American Hangman
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American Hangman

In “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind,” a documentary that’s sharp-edged, humane, and deeply researched enough to take you closer to the manic engine of Williams’ Logan Lucky brilliance and pain than you were before, the smartest decision made by the director, Marina Zenovich, was to use a great many never-before-seen outtakes, as well as clips from obscure or forgotten performances, so that Williams’ routines hit the audience with a fresh ping. In one of the most spectacular of these clips, the film replays the extended acceptance speech he made for Best Actor at the 2003 Critics’ Choice awards.

Williams didn’t actually win the award. BlacKkKlansman He was up for his turn as a creepy psycho nerd in “One Hour Photo” (to me, a rather overrated stunt of a performance), and he lost. There was, in fact, a tie that year, with the award going to both the other nominees: Daniel Day-Lewis for “Gangs of New York” and Jack Nicholson for “About Schmidt.” But when Nicholson got up to give his speech, he confessed to being so “baked” that he invited Williams to come up to the podium, and Williams was off and running. He gave an acceptance speech as Nicholson; he mimed a lascivious Jack fantasy in deaf sign language; and since the Critics’ Choice awards are the height of inconsequentiality, by the time he was two minutes into his speech, it was almost as if he had won.

It was one of Williams’ patented drive-by-comedy circus psychodramas. For those few minutes, he didn’t just rule the room — he owned the night. And yet, listening to his Green Book speech, especially the latter part of it, where he leaves the Nicholson impersonation behind, Williams lets slip out, with unusual candor, how driven he was to be up at that podium — and, in fact, how wounded he was to be passed over by both the other nominees. It’s a cliché (and a true one) that every comedian wants to be loved and admired through laughter, but Robin Williams’ relation to that dynamic was nearly metaphysical. His credo might have been: “I make you laugh, therefore I am.”

Duration: 99 min

Release:

IMDb: 5.8

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American Hangman