Tag Archives: Philip Seymour Hoffman

NYFF 07 Review: Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (ThinkFilm, October 26th)
Dir: Sidney Lumet; written by: Kelly Masterson
NYFF public screenings: Friday, October 12th: 6pm, Saturday, October 13th: 12:45pm
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Master filmmaker Sidney Lumet latest effort, Before the Devil Knows Your Dead, is the tautest melodrama I’ve seen in quite some time and at 83, Lumet has lost none of his edge. While I didn’t necessarily find this new picture, which stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei, and Rosemary Harris, to be on the par with, Dog Day Afternoon or The Verdict — both among my all-time favorite films — it certainly kept me in its grip from the moment go. The difference between this one and the other two is that this film is story driven while the others are character oriented. The story is as close to Greek or Shakespearean tragedy as one can get and at times the characters seem to be little more than vehicles propelling the storylines forward. But what storylines there are!
The opening sequence finds married couple Andy (Hoffman) and Gina Hanson (Tomei) in an exceptional moment of blissful passion while vacationing in Brazil and their post-coital dialog reveals a clearly unhappy marriage Andy is a real estate executive with a cushy office over looking Manhattan and an unhappy wife, Gina, who replaces feelings of emptiness with expensive meaningless objects and sex with her brother-in-law, Hank (Hawke). This is as much bliss as the picture is going to offer and over the course of the next 110 minutes there is just a sense of menace and dread. Tomei, naked through most of her scenes, might just get her career back on track with this role. Not sure if that’s a good thing or simply a sad case of what an actress has to do get herself noticed these days. Finney plays Charles, the stoic patriarch. Whoever came up with the idea to cast Albert Finney as Hoffman’s dad had a gem of an idea and the relationship between the two is a key element of this tale.
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Theatrical Review: Capote

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Capote
Written by Dan Futterman; directed by Bennett Miller
Bennett Miller‘s Capote may well be the most assured sophomore film since American Graffiti. Then again, I’ve done absolutely no research into this and I am sure I am missing several dozen amazing second efforts (there was a little film called Jaws that wasn’t so bad, really). Oh yeah. Good Night, And Good Luck, too…oops. No matter. My blog, my rules, my shoddy research. At any rate, Capote is unquestionably one of the best American films in recent years and come awards season it is sure to rack up the kudos.
Transporting viewers to the mid-1950’s while at the same time returning Truman Capote to life in the form of Philip Seymour Hoffman, the film tells the story of the six and a half years in which Truman Capote was researching and writing his ground-breaking true crime thriller, In Cold Blood. Before the 1966 publication of Capote’s in-depth page turner recounting the bizarre murders of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas in 1959, there was no “True Crime” genre. Fiction was the star and everything else was either a text book, a history or a hack journalistic exposé. After In Cold Blood, it all changed and a new, very popular, form of literature was born.

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