Saturday, 16 August 2014

One Hour Photo — Talk about Unnerving … !

15th August, 2014.

You know, I am rather strapped for cash, right now.

Basically … ?   Basically, I’ve seen some of my benefit payments suspended, as a result of being laid off from a Work Placement.

Not nice: and yes, I’m appealing it.   At least, I’ve put in for a Mandatory Reconsideration, the initial stage of the Appeals process.

Hopefully, that’ll go in my favour.   Until I get word about that … ?

I’m getting Hardship Payments, keeping me above the proverbial breadline.

I’m just glad that some better financial times meant I had the chance to spend some of my income on the occasional iTunes card.   This means I’ve some (minimal) credit on my account: to rent the occasional movie with.

In my shoes … ?

In my shoes, I don’t call that bad, or good, financial planning.

I call that a morale boost.

Hark at that, morale boost … !

Gosh, but that sounds pretentious, doesn’t it … ?

Either way … ?

Either way, I think I have a point.   I think I, and others in my shoes, work damn hard to try to find work.

For me, I find the occasional rented film both a joy to watch, a joy to share with any company … and a joy to write about, afterwards.

I feel it’s a harmless use of the cash your tax money gives me to get by.

Especially when you consider that there’s some less productive stuff I could be spending it on.

At least … a lot less productive than what I did spend your cash on.

I rented a film.

Given the world — and his family — has lost the man who made the world laugh … ?

I rented the Mark Romanek directed One Hour Photo: which features the late Robin Williams in a central role.

You have to pay your respects, somehow … 


16th August, 2014.

If you’re going to do that — pay your respects, that is — you’ve got several options.

And given we’re talking about the talented Mr Williams?   We have a lot of choice.

Now, I could’ve gone for all sorts of films: Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King is, I’m told, superb.   Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society are on a similar par.

Not films I’d seen: not films that had grabbed me, just yet … but ones I’d pencilled in to catch, at some point.

I eventually went for One Hour Photo as I’ve distinct memories of film critic, Mark Kermode, being very flattering about Williams’ performance in the piece.

I don’t agree with everything Mr Kermode says about a film.

I do think the man’s a reliable guide to a film.

Mark Kermode was right to be flattering about it … 


One Hour Photo tells us the story of Seymour ‘Sy’ Parrish: a technician at a photo-developers in a small local supermarket.

Sy is shy, isolated … and obsessed with his job: having not much of a life outside of the lab.

He’s also obsessed with the Yorkin family: Will (Michael Vartan), wife Nina (Connie Nielsen) and son Jake (Dylan Smith), have been regular customers are the lab, ever since Jake was born.

So obsessed, he’s been secretly doing extra copies of all of their photos: and using the extras to make a collage of the family that’s on a bare wall of his apartment.

So obsessed, he imagines himself as part of the Yorkin family: and able to make his way happily around the house.

That obsession lands Sy in trouble.

Sy’s boss, Bill — Gary Cole —  fires Sy, giving him a weeks notice: he’s found out that Sy has been reeling off extra prints.

On his last day … ?

On his last day, Sy receives film from Will’s mistress: processes them, slips them into Nina’s next batch of prints …

And then starts planning some havoc of his own, having worked out that Will is having an affair:  ruining his perfect family AND Sy’s obsessive fantasies.

Not the most sensible of moves, on Will part …


Now, I mentioned that Mark Kermode had found Williams’ performance appealing?

Yes, I did, didn’t I … ?

I’m ALSO wondering where on Earth I can find a reference to that.   I’m not getting specific pages, after Google hunting.

But, at ANY rate … ?

At any rate, I can remember seeing Mark Kermode reviewing One Hour Photo for his weekend review: and being flattering about Robin Williams’ performance as Sy.

To the point where I seem to recall him using the word ‘unnerving’ about it.

I hope he did.

He’s right, if he did.

You see, I only know Robin through his more comedic work: the various stand-up routines I’d seen him do, the various — and few — comedies I’d seen, and dim memories of Mork And Mindy.

Which he was hysterical in.

But Sy Parish … ?

Sy Parish is a complete 180º switch on the likes of Mork.

Actually … ?

Sy Parish is a complete 180º on the likes of DJ, Adrian Cronauer, or of Dr Malcolm Sayer: the caring aspect of either is there.   But in the case of Parish … ?

In the case of Parish, both Williams and the script show us exactly how warped a human can become.

Warped: and scary.

There’s one scene, for example, where Sy tries to give Jake a toy action figure he was interested in: something Sy thinks is innocent enough, but looks worrying to those of us in the audience.

Another, where Sy tells Will that Will has ‘a beautiful home.’

The climax … ?   Where Sy confronts Will and his lover in a hotel … ?

Is truly grim.

We only gain understanding of Sy, near the end of the film: when, being interviewed by Detective Van Der Zee (Eriq La Salle), Sy tells him
“You would never neglect or abuse your children. [chokes up] Make horrible demands of them. You would never ask… You would never ask your children to do things… things that children shouldn’t do. [crying] You would never take disgusting, sick, degrading pictures of your children doing these things! You would never treat your children like animals.”
It’s only then, after we’ve this … ?

That we realise that Sy — that Williams’ portrayal of Sy — is both unnerving, scary … 

And unnervingly sympathetic … 


Phew … 

That’s a lot of text, isn’t it … ?

Yes, it is.

But then, I think I’m justified in writing it.

I will happily admit to being someone who wasn’t a fan of Robin Williams.

But … ?

But I think that I had quite a regard for the guy.

He made me laugh, think, and watch, over the course of many years.

Seeing his name in the cast list of a film, a TV show — or one of the recordings of his stand up shows, released over the years — meant we knew we’d be getting a performance that would lift out spirits heavenwards: in a way that few other performers could.

For me?

For me, seeing One Hour Photo only confirms what many could have told me, many times over.

That Robin Williams was both a man of huge talent.

AND of incredible range.

Talent — certainly comedic talent — matched by few other people: with the possible exception of the equally tortured Spike Miligan.

We can only do what we did when Spike died.


And mourn all the more deeply, knowing Williams took his own life, rather than, like Milligan, at the end of a long and full life.

Personally … ?

Personally, I can only offer my condolences to Robin Williams’ family.

And hope that the awareness of, and support for, mental health issues improves, as a result of his death.

Lord along knows it came to late for him, and many others.

Nanu Nanu, Robin Williams.

Rest in peace.
One Hour Photo.

1 comment:

Nik Nak said...

Just as a final thought … ?

I’m on both Facebook and Twitter: as you’re probably aware.

And noticed a blog post about Robin Williams go past.

This one.

It seems, in his contract for various films, Robin Williams would insist a certain number of homeless people got work on any film he worked on.

The post doesn’t say as what: but I assume as set runner, scene shifters, what have you.

And have to say, that makes his loss all the greater.

This was someone tortured: but caring.

And caring enough to say to himself “Right … let’s do something PRACTICAL.”

My first reaction … ?

Was “WOW!”