Goodbye Philip Seymour Hoffman
I took my time responding to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. It really threw me for a loop. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that we never really know celebrities; we watch them on screen and associated feelings towards them. We connect to the to the characters they portray and have a vicarious catharsis. It’s pretty amazing if you think about it; we suspended our disbelief enough to transcend ourselves and become someone else (if the protag does his/her job that is). Then the credits roll, we put on our coats and fall back into our body.
As absurd as it may be, I felt like P.S Hoffman was a friend, I followed his career with a sense of mutual accomplishment. I still remember him as ‘Dusty’ in Twister, the lovable dork that leapfrogged him to stardom. Do you remember how you felt when you watched him in Magnolia? He was so empathetic his character inspired me to be a better person, really. This is the power of movies and the effect of great acting, they can inspire you to the bone and can provoke continual waves of emotional shifts. I re-watched Flawless in honor of him. He played a drag-queen opposite DeNiro who ends up teaching him singing lessons after he has a stroke. Directed by Joel Schumacher, which is rather mature for him, it’s a spectacular film, dare I say…perfect ;). The movie was really early on in his career and he absolutely steals the show, acting circles around everyone. I highly recommend it.
I’m going to miss him, not as much as his wife and three kids, but in my own way. I was looking forward to watching him grow into an old, great man; watching him capture that ineffable quality and then express it in his subtle, idiosyncratic ways. When I watched The Master, which I loved even though it’s very dense, directed by the maestro Paul Thomas Anderson, there’s a point where Joaoqin Phoenix suddenly jumps up and if Phillip Seymore Hoffman hadn’t moved the hanging lamp, he would’ve smashed his head. It was such a real moment in the false reality that is film. And that’s what I felt he brought to the craft, an extreme presence, a careful awareness, and total immersion into his role.
He has delivered in so many films, and I suggest that you check them out. If you have the stomach, Happiness is a phenomenal, gut-wrenching, beautiful, ugly and probably one-time-view movie worth experiencing, but be warned…
He truly will be missed and at the very least we have his legacy of greatness personified on celluloid.
Bye for now