Weekend Streaming: Sharpen up with Robin Williams and HBO’s latest

Posted: 31 August 2018 8:33 pm

The brilliant Sharp Objects is wrapped and ready to binge and when you're done you can scrub up on Robin Williams.

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Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind

What's the gist?

The world suffered a great loss when Robin Williams passed. We all knew him as a comedy genius, an upbeat-to-the-point-of-manic virtuoso of improvisation whose mind seemed to run a mile a minute. Though he was both a peerless funnyman and a Juilliard-trained dramatic actor whose like we may never see again, when the spotlight swung away he was also a troubled soul, haunted by his fair share of personal demons. Make no mistake: this is a warts and all portrait of a complex man.

In this intimate documentary that's equal parts hilarious and heart-breaking, you'll get an inside glimpse of Williams, told largely through his own words. Director Marina Zenovich – known for cracking documentaries like Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic and Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired – also celebrates what Williams brought to comedy and to pop culture at large. From the wild Mork and Mindy days of late-1970s L.A. to that tragic day in 2014 when he took his own life.

What's it like?

This is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen. Though it must have been incredibly difficult to collate all of the material, Zenovich has managed to expertly find and capture the chaotic, random energy of Williams. Arguably the best section of this production is where he lands his spot in Juilliard and goes from a lonely, only-child playing in his own mind to finding his true calling and honing his natural gift into art.

Hearing a treasure trove of Williams' personal voicemails sent to a fellow comedic luminary, Billy Crystal, is another high point in Come Into My Mind. The former's heavy-hearted interview is a powerful and moving moment as is the section that features Williams' son speaking candidly about the problems haunting his father in those final days. All told, this is both a celebration of a life and a sobering, educational look at how depression and dementia can cruelly alter the ones we love. Highly emotional, must-watch stuff.

Sharp Objects

As of this week, every episode is finally available for this series, an eight-parter that you should binge-watch at your earliest possible convenience. Anyone who liked Gone Girl and its surprise twist will be on the edge of their seat with Sharp Objects, a show where you've really got to be patient and perceptive as you drink in the details. Because without fail, when an episode cuts to black it'll come with a shock revelation that was expertly laid out right under your nose.

Five-time Oscar-nominated actor Amy Adams stars as Camille Preaker, a reporter returning to her dinky hometown to cover the murder of a preteen girl and the abduction of another. That's her all-consuming day job, in her spare time she's picking at the threads of a psychological puzzle from her own childhood. Camille increasingly finds herself identifying with the young victims as they share dark pasts, a common ground of hurt and manipulation.

What's it like?

I'd not previously read the book by Gillian Flynn (of Gone Girl fame) and was waiting with baited breath to discover the final truth of this twisted little HBO drama. Addiction sets in early while watching Camille reunite with her estranged family – overbearing mother Adora, stepfather Alan Crellin, and rebellious half-sister Amma. You're looking at one messed up family unit with a mausoleum worth of skeletons in their closets. The key family secret that shadows everything: the actual fate of Camille's long dead youngest sister.

Speaking of siblings, Camille's pre-teen step-sister Amma (Eliza Scanlen) is a particularly fascinating character what with her dual-personality and temper. She's an older-than-her-years enigma and you'll expect to spend a few episodes desperately trying to pinpoint what her exact agenda is. Basically, Sharp Objects is full of shadows, echoes and flashes of seemingly unimportant keywords that you really ought to keep an eagle-eye out for. And when you do spot one keep an eye on it – it may morph from shot to shot.

Speaking of anomalies, Wind Gap, Missouri is just a very peculiar Midwestern town. Once Camille returns to it she's pushed to breaking point by the low-key toxicity of the place and the challenges of repairing familial bonds with her estranged loved ones. Give the pilot a speculative watch and be hooked in no time. This is an enthralling coming home story that's creepy, confronting and by the time it finishes it'll cut deep. Make time for it.

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