Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Tribute To Philip Seymour Hoffman

The first movie I saw Philip Seymour Hoffman in was Patch Adams when I was eleven in 1998. I didn’t know who he was at that time, and I was watching the movie mainly for Robin Williams. In the movie, Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a med student named Mitch who seems to be the only person who doesn’t like Robin William’s character, Patch Adams. Mitch is a very serious person who is concerned with studying and passing his exams. He is upset with Patch’s unconventional ways of interacting with patients, like trying to make them laugh. I liked that Mitch wasn’t portrayed as a villain, even though it would have been easy to do that. That seemed to be a common thing with a lot of his performances. He sometimes played people who could be easy to dislike, or who might be written off as losers, but he always made them completely fascinating to watch. There were exceptions, like the caring and decent nurse, Phil Parma, he played in Magnolia, or the villain, Owen Davian, in Mission: Impossible 3. What made him my favorite actor is how he seemed to be amazing in everything he was in. He could do comedy as well as drama. In the movie Capote, he seemed to completely disappear into the role. I couldn’t believe how his voice sounded when he talked. There’s a scene in that movie where he seems smaller than he is. In the animated movie, Mary And Max, he completely makes the character of Max, a lonely New York man in his forties with Aspergers, come to life. Although I’ve seen good portrayals of people with Aspergers from other actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Max is the one that feels the most real. It’s the one I will still remember years from now. Another performance that really stands out for me in a filmography of amazing work is his performance in the movie Happiness. He plays a character that would be thoroughly reprehensible and only that if played by another actor. The character of Allen is a man who makes obscene phone calls. He has no social life. He is pathetically in love with a woman in his building that has no idea he exists. He might be addicted to pornography, and the only times he seems to come alive is when he makes those phone calls. Played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Allen is disturbing, pathetic, but also desperately lonely. I felt very empathetic towards him, which surprised me. I liked how Philip Seymour Hoffman completely threw himself into every role he played. Whenever I saw a movie with him in it, even if the movie itself wasn’t great, I knew that he would give a memorable performance. I haven’t even mentioned his roles in Doubt, Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski, Synecdoche New York, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, Charlie Wilson’s War, Almost Famous, The Master, The Talented Mr. Ripley, or Cold Mountain (the first movie I really noticed him in). He was my favorite actor and one of the greatest I’ve seen. There will never be another actor like him. He will be greatly missed.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Movie Review-Frances Ha


Director-Noah Baumbach

Actors-Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Patrick Heusinger, Adam Driver, Michael Zegen



I loved the movie “Frances Ha”. It is about a twenty-seven-year-old woman named Frances (Greta Gerwig) who is trying to become a dancer in New York. Frances shares an apartment with her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner) and mostly finds work teaching dance classes. When Sophie decides to move in with her boyfriend, Frances starts to struggle financially, and stays with friends (Adam Driver and Michael Zegen). I liked how honest this movie feels. Through much of the movie, Frances feels like she is falling behind Sophie, who seems to be growing up and becoming a “real adult”. I also liked that while the movie didn’t ignore the challenges in Frances’s life, it avoided becoming too sad. There was a good balance of comedy and drama, with some witty dialogue in the screenplay. The movie also had very good performances by Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver (who I almost didn’t recognize after seeing his performance as Adam on the TV show “Girls”), and especially by Greta Gerwig, whose performance as Frances is one of my favorites of last year. “Frances Ha” is available on Netflix and I really recommend watching it.
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5