Tag Archives: Philip Seymour Hoffman

25th Hour Review

Impossible it may be to have a clear vision for how to spend a final day of freedom, Spike Lee’s 25th Hour goes a fair distance in showing what could be possible for those faced with time behind bars. A darker side to New York is thrown into the spotlight but at the core of it all is a particularly light and real message. Lee would manage those far better with his push into the 21st-century and Edward Norton aids him particularly well with a leading role in 25th Hour. It is an ambiguous and entertaining breakdown of greed in the Big Apple. A look at the series of events that broke Norton’s leading character down and build him back up with a moral core to him. Lee takes this character study to fascinating highs and career-best moments.

Continue reading 25th Hour Review

Red Dragon Review

For all the classic adoration and achievements it achieved, The Silence of the Lambs was the tip of a nasty iceberg. Beyond its creation and before its heightened relevancy in culture, adaptations of other Thomas Harris work swirled the drainpipe of culture. Red Dragon is an inevitability. It is not as engaging as the first adaptation of Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter, but it is a tumble down from the quality found in The Silence of the Lambs. To consider Red Dragon as anything more than a clumsy encounter with the Brian Cox, near-perfect original, would be shameful. For that is what it is. A tense and unorganised ensemble coming together to capitalise on the on-screen presence of Anthony Hopkins’ rendition of the iconic cannibal character.

Continue reading Red Dragon Review

Almost Famous Review

The turn of a new millennium can only mean one thing. No looking forward, only reflection. A grasp at the glory days. Once more we go into the well-trodden unknown. Amazing to think that, only sixty years ago, drug references, sex in lyrics and violence were all taboo subjects. Gone are the glory days that I never lived. Almost Famous is a fictional document of life in a touring band, the outsider journalist looking to capture the warring factions within, and shoehorns a whole host of romantic and coming-of-age moments into it also. Spilling over the edges, seeping out of the sides and ready to burst, it could go either way with this love letter to the past.

Continue reading Almost Famous Review

Magnolia Review

With such a promising ensemble, it’s hard to see how Magnolia could be anything other than a superbly layered character study of intertwining lives. Like Desperate Housewives, but over the course of two and a half hours, rather than an aeon. Paul Thomas Anderson’s dramatic titan sees a collection of stories, the highs and lows of a rough handful of individuals connected by chance, flimsy narratives or shady dealings. Whether it works or not, it’s hard not to appreciate how big of an ask Anderson proposes to his cast, a project that has to have the right amount of connection between roles, enough to engage an audience, but not enough to incite obvious cliché.

Continue reading Magnolia Review

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead Review

Trundling through the directed filmography of Sidney Lumet, I’m struggling to come across a film of his that hasn’t totally enthralled me. His earliest works are as strong as his final outings, a director that provided consistency to all of his projects. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead pairs this formidable director with a parade of actors who, until very recently, had crafted some of their all-time greatest works. It’s hard not to lose yourself in such a tremendously simple, yet extraordinarily rewarding premise. A bank job gone wrong, and the intermingling stories that lead up to the build-up and fallout of two brothers looking to fix their financial problems in one quick job.

Continue reading Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead Review

Hard Eight Review

Throughout the 1990s, there was such a strange influx in gangster, crime and casino-oriented films. I blame Martin Scorsese for this decade long trend. He piloted this odd niche, crafting Goodfellas and Casino within five years of each other. Other directors attempted to latch onto this success, and newcomer Paul Thomas Anderson was one of them. In his directorial debut, Hard Eight, we’re thrown into a tepid relationship between a down on his luck casino player and one stranger who looks to pull him out of the dark and build him as his protégé. It’s an interesting premise that never quite takes flight.

Continue reading Hard Eight Review