Recliner Reviews | Drive down the ‘Boulevard’ with Robin Williams’ last film

Kathy Baker and Robin Williams in a scene from “Boulevard,” Williams’ final film. Courtesy STARZ Digital Media.
Kathy Baker and Robin Williams in a scene from “Boulevard,” Williams’ final film. Courtesy STARZ Digital Media. THE WASHINGTON POST


We lost Robin Williams more than a year ago. “Boulevard” was his last dramatic role. It wasn’t his best, but that’s what made Williams great – his fearlessness as an actor.

Yes, his comedy moved people, but his power as a dramatic actor shouldn’t be underestimated. From the tender boy-man in “The World According to Garp” to the melancholy salesman in “Seize the Day” to the shock jock in “Good Morning, Vietnam” to the life-changing teacher in “Dead Poets Society” to the ever-learning doctor in “Awakenings” to the redeemed victim in “The Fisher King” to the everyman in “Being Human” to the wise boy in Jack to the Oscar-winning psychiatrist in “Good Will Hunting” to the afterlife explorer in “What Dreams May Come” to the clownish doctor in “Patch Adams” to Jew in Nazi territory in “Jakob the Liar” to the pure sadness of “One Hour Photo” and the pure creepiness of “Insomnia.”

This is just a sample of his dramatic range. It discounts the comedies and family films. Drive down this boulevard, see all the sights Williams offered, he was worth it.

“I Am Chris Farley”

Last week, we looked at “I Am Big Bird,” about a man who’s played Big Bird for half-century with no intention of stopping.

Here’s a documentary about a man who loved and lived in extremes, and his intensity cost his life. But this film focuses on what made Farley famous – his goofy nature and the ability to make funny from nothing. The gang’s all here to show their love – cast members and writers and guests from “Saturday Night Live.”

They discuss his great attitude, his flaws, what made him indispensible. The true heart of this film comes from both likely and unlikely sources. His brother Kevin Farley and other siblings walk you through his childhood. Mike Myers, Christina Applegate and Lorne Michaels all have touching moments, but it’s the strange kinship with David Spade that gets you in the feels. It’s a fitting tribute for one hell of a showman – worth a watch.

“The Harvest”

Back in 1986, director John McNaughton made a little movie called “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.” Violent and brooding, it dug deep without pulling punches. McNaughton has made a few movies since, including the hyper-sexual “Wild Things,” but nothing has matched his breakout statement.

In this film, McNaughton tries to capture complexities trapped in simplicity, and there’s no better way to do this than with children. The problem is the children he hired, Charlie Tahan and Natasha Calis, don’t do a very good job conveying either simple pleasures of youth or the complex issues of isolation.

The problem is compounded when the soundtrack sounds like Muzak stuck on a loop, and the editing feels herky-jerky. Top-notch actors Michael Shannon and Samantha Morton give deep performances that just get lost in this murky mess. It felt like this could be McNaughton’s revival, but instead, this harvest bears no fruit – pass.

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