R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman

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Dammit, dammit, dammit.

 

Itís no secret to any regular reader of the cinecist that I consider Philip Seymour Hoffman to be among the very best actors of his or any other generation.I was fortunate enough to see him onstage a couple of times in iconic roles of the American theatre: Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman and James Tyrone, Jr. in Long Dayís Journey Into Night.He was, of course, excellent in both, and theatre was at least as important as film to Hoffman the artist, and quite possibly more so.But itís onscreen that I will feel his absence.

 

Hoffman wasnít a great transformer like Daniel Day-Lewis or Sean Penn; he always seemed to be playing more or less some version of himself.But within that self, as recognizable and specific as it was, he found colors of human emotion and psychology that Iíve simply never seen onscreen in anyone else.He was committed to showing us something absolutely raw and real and honest, especially when that something wasnít pretty to look at.He seemed almost perversely drawn to roles that would allow him to be both physically and emotionally unattractive.Because, I suspect, he knew that what we are really attracted to, most of all, is truth.And truth is often not pretty.Even with his career cut so short (he was only 46), I donít think you will find any actor living or dead whose body of work has brought more truth to the screen.But even so...he had so much more truth left to bring, and weíll never see it.

 

Dammit.

 

 

A (very) abbreviated PSH filmography:

 

Boogie Nights

Happiness

Flawless

Magnolia

25th Hour

Owning Mahowny

Capote

The Savages

Before the Devil Knows Youíre Dead

Synecdoche, New York

Doubt

The Master

 

 

 

 

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