Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman

I've always had mixed feelings about Hollywood biographies of larger-than-life, cultural-historical figures. Topically the movies are interesting, but it can be hard for me to merge actor and subject. I enjoyed John Travolta in "Pulp Fiction," but I found his Bill Clinton in "Primary Colors" flat and colorless next to the real thing. Sean Penn is my favorite contemporary screen actor, and he gave everything he had to "Milk," but the whole time I was looking at the screen I saw Sean Penn playing Harvey Milk.  

When I first heard that Philip Seymour Hoffman was cast as Truman Capote, I was skeptical.
How could the scruffy, bulky actor become the fastidious, elfin Capote, or capture the Capote presence?  

Despite these misgivings, the buzz surrounding "Capote" and my interest in the story behind "In Cold Blood" drew me to a theater, and within fifteen minutes Hoffman had me fooled. I wasn't thinking about Philip Seymour Hoffman the actor, or the ways this character was similar to other characters he'd played; I was right there in the story with Truman Capote as he traversed rural Kansas in search of his masterpiece.  

In the spirit of remembrance and gratitude, below is "P.S. Hoffman," film editor Caleb Slain's tribute to "an actor who never had a single dishonest moment on camera."  

Other Philip Seymour Hoffman on "Truth and Beauty":  First Glance:  "The Master 

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