Tag Archives: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman 1967 – 2014

PSH

The strangest thing about dealing with an actor’s death is that you have to keep reminding yourself you didn’t know them. I didn’t know Philip Seymour Hoffman because I know Phil Parma or Scotty J. I didn’t know him because of the interviews or the speeches. I did not know him. Over the next few hours and days and weeks the news of his death will slowly leave me, until I only truly grieve when he pops up in a film I’m watching — when PTA releases something and there’s no PSH to be found. It’s hard to pretend that a grief so fleeting could be the truth.

But there is truth in it, as evidenced by the sweeping anguish found in so many film lovers. And whether it’s thanks to a true connection with the artist through his work, or simply the reality that losing a genuine talent like Philip Seymour Hoffman is an objective sadness, today is hard.

It’s a certainty that Philip Seymour Hoffman had many more remarkable performances in him, and that loss is certainly incalculable, but for those of us who have always quietly understood that Phil was one of the greatest of all time, one of the reasons that movies can be called art, it’s hard to know what to think. A talent who moved millions was here yesterday and now he’s dead, and…for a moment I was going to write, and he’ll never move anybody again, but that’s not true is it? He will continue to move us for years to come, in fact — every time we watch one of his films. And I suppose that’s the minor consolation we can take: Hoffman is gone but never forgotten, because film allows those who are gone to keep on living.

Film allows those who are gone to keep on living.

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman

July 23, 1967 – February 2, 2014

 

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The Master (2012)

Lead or follow. At one time or another some puffed up authority figure has pointed to these as your two options in life. Not both, and certainly not neither. With this edict comes the implication that a leader is what you should want to be. Leaders are powerful and impressive, and followers are simply everyone else. While the world tends to consist of only leaders and followers, the idea that we can and should choose our path is tradition. The Master is flooded with followers and the leaders who lead them, but even more so with the notion that these roles are changeable. In every leader resides a follower, and vice versa, and the side we show is ultimately a product of the other person in the room. This may seem like a minor epiphany, but as Paul Thomas Anderson proves in his latest opus, it can change the way you view the world, and it can change the way the world views you.

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The Ides of March (2011)

Maybe cynicism comes with age. As the world reveals its endless potential for deception and betrayal, it becomes harder and harder to maintain idealism. This must be true with regard to political cynicism or apathy, as the perpetual cycle of that world is masterful deceit and earth-shattering revelation, and anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention seems to understand that politicians simply cannot be trusted. Running for political office means maintaining a pretense of white teeth and talking points; ostensibly being whatever voters want you to be. Unfortunately, this facade is easily shattered and nearly impossible to regain, an idea taken to its deepest depths in George Clooney’s latest direction, The Ides of March.

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Boogie Nights (1997)

For my part, Paul Thomas Anderson is the most exciting director working today. I’ll even go so far as to say that he could end up one of the best directors of all time. Now you and I both know how absurd it is to make this claim about any director, and that it’s nothing more than an opinion. Still, it gives a pretty clear indication of my feelings on the man and his work. In fifteen years, P.T. has directed five features; one a solid genre flick which nobody has seen, another holds the clear frontrunner for Adam Sandler’s best performance of all time, and the other three are Oscar nominees, the last of which won two, despite losing Best Picture. It’s hard to appreciate this sort of success while still in the heart of a man’s career, but assuming the trajectory holds we’ll all surely be talking about it years from now. Anderson may fly a bit under the radar of the standard film goer; he doesn’t have the recognizable aesthetic of a Wes Anderson, or the Tarantino excess of personality. But there’s no denying that these are his contemporaries, and making a case for P.T. as the best of the bunch isn’t terribly difficult. That case would surely begin with an examination of Boogie Nights, Anderson’s dark and hilarious pornographic melodrama. In the shadow of his later, better films, Boogie Nights is only slightly less fantastic, less impressive, less finished. Nonetheless, it is an alarmingly great flick from a sophomore director, and properly kicks off the career of our generation’s Martin Scorcese.

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