Tag Archive | Mark Wahlberg

Eight Favorite Acting Roles by Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs in Almost Famous (with Patrick Fugit)

By now, everyone with an Internet connection knows that American Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died early this morning, February 2nd, 2014 of an apparent Heroin Overdose in his NYC apartment. He was just 46 years old. I am currently inconsolable over this tragic news. Hoffman was certainly among my favorite actors and I don’t think I ever saw film he was in where he didn’t blow me away with his ability to transform into his character. He was comparable to a male version of Meryl Streep when it came to his versatility. What a huge loss.

Here are a few of my favorite film roles Hoffman played over the years.

Almost Famous: Hoffman played the late Rock Critic Lester Bangs, who mentors a young William Miller (a character played by Patrick Fugit, and based on director Cameron Crowe) as he takes on a feature assignment for Rolling Stone Magazine.

Boogie Nights: Hoffman was totally believable as Scotty J., a shy, socially awkward, gay film assistant who has a hopeless crush on Porn Star Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg).

Magnolia: In Paul Thomas Anderson’s ensemble drama, Hoffman had the role of Phil Parma, a private nurse who attempts to bring about a reconciliation between his terminally ill patient (played by Jason Robards) and that patient’s misogynistic son (Tom Cruise).

Red Dragon: Hoffman was so good at playing slimeball Reporter Freddy Lounds, you almost hated to see him get brutally tortured and killed. Almost.

Capote: Hoffman won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2005 for his flawless portrayal of the flamboyant author, Truman Capote.

Synecdoche, New York: Hoffman plays ailing theater director Caden Cotard, who sets out to stage a theatrical production of his life story that takes on a life of its own. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you are on LSD without actually taking any drugs, watch this movie.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead: Hoffman plays Andy Hanson, one of two brothers (his costar is Ethan Hawke) who plan to execute a “perfect crime” that goes horribly, tragically wrong. The final film directed by Sidney Lumet; highly recommended.

The Master: Playing the part of a charismatic cult leader not-so-loosely-based on L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology fame, Hoffman earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his role as Lancaster Dodd.

RIP and Godspeed.

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Must See Movie: The Social Network

Jesse Eisenberg Stars in The Social Network

One thing to keep in mind when going to see the fantastic new film, The Social Network is that this is not a movie about Facebook. The billion-dollar creation of Mark Zuckerberg could have been anything – an advice column or a shopping website – it really wouldn’t have mattered. The only thing that mattered in sealing the fate of this now 26-year-old computer nerd as the youngest billionaire in history was Zuckerberg’s ability to fine-tune an already existing idea (a phenomenon that is also known as ‘building a better mousetrap’). Not only do you not need to be user of FaceBook to enjoy The Social Network – a film that will surely be feted with many Academy Award nominations – you don’t even need to know what FaceBook is. The Social Network – which at its core tells a gripping tale of rampant personal ambition and the relationships sacrificed due to inadequate foresight – is an entertaining and highly engaging film that never loses sight of where it is going. Director David Fincher (Fight Club) and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin have created a taught drama with psychological undertones and many belly laugh-inducing moments evoked by some of the smartest, wittiest dialogue I’ve heard in a movie in ages. I can’t say enough positive things about this film.

Whoever cast The Social Network should get an Academy Award of his or her own for making such spot-on choices. On screen, Jesse Eisenberg, whom I’ve always considered to be the “straight man version of Michael Cera,” becomes Mark Zuckerberg – a brilliant but almost borderline-autistic social misfit seemingly obsessed with one-upping anyone he perceives as his intellectual competition. Eisenberg carries the movie on his performance alone, but there are so many other fantastic performances to revel in. Pop singer Justin Timberlake is excellent in the role of Napster founder Sean Parker, who plays devil’s advocate to a naïve Zuckerberg.  I’ve always found Timberlake’s music to be mainstream and mediocre at best, but he is obviously a naturally gifted actor. Maybe he should go the way of Mark Wahlberg, leave pop music behind and concentrate on acting? Just saying.

This was also my first exposure to actor Armie Hammer (the devastatingly handsome, great grandson of late tycoon/philanthropist, Armand Hammer), who plays a dual role of Zuckerberg’s chief nemesis, identical twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss; two financially privileged students who row for Harvard’s crew team, and who unknowingly set the wheels in motion when they hire Zuckerberg to write code for their start-up dating website. Hammer does a fascinating job of playing identical twins, and if you didn’t already know that a single actor played both roles you certainly would not guess. My very favorite use of an actor whom you rarely see anymore is David Selby’s appearance as the lawyer to Zuckerberg’s original partner in the creation of FaceBook. Fans of the 1970s-era Gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows may recognize Selby from his role as Quentin Collins in that legendary TV series. Selby, now in his late 60s and white-haired, still looks absolutely fantastic. What a treat to see him in this film!

Much has also been said about the film’s score, composed by Trent Reznor and his longtime cohort, Atticus Ross. It’s been ten years since Reznor produced anything that caught my attention or held my interest. But his and Ross’s contribution to The Social Network includes intense, propulsive and storyline-appropriate techno-flavored musical themes that serve the film beautifully. More than once, the score carried a scene without need for any additional dialogue by the characters – quite a noteworthy accomplishment! I’ve avoided giving too many details about the actual plot of The Social Network because, as is the case with so many films of high quality, I feel that less is definitely more as far as how much you need to know going in versus how much enjoyment you will get if you just let the film unfold for you.

The Worley Gig Gives The Social Network – now in nationwide release – Five out of Five Stars.