to care for the characters in this world – notably Celia, Marco and Bailey, I was drawn to the grand imagination on display more. One image that lingers with me, well beyond the final pages, is that of the ice garden and it’s wishing tree. The idea – and romanticism – of an ice garden with hidden fragrances intrigues me enough, but factor in a wishing tree adorn with candles and I’m hooked. There’s something about it that inspires me – and it’s the idea that people ignite their wishes (candles) from the wishes (flames) of others. It’s a beautiful and very cinematic image.
Which brings me to my desire to see this novel adapted into a feature film. After completing a quick online search, I found that the film/TV rights to The Night Circus were optioned by Summit Entertainment (part of Lionsgate) in 2012. From what I’ve found, the film is in development and the script being written by Moira Buffini (writer of Jane Eyre). While reading the novel I came to the conclusion that The Night Circus (tentatively titled) can go one of two ways:
1. It could easily be transformed into a Twilight-esque fantasy film with juvenile romanticism and easily-dated special effects, or…
2. It could be transformed into something beautiful – a contemporary masterpiece that pushes the boundaries of special effects and that could (should) inspire beautiful art, cinematography and costumes.
The world created by The Night Circus lends itself entirely to special effects. As such, in extremely capable hands, Morgenstern’s world can be visualized – and could be a hybrid of The Prestige and The Hunger Games. For this to happen, I thought I’d do a little fantasy “casting.” My vision for this world would see it directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Prestige, Inception), or Francis Lawrence (Water for Elephants, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire). Each of those directors have strengths (and a filmography) that suggest they’d make it as beautiful as Morgenstern’s writing suggests it should be.
I think the Wachowskis would add the fantastical element this story needs – as such they’d be my first choice. Watch The Matrix or Cloud Atlas and you’ll see they have a knack for creating bizarre, yet breathtaking works that appeal to the imaginations of viewers. Under their direction, I believe the characters and the circus – through the nuanced timeline – would benefit most from their familiarity with pacing (based on time-jumping) and gorgeous special effects. Fantasy is their specialty.
Then, if the Wachowskis were unavailable, I’d choose either Christopher Nolan or Francis Lawrence. Both directors have previous experience with circus or illusion-based films. Nolan has a knack for creating gritty worlds in which his characters (and actors) thrive. Celia and Marco would likely be markedly darker in Nolan’s hands, but the actors portraying them would likely turn in authentic, award-worthy performances – and the movie itself would probably garner praise from critics and moviegoers alike. Nolan would be the director to give The Night Circus the dark undertone it presents – and the conflicted characters it needs.
And if the script doesn’t recognize/call for such unnerving darkness or conflict – and instead chooses to rest of the pure imagination and love story, I’d have Francis Lawrence as the director. While he’s currently directing The Hunger Games franchise, he’d be the perfect director to balance the dark undertone with any scripted Twilight-ization – meaning, if the writing calls for a love story akin to Bella-Edward, Lawrence would be sure to deliver something better, like Katniss-Peta from The Hunger Games or Marlena-Jacob from Water for Elephants. Lawrence takes what could easily trend into juvenile/young adult territory and directs in a way that adds maturity and finesse, while remaining able to connect to that target (young adult) audience.
Finally, while I was reading The Night Circus, a list of actors crept into my mind for a few of the parts:
Partnered with a creative agency Don’t Panic, Greenpeace used a slowed, melodic version of “Everything is Awesome” to score a host of artistically beautiful, yet harrowing images. Together, they created a world overrun by corporate greed while promoting a strong conservation effort. The video shows oil company Shell drilling in the arctic, which results in an oil spill that consumes everything in its path – from indigenous wildlife to the imaginations of children – and even our beloved Santa Claus and two LEGO Movie heroes Emmett and Wyldstyle.
Upon first seeing the video I was moved beyond words – such power in under two minutes. That is amazing. Then, I read that a previous version of the video had been flagged and removed by YouTube. In an effort to make sure the powerful images survive, I’ve compiled a collection of twenty one screen caps. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words are there before you now?
It’s been just about a month since I’ve shared any new art with you – that’s because I’ve been busy working on various other projects (ex. Boug & S’More: A Swamp Tale [novel] and a poetic sexual odyssey), which you could note by following me on twitter or Instagram (@TheBobbyJames).
Yesterday I managed to create two pieces – the first remains untitled, so I’m leaving that up to you:
Title TBD. Watercolor, (c) 2014. Bobby James.
This is my first foray into freehand painting with watercolor. I used various brushes to create the image, then used my fingers to add strokes of yellow. To finish the piece, I mixed in some additional water to splatter paint for the final effect. Pretty simple, really. I woke up, had a vision and knew I wanted to experiment with a medium I’ve never really used before.
I love this piece – but I cannot seem to find the right title. I’d been toying with calling it “Elephants in the Wind,” but I figured, why not let someone else decide? So leave your suggestion in the comments section below – or on social media using the hashtag #NameTheElephants and I’ll use the title I love best! :)
Next, I present:
The Faces of Elephants
This piece began as a doodle while I was having coffee with my friend Pete. Earlier this year, Pete and I decided to have what we call “art dates.” These “dates” are used to not only be social, but to share creative ideas while an organic, creative process occurs in public – the people at Starbucks love us (I think), well, I know they like the art at least.
Pete sketches forms and figures mostly and I let my mind wander into an abstract place (Breath of Life and The Spring of Life were created this same way [see below]). During our outing, I drew the top left swirl in the image. From there, the rest of The Faces of Elephants was born. You’ll notice there is a great deal of symbolism. Are the trunks phallic in nature? Are the tusks suggestive of bondage? Are people consuming the elephants or are elephants existing harmoniously? These are some of the thoughts I hope this piece inspires.
What else do The Faces of Elephants say to you? What do you see? I’m curious to know your response. I can tell this abstraction is influenced by the sexual odyssey I’m composing. Can you?
As you may or may not be aware, The Bobby James Awards date back to 2002, when I decided to create a year-end list for the “Best of WWE.”
Since that time, I’ve expanded my year-end rankings to include movies, television, music and TNA Impact Wrestling. This post, however, is about the film categories and history – which are listed as having began in 2007. For several years though, I’ve been haunted (for lack of a better term) by the fact that some of the movies and performances I most admire and treasure haven’t had the opportunity to be honored or recognized – by me. Yet, in conversations related to all things movies, I find myself constantly referencing some of these titles, actors, characters, scores, etc. and find one (Brokeback Mountain) among my all-time favorite movies.
This post serves to provide notice that I’m dating the “Film” categories back to 2005. All “award” recipients will have an asterisk placed by their name (for 2005, 2006), and below the category, this note shall be referenced.
The countdown begins with the most adorable little chameleon ever. Pascal is a fun, good-natured little guy who’s very protective of Rapunzel, his sole companion. When Flynn Rider comes along, Pascal is none too happy and spends a number of moments standing off against the wanted hero. And who could forget the two times he mischievously throws his tongue into Flynn’s ear – or his adorable squeaks – or cute little facial expressions? Pascal stands by his friend through it all and even has quite the adventure retrieving the wedding rings near the end of the movie. He’s crafty and fun, and one of the best parts of Tangled.
Favorite Moment: Every single interaction with Flynn Rider!
Favorite Quote(s): n/a
9. GUS GUS
from Cinderella (1950). Voice: James MacDonald
Duh! Octavius … or rather, Gus Gus, had to make the list. He’s the funniest little fat mouse ever! Whether he’s acting tough by threatening Lady Tremaine or her evil cat Lucifer, or trying to pick up almost a dozen kernels of corn, Gus provides a lot of comedy for Cinderella. Rescued from a mousetrap, Gus becomes attached to and very protective of Cinderella. He’s her tiny little aloof knight in a mustard tee – and for that, and his adorable laugh, he earns a sweet spot on the list.
Favorite Moment:When he’s competing with the “cluck-clucks” for corn kernels and keeps losing them!
“Duh, duh, duh…Happy Birthday!”
“Take it easy cluck-cluck!”
8. SHENZI, BANZAI and ED
from The Lion King (1994). Voices: Whoopi Goldberg, Jim Cummings and Cheech Martin
Hyenas…in the Pride Lands! At number eight, Shenzi (Whoopi Goldberg, center), Banzai (Cheech Martin, right), and Ed (Jim Cummings, left) are the only trio featured on the list. Notable not only for their comedic moments, the Scar sidekicks are a dangerous pack that aid in Scar’s takeover of Pride Rock, Mufasa’s death and Simba’s exile. As a unit, they’re deadly and individually, their traits make them devious yet joyfully memorable.
Favorite Moment: The “Mufasa, Mufasa, Mufasa” scene.
“Make mine a ‘cub’ sandwich.” – Shenzi
“There ain’t no way I’m goin’ in there! What you want me to come out there lookin’ like you, cactus butt?” – Shenzi
“[uncontrollable laughter]” – Ed
“Who you callin’ upid-stay?” – Banzai
“Do you know what we do to kings who step out of their kingdom?” – Shenzi
from The Lion King (1994). Voice: Robert Guillaume
Like the circle of life, Rafiki begins and ends the story of The Lion King hoisting a cub into the air from atop Pride Rock. A friend to Mufasa, Rafiki (whose name means “friend” in Swahili) serves as an advisor to Simba, as he grapples with his destiny as “the one true king.” An inhabitant of an old baobab tree, Rafiki is wise, mysterious and a tad bit eccentric (Simba even refers to him as a “creepy little monkey”) – but his lessons are invaluable to Simba, who learns quickly from the loveable mandrill.
Favorite Moment: Rafiki’s lesson to Simba about running from or learning from the past.
“Oh yes, the past can hurt, but he way I see it: You can either run from it, or learn from it.”
“Asante sansa Squash banana, Wiwi nugu Mi mi apana … can’t cut it out, it’ll grow right back!”
“He lives in you.”
from Aladdin (1992). Voice: Robin Williams
Remember wanting to find your own magic lamp in a Cave of Wonders, so that you could have a friend like Genie? Me too. Genie is one of the most animated and boisterous supporting characters in all of Disney. He transformed Aladdin into “Prince Ali,” and is responsible for the set up between Aladdin and Jasmine. He’s loving, loyal and loud, but beneath all of that, he only really desires his freedom.
Favorite Moment: The “itty bitty living space” moment and the “Never Had a Friend Like Me” musical number.
“Phenomenal cosmic powers, itty bitty living space.”
“Yo, Rugman! Haven’t seen you in a few millennia, give me some tassel!”
“You ain’t never had a friend like me!”
“Do you mind if I kiss the monkey? …Oh, hairball!”
“Thank you for choosing ‘Magic Carpet’ for all your travel needs. Don’t stand until the rug has come to a complete stop. Thank you, goodbye now. Goodbye. Goodbye. Thank you. Goodbye.”
from FROZEN (2013). Voice: Josh Gad
Some people are worth melting for – so are some of Disney’s supporting characters, especially Olaf, the snowman who longs to “do whatever snow does in summer!” First introduced as a lifeless snowman while Elsa and Anna are kids, Olaf is later brought to life and becomes one of the most animated and flamboyant characters in recent Disney memory. His many adorable moments, quotes and “In Summer” number made him relatable, lovable and instantly classic and memorable.
Favorite Moment: When he tells Anna that some people are worth melting for, or when he’s admiring his nose!
“Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle, but put me in summer and I’ll be a … happy snowman!”
“Oh I love it [his new carrot nose]! It’s so cute, it’s like a little baby unicorn.”
“Hi everyone! I’m Olaf and I like warm hugs.”
“Heads up! Watch out for my butt!”
“Yeah! It really is beautiful isn’t it? It’s so white – you know have a little color! I’m thinking like maybe some crimson, chartreuse … how ’bout yellow? No, not yellow – yellow and snow [muffled brrr-sound] no go.”
from The Princess and the Frog (2009). Voice: Jim Cummings
Ray, the Cajun firefly, is the only supporting character featured on the list that dies, while battling “The Shadow Man,” Dr. Facilier! Before Ray meets his tragic end though, he wows the audience with the “Gonna Take You There” number in the bayou and his story of Evangeline. Ray (alongside ‘gator Louis) adds a great deal of soul, humor and folklore to The Princess and the Frog. His bittersweet end sees him finally be united with Evangeline, as a star beside her.
Note: Ray’s funeral was ranked as my #10 Animated “Awww” Moment.
Favorite Moment: Meeting Ray and the numbers “Gonna Take You There” and “Ma Belle Evangeline.”
“My name Raymond, but everybody call me Ray.”
“Ooo, I’m a Cajun, bro!”
“Go to bed! Y’all from Shreveport?”
“First rule of the bayou – never take directions from a ‘gator.”
“Don’t make me light my butt!”
from The Little Mermaid (1989). Voice: Samuel E. Wright
Who doesn’t love Sebastian? Sure, he’s a little crabby, but it’s because nobody listens to him, especially Ariel! From start to finish, the wee crustacean transforms from a hard-shell crab into a softy! His calypso-reggae infused songs are brought to life by voice actor Samuel E. Wright and endure as some of the most memorable and timeless. Recall “Under the Sea” or “Kiss the Girl?” What’s great about Sebastian is that he’s always got everyone else’s best interests in mind – and he works tirelessly to help in any way possible. Aww.
Favorite Moment: When Sebastian teaches Ariel how to pucker her lips OR when Sebastian faces off against Chef Louis to the song “Les Poissons!”
“Teenagers! Dhey dink dhey know everything. You give dhem an inch; dhey swim all over you.”
“My nerves are shot. This is a catastrophe! What would her father say? I tell you what her father’d say. He’d say he’s gonna kill himself a crab, dat’s what her father’d say…”
“You gotta pucker up your lips, like this…”
“Geez mon, I’m surrounded by amateurs!”
2. TIMON & PUMBAA
from The Lion King (1994). Voices: Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella
Timon and Pumbaa are inseparable! They’re two of the most beloved characters of all-time, and the most dynamic duo ever created by Disney. They enter the story of The Lion King at the most somber moment to provide hope, humor and even more spirit. They’re rambunctious and zany, but above all, they’re tender-hearted and endearing. After all, they save Simba – a lion – one of their natural predators! Together, as co-parents, they protect Simba until he’s an adult – and they stand beside him as he takes his “rightful place as king.”
Favorite Moment: When Pumbaa is stuffed and Timon dresses in drag to do the hula.
“What do you want me to do? Dress in drag and do the hula?” – Timon
“Pumbaa: It’s times like these my buddy Timon here says: ‘You got to put your behind in your past’. / Timon: No, no, no. Amateur. Lie down before you hurt yourself. It’s ‘You got to put your past behind you’.”
from Beauty and the Beast (1992). Voice: Jerry Orbach
“But of course!” The French candelabra Lumière tops the list. Named after pioneering filmmakers, The Lumière Brothers, and fashioned with Pepé Le Pew in mind, Lumière is the quintessential supporting character. He’s witty, charming, free-spirited and romantic – not to mention, one of the driving forces behind Belle and Beast’s romance. His resistance to Cogsworth’s traditional attitude, hospitality toward Belle, and fiery romance with Featherduster provide plenty of memorable moments or musical numbers, like “Be Our Guest!” He is the perfect host for entertaining and embodies all that one might imagine about France.
Note: Lumière has been my favorite supporting Disney character since I was a child. I oftentimes reference Beauty and the Beast, Lumière and Pepé Le Pew when discussing why I studied French, or explaining why I love the idea of Parisian life.
Favorite Moment: The “Be Our Guest” sequence and his on-screen moment with Featherduster.
“But of Course!”
“Ma Chère mademoiselle. It is with deepest pride and great pleasure the we welcome you tonight …”
That’s the countdown! How did you like the list? Are there moments or quotes from these characters that you liked but don’t see here? Share it in the comments section below. Are your favorite supporting characters missing from the list? Make the case for them below too! Thanks for reading.