The Single Philip Seymour Hoffman Scene That Changed My Life

Posted by on Feb 3, 2014 in Commentary, The Pictures | 0 comments

It was the year 2000. We  had survived Y2K. But I hadn’t yet survived high school. As both a decidedly unpopular, moderately depressed senior and an aspiring entertainment journalist, Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous hit me like a freight train. (I’ve since written at least five essays on the film… even though I never became that reporter I had wanted to be.) One scene in particular cemented my love for the film with the line: “The only currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.” That line was spoken by Philip Seymour Hoffman. I didn’t know Hoffman, but this single line from a single scene in Cameron Crowe’s only masterpiece made me love him. When people asked who may favorite actor was, Hoffman was always the answer. So here’s the scene that made that...

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The Top Ten Performances of 2013

Posted by on Jan 26, 2014 in Lists, Movie Comment, The Pictures | 0 comments

Just because a movie isn’t great doesn’t mean that the performances in it aren’t. Six of the performances below weren’t in movie that I put on my best of the year list. Some might receive honorable mentions but they’ll mostly be carried there by the impact of these actors. And for the great performances in great films? Well, we can only hope for classic territory.  10. Oprah Winfrey as Gloria Gaines in The Butler The Butler and Oprah are pretty much forgotten at this point, and even though I loved the film, it’s not making my Top 10 list this year. But credit where credit is due: Oprah Winfrey is phenomenal in this movie. Lee Daniels has a history of getting great performances out of his supporting female cast members, and Oprah’s here is no exception. The characters just...

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The Top Ten Movies of 2013

Posted by on Jan 26, 2014 in Commentary, Lists, The Pictures | 0 comments

As is annual tradition, my best of 2013 list is about a month overdue. Life, ya know. Part of that life has been seeing more old movies in theaters than new movies now that I live in Austin, Texas. More on that some other time. For now, let’s just jump right into the top ten movies of 2013. 10. Laurence Anyways (dir. Xavier Dolan) I caught Laurence Anyways at the Cleveland International Film Festival and at the time I was sure it would be my favorite movie of the year. In many ways it still is. This rapturous, epic drama that follows a male-to-female transgender-ed person and her one-time girlfriend through a decade in their relationship is Dolan’s best film yet. Watching this film, there are shades of Scorsese, Almodovar, Tarantino and Anderson, but all the while he makes...

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The 71st Golden Globes: A Lesson in Awards Show Shenanigans and Politics

Posted by on Jan 13, 2014 in Awards, Commentary | 0 comments

The Golden Globes has, in my mind, always been the reckless and rebellious cousin to the Oscars, with the Hollywood Foreign Press’ celebration of cinema and television seeming not quite as stuffy and serious as the Academy’s affair. The party this year, however, got a little out of hand and in not enough of the right ways, either. Some of my criticisms may seem pointlessly unsolvable, and I realize that, especially given my growing and deepening investment in all things film seeming to correlate with my feeling that awards, in general, have grown increasingly predictable. First, let me point out that there were some surprises in the latter portion of this year’s Globes specifically; I was pleased when Robin Wright won for her elegantly wicked turn in House of Cards, and for Andy Samberg and Brooklyn Nine Nine to...

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Misunderstanding Movies: Anti-Heroes, Gatsbys and THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Posted by on Jan 2, 2014 in Big News, Movie Comment | 4 comments

“Our best movies have always made entertainment out of the anti-heroism of American life; they bring to the surface what, in its newest forms and fashions, is always just below the surface.” – Pauline Kael. It could be said that the hardest thing about being an artist who creates in a popular form is not the friction between art and commerce. Rather, it’s that once a work is available to the public, the artist loses control over the interpretation. Movies, television shows and music belong to the audience once they become available to it. It’s how a song/album critical of the US’s involvement in Vietnam can become the anthem of a president. And it’s how Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street can be accused of glorifying male bad behavior instead of denouncing it. The main complaint about The...

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THE WOLF OF WALL STREET & GOODFELLAS: Martin Scorsese’s Best Double Feature Yet

Posted by on Jan 1, 2014 in Big News, Movie Comment | 0 comments

Martin Scorsese has two tendencies: the first is to make films that all follow a thematic or stylistic pattern, building off of one another and forming a canon of work that has since proved him to be a great auteur. Then there’s his tendency to break away from that and make something seemingly totally different than any of those defining films but which still, to varying extents perhaps, appeal to the masses. But where does his new film, The Wolf of Wall Street, fit in? It is one of the funniest films he’s ever made, in my opinion, and it isn’t necessarily violent, not in the traditional sense anyway. But, when paired with 1990’s Goodfellas, Scorsese’s main stylistic techniques and of course his thematic focuses are really made apparent. And this is by no means a negative pairing I’m...

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