Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman

The best actor of his generation is gone. A terrible finale for an immense talent. I have never been so sad about an artist passing away, but Philip Seymour Hoffman wasn't your average actor. Here’s my modest tribute, a brief countdown through his best 10 perfomances imo, to an incredible career that has ended too soon.

10. Punch-Drunk Love- Dean Trumbell
For many, Hoffman will be remembered as an infallible secondary actor. While that consideration is unfair and utterly reductionist, it's true he has given us so many unforgettable non-leading roles, like the raging "Mattress Man".

9. Boogie Nights- Scotty J.
Speaking of secondary roles, the ridiculously shy, fatty, gay member of the impossible porn filming crew that has a crush on Dirk Diggler is hard to forget. Paul Thomas Anderson and Philip Seymour Hoffman are going to repeat on this list, if you were asking...

8. Almost Famous- Lester Bangs
I mean, Hoffman becoming Lester Bangs? What else a music fanatic would ask for? Unfortunately the film wasn’t as remarkable (despite its undeniable charms) as Lester's, sorry, Philip's, performance.

7. The Master- Lancaster Dodd
Bad joke warning. Hoffman gave a masterful (sorry about that) performance here, one so immense and powerful (alongside Joaquim Phoenix) they made this imo failed movie a must watch and celebrate.

6. Magnolia- Phil Parma
If Paul Thomas Anderson was capable of making Tom Cruise look like a great actor here, imagine what he did with one of the best. The desperation, loneliness and torment of his performance as the personal nurse to the dying host of a children’s game show was heartbreaking.

5. Happiness- Allen
And if we talk about loneliness, what about the pervert looking for happiness in his obsession over neighbor Helen? Todd Solonz made an incredible fierce, brave movie, one that itches and irks, bursts and suffocates the viewer. And he found an infallible actor in Hoffman to give a face to one of his most striking characters.

4. Love, Liza- Wilson Joel
Oblivion and utter sadness. Hoffman IS the movie.

3. The 25th Hour- Jacob Elinsky
One of Monty Brogan's childhood friends, and Hoffman most striking secondary role. As the introverted, restrained teacher he incarnates self-repression, suffering because of his inability to interact with real world. What should we say to him?

2. Synecdoche, New York- Caden Cotard
The face of torture, a monstrous performance for a monstrous film. Hoffman is compelling, painful to watch, depressing, terribly empathic, nonsensical, all at the same time. As complex and imperfect as this exaggerated (meaning that in a good way) look of what it means to be human and live life.

1. The Savages- Jon Savage
It's an excellent, flawless little indie movie (with the great Laura Linney), but the reason it tops this list is because I do believe (or I want to believe) that's the closest Hoffman, the actor, showed who was Hoffman, the human being. Fragile, good natured but terribly pessimistic. This dialogue on the film summarises it. Jon Savage: [about his girlfriend] She's moving back to Poland. Wendy Savage: What, you and Kasia broke up? Jon Savage: No, her visa expired. Wendy Savage: So that's it? Her visa expires, and it's over. Jon Savage: It's either that or we get married and no one's ready for that. Weren't you ready to keep living, Philip? We'll miss you.

2 comments:

  1. Excellent list, Raül. I haven't seen them all, but will definitely make time to do so. Love, "The Savages," and own the DVD. I watched a hefty amount of Synecdoche, New York,
    but stopped because it was a monstrous, as you so adeptly put it, performance and film...I have
    been planning to purchase this
    film and watch the rest...only
    stopped because of my own
    depression/empathy with Philip Seymour Hoffman's character
    ...wasn't ready at the time to
    watch the rest. I've owned "Love, Liza," for years, yet haven't brought myself to watch it because of depression-factor, yet I love his acting, so amazing. You didn't have, "Flawless," in your list, which wonderfully pairs DeNiro & Hoffman. I highly recommend it. It's neither action-packed nor thriller, however it's one more role that Philip Seymour Hoffman nailed. I look very forward to watching each of the movies on your list.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, much welcomed! I'm making a list of Hoffman's films that still have to see so "Flawless" will be now among the first to look for. It is true that "Love Liza" & "Synecdoche" are terrifying films... something that makes Hoffman even more remarkable as an actor, his ability to be in some of the bravest works of the last years is unmatched...

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