Monday, February 03, 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman

I don't have a lot to add to the remembrances of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was, without question, one of the best actors of the past 20 years, someone whose presence in a film always marked it. He was a strange figure - had a kind of reassuring presence on screen, even when his characters were boiling front he beginning. And oh so many of them came to a boil, and he could wig out with the best of them. Or - wig out without breaking that air of calm. Strange, but - you can see it through his career. Brant in the Big Lebowski, a put upon lackey, visibly holding himself together on the face of intolerable (and not quite glimpsed) provocations. Up to Dodds, in The Master, working to keep his cool, to maintain his equilibrium, his sense of being in control all the time - until he's not.

All right. I was thinking about him the other day, about actors and directors, and how well he served PT Anderson, and how I hoped he'd make another film with the Coens, or work with Wes Anderson or Quinten Tarantino - those writer-directors who give their actors words to work with,tones and inflections, who use their voices as much as their faces. Because too - more than anything - Hoffman's greatness was in his voice. So this - Hoffman's voice, and his and Joaquin Phoenix's faces - is maybe the center, if not his best moment, his purest.

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