Philip Seymour Hoffman

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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A Late Quartet

If Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir and Wallace Shawn were in a movie together, would you go see it? Director Yaron Zilberman (Watermarks) is even throwing in Imogen Poots for free. This excellent ensemble formed for A Late Quartet, the story of four world-class string players who struggle to stay together. The official synopsis uses the phrase “insuppresible lust.” Hopefully it’s between Walken and Hoffman. Or hopefully it’s the kind that causes a massive rift between two or three people. That might be the case, as this absolutely gorgeous trailer shows. It’s intense and makes a powerful impact with a striking metaphor. Having Beethoven in its corner doesn’t hurt either. This, right here, looks like must-see filmmaking from a new director and a veteran cast.

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In his vitriolic review of Film Socialisme (Jean-Luc Godard’s self-indulgent mess that screened at Cannes in 2010), renowned critic Mark Kermode said: “the movie is incredibly boring and incomprehensible, but so boring and incomprehensible that critics concluded it must be quite profound.” With that quote in mind, I carefully read every single glowing review I could find of Paul Thomas Anderson‘s new film The Master (including one already on this site) after watching it at the Toronto Film Festival. Before the love fest, I walked out of the theater feeling confident that everyone else in attendance hated it as much as I did. Instead, it seems as if everyone has found a safe place for their beloved director’s latest to hide by looking for praise anywhere they could. The film follows the life and tribulations of former sailor Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) whose rather random but instant bond with Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) turns into a lasting friendship that puzzles everyone around them. Quell is a deeply damaged soul who appears to be guided by his basic human needs of sex and violence but also hides greater emotional devotion to a long lost love – one he tries to retrieve years too late. Lancaster Dodd is an equally insane but significantly more eloquent oddball thanks to his natural ability to influence others around him. While his ego knows no bounds and his methods reveal no logic whatsoever, he displays such a sense of self-assurance and persuasion that he can […]

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A Man Most Wanted

Back in February it was reported that there was a new adaptation of a John le Carré novel being developed, and that it was looking to put Philip Seymour Hoffman in a leading role. It all sounded very exciting, but Hoffman’s involvement wasn’t official. Well, some time has passed since then, details on the project are starting to solidify, and the crew has even started to put together a cast of familiar faces to join Hoffman in supporting roles. But first, let’s recap exactly what this project is. A Most Wanted Man is a story about a half-Russian, half-Czech immigrant who comes to Germany—scarred and starved—looking for his father’s lost fortune. His past is mysterious, his motives are suspect, and eventually his pursuits get the attentions of a British banker and a young female lawyer, who both try to help them in their own way, and who end up forming a strange love triangle in the process. There’s no time for romance, however, as the man’s arrival also gets the attention of a group of spies from three different nations, and soon all of the players converge in ways that are likely steeped in intrigue and double crossings.

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The Master

Editor’s Note: On Friday night in Santa Monica’s Aero Theater, a group of movie fans gathered to enjoy a 70mm print of The Shining were treated to the first screening ever of Paul Thomas Anderson’s forthcoming The Master. We’ve asked film geek Victor Escobar, who was lucky enough to be there, to offer his thoughts on the film. It hits theaters September 21st. I thought that I was lucky just because I had won tickets to see The Shining on Friday,  but before it began, we were told that a special 70 mm print was being shown right afterward and that we were welcome to stay for the screening. During the movie, I kept thinking of films that were shot in 70 mm which would make a great follow-up to Kubrick’s hotel-set horror. The first and most logical film that came to mind was 2001: A Space Odyssey. So the film ends, the lights go up and we’re told that we will be the first people to see Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film, The Master. The announcement was greeted by a unanimous roar from the audience. The Master is about Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix), a man without any self control or a sense of direction life, who is taken under the wing of Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Both men find inspiration within each other but as Dodd’s religion grows, Freddie finds himself going against not just Dodd’s teachings, but Dodd himself.

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The Master Trailer

So far, we’ve been treated to two very different (yet equally as engaging and wonderful) teaser trailers for Paul Thomas Anderson‘s upcoming film, The Master, but today gifts us with the film’s first full trailer. And it was worth the wait. Drawing from the film’s second teaser, this look at the Philip Seymour Hoffman- and Joaquin Phoenix-starring film dives deeper into the world of Hoffman’s mysterious, eponymous “master” and the outsider who at first embraces him, and then threatens the very fabric of his work and existence. The auteur’s apparent take on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology is set in the 1950s and it centers on Hoffman’s character, “a charismatic intellectual known as ‘the Master’ whose faith-based organization begins to catch on in America” and Phoenix’s character, “a young drifter who becomes his right-hand man.” Check out the film’s first full trailer, complete with lots of looks at the inevitable rift between the leads, after the break.

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You know what The Hunger Games: Catching Fire really needs? Some gravitas. Though the first film was an unmitigated success, and it certainly benefited from its young and vibrant cast, most the of “elder statesman” work fell on the shoulders of Donald Sutherland as evil President Snow. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone around that we can trust? If you’re unfamiliar with the second book in Suzanne Collins‘ smash hit book series, a brief character description of the brand new Head Gamemaker for The Hunger Games, Plutarch Heavensbee, might not make you feel the warm and fuzzies. After all, Wes Bentley‘s cold and calculating Head Gamemaker, Seneca Crane, seemed bent on rivaling snow for the film’s evil points, and how could anyone in his same position be anything less than a foe? Well, perhaps when he’s played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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Joaquin Phoenix in The Master

Isn’t it nice to know that no matter the chaos of the universe, Paul Thomas Anderson is out there making movies? Amidst a an ebbing sea of hype and disappointment, he’s out there, takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners. The second trailer for his forthcoming film, The Master, is an incredible example of cinematography and contemplative acting from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. Plus, Amy Adams round out the mix. The movie focuses on Hoffman’s religious icon known as “The Master” as he builds a relationship with Phoenix’s character Freddie – a drifter who becomes his assistant. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Fans of Suzanne Collins’ whimsical child murder novel, “The Hunger Games,” will tell you that one of the big differences between her book and its eventual film adaptation was that the role of the deadly games’ designer, Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley), was dramatically increased for the screen. In the book we see the events of the games from solely the protagonist’s perspective, so the deadly obstacles that are put in her path always come as a surprise. But in the film, we see Bentley’s character setting everything up and reacting to the ways the players handle his tricks and traps. It made the position of the Gamemaker seem far more important than it ever had before. Seeing as Bentley’s character had fallen out of favor with the powers that be by the end of The Hunger Games, its sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, is going to have to find a new puppet master. And given the newfound importance of the role in the story’s movie universe, as well as the fact that the second Gamemaker is a more important character than the first in the source material, Catching Fire’s director, Francis Lawrence, will seemingly have to find a big name actor to step into the role. There isn’t need to worry though, reports are he’s already made an important move toward doing just that.

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Joaquin Phoenix in The Master

Though everything we’ve heard about Paul Thomas Anderson’s upcoming project, The Master, paints it as being a Philip Seymour Hoffman-starring story about the head of a new religion, its new teaser trailer doesn’t give us any indication that this is the case. There’s no mention of religion, no scenes of cult-like indoctrination, and not even a glimpse of Philip Seymour Hoffman. What it does give us is a conversation between military personnel and Joaquin Phoenix, who’s playing a 50s-era serviceman who seems to be having some mental problems. Phoenix has a glint in his eye, a glow to his smile, and a hole in his memory – and it all adds up to a scene that manages to build a ton of tension and mounds of menace without ever actually showing us anything dangerous or getting spooky with the music. It’s a good example of how thoroughly a great filmmaker and a talented actor can manipulate your emotions, even while being completely subtle.

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Paul Thomas Anderson

Yesterday, I ragged all over the hiring of Kenneth Brangah to helm the long-gestating Jack Ryan prequel, mainly because I don’t believe that the film will ever happen and I’m not necessarily sure that I care if it does – but not every long-talked-about project is a bust, not every heavily touted production is destined to never come to fruition. Some do. And some of them are more than worth the wait. Paul Thomas Anderson‘s maybe it is/maybe it isn’t Scientology feature, The Master, has been buzzed about for awhile now – and it’s hit some hurdles on it way to the screen. But that doesn’t mean that this Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, and Amy Adams-starring feature isn’t going to be great – in fact, I’ll be shocked if it’s not. With a resume like Anderson’s (including no less than Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk Love, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood ), a talented cast, and a compelling plot, it’s looking like a can’t-miss (which is why it landed on our most anticipated list for the year). But, when, oh when can we expect to see it?

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Now that John le Carré’s spy novel “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” has been adapted into a highly acclaimed film of the same name that made a bunch of money on a worldwide level, we can probably expect to see a flood of his other works suddenly making their way to the big screen. And at the head of that pack is director Anton Corbijn, who plans to make an adaptation of Le Carré’s “A Most Wanted Man” the followup to his 2010 film The American. The screenplay has been adapted by Edge of Darkness writer Drew Bovell, and tells the story of a mysterious Russian immigrant in Germany. Or, as the book’s Amazon description puts it: “A half-starved young Russian man in a long black overcoat is smuggled into Hamburg at dead of night. He has an improbable amount of cash secreted in a purse round his neck. He is a devout Muslim. Or is he? He says his name is Issa. Annabel, an idealistic young German civil rights lawyer, determines to save Issa from deportation. Soon her client’s survival becomes more important to her than her own career. In pursuit of Issa’s mysterious past, she confronts the incongruous Tommy Brue, the sixty-year-old scion of Brue Freres, a failing British bank based in Hamburg. A triangle of impossible loves is born. Meanwhile, scenting a sure kill in the so-called War on Terror, the spies of three nations converge upon the innocents.” The big news about this film is that the […]

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Paul Thomas Anderson

I didn’t think it was possible for me to be any more excited about P.T. Anderson’s upcoming religious drama that was at one point called The Master. First off, Anderson is one of my very favorite directors, so anything he does is going to excite me. Secondly, Philip Seymour Hoffman is starring as the L. Ron Hubbard stand-in who serves as the main character, and he’s about the best actor on the planet. And third, much like Anderson’s last film, There Will Be Blood, this one is going to feature a score by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood. Last time around that equaled aural awesomeness. But now there’s a new rumor swirling around the project that is almost too cool to believe, and coming from these sources, I’d say it’s pretty dang reliable. Cinema Blend was peeping in on a Twitter conversation between two directors from the Pixar stable, Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton, about movies being shot in 65mm, and they uncovered the tidbit that Anderson is going to be the next director to utilize the format. Somewhere in the thread of the conversation Bird said to Stanton, “ … Nolan shot a lot of Dark Knight Rises in IMAX. I think PT Anderson’s next is 65 too.” To which Stanton replied, “The Master is indeed in 65. They nearly lost a camera shooting in the Bay.”

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Over Under: A New Perspective on Films New and Old

As 2011 crawls to a close and 2012 peeks its head over the horizon, many of us wayward souls find ourselves using the changing of the calendar as an excuse to make big changes in our lives and start over fresh. ‘Tis the season for resolutions. Some of us will resolve to cease destructive behaviors, others will vow to start new things that will enrich us and make us better people. But for each the goal is clear – we’re done with the past, finished with who we were, and starting from this moment forward, it’s going to be a new day. Naturally, all of this thought about what my resolutions are going to be and who I want to be in 2012 has me thinking about movies that I’ve seen where people are trying to let go of the past and begin a new journey. More specifically, I’ve closed in on two movies from the early part of the last decade that are about relationships ending and their messy aftermaths. The Michel Gondry-directed and Charlie Kaufman-penned Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is about a fictional service that will erase bad relationships from people’s memories, it stars Jim Carrey as a man wrestling with the question of how to best deal with painful memories, either by blocking them out or by accepting and processing them. Two years before that, Philip Seymour Hoffman starred in a movie called Love Liza about a broken man dealing with a relationship that had […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr strips down to his boxers and starts a new training regimen to make him look more like Huge Jackman. He’s got a head start, considering his torso looks almost like Jackman’s… if you turn it upside down. After duking it out with some robots in a boxing ring, Kevin tries his hands at politics because it’s the kind of business where you don’t necessarily have to look like Ryan Gosling to get a young hottie like Evan Rachel Wood. But the primary system leaves him depressed and cold, so he takes a trip to the Sudan to play target practice with some warlords. He hears the Sudan is simply lovely this time of year.

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Audiences are no strangers to political films these days. While they usually have more of a thriller angle and focus on government figures already in power, there have been a decent number that follow candidates on the campaign trail and as such, any new film tackling old ground needs to make a conscious effort to distinguish itself in some way, to stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, The Ides of March makes no such effort and seems content to languish in probable obscurity. The film is a character study following Ryan Gosling‘s Stephen Meyers, a whip-smart but naive young campaign staffer during his time working for Governor Mike Morris. Morris, played by George Clooney who also co-wrote the screenplay and directed the film, is a presidential hopeful, and the film takes place during his campaign to win the Democratic party nomination. Meyers is essentially the number two man on the campaign at only 30 years old working directly under campaign manager and political mainstay Paul Zara, played with zeal by the incredible Philip Seymour Hoffman. Their competition is technically a Senator Pullman (Michael Mantell), though the opposition is almost entirely represented by Paul Giamatti, who plays Pullman’s campaign manager, Tom Duffy. Duffy and Zara are old school, both having come up around the same time, with Duffy seeming to have been in Zara’s shadow to a certain degree. Duffy and Zara are hardened political guys, but Meyers is still idealistic, believing in a man who can truly bring change to the country. He’s put […]

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Culture Warrior

The month of September is typically regarded as one of the least exciting and least eventful in the calendar year. It’s something of an interval month, a strange in-between phase sandwiched in the middle of summer Hollywood blockbusters and the “quality” flicks and holiday programming of the fall. In strictly monetary terms, it’s the most underperforming month of the year, and has even been beaten by the desolate burial ground that is January in terms of event-style opening weekends. But this may ultimately be a good thing. In fact, if future Septembers continue to exhibit the same patterns as this month, the time of the year in which schools go back in session and you can no longer wear all-white may prove to be one of the most interesting and exciting months on the wide-release calendar.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr decides he’s going to learn history from Hollywood. After all, why not when three out of the four major releases are based on or inspired by a true story. He learns about the true history of baseball with Moneyball (and was sorely disappointed it wasn’t called Monkeyball because a movie about monkeys playing baseball would have been awesome). Then he learns all he needs to know about marine mammals and depressed children in Dolphin Tale. Finally, he faces the cadres of screaming tweenage girls to see Taylor Lautner in ABduction. That’s based on a true story, right?

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Towards the beginning of the second act of Bennett Miller’s Moneyball, Jonah Hill’s mathlete Peter Brand explains to Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane that the team he dreams of creating for the Oakland A’s is essentially “an island of misfit toys.” Peter makes this admission without irony or snark – to him, those misfits are the ones with the true potential, and Peter understands that the potential to be a winner is much more important than the (very distinct) possibly of being a loser. And yet, Moneyball is a film about being a loser, even if the losers we come to know are losers in a very particular context. Can you be a professional athlete that makes a solid six-figure paycheck and still be a loser? Can you be a popular professional sports organization with millions of dollars to spend, your own stadium, and an accomplished legacy and still be a loser? Can you be Brad Pitt and still be a loser? Yes, yes, and yes (sort of) – and not just a loser in the most literal sense (you know, someone who loses), but in the larger sense of someone who just doesn’t win. As general manager of the Oakland A’s, Billy is tasked with crafting a professional baseball team with significantly less funding than the other heavy-hitting teams in their league. It’s that lack of cash that leads to a worst-case scenario play for Beane and the A’s – losing out on the American League West championship, the team […]

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It’s been six long years since director Bennett Miller‘s Capote, and he’s finally returned with a very commercial, very accessible, and very good film, Moneyball. On the surface, the awards contender looks like a simple star vehicle for Brad Pitt. On a deeper level, it’s a film about ambition, being an outsider, and striving for greatness. Clearly, that fits nicely into Miller’s wheelhouse. Although this is only the filmmaker’s third film, the themes that spark Miller’s interest are apparent. Despite Moneyball being a commercial juggernaut and his 2005 critical hit being a breakout indie, they couldn’t be more thematically similar; both films are about men searching for career success, but finding something unexpected at the end. Speaking with Miller, you get a perfect sense of why the director is drawn to these ambitious figures. Here’s what the Moneyball director had to say about ambition, the adaptation challenges of his character drama, and taking advantage of the medium he works in:

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