Philip Seymour Hoffman – In Memoriam

Philip Seymour HoffmanIn my last post I decried our notion that substance abuse and addiction needs to be hidden from the world. The unfortunate passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman is quite regrettable and it saddens me that few will learn from his lesson. I do, however, want to honour the life that Hoffman had and look back on some of the finer points in his career. Going through his film database I’m surprised by how many of his movies I have yet to see, because I have always enjoyed his acting.  Hoffman is the definition of a character actor.

psh boogie nights

Hoffman truly could play any role in any genre as he seems to be able to break down the role of a character, climb into the person’s shoes and make you believe that that is who he is, with what appears to be little to no effort.  The ease in his transitions and the fact that he would take lesser roles than he deserved and still put in his whole heart and talent into making the perfect character, is what will define him as a great actor for quite some time.

Some of Hoffman’s notable performances,* include that of meek and mild Scotty J. in Boogie Nights. Small role? Yes. But important to the story and delivered with an affable lovability. Quite often I forget that he played Brant, the personal assistant to Mr. Lebowski in The Big Lebowski. A movie that defined what a cult-hit should look like to an entire generation of cinephiles.

psh almost famousAlmost Famous is one of my favourite movies of all time and it was here that I actually remember seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman for the first time. He plays Lester Bangs, a rock journalist, who assigns the main character, William Miller, to review concerts. He ends up being a bit of a guiding light to the young Miller and Hoffman takes what could have been a typically clichéd mentor role and embeds his acting brilliance into the small role.

psh red dragonThe Thomas Harris crime reporter character, Freddy Lounds, has been played by Stephen Lang, is currently being played by Lara Jean Chorostecki but was perfected by Philip Seymour Hoffman in Red Dragon. Lounds had a sickly bizarre character relationship with the serial killer Dolarhyde and would constantly get in the way of Will Graham’s efforts. Hoffman played a very unlikable character, yet put so much into the film that his performance in Red Dragon sticks in my mind more than some of the other actors including Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keital, or even Edward Norton.

psh cold mountainWhile the film Cold Mountain doesn’t hold up against its much superior novel the slimy character of the corrupt preacher Reverend Veasey sticks out. Hoffman was able to get into the minds of these characters and play corrupt just as well as he could play a clean cut character.  He is also able to create a redeeming quality to all of his extremely negative characters. Think Father Flynn in Doubt.

capoteOther films that Hoffman was excellent in that deserve a mention include Mission: Impossible III, Pirate Radio, and Moneyball. I think it’s important to touch on Capote before I finish this post. Truman Capote is the role that got Hoffman his much deserved Academy Award. Many of Hoffman’s roles are award-worthy. While the film Capote wasn’t really my cup of tea, Hoffman was still phenomenal in it. When he passed Hoffman had 4 Oscar Nominations to his name, with one win; 5 Golden Globes Nominations to his name, with one win; 5 BAFTA Nominations to his name, with one win; 4 Independent Spirit Award Nominations to his name, with three wins; 9 SAG Award Nominations to his name, with one win; among many other Nominations and Awards.

Philip-Seymour-Hoffman-Oscar-2013Hoffman was truly a talented individual and will be missed greatly by the film community who was always looking forward to his next project.

 

*This is not an exhaustive list as there are still many of his films that I would like to see that I haven’t had the time to enjoy.

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Paul Walker – In Memoriam

paul-walkerNews of Paul Walker’s death shocked the entertainment community. The thought of such a hard-working and talented actor losing his life so wretchedly at such a young age is just tragic. What saddens the heart even more is that he leaves behind a 15 year old daughter. I thought that it would be fitting that while we all take the time to remember Walker’s contribution to the film community that we revisit some of his best movies. While I will try not to make a habit of making lists on this website here is the top five Paul Walker films, as according to Matthew Champ.

The SkullsNumber 5. The Skulls. Don’t get me wrong. I know that this movie actually sucked. It got a very low rating of 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet there’s just something about this movie that I can go back and re-watch it time and again. Maybe it’s just the whole “secret society” angle to the movie. I get that the movie is mindless entertainment at its worst, and is regarded as a flop, for the most part, but it did spin off 2 (equally as unsuccessful) sequels, yet it still sits up there as a guilty pleasure of mine.

Joy RideNumber 4. Joy Ride. This dramatic thriller, featuring Paul Walker, came out in 2001 and was written by the now very famous J.J. Abrams.  Co-starring with Walker was Leelee Sobieski and Steve Zahn for comic relief. While most horror/thriller films ignore character development, this one really centred in on the main characters, giving Walker a true chance to shine and was definitely a movie that I expected to hate, but found to be thoroughly entertaining, even though slightly schlocky from start to finish.

Running ScaredNumber 3. Running Scared. A lot of people were turned off by the graphic, frank and gritty violence and over the top sexuality in Running Scared. But this film was all Paul Walker from start to finish as a low level baddie whose life is put in extreme danger when he ends up with a “hot” weapon and has to “run scared” from anyone and everyone. It’s a movie that is underrated and undervalued. Definitely done in homage to the style of Rodriguez and Tarrantino and whenever I am in the mood for a Paul Walker fix will be the first movie I turn to.

PleasantvilleNumber 2. Pleasantville. Paul Walker’s role as Skip Martin, the Captain of the high school basketball team, was a relatively small role in this very successful dramatic comedy. I can’t really add more to this other than to say, if you haven’t seen Pleasantville you are missing out. Every performance, from the major down to the miniscule, does not go unnoticed, and it’s just so pleasant.

Fast FiveNumber 1. Fast Five. Technically I should put the entire Fast and Furious franchise down on Number 1, but really Fast Five was (in my opinion) the strongest in this franchise. I have a hard time believing that this franchise can exist without Walker. He has created and developed an amazing character in Brian O’Conner that is essential to this multi-billion dollar franchise. Not all of the movies in this franchise are a hit, but people keep coming back for more, and I don’t blame them, after Fast Five and Fast Six I can’t wait for more… we’ll see how/if they can survive without the true heart and soul of the Fast & Furious crew.

R.I.P. Paul Walker. (1973 – 2013).