Posts Tagged ‘Philip Seymour Hoffman’

“Charlie Wilson’s War”: Fights the Good Fight

January 11, 2008

Charlie Wilson’s War

Perspective, that’s what Charlie Wilson’s War keeps in mind. While other political war movies this season are caught in the quagmire of the news of our current world wide screw ups, Charlie goes back to one that could have started or (at least worsened) many of our current problems. At the very least it takes apart the thought processes of our political system. It does so by telling the story of Charlie Wilson and how he waged a covert war that helped end the Cold War. In short, by supplying Afghanistan with billions of dollars worth of military equipment they were able to stick it to the Soviets. It’s funny to think of a time in which we were helping Afghanistan and not tearing it apart.

There’s no grandstanding here. There’s never a “we’re better than they are” mentality. Writer Aaron Sorkin knows we all have a little dirt on our hands and he points it out. Sure we’re helping murderers and backstabbers, but we’re not so righteous ourselves. Charlie Wilson, a military advisor is, in fact, the least righteous person for the job. Tom Hanks has always had a hard time really digging into the darker sides of his characters, but here he takes full strides as an actor bringing to life this sordid, womanizing personality. He’s not stupid, just brazen, which is probably why he got along so well with Gust Avrakotos, the CIA operative that Philip Seymour Hoffman throws himself into.



“The Savages”

December 7, 2007

The Savahes

The film The Savages is smart enough to live in the present, but finds clever ways to give us clues about the characters’ pasts, which is very important, so pay attention. It’s the story about a sister, Wendy, and brother, Jon Savage (Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman) who suddenly have their aging father Lenny Savage (Philip Bosco) thrust into their lives when he comes down with a case of dementia and his girlfriend dies. It turns out that neither child even knows where he lives. While the film unfolds in the present the character’s are certainly affected by their pasts and all three give performances that radiate emotional history, a plethora of emotional history. These are probably three of the most well crafted and effective performances I’ve seen this year.

The film making is exceptional as well. For awhile the writer/director Tamara Jenkins finds ways to merge the environment with the performances. Wendy stares at her father’s x-rays absently as the hum of the x-ray machine drowns out the sounds around her. Or as Wendy slowly wakes up Lenny’s voice gradually increases in volume. These are subtle tricks but really ground you into the reality of the film, it’s unfortunate that she stops using these storytelling devices about half way through. Thankfully the writing and direction is strong enough that’s its not a necessity.