Tag Archives: Robin Williams

Insomnia (2002) Review

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Insomnia

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Al Pacino as Detective Will Dormer
Robin Williams as Walter Finch
Hilary Swank as Detective Ellie Burr
Maura Tierney as Rachel Clement
Martin Donovan as Detective Hap Eckhart
Nicky Katt as Fred Duggar
Paul Dooley as Chief Charlie Nyback
Director: Christopher Nolan

From acclaimed director Chris Nolan (“Memento”) comes the story of a veteran police detective (Al Pacino) who is sent to a small Alaskan town to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. Forced into a psychological game of cat-and-mouse by the primary suspect (Robin Williams), events escalate and the detective finds his own stability dangerously threatened.

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Insomnia is Christopher Nolan’s follow up to Memento, which was the movie that put him on the map as a director to watch. I first saw the 2002 movie some years ago, and I made a more recent rewatch of it to double check what I still thought of it. Although it may pale in comparison to Nolan’s other movies, Insomnia is still quite a good movie, and it’s worth seeing at least once.

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Insomnia is a remake of the Norwegian movie of the same name from 1997, I haven’t watched the original, but I heard both movies have a similar plot. Knowing Christopher Nolan’s movies now, Insomnia is much less ambitious and twisty in comparison. It’s a pretty standard crime thriller, that has your interest but doesn’t necessarily do something special or unexpected… to a degree. As the film goes on, you find that Insomnia is really a character study that just appears like a standard thriller. It focuses on the lead character played by Pacino and the conflicts within him during this case (no spoilers here), and at a certain point at the end of the first act or so, it really adds another layer that makes things more interesting. It especially leads to some interesting interactions between him and the killer. Despite being a Hollywood remake of a foreign movie, Nolan thankfully keeps the movie subdued, and doesn’t allow it to become too explosive or loud.

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Al Pacino plays the lead role of the detective who is sent to investigate the murder case, and I thought he was really convincing. Around this period of time (it was the point after 1995’s Heat), Pacino had been known to be all Shouty Pacino and would be very over the top with his acting. With Insomnia however, outside of some key moments, he gives quite an effectively subtle performance. He plays the flaws, tiredness, moral conflicts and grey area of his character quite well. Robin Williams is in a much darker role than people are used to seeing him in, and it’s one of his finest performances. Both him and Al Pacino really felt equally matched on screen, and their interactions are some of the best scenes of the movie. Hillary Swank also does well in a supporting role as another detective who’s also on the case.

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Christopher Nolan’s direction of Indomnia is pretty solid, it isn’t quite as stylish or special as in some of his other movies, but he still does a good job here. When it comes to the atmospheric elements as well as the psychological aspects, the movie really stands out. Wally Pfister’s cinematography is stunning, and really captures the environment and location excellently. The only fault I have on the technical side is that I think there was some not so great editing towards the last 5-10 minutes of the movie.

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I guess you could say that Insomnia is one of Christopher Nolan’s weakest movies, but it’s nonetheless a decent film that’s very wel made. The plot is generally familiar, but even then, it’s an engaging thriller that keeps your attention throughout. Additionally, it’s directed well by Christopher Nolan, and the cast is good, especially the duo for Al Pacino and Robin Williams. For sure worth a watch.

Good Will Hunting (1997)

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Good Will Hunting

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Matt Damon as Will Hunting
Robin Williams as Sean Maguire
Ben Affleck as Chuckie Sullivan
Minnie Driver as Skylar
Stellan Skarsgård as Gerald Lambeau
Director: Gus Van Sant

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a genius who works at a college in Boston. He’s discovered by Fields Medal winning Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) who eventually tries to get Will to turn his life around with the help of Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), as Will begins to realize that there’s more to himself then he thinks there is.

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Good Will Hunting has had a lot of attention and got a lot of good reviews but I never expected the level of greatness I was going to experience walking into this movie. Good Will Hunting succeeds as a coming to age story, a comedy, a drama and overall, it is very compelling and a wonder to behold. It is amazing from start to finish and is a film that really sticks with you afterwards. It is one of those films that are essential to watch at least once in your lifetime.

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The writing from both Ben Affleck and Matt Damon is truly flawless and well made; they must really understand the human psyche because all the characters feel very real and believable; in fact for me, this movie has the most believable characters I have seen in a movie so far. There are times in the movie that are really funny but there are also a lot of real drama moments that really catches people off guard. The drama in this movie is as well done as the comedy is and both tones are well used for the moments. The sadness also really hits hard, even I managed to feel the weight of the emotions and I’m not usually someone who feels emotion from a movie; Good Will Hunting also has many deep, personal messages that really got through to me. There is never a dull minute in this 126 minute long movie. The film is always interesting and that has a lot to do with the characters which are so perfectly acted.

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It goes without saying that this movie has great acting. Matt Damon plays probably the most complex character of his career here and he does such a great job becoming everything that his character is. Robin Williams is also fantastic here; he is usually known for being a comedic actor but here, he gives such a touching performance. Matt Damon and Robin Williams overall gave the best performances of their careers here and they play off each other really well; you can really see the connection between these two characters. Other actors like Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver and Stellan Skarsgard are also great in their roles and they all get their chances to shine in the film. Like I said previously, these characters are so believable and credit has to go to all of the actors in this movie who managed to do that. There isn’t a single performance that wasn’t good and they really takes the film deeper than it would have with different actors.

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The setting of Boston is well portrayed here. The cinematography here is good, though it’s not really the main focus of the movie; it’s the story and script, however even so, these simple shots used in the film somehow are quite effective. The score by Danny Elfman is great too – it really sets the mood.

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This movie should be seen by everyone as soon as possible if they haven’t seen it already; from start to finish, it takes the viewers on a captivating journey that never ceases to amaze me. With its brilliant acting, great writing and big emotional drama, it is a film that I will remember for years to come. Emotionally rich and fantastic, it is one of my favourite movies of all time and has made quite an impact on me.

R.I.P Robin Williams
July 21 1951 – August 11 2014