Friday, August 15, 2014

Robin Williams, Suicide and Painful Memories

This isn't going to be one of those funny posts.  I'm usually in a laughing mood.  I tend to make a joke out of a bad situation in order to cope with it.  Sadness makes me uncomfortable.  But sometimes it's unavoidable and that's life.  Today I'm just going to give my thoughts on a tragic event that happened recently, Robin Williams' suicide.  It's an event that affected me a lot more than I thought it would and, like most people, really got me shook up.  I'm not here trying to start a debate on suicide.  I'm not gonna get sucked into an argument in which there is no clear winner.  I'm just here to give some perspective on a subject that's very personal to me.  Everyone has their opinion on suicide; I'll try to keep mines to myself.  I don't know if what I'm saying makes coherent sense.  I'm not sure if I really care.  I'm not even checking for grammatical errors.  (Although I'm usually not very good at grammar when I try.)  I'm really just trying to grab my bearings the best way I know how.  Maybe you'll learn something about me.  But that's not really my aim.  I just want to write until my soul hurts a little less.  If I make any jokes during this post just know that I'm not being insensitive on purpose.  I do it as a therapy to myself.  I do it to give myself a break from the tough subject I'm writing about.

So on the 11th of August my co-worker Obi tells me that Robin Williams is dead.  I immediately think it's a hoax.  They once announced Jeff Goldblum had died and that turned out to be false.  But lo and behold I get confirmation from the internet that the beloved actor and comedian is dead.  Not only that, but he hung himself.  This hit me like an RV (reference to a bad movie he made) for two reasons.  One, it's Robin Williams.  People die all the time.  Celebrities die all the time.  The world moves on or doesn't depending on how much that particular person.  I'm not saying that I value one person's life over another but if a person has made a big impact on your life it's going to hit you more than someone who had a smaller impact on your life.  That's just the truth.  Robin Williams was an amazing actor who starred in amazing movies and performed brilliantly.  His latest movies had been duds but naturally happens with most actors who are in the game as long as Robin Williams was.  But in his peak he put out some amazing work.  Good Morning, Vietnam was a classic.  Dead Poets Society had a profound effect on me.  Not a lot of movies can move people.  Dead Poets Society was a movie that could move people.  And no one on earth could have played Keating the way Robin Williams did.  That's just an opinionated fact.

Didn't like Hook.  Aladdin is one of my favorite films of all time.  It was a movie I saw many times growing up.  Again, no one could have played Genie the way Robin Williams could.  Without Robin Williams it wouldn't be the same movie.  It would be one step above Oliver & Company.  (Note: I actually like Oliver but let's face it, it's not in Disney's Hall of Fame.)  Mrs. Doubtfire was both touching and funny, something that couldn't be done without Robin Williams.  I owned Jumanji on VHS and I can't even count how many times I saw that movie.  Saw the first half of Flubber on cable.  I liked what I saw but never got around to the rest of it.  Bicentennial Man was underrated.  And anything I could say about Good Will Hunting or Robin Williams' performance as Sean McGuire would be the biggest understatement in world history.  And that's not all Robin Williams did.  The point is that there was no one like him and there never will be.  My grandma loved Robin Williams and she doesn't really even understand English.  I don't know if that makes a point but I just wanted to rattle off a fun fact.

The second reason this death hit me so hard was the fact that it was a suicide.  It's hard to imagine that someone so full of life would take their own.  You don't expect it.  You don't look at someone and think that person is going to kill themselves.  But this happens.  And it happens for a variety of reasons.  The reasons don't matter.  Someone died.  It's sad and it's tragic.  That's that.  Anyone who knows me well enough knows why suicide is such a touchy subject to me.  Suicide is already a touchy subject in general, but I've had to deal with it in my lifetime.  When I was in elementary school I went to class with a kid named Anthony.  He was a good friend of mine.  He was always so vibrant and full of life.  He was different.  That's what I liked about him.  Everyone at my school tried to act a certain way.  That's basically every school.  Anthony didn't care.  This kid was smart and for some reason being smart wasn't considered cool in my school.  It just got you bullied.  Anthony didn't seem to care that him being smart and him being different didn't make him cool in everyone's eyes.  I remember once for spirit week he made his own costume and showed up as Captain Underpants.  Yes, that's right.  From the book.  I thought this was the most amazing thing in the world.  You don't think people like this are going to commit suicide.  But then they do.

We had a camping field trip coming up in 6th grade.  I remember the last time I talked to him he was telling me about ticks or bugs that could bite you when you go camping.  The next morning I wake up like every other morning.  I push my dog, Toby, off me and get ready for school and head downstairs.  I see my mom is on the phone and she has this look on her face.  There's an atmosphere in the room that could only be compared to the atmosphere in that room when we were watching 9/11 unfold on TV.  My mom hangs up and walks over to me.  She embraces me and holds me tight.  I know bad news is coming.  And I know it's going to be really bad.  All she says is, "One of your classmates is dead."  Everything fell apart there.  Immediately I start sobbing uncontrollably.  For some reason I know who it is.  I don't know how i knew, but I did.  I'll never be able to explain it.  I'll never bother to try.  My parents decided to come to school with me.  They set up two meetings at school, one for the parents and one for the students.  They tell us that Anthony is dead.  They don't really bother to tell us anything else.  I'm done crying at that point.  I'm in public and for some reason my pride came before anything else at the point.  I hear from teachers that he had an accident tying knots (Anthony was a boy scout and proud of it)  and accidentally hung himself.  That's just a gentle way of telling us he committed suicide.  All the students talk about why it happened, everyone feels responsible for it.  I felt like I should have seen it coming if I was such a good friend.  People made RIP shirts with his picture on it.  People talked about how great he was, even when they knew they were the same people who made fun of him.  I'm not going to say their responsible for his death.  Who really knows why except Anthony and God?  But that's just what happened.

I didn't go to Anthony's wake or funeral.  Death makes me feel uncomfortable and at the time I wasn't ready to face the reality.  I battled depression for a while after that and even considered suicide at one point.  I never planned it out and I never did it.  I thought about the affect it had on me and the affect my suicide would have on my loved ones.  I'm not making a comment on whether that was a result of courage or cowardice.  He made a decision and I made another.  Let's leave it at that.  At my 8th grade graduation my class sang "I'll Be Missing You" by Diddy (P. Diddy at the time) in tribute to our lost friend.  I had the honor of announcing the song at the graduation ceremony.  (Note: the school wanted us to change the lyrics so that the song wouldn't be about Biggie Smalls.  We ended singing the original version anyway.)  After that I spent the years battling depression.  I always believed that Anthony was comfortable with who he was.  Whether that was true or not I was just trying to discover who I was.  When I was finally able to find closure was about the same time I started to feel comfortable in my own skin.  I don't battle with depression anymore and when I think about Anthony I tend to be more smiles than tears.  But sometimes the tears do come back.  That's natural.  And that's what happened when I heard about Robin Williams death.

But the point of this is not to sulk about important people you have lost.  Nor is it to incite a debate.  The point is just to cherish the people you love and to celebrate their life when they are gone.  It doesn't matter at the end why Robin Williams or Anthony committed suicide.  They did.  They were both tragic when they happened.  But we celebrate their lives and what they gave us.  You don't look at a loved one and think that they are going to kill themselves.  You just love them as much as you can.  I don't know if anything I've written makes sense to anyone and frankly I don't give a shit.  I feel a little better.  Go home and tell your family you love them.  Not because it might be the last time you see them or some stupid shit, but because you do love them.  Just appreciate life while it's still here and stay Guapo out there.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Review

Hello guapos and guapas!  This is the one and only El Guapo coming to you from Infinite Wisdom.  Now, I'm aware that my movie reviews haven't had as much success as my other posts (the reason why I didn't expand and start reviewing porn), but for those who appreciate me shedding some light on Hollywood's latest releases I have a duty to perform.  I had the pleasure of catching Guardians of the Galaxy opening weekend and had a positive experience.  Truth be told I wasn't sold on this movie when the announcement first came out at Comic Con a year ago.  I hadn't even heard of the Guardians.  I asked one of the only people that I know who could have possibly known who these guys were, my dad.  Well, he didn't know either.  The first trailer came out and I thought it looked OK.  Possibly a little cheesy.  Maybe I'll catch it at the RedBox, I thought.  When I made my list of the summer movies I had to see this year I left Guardians out.  My dad told me to give it a shot.  He said I might really like these characters.  (Keep in mind my dad has no idea who these guys are.)  As the second trailer came out and as the release date approached I started to have a change of heart.  Plus, seeing as Marvel would probably try to tie this franchise in with The Avengers, I figured I didn't want to catch the movie missing some major pieces of the story.  Out of everything that stood out about this film, the most notable were the characters.

Peter (Star Lord) Quill
Chris Pratt has quietly become one of Hollywood's biggest actors and will possibly be a household name in the near future.  I remember when I first started watching Parks & Rec I didn't think much of Chris Pratt outside of a comedic role.  He's funny, there's no denying that.  But back then I couldn't picture him as the lead in a Marvel movie.  Sometimes when an actor is too funny it's hard to picture them in any other kind of role.  I mean some actors have that kind of range, (not that I'm saying Pratt could hold his own in a biopic of JFK) but could you imagine Zach Galifianakis in non-comedic movie or show.  (Just checked his IMDb page, all comedy from the ones I could recognize.)  Pratt was also pretty chunky, which I guess coincides with the theory that fat people tend to be funnier, but again makes it harder for anyone to picture as the lead in a superhero movie.  

But Pratt put in some hours in some non-comedic projects that were successful.  He played Scott Hatteberg in Moneyball, a story about of the best teams in baseball, the Oakland A's (Yeah, bitch), and was even in Zero Dark Thirty, the movie that should have won Best Picture at the 2013 Oscars. (It's all politics, kids.)  Sure, he did some comedic roles during that stretch including Movie 43 (awful), Lego Movie (allegedly good), and yes, he was still doing Parks this whole time.  But this role was somehow perfect for Chris Pratt.  I'm having a hard time picturing anyone else playing Peter Quill.  I've heard/read some people calling Star Lord the poor man's Han Solo, but I think that's unfair.  I say he's the middle class man's Han Solo.  Regardless, Pratt gets to flap his feathers as the lead in a superhero flick and he is a natural.  He's got the charisma and beefing himself up also helped a big deal, but it's his comedic talent that really comes through for him.  With Guardians being a hybrid between a superhero movie and an action comedy, Chris Pratt is given the perfect situation to shine.  But most importantly, he won my approval as a lead in the upcoming Jurassic World movie.

The least funny of the quintet, but she's not there to be funny.  Zoe Saldana plays the sexy and fierce assassin Gamora and in the process started the puberty stage for many young boys in the audience.  (Zoe went from playing a sexy blue alien to playing a sexy green alien.  I think I now have an alien fetish.)  Again, perfectly cast.  Gamora made this movie as exciting as it was and Zoe was able to find the right middle ground of being intoxicating and thrilling.  Other than Avatar and Star Trek, I haven't been that impressed with Zoe's roles, but I guess she's just one of those actresses that, in the right situation, can really come through, and in the wrong situation, become forgettable.  But not this time!  This time she nailed it!

I guess wrestlers aren't bad actors.  Dave Bautista plays Drax, a warrior seeking revenge for the death of his family who also happens to not understand metaphors.  (One of the funniest gags of the film)  He doesn't have the responsibility of carrying the movie like Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana do, but Bautista does a well enough job that I didn't spend the entire movie wondering why they decided to cast a professional wrestler.  He was funny when he needed to be and showed signs up potentially being an action movie star.

I'll admit I'm not the biggest Vin Diesel fan.  I don't go to his fan club meetings.  I don't get excited when I see his name in the credits.  His best movie (series) has to be the Fast & Furious franchise and it's not like he's the best thing about that either.  (I probably rank him as the 5th best thing about that series.  Ouch!)  But sure, he's given us those movies (even though I think they should have stopped at Fast Five) and I liked XXX, but I consciously skip the Reddick movies on cable and he gave us The Pacifier which should cancel out every single good movie he's ever been a part of.  (That's why I ignored typing Saving Private Ryan.)  Is it all Vin's fault?  Could it be bad writing?  A bad agent?  Bad Acting?  Whatever the case this was his best performance in a while, lending his voice to say the words "I", "Am" and "Groot" and even throwing in a "We" at the end.  (Ironically, Vin's voice might be top 3 in a list of things I don't like about him.)  Regardless, Groot is a lovable character and it makes me mad that I have to give credit to Vin Diesel.  So instead I'll give Vin 12% (which is better than 11%) and give the rest to the crew.

I knew I was going to love this guy before I walked in the theater.  Bradley Cooper (probably the most accomplished actor of this five-some) lends his voice to this character.  Rocket is exciting, funny, sarcastic and is a perfect compliment to the rest of this group.  Bradley Cooper does a fine job here, even if he is using some kind of Boston accent while playing a talking raccoon who happens to be an expert on arms and explosives.


So here we have the perfect blend of characters, with actors who got the job done.  This wasn't by any means the best movie of the summer, but it wasn't trying to be.  Like I said earlier, this movie isn't so much a standard superhero movie as it is a cross between a superhero movie and a action comedy, leaning more towards the comedy.  It wasn't aiming to be The Dark Knight, or even Captain America.  It definitely wasn't trying to be 12 Years a Slave or Zero Dark Thirty.  It was merely trying to entertain you with some quality action scenes and visual effects, and at the same time make you laugh.  This film did its job.  So how do I rank it?  It's tough because I have to factor in the attempt of the movie.  If this movie was trying to be more than it is, then it failed.  It's like if someone said they were going to make you an omelette and they make you an egg.  They failed even if it was a good egg.  But if someone says they'll make you an egg and they make you a pretty damn good egg they succeeded.  The problem is that he only made you an egg so it's hard to stack up against the good omelettes you had yesterday and the day before that.  Which is why, even though I really liked this movie, I had decided to give this movie an "Ight".  But then I remembered the soundtrack and said, "Fuck it, I don't have that long a life span anyway" and gave this shit a "Guapo". 

That's my review.  Check out the movie if you haven't.  Follow me on Twitter and Instagram.  @ELGUAPO3 for my wise tweets @CAPTAINCRUNCHTIME for my Guapo photos.  Keep on the lookout for more of my posts.  Have a great day and stay Guapo out there!