Tag Archives: Philip Seymour Hoffman

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)

The final installment of the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay – Part 2, received relatively little fanfare compared to the releases of the previous films. Though it is probably fair to say that the interest dwindled after Catching Fire due to many audiences feeling the series had become “too dark,” it wasn’t really until after Mockingjay – Part 1 that the general fan base seemed to disappear entirely.

For me, the issue with the Hunger Games film series is relatively simple: it is neither brutal enough nor committed enough to what the essence of the Hunger Games story is.

I read all of the books in the Hunger Games series, and remember that I felt a similar disinterest about the final book as I did with the final film. It just seemed that the idea had run its course by the end of Catching Fire, and that anything that followed the second book’s publication was just a feeble attempt to bring in more money and to wrap up a story that didn’t particularly need more wrapping.

Continue reading The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)

Advertisements

Film & TV News: June 21

News

  • Matt Damon’s return to the Bourne franchise is enticing the rest of the band back, too, as Julia Stiles is now said to be onboard the 2016 release. Viggo Mortensen is apparently in negotiations to play the villain, which is an addition that would no doubt wash the taste of The Bourne Legacy away for good.
  • First he says he’s down to play Wolverine “until he dies”; then, word that Hugh Jackman’s time as Logan would come to an end after the next solo film. Now rumor has it that X-Men: Apocalypse will feature Jackman in a smallish role, maybe even just a cameo, showing that they haven’t quite learned that X-Men movies sans Jackman aren’t as interesting as the alternative.
  • Vin Diesel is making a Kojak movie, so. Yep.
  • Hall H regulars Marvel, Sony and Paramount are all skipping San Diego Comic Con this year, presumably because leaked documents are doing all of their marketing for them. Motion State Review will be skipping Hall H, too, which is yet another crippling loss for convention superfans. Next year.

Continue reading Film & TV News: June 21

Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)

If this is Charlie Wilson’s War, then we’re the ones losing it. That’s part of the message at the conclusion of Aaron Sorkin’s script for Charlie Wilson’s War, based on the book of the same name by George Crile. “The ball keeps on bouncing,” Charlie says to the government suits that deny him what he needs to properly put his crusade to rest, and he repeats himself purposefully — “the ball keeps on bouncing.” This line is at the heart of this particular act of War, and as with many of Sorkin’s works the seemingly-muddled message is really just an unusually demanding one, designed for interpretation by those on either side of a given political line.

The movie starts and ends with the same scene: Charlie, the Reagan-era Texan House Representative inhabited here by Tom Hanks, stands onstage waiting to be introduced. There’s a banner hanging across the back of the hall that’s somewhat difficult to read, but it clearly says CHARLIE in BIG LETTERS. The moderator says a few words about this man, this wonderful man, and Charlie approaches the rostrum to a standing ovation. His chest is slightly puffed out — just slightly — and Charlie smiles the Tom Hanks smile. The message in this scene is clear: he did it.

Continue reading Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)

Almost Famous (2000)

Sex, drugs, and rock & roll. This is what Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous is about, although it’s mostly rock & roll. If you enjoy music, particularly classic rock bands such as Zeppelin, The Who, The Stones, Dylan, Hendrix, and plenty of others, I can near guarantee that you will fall in love with this film.

Also, I can near guarantee that you will fall in love with Kate Hudson, playing Penny Lane, or Lady Goodman. Aside from the fact that she is absolutely gorgeous, Hudson portrays one of the single coolest females of all time in her character. She is a die-hard rock lover, and a simply down to Earth, kind and generous person. Undoubtedly wife material. While the acting in this film is not necessarily something that jumps out at you, Hudson turns in a really enjoyable and fun performance that helps establish a strong emotional connection to her character.

Continue reading Almost Famous (2000)

A Most Wanted Man (2014)

There’s no doubt that the late Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of the most gifted American actors of our generation. The Oscar winner for Capote was equally at home playing lovable rogues and despicable villains, taking increasingly challenging roles as his career went on. One of his final complete roles was that of Günther Bachmann in Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man, and Hoffman is his usual dedicated self as the Hamburg-based anti-terrorism agent.

Unfortunately A Most Wanted Man is a colossally slow and unexciting film, for the most part. Hoffman is superbly sluggish as the unhappy and overworked Bachmann; Grigori Dobrygin is likewise effective, if a bit underwritten, in the part of the illegal migrant Issa Karpov; Willem Dafoe seems present simply to be a famous face; and Rachel McAdams, beautiful though she is, remains utterly unconvincing as a foreigner. The plot of the film revolves around Bachmann’s maneuvering of the players involved in the appearance of the young Karpov in Hamburg, as Bachmann’s colleagues suspect him to be a credible threat to national security.

The film starts on a promising note. The first shot is nearly brilliant, telling a simple story without giving away any details at all. Again, Hoffman is thoroughly great – one reviewer noted a resemblance between Bachmann and a hungover panda, a sentiment which could not be more on the mark. There is a long shot midway through the film of Bachmann walking from a helicopter pad into a building, and the effort the guy takes just to keep his pants from falling down tells so much about his character. He can’t manage to keep himself dressed, and yet he’s pretty damn good at protecting his city from terrorists.

So the fault I find with A Most Wanted Man isn’t at all with Hoffman. He’s expected to do what Daniel Day-Lewis did for Lincoln, another long politically-driven film devoid of anything remotely resembling an action sequence. The problem is that Anton Corbijn is a far cry from Steven Spielberg, and A Most Wanted Man really drags for long stretches at a time. The opening scenes are set to quick string riffs you’d find in a Bourne movie, and the stage is set for that spy action chase scene…which never happens. I’m all for a movie that can carry itself without a fight scene, but the pace has to support such a thing by finding “action” elsewhere.

The film also falls to multiple spy-movie cliches, including the obligatory “Do you ever ask yourself why it is we do what we do?” question posed by the main character. Do you ever ask yourself why every spy movie feels the need to delve into this life-from-the-shadows routine? The reply, which could have turned the cliche on its head, ends up being even more of a cliche: “To make the world a safer place. Isn’t that enough?” The characters then repeat this near the climax of the film, because, you know, someone thought that was poignant.

Ultimately, in spite of a fantastic turn from the indomitable Hoffman, the sense of urgency just isn’t present in A Most Wanted Man. Perhaps if the film had been titled A Somewhat Wanted Man or You Should Really Only See This for Philip Seymour Hoffman, at least there’d be some truth in advertising to fall back on.