Tag Archive: philip seymour hoffman


As the news came out this week regarding Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow’s accusation towards her father, I wondered if this affects how I feel about Woody Allen the artist. Can I support a man, artistically, who has this terrible accusation rolling about?

Poster Image

Poster Image

Currently, Midnight in Paris sits waiting to be viewed at my house. I really do love this Woody Allen movie in which Owen Wilson is magically transported to the Roaring Twenties and the ex-pats era. He meets the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. Giants. Gods, really, in the literary world. To have Gertrude Stein edit your manuscript is a dream come true.

My head hurts as I think about this because I feel the same way about Roman Polanski. He is a brilliant film director, The Pianist was/is a masterpiece that made us understand the suffering of the Holocaust even more deeply. And yet, Polanski has not been in this country for over 30 years because he is accused of drugging and molesting a 13-year-old girl.  Other girls/women have made similar claims against him. PianistEven being a Holocaust survivor cannot gild that fact over.

Pedophiles. We scorn them, hate them and never want to believe their victims. Who could do such a thing to a young child?

Who wants to believe that a priest, a coach, a trusted friend, a parent could ever do such a wrong to a child?

We don’t so we give that person a pass. They move on to a different job, a different family, a different child.

Philip Seymour HoffmanWhat about Philip Seymour Hoffman? Does our image of him as an actor/artist change because now we know about his heroin addiction? We know on the morning he was supposed to be picking up his kids for a day of fun, he started it off with getting high. We can laugh about parents who need wine to deal with their kids. But really, did Phil need that high so badly? Was he a bad person because the fix was sooooo important to him – beyond kids, beyond personal relationships, beyond work?

Heath LedgerIt gives me flashbacks to Heath Ledger – so talented, so young, so driven. His were legal prescription drugs but still, too many are too many. Like Hoffman, Ledger and his companion, Michelle Williams, were on the outs because of his addictions. Knowing these people cannot function without their drugs, does that change my mind about their work, their artistry?

The same goes for Hemingway. I know his reputation – the boozing, the women, the multiple wives. But as I read A Movable Feast in which Hemingway examines his Paris years, I find myself liking him and enjoying his writing. I want to get to know him better, I want to know his opinion about other writers. While I dislike Hemingway personally, I see what draws people to him. He has style, he Movable Feastlikes fun, and he is not afraid to get into a fight. When Hemingway writes about why a young boy should always carry a knife, it makes me realize his homophobia might have had some real basis to it.

Back to the original question – Does an artist’s personal life affect how we view their art?

As much as I want to say ‘yes,’ the truth may be more of a ‘no.’ I enjoy the work of Allen and Polanski, of Hoffman and Ledger. Their abilities have a certain pull, a certain truth about them. I would have never said I feel the same about Hemingway till I started reading this memoir.

When it comes to the person, I cannot say the same. Allen and Polanski have such allegations that are reprehensible. Hoffman, Ledger, and Hemingway fought against a different demon – one of addiction that most will tell you is a battle royale with addiction being the victor most of the time. The latter three I can excuse or make exceptions. But of the first two, I cannot.

I probably will watch movies by Allen or Polanski again but I will always think about their predatory behavior as well and wonder how this has affected the movie I am watching.

If that is the case, then the answer will always be yes. I might be able to make excuses for some. But knowing what I know, I will always look for clues of those unearthed secrets in their works. I will wonder if there weren’t signs of it before the accusation.

I will always wonder.

Family Movie Night

 

by Karyn Bowman

When the date for the opening night of Catching Fire, the second movie in the Hunger Games series was published, my daughter wrote it on the calendar.

 

Image from Hunger Games Catching Fire Wikia

Image from Hunger Games Catching Fire Wikia

We were going to the midnight screening and that was all there was to that.

 

That is until we found out we could go see the movie at 9 pm instead of midnight. I was happy for that since I worked the next day.

 

I have read the books and know what to expect. The story continues from the last movie in which Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) must now live as victors and go on tour. They must continue pretending to be in love or risk the lives of their loved ones.

 

But all around them, rebellion is on the rise. They can only watch as people are killed for believing in the hope of rising against the capitol. What can the government do but propose another Hunger Games for the 75th Anniversary in which past tributes are reaped for the games.

 

The acting is tremendous. Jena Malone made me forget she was ever in Pride and Prejudice. Donald Sutherland continues his great performance as the wicked and devious President Snow. Jeffrey Wright shines as Beetee. Philip Seymour Hoffman is simply perfect. I was enthralled most of the time despite having read the books and knowing what to expect.

 

For those people who have not seen the first movie or ever bothered to read the books, you may be wondering if this is a stand-alone movie. Let me be honest, it is not. It is the second movie in a four-film series. If you are new to the series, I strongly suggest renting Hunger Games before you go see Catching Fire. Relationships between the various characters will make sense to you once you do as will the reason for the games in the first place.

 

That said, I can only tell you that with an increased budget, you will notice better sets, cinematography, and costuming. The world portrayed in this story is still bleak but interesting as hope filters down to the oppressed districts. The movie does what it sets out to do – propel the story while giving us the battle scenes from the games. 

 

 

Image from Hunger Games Catching Fire Wikia

Haymitch’s house, Image from Hunger Games Catching Fire Wikia

What intrigues me is the mix of eras in this movie. Design of the homes is Victorian while societal norms appear to be Depression era. The computer technology is farther along than we are now but they still use coal for heat and fueling factories. Costuming also appears to be a mix of eras although anything from the Capital seems to go for the most outlandish things possible.

 

I have to admit I would love to see this movie one more time on the big screen in order to catch details of what I might have missed as well as to enjoy the spectacle. And if I do, I would take no one younger than ten because I believe the context of this movie is meant for those who are an older pre-teen and up. It deals with issues of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, government corruption on a large scale, and how people deal with stress in times of oppression.

Catching Fire Hunger games poster 4

It was a near perfect movie that slows in the middle till it picks up again and we are back on that roller coaster ride of thrills.

 

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.