Philip Seymour Hoffman

IFC Films

In one sense, it hurts to consider God’s Pocket in the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s tragic death. The movie offers another sobering reminder of the enormous talent we lost in February, starkly portraying Hoffman’s unparalleled gift for empathizing with everyman characters and their problems. At the same time, this can be a cathartic experience, a chance to continue reclaiming Hoffman’s story from the sordid headlines that accompanied his death while appreciating a master at work for one of the final times. That’s a welcome opportunity, and it makes the picture worth watching despite some significant flaws and the fact that it’s hardly Hoffman’s best.

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Paul Walker in Fast and Furious 6

Fast & Furious 7 has begun shooting. Heck, it’s been shooting — production began a week ago, and has (presumably) been going strong ever since. But even as Atlanta transforms into a hotbed of street racing, angry bald men and people jumping from cars onto other cars in slow motion, the rest of the world still doesn’t know how the late Paul Walker factors into all that. We know that the powers-that-be will be retiring Walker’s character, Brian O’Conner. We just don’t know how. But if a report from the New York Daily News is to be believed, then perhaps we do. According to the newspaper, Universal has hired four actors who very much resemble Walker and will use them to film Walker’s last scenes, later superimposing Walker’s face and voice onto theirs via CGI. Keep in mind this is still speculation; Universal is going the “no comment” route, and none of the stars have Tweeted or Facebooked anything regarding Walker’s many face-and-body doubles (as they’re prone to do). Until someone involved with Fast & Furious 7 admits that the film will have a weird CGI Paul Walker, we probably shouldn’t assume Fast & Furious 7 has a weird CGI Paul Walker.

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The Hunger Games Catching Fire

At the tail end of 2013, Iron Man 3 received one of the biggest bitch-slaps of the year, courtesy of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The teen novel adaptation swooped in and eclipsed the Marvel superhero’s spot as the highest grossing movie of the year, at least in terms of domestic box office. While The Hunger Games: Catching Fire didn’t overcome the worldwide box office of Iron Man 3, it had its own victory by besting the first installment by more than $200m worldwide. As the movie-going audience prepares for the first of two final sequels releasing later this year, they can stave off their hunger by checking out The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on DVD and Blu-ray. Included on the discs is a commentary with director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson. Lawrence had already been working on the final two films at the time of recording, so his insight goes beyond the production of this film and extends into the grand finale. Even if you’re not a huge fan of these films, you can take solace in the fact that the filmmakers behind them are striving for something better and deeper than the previous box office champs in terms of young adult fiction. (Yes, I’m talking about the thank-god-it’s-over Twilight films.) Now, with that dig against Stephenie Meyer and all things sparkly out of the way, on to the commentary.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman - Almost Famous

It’s only natural that we discuss Philip Seymour Hoffman and the powerful work he left behind this week. We’ll also take the opportunity to think on other outstanding acting talents that we can be thankful for and celebrate some of our favorite Hoffman roles. Plus, FILM CRITIC HULK joins us to debate our movie fan baggage about remakes on the precipice of a new RoboCop, and Film.com‘s Will Goss drops by to play a thrilling round of Infinity Questions. You should follow FILM CRIT HULK (@FILMCRITHULK), Will (@williambgoss), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. And, as always, if you like the show (or hate it with seething fervor), please help us out with a review. Download Episode #48 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Magnolia

He could be anyone, he ennobled the underdog, he never met a challenge he couldn’t surpass. These are all things that were said about Philip Seymour Hoffman throughout his career, and their chorus got louder this week following his tragic death. There’s no doubt that he was a towering presence in cinema. There’s also no doubt that articulating his best performance is a perplexing task. After all, if an actor can be dozens of different people, what ground do you judge each of them on? A challenge, yes, but with it in mind we put the entirety of his career to our panel of writers, asking simply: what is Philip Seymour Hoffman’s best performance? Their answers (and a place for your own) can be found below.

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Lester Bangs

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Capote

There’s a unique double-take aspect to Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s magnetism that defined many of the diverse roles he inhabited. Hoffman was a chameleon, able to lend even the smallest part a distinct impression that he knew the character’s entire history. But Hoffman’s chameleonic skills were internal, not external; he “looked” relatively the same across much of his work. More specifically, Hoffman looked like a man we could pass by on a crowded city street without ever noticing, and that’s partly why his roles could take us by surprise. As Hoffman carefully unfolded his characters, we began to realize he was rarely as “normal” as first impressions made it seem; his characters were often weighed down by some burdensome personal history, a phantom force that they continue to reckon with daily. Hoffman’s charisma was subtle and patient, captivating an audience that eventually began to associate him with the best of late ‘90s and early 21st century American movies. Hoffman, in effect, became a signature of quality, a sign that legitimated a project as thoughtful, worthwhile filmmaking. By the time he won the award for Best Actor for 2005’s Capote, it was for fans of P.T. Anderson and Todd Solondz a belated recognition of a committed and unorthodox talent; for the rest of Hollywood and those who had not yet fallen under his spell, this was an introduction an unlikely leading man.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman - Almost Famous

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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philip seymour hoffman catching fire

It is with tremendous sadness that I report that one of our generation’s greatest actors has left the world’s stage. Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment this morning, allegedly from a drug overdose but that hasn’t been exactly confirmed. The Oscar-winning actor had spoken about substance abuse in the past, and had long been sober until very recently. Earlier this year he went through detox for the relapse, and if the claims are true about the cause of death then this is an especially upsetting end to his struggle with addiction. Our hearts go out to his family and friends, including his three young children. Hoffman was one of my favorite actors, and I’m sure he was that of many of our readers, as well. He an immensely talented method performer who could balance all kinds of roles in all kinds of movies. Even with his distinct physical appearance he could play as varied characters as Truman Capote in Capote, for which he won the Academy Award, Caden Cotard in Synechdoche, New York, and Lancaster Dodd in The Master, all geniuses with very dissimilar personalities. And he wasn’t against appearing in a blockbuster, either. If anything, he elevated such fare as Mission: Impossible III and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. As always with a talent lost too soon, one of the hardest parts is letting go of the what ifs, the wondering what more he could have done, how many more indies and studio releases alike […]

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review a most wanted man

The 9/11 attacks were planned from the beautiful, immigrant-friendly city of Hamburg, and Germany swore afterwards that it would never happen again. In addition to tightening security for those coming into the country, part of their efforts to stop terrorist cells from operating so freely within their borders included the creation of a small intelligence unit whose sole purpose is prevention. Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman) heads up the team (which also includes Daniel Brühl and Nina Hoss), but his latest mission challenges more than his skill-set and determination. It shakes his drive, moral compass, and dedication to “making the world a safer place.” A Most Wanted Man is exactly what you’d expect from the director of The American, and while that assessment will mean different things to different people the film remains a meticulously crafted adaptation of John le Carre‘s bestselling novel.

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Vincent Cassel Wallpaper

It was just a couple days ago when we were complaining about the curious lack of Vincent Cassel in our current movies and then rejoicing as he stepped in for a dropping out Oscar Isaac as the lead of a cult drama called Partisan. Now there’s reason for even more celebration—though once again bittersweet celebration—because it’s being reported by Deadline that yet another talented actor is having to drop out of a movie, and the situation is once again being handled by Cassel stepping in and taking his place. Suddenly we’re up to our elbows in Vincent Cassel. The movie in question is director Daniel Espinosa’s Soviet-era thriller Child 44 and the actor dropping out is Philip Seymour Hoffman. There doesn’t seem to have ever been any official announcement of what role Hoffman was going to be playing in the film, but once you trade out a Philip Seymour Hoffman for a Vincent Cassel, it’s probably safe to start assuming that it’s someone creepy and evil. Especially when you’re talking about a movie about a bunch of dead little kids.

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hoffman

What is Casting Couch? A compiling of the day’s casting news that today has word of new gigs for Elizabeth Banks as well as some good news for a couple of the former cast members of Party Down. How many A-list actors does it take to make a movie about a string of child murders in Soviet-era Russia? Apparently one more, because Deadline is reporting that Philip Seymour Hoffman is the latest big name to join the already impressive cast of director Daniel Espinosa’s Child 44. His addition to the film sees him rubbing elbows with the already cast Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, and Joel Kinnaman, and it will quite possibly give us a chance to finally see him wearing one of those furry Russian hats, which seems like something that should have happened years ago.

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roger sterling

Seeing as he’s one of the senior partners at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency, John Slattery’s Mad Men character, Roger Sterling, is very used to being in charge of a crew of people. And now that Slattery himself has directed four episodes of the acclaimed show on which he acts, he too is starting to get a feel for being in charge. It makes sense, then, that he would eventually want to put his leadership skills to the test and make the step up to directing a feature film, and Deadline is reporting that he’s all set to do just that. The film is called God’s Pocket, and it’s an adaptation of a Pete Dexter novel about a blue collar neighborhood that Slattery co-adapted alongside Alex Metcalf. More than even its director or the content of its story though, God’s Pocket is notable because of the outstanding cast that it’s already assembled.

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Drinking Games

Nominated for three Oscars, The Master was a passion project for director P.T. Anderson. It pulled the veil back on a fictionalized account of Scientology as well as proving that Joaquin Phoenix can secure award nominations for any role in which he beats up plumbing. Thought not entirely mainstream, it was a darling of art-house film fans, and The Master also prominently features homemade booze as a subplot and symbol. This is enough of an excuse to knock back a few drinks while watching the film’s crisp transfer on Blu-ray or DVD.

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Best Supporting Actor

The supporting actor. He’s not the guy, he’s the guy behind the guy. That’s not always a bad thing though. The lead actor generally has to be the guy the audience is relating to, so those sort of roles can end up being kind of vanilla. The supporting roles though, that’s where the memorable weirdos come from. Getting a great supporting role can afford an actor the opportunity to go completely off the wall with their performance, or at least take some calculated risks that aren’t likely to sink the whole film if they don’t pay off. As a result, the best supporting roles of the year can be more interesting than the best leads, and this year definitely has a colorful cast of characters. Here are the ones that the Academy liked in 2012 with my predicted winner in red:

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Over Under - Large

While inspirational sports stories usually prove to be box office draws, when you make them you still run the risk of alienating the portion of the film-going audience who just don’t like sports. If someone doesn’t like basketball or football, how do you get them to sit through a story where people play basketball or football for two hours? Brad Pitt’s 2011 starring vehicle, Moneyball, was hyped by its fans as being a baseball story that anybody could get into. Its focus was more on statistics and science stuff than it was gameplay. It was more about bucking the system than it was winning the big game. And at its heart was a story about a failed man reclaiming his life and growing as an individual. There’s no need to be into baseball to enjoy all of that stuff, right? Major League, conversely, is a 1989 comedy that was aimed squarely at baseball fans. If you didn’t know about the Cleveland Indians’ pathetic standing in the league, if you didn’t have a long-standing relationship with hearing Bob Uecker’s voice talk about the game, and if you didn’t know the ins-and-outs of each position and exactly what it takes to be bad at playing them, then a lot of the movie’s charms were likely going to be lost on you. And if you could care less about whether or not the Indians beat the Yankees in the championship game, would you even be able to get anything out of watching this […]

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A week or so ago, our Christopher Campbell wrote a piece posing the burning question: What is the Meaning of The Master? The fact is, he isn’t the only one asking. Some have harshly compared writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson to the film’s “titular” cult leader, believing Anderson also has no clue what he’s trying to say. Campbell theorized, “Maybe the reality is that there is nothing there. And yet maybe that lack of meaning is in fact its meaning,” but then went on to discount that interpretation of the film’s point, along with others. What is Anderson trying to say about religion? Is he saying, as Campbell speculates, that it’s all meaningless? In simple reality, to the obvious disappoint of many, is that Anderson is attempting to do no such thing. Even as it attempts ephemeral whatdoesitallmean-ness, The Master can be broken down to one simple sentence: a beautiful, tragic friendship between someone who has no interest in answers and a man who knows he has none of them. It’s solely a story of two distinct men, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) and Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Some could argue that’s too simplistic of a story for Paul Thomas Anderson, but Anderson has never been a “message” filmmaker. He’s always been a “relationship” filmmaker. The Master strives to be nothing more than another character study from Anderson told on a big, bold, beautiful canvas, not a hard-hitting critique of religion.

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Now that Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master is in slightly wider release than it was in its opening weekend, perhaps it is time to discuss this period drama, which is perplexing both critics and regular moviegoers alike. More than the fact that a lot of people are now able to finally see the film, the interesting thing is that many have now watched it two or three times (at least) in an attempt to get more out of the thing. Countless reviews have pointed out that The Master is difficult to fully understand on a single viewing, and audiences of all levels of intellect are coming out declaring that they need to see it again. Plenty are doing so, but are they any closer to finding answers? No film requires or should require multiple viewings, and pretty much any film watched more than once can deliver previously unseen pieces and welcome new considerations. But The Master, whether constructed out of certain meaning or, as might be hinted through a significant line from the film, Anderson just made it all up as he went along without too much thought, is the sort of glorious cinema that we look at as a fun puzzle. We can imagine that one day a documentary similar to Room 237 will present obsessive PTA fans over-analyzing everything from the commanding performances to the film’s subtler nooks and crannies.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman

Hollywood mainstay Philip Seymour Hoffman (My Boyfriend’s Back) is one of the best loved actors working today. Not only has he established himself as a strong character actor over the course of his prolific career, but over the past decade or so he has also proven that he has what it takes to be a leading man. And his latest starring vehicle, The Master, just opened this past weekend and broke some per screen average records at the box office. It’s safe to say that his legacy has been solidified as far as being a thespian goes (barring a De Niro-esque slide into late-career self-parody). As a director though, the man’s career is fledgling. So far he’s stepped behind the camera just once, for 2010’s Jack Goes Boating, a film that didn’t exactly tear it up either critically or commercially. It looks like he’s getting another chance to prove that he’s just as vital a presence behind the scenes as he is at the center of the scenes, however, as Variety is reporting that he’s just signed on to direct a 2011 Black List script called Ezekiel Moss (written by Keith Bunin).

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All right, all you great big, bright, shining stars out there. It’s time to hear what Paul Thomas Anderson has to say. With recent movies like There Will Be Blood and his latest, The Master, the director is smack in the middle of a stretch in his career in which he’s defining a new genre called Discomfort. Boogie Nights looks downright cheerful by comparison, so it’s nice to go back and listen to the writer/director discuss his great, early achievement. And here we have it, all 37 things we learned listening to PT Anderson talk about Boogie Nights. You got the touch…!

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