Hoffman Why?

Photo derived from original by Murray Close: Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) © 2014 – Lionsgate.

Recently Jennifer Heart posted a comment on my Google+ post, Hoffman Heightens Hanks, linking to an old blog post where I expressed my appreciation for the work of the great actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died at 46 on February 2, 2014.  I had also written another post elsewhere, now revised and updated here as my reply to Ms. Heart.


Philip Seymour Hoffman’s creativity was magical, his death horrible.  Both were solely, distinctively his own, and both delivered with stunning effect.

When Pete Seeger died a week earlier at 94 on January 27, 2014, I felt deep gratitude for what he gave us. When Philip Seymour Hoffman, who masterfully fused his inflammatory soul with that of every character he played, died Sunday, February 2, at 46, I felt deep pain.

As he sailed away at the end of a great journey, to Seeger I waved g’bye. As he blew overboard to drown, for Hoffman I wanted to know why. It’s a futile question, so I just cried. This is a loss I feel too much, the world probably not enough.  But I am as grateful for Hoffman as for Seeger. Continue reading “Hoffman Why?”

Not Kissing Movies Goodbye

I watch old movies again the way I see the same things in a museum again, or read a book again.  Movies are the definitive art of the era.  Before long, only collectors and museums will have them.  Holograms, virtual reality, and robotic interaction will flood the entertainment market.

small_dvd_stack-253x200These transitions away from two-dimensional media will be commonplace within a couple of human generations – maybe just one.  When our retiring Baby Boomers were born, the personal computer was unthinkable, and FM radio not yet on the market.  I could easily live another thirty years.  The first IBM PC hit the market thirty-five years ago.  In 1999 someone told me it looked like a ’57 Chevy, in its outmoded style, size and structure.  What will we have in our pockets in a couple of decades?

If they let me, I’ll continue enjoying the mostly passive entertainment in movies.  Whatever machine I play them on, I don’t want to kiss movies goodbye.

Rio-Grande-posterOld movies never die.  When I see an oldie, I might study a character closely, and its actor’s skill.  This is how I landed on the angel and the bartender as my favorites in It’s a Wonderful Life.  I pay attention to the music credits.  If a flick has a great composer behind it, it’s a great flick.  Some of my favorite CDs are movie scores and themes.  There’s also the scenery, the cinematography, the costumes.  I notice the buildings and vehicles, the picture on the wall in the stairway, the realism or lack thereof.  Usually best of all is the dialog.  It’s a wonderful life in the movies.

I love the dialog lines that make me laugh out loud when they are not meant for humor.  There’s kitschy philosophical baloney, perfectly put ponderous punditry, poignant or pretty prose in narrators’ silky voices, and sometimes profound wisdom memorably said.   There are classic romantic lines — or ones I think should be classics — that I wish I had thought of, because I think they’d actually work, whether tongue in cheek or out, such as this John Wayne & Maureen O’Hara catchy verbal foreplay:

I never want to kiss you goodbye

Continue reading “Not Kissing Movies Goodbye”

The Funny Side of Life

About this song (brief excerpts from Wikipedia article): Continue reading “The Funny Side of Life”

Hoffman Heightens Hanks

This cover picture (from IMDb.com) does severe injustice to the vastly greater and more important role played by Hoffman over the minor one by Roberts.
This cover picture (from IMDb.com) does injustice to the vastly greater and more important role played by Hoffman (rear) over the minor one by Roberts — as if she were the leading lady in a romance story with Hanks.  Not so at all.

In every movie where Philip Seymour Hoffman held a major role, his performance raised the bar for the entire cast.  He made them shine.  He did it for many of the most famous actors of our time.

I saw it happen as usual recently in a favorite movie, Charlie Wilson’s War, where Hoffman elevated Tom Hanks from his usual excellence to His Holy Starness.  The exchanges between their two characters — Hanks’ Congressman Charlie Wilson and Hoffman’s CIA task force chief Gust Avrakotos — put the movie over the top for me.  The incredible true story had me riveted, but Hanks and Hoffman made it more than memorable as enduring art, and would have done so even if they didn’t have two other perennial favorites filling the number three and four slots in the billing, Julia Roberts and Amy Adams.