Posts Tagged ‘philip seymour hoffman’

I’d wax eloquent about the joys of brevity, but it is as much an art form as a goat’s tonsil tethered to the business end of a woodwind instrument. I have merely realized that it takes a week or two for me to forget why I loved or loathed certain films. Hence, the frantic and discourteously blunt dialogue on various films, good, bad and those starring Abhishek Bachchan.

Thursday: Skip Woods is best known for writing brain-dead masala flicks (Swordfish, GI Joe). Before his inglorious pilgrimage towards questionable stardom, he wrote Thursday – a brutish white-knuckled urban thriller. Thomas Jane and Aaron Eckhart are glorious as main characters, Casey and Nick; one a drug dealer and general practitioner of chaos and the other well versed in both, but unwilling to participate. The cameos are so good that if it were up to me I would piss and moan in the parking lot until someone made full-length feature films with the Rasta assassin (Glenn Plummer), the skittish adoption agency executive (Michael Jeter) and the corrupt copper (Mickey Rourke) as lead protagonists.

Good Intentions: I enjoy small-town comedies about blackmailing, dysfunctional families and oddball sheriffs as much as the next blogger drunk on his/her own pathos of fashionable city life. Unfortunately, Jim Issa’s Good Intentions is so mediocre that if you squint one of your eyes you can actually see a silhouette of Tom Hanks in every second frame. The film has one good joke that it beats the crap out of until all the horses drop dead quicker than Luke Perry should actually retire from acting.

Hard Eight: Paul Thomas Anderson always gives us something different to play with every single time. How a single brain can conceive both Boogie Nights and Magnolia I’ll never understand. His debut Hard Eight a.k.a Sydney stars two of my favourite actors – John Reilly, Philip Baker Hall – has Samuel Jackson in his second best role ever and Philip Seymour Hoffman doing what he actually does best, play an ostensibly unlikable tub of lard. They share incredible chemistry too, feeding off each other’s intensity like real performers should. If only Hope Davis, Juliette Lewis or Chloe Sevigny were cast as Reilly’s love interest instead of Gwyneth Palthrow, I would have had a tough time explaining why salt-crusted tears sometimes leave a happy trail on my cheeks.

Raavan/ Raavanan: People treat Mani Ratnam’s films like chunks of yak cheese. They stick a piece in inside their cheeks and chew on it for hours, desperately looking for nuances to hate and love. I’d feel better comparing his films to the now defunct Cadbury’s Dollops chain of ice cream stores; never spent nights wondering how scrumptious their ice creams were; never really playfully tore the dead skin of my palm, thinking about all the wonderful new flavours that could be…sure, I enjoyed a scoop or a cone every now, but that’s because I generally liked ice cream. It didn’t really matter if it were Arun, Kwality or Dollops. The Tamizh version of Ravanan would have been worth a second watch if it weren’t for the lame cinematography/music that sounds/looks ripped off from some unfashionable first-person shooter Playstation game, and Aishwarya Rai. The Hindi version had Abhishek Bachchan…so uhmmm no thanks.

Next Stop Wonderland: Yes, this is a romantic comedy from Miramax Films, but no, it doesn’t suck at all. It’s probably one of most likable romantic films ever made. Director Brad Anderson is man of proven genius (Transsiberian, The Machinist, Session 9, Happy Accidents), but the spotlight from Next Stop Wonderland righteously gleams on the lead couple – Hope Davis and Alan Gelfant and ever so slightly on Seymour Hoffman, who is hilarious as a disgruntled hippie. The couple’s love story is in fact reminiscent of that film in which Amala and Mohan play star-crossed lovers who never get to see each other, with all the melodrama stifled and replaced instead with melancholy. The ending is just perfect even with nobody really dying or carrying the burden of such.

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Tyson: I’d bought this thinking it was James Toback’s documentary. It turned out to be director’s Uli Edel straight-to-video take on Mike Tyson’s life. Truth be told, it was lame. Nothing that we haven’t read about on tabloids or stared at on E! and VH1 specials. Minor props to the Paul Winfield for his portrayal of Don King. He wore his Afro like only a king could.

great-buck-howardThe Great Buck Howard: First Charlie Bartnett, now this. Great. Maybe now I’ll listen to Metallica and wallow in abject mediocrity. Now look…there’s nothing wrong with The Great Buck Howard on paper. It’s got a nifty little story somewhere in there about people finding their place in the world. Several minutes of John Malkovichthe mentalist – ranting and raving about his place in pop culture. The dreamy damsel Emily Blunt is in there too, along with a cameo by the King of Mediocre Tom Hanks. However this film somehow just doesn’t cut the Chutney (I friggin hate mustard). It’s one of those independent films with mainstream actors that desperately hopes to appear quaint and quirky. But they end up being hasty and boring. The Great Buck Howard does a few things right though. You can send in your thank-you cards to John Malkovich. First, he almost saved Con Air. Now this. Waah what a man.

synecdoche2Synecdoche, New York: I think Charlie Kaufman possesses that sort of malaise that makes him jump on that line between ingenuity and pretension and scratch the fuck out of it. Synecdoche New York, like many others penned by him, is a remarkable film. Theater director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour) has his sights set on Broadway and he is on the verge of unleashing a brutal masterpiece of candour. He assembles actors together in a warehouse and chucks metaphors at them, both figuratively and almost literally. And there’s his personal life too. A daughter ailing from a mysterious illness, a self-indulgent psychotherapist and caricatures of others. In a nutshell, the one might find the story to be slighty artsy fartsy, but that would be akin to finding plots in Robert Altman’s films to be a bit boring based on how they IMDB describes them. Funny thing is, Roger Ebert praised the hell out of it while The Observer called it the worst movie ever made. Only Kaufman could stir such extremities in opinions.

stationagent-1The Station Agent: I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed Thomas McCarthy’s Station Agent yet. For the past five years, it has been firmly lodged in my top Five Indie Films like ever. Hell, it even replaced Nick Willing’s awesome Photographing Fairies as the perfect afternoon film for me. So, the story is about Finbar McBride, a dwarf who shifts base from a city to an abandoned train depot in rural New Jersey to live a life of seclusion. In time, he meets Bobby Cannavale, a goofy mobile hotdog vendor and Patricia Clarkson, a divorcee doing little to get over the death of her son. The allure of Station Agent lies in its ability to rise above the obvious, despite keeping it fairly simple. Of course, McBride hates being short. Dam right he gets pissed off with the way people look at him. And sometimes, with the right amount of beer inside, he might even fancy giving this godforsaken life a chance or two.

The word “heartwarming” gets tossed out a lot. It is widely used nowadays to describe any sub-par drama in which the protagonist suffers through an unnecessarily tragic climax and comes out as a better person. Well, I consider Station Agent to be genuinely heartwarming. The best part is that the director doesn’t want you to recognize it; he just wants you listen to gentle crackle and pop noises that your senses make when in contact with something as beautiful and warm as this. Fantastic performances by Peter Dinkage (McBride), the always awesome Olivia Harris (Clarkson) and Joe Oramas (Bobby).

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There are millions of films that have been released over the past few decades that I really wanted to see but haven’t yet had the opportunity. By millions, I mean hundreds. So it’s going to be quite awhile before I start completely salivating at the prospect of new film releases. For now, I shall restrict the excitement levels to mild frothing.

Film: W

Director: Oliver Stone

Cast: Josh Brolin, James Cromwell, Richard Dreyfuss

Synopsis: Supposedly, it chronicles the series of incidents that led George W Bush to the bottom of the bottle and consequently into the limelight as the President.

Why I Care: I felt sympathetic towards a pedophile in Woodsman; I can’t wait to see if I even have an ounce of it for Dubya.

Film: House

Director: Robby Henson

Cast: Michael Madsen, Leslie Easterbrook, Allana Bale

Synopsis: Two stranded couples. Three expected survivors. One crazy-ass Alabama psycho.

Why I Care: In the trailer, the psycho claims to have “killed God after he let Him into his house”…verbal viral marketing? Nice.

Film: Synecdoche, New York

Director: Charlie Kaufman

Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Synopsis: Hoffman plays a director neither at the apex of his career nor his marital life, who now embarks on his theatrical masterpiece – a life-size replica of New York inside a warehouse.

Why I Care: Two reasons. Hoffman and Kaufman.

Film: The Wrestler

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Cast: Michael Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

Synopsis: Supposedly, a tale of an independent wrestler rising up the ranks to face his nemesis.

Why I Care: Aronofsky’s return to Indie films, and Mickey playing a wrestler? I am going to end up watching this film at least six times.

Film: Saibogujiman Kwenchana (I’m A Cyborg, But That’s OK)

Director: Chan-Wook Park

Cast: Su-Jeong Lim, Rain, Dal-Su Oh

Synopsis: IMDB says, “A girl who thinks she is a combat Cyborg checks into a mental hospital, where she encounters other psychotics,” and falls for a man who thinks he can steal people’s souls.”

Why I Care: Didn’t you read the synopsis? Also, Park is the twisted mind behind Oldboy and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance.

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