Currently browsing the "Philip Seymour Hoffman" tag.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Hollywood can be so cruel. Splitting the third and final book of The Hunger Games trilogy into two movies feels so… unnecessary. Lucrative, in a “hey, Harry Potter and Twilight got away with it” kind of way. But still, totally unnecessary. Thus Mockingjay – Part 1 is a good movie that could have been great. It’s a means to an end – and that means fans of the franchise will (and should) see it despite my frustrations with a narrative cut short. Then – come next year – we will all surely see it again, as part of a movie marathon, when Mockingjay – Part 2 bows in theaters. Just in time for Thanksgiving 2015! May the odds of remembering what happened in the books – and the first three movies – be ever in our favor.

Mockingjay – Part 1 finds our reluctant heroine Katniss Everdeen (still played brilliantly by Jennifer Lawrence) waking up in the rebel safe haven of District 13 after having put a fork (okay, an arrow) into the craziness that was the Hunger Games – where kid ‘tributes’ from the districts of Panem had been forced to fight to the death as part of some annual penance devised by the autocratic Capitol. Why? It’s complicated. If you really care to know, read the books. See the movies.

A Most Wanted Man

There is really just one reason to go see A Most Wanted Man — Philip Seymour Hoffman. The film, while good on its own terms, mainly serves as a reminder of what an immense talent we lost. Hoffman plays a German spy in this John le Carré adaptation from director Anton Corbijn who brought us the equally thoughtful The American. And like his previous film, this one depends on the audience getting inside the protagonist’s skin. I’m not sure it would have worked without Hoffman.

The Master

You can tell from the opening frames of The Master that it takes itself very seriously and expects the same of you. Its world is very heavy. And I think that is a conscious stylistic choice, not a directorial ego trip by Paul Thomas Anderson who tends to make big movies with big themes, most of which I have liked a lot (There Will Be Blood, Magnolia). This is Cinema with a capital C. It pulls you in and makes it impossible to look away. And that is aided by having two really amazing actors at the center capable of carrying it. Philip Seymour Hoffman is the weightier character, a cult guru called The Master, but Joaquin Phoenix is the more interesting Freddie, an unmoored alcoholic searching for purpose, and his full-body immersion performance will most likely earn him another Oscar nomination.

The Ides of March

The Ides of March is a decent adult drama, but it’s also a depressing commentary on the state of our political system. It doesn’t really matter if you’re a republican, democrat, independent or ‘other’ – the movie is likely to leave you with the impression that we’re all pawns in a political game that’s essentially run by a select group of strategists who will do whatever is necessary to achieve victory for their candidate du jour.

Pirate Radio aka The Boat that Rocked

Pirate Radio aka The Boat that Rocked is a very, very funny movie with a kick ass soundtrack. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed the music in a film as much. And the cast — this is ensemble acting at its best, including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, (Emma Thompson and January Jones in cameos) and lots of other people who should be a lot better known than they are.