Posts Tagged ‘Dustin Hoffman’

Rain Man – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, Oktober 1st, 2010

Review:

Not exactly successful car dealer Tom Cruise isn’t very sad when his father dies. But when he hears that he left all his money to a formerly unknown brother, who is severely autistic, Cruise more or less kidnaps his brother to get at the money. But naturally, things don’t quite work out this way in this classic drama about brothers, life, autism and Dustin Hoffman’s acting abilities. Though not quite as brilliant as I remembered, the film still holds up reasonably well more than twenty years after its release.

Random Observations:

Rain Man at the IMDb

In the farm house scene, where they go to watch “People’s Court”, Beth Grant plays the mother. I honestly did not recognize her. How embarrassing.

Dustin Hoffman won an Oscar for his performance, the starting point for the famous “full retard” speech from the solid comedy Tropic Thunder.

I was inspired to watch this film again by the casino/card-counting scene from The Hangover, that was a clear homage to this film.

It’s funny what you remember from films that you haven’t seen in many years. I completely forgot about Cruise’s girlfriend and I could have sworn that the last scene was different – but the scene in my mind was only alluded to throughout the film. “Dad let’s my drive slow in the driveway. I’m an excellent driver.”

Papillon – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, Juni 4th, 2010

Review:

In 1931, butterfly Steve McQueen and counterfeiter Dustin Hoffman are sent to a penal colony in French Guyana, where they bond. Over the next decade, they repeatedly try to escape, succeeding to varying degress, while the brutal establishment tries to break them. The film is a beautifully photographed drama about the inhumanity of this justice system, and about a man who tried everything to fight it. It is, however, overly long and many of the themes, especially the struggle for personal freedom, are underdeveloped. Fine performances elevate the story somewhat, but not enough to make it worth watching.

Random Observations:

Papillon at the IMDb

Last entry in Dustin Hoffman Week. Dustin Hoffman is actually such a good actor, that his week has nine days…

The film is based on the book by Henri Charrière, who claimed it was autobiographical. Since the release in 1969, however, significant doubt has been cast on this assertion. In the best case, the book was inspired by some real life convicts and their stories.

The first time McQueen is put in solitary, it truly feels like two years. The second time, the five years last less than a minute.

Isn’t it amazing that the woman in the native village that takes McQueen in after his second escape has tan lines despite obviously being supposed to be always topless…?

Joan of Arc (1999) – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, Juni 2nd, 2010

Review:

Who doesn’t know the story? In the 15th centure, Jeanne d’Arc gets the message from god to lead the French army against the English invaders. After doing so successfully and allowing the dauphin to be crowned King, she is abandoned by him and ultimately tried, convicted and burned for heresy and blasphemy. In Luc Besson’s film version, this simple story takes about two and a half hours, most of which are wasted. The film leaves little doubt that Joan was simply insane (and not really god’s messenger), but Milla Jovovich’s portrayal of her is so incredibly bad, that the intriguing character becomes a one-note farce. Furthermore, the film is best when it goes for the big battle scenes, ridiculous as they might be, for those scenes are not crammed with unnecessary symbolism. This is a great story and the film does not manage to ruin it completely, but gives it a decent shot.

Random Observations:

Joan of Arc at the IMDb

Fourth – but not last – entry on the seventh day of Dustin Hoffman Week! The only reason that this film, in which Hoffman has little more than a cameo,  is included, is due to the fact, that for some obscure reason, it is part of this otherwise good Signature Collection of his work I’m watching.

I have no idea whether there are any better film versions of the story, never having seen another one. But I would expect so.

John Malkovich, while a fine actor, was completely miscast as the King of France.

The “vision” scenes where slightly creepy, but done in such a bad way, that they had no emotional resonance whatsoever. A pity.

Tootsie – Minute Movie Review

Montag, Mai 31st, 2010

Review:

Unemployed and unemployable actor Dustin Hoffman decides to dress up as a woman in order to get work. Surprisingly, this works out as he is given a part in a daytime drama (those things commonly known as “daily soaps”). Through it, he discovers the sexism of men, the advantages of being a woman and the gentler side in himself. Too bad that he falls in love with one of his co-stars… The film, directed by the legendary Sidney Pollack, is both extremely funny and an engaging examination of gender roles. Hoffman is utterly brilliant as both a man and a woman and with a great supporting cast he makes this film truly memorable.

Random Observations:

Tootsie at the IMDb

This continues Dustin Hoffman Week. Two more instalments to come!

Bill Murray plays Hoffman’s room-mate – his name was omitted from the opening credits so that audience wouldn’t think this was one of his typical comedies. He is also extremely funny, playing the straight man to Hoffman’s antics.

“I was a better man with you as a woman than I ever was with a woman as a man. Know what I mean?”

This was the first film for Geena Davis, who went on to an illustrious career (and less appearances in her underwear).

Kramer vs. Kramer – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, Mai 28th, 2010

Review:

One day, Meryl Streep just abandons husband Dustin Hoffman and their little son. For fifteen months, Hoffman struggles with being a single father, doing his very best. Then, Streep returns and wants custody of her child back, an issue both will fight in court (Hence the title!). The 1979 film is a compelling drama about divorce and the effect it has on people, but it’s also the story of a workaholic father learning to take care of his child. Great performances all around – especially from the father and son duo – make this a moving story that seems to be taken right out of real life.

Random Observations:

Kramer vs. Kramer at the IMDb

One of the reason for the realism of the film is that many people involved, including Hoffman, had lately dealt with divorce themselves, and thus had plenty of experience to draw from.

The film won the “Big Five” Oscars – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress.

Justin Henry was also nominated as a supporting actor for his incredible turn as the son.

I can not stress enough how incredibly touching the scenes between Hoffman and Henry are. Great acting, great writing, great everything.

Despite the very dramatic nature of the story, the film has some lighter elements, mostly due to Hoffman’s struggles with being a “mommy”.

See, I promised this would be Dustin Hoffman Week!

Hero (1992) – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, Mai 26th, 2010

Review:

Small time crook Dustin Hoffman has screwed up. He has been caught selling stolen goods and now forces jail time. And while he happily steals money from his novice lawyer, he also takes her advice to visit his son to make a good impression on the judge seriously. On his way there, he witnesses a plane crash and saves all passengers by opening the door. But when reporter Geena Davis, who was on the plane, offers a million dollar reward for the hero coming forward, he is in jail and homeless Andy Garcia takes the credit. In short, things seem to be about as bas as they can possibly get, in this interesting, but flawed comedy-drama. Parts of it are just played for laughs, while other parts actually serve as an examination of human nature, the nature of heroics and so on. Some clever dialogue and a surprising, fast-moving story makes this film much better than it’s reputation. Just don’t expect a laugh a minute.

Random Observations:

Hero at the IMDb

The film was retitled Accidental Hero for the UK release. While I think the original title fits better, I understand the need to differentiate from the 762 other films called Hero.

Director Stephen Frears is today more known for his serious fare, like The Queen. In fact, I’m fairly certain that the film was at one point intended as a regular drama. Take away the tacky music and a few scenes, and little comedic is left.

Screenwriter David Webb Peoples also wrote such classics as Blade Runner and Unforgiven.

I think I shall make this Dustin Hoffman week. Expect more reviews of films with him in lead or supporting rules in the next days.

Isthar – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, Januar 20th, 2010

Review:

This much maligned film has been called the biggest flop in cinematic history and one of the worst movies ever made – and both things are far from true. Sure, Ishtar is not perfect, in fact, it’s not even great, but it’s a good screwball comedy with two great lead actors that were so well known for their dramatic roles when the film was made, that nobody could understand them just having fun – but who could begrudge Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman a little fun? They are a pair of dreadful singer-songwriters that, through a very rambling and often not particularly well-told story, are to perform in Morocco and on the way there stop over in little Emirate Ishtar, where they are mistaken for CIA and communist agents. The film is a mess, no doubt about that, but it is often very funny and the songs written and performed by the lead duo are incredible – incredibly bad, that is, obviously.

Random Observations:

Ishtar at the IMDb

Casting Warren Beatty as the guy who can’t get a date, while Hoffman gets to play a womanizer? Genius!

Seriously, most of the critique of the film, like the miscasting and the complains about the songs’ quality, just means that the critics didn’t get it. Which, considering that this is a screwball comedy, says a lot about film critics.

The way the Americans in the film behaved in Ishtar is oddly prescient about some actual later American foreign policy. Or rather not oddly so, but sadly and unbelievably so.

Hook – Minute Movie Review

Donnerstag, November 19th, 2009

Review:

You all know the story of Peter Pan, right? Well, this film ascertains that it was all true and now Peter Banning, née Pan, a fat, old chairman of the board, who has forgot all about Neverland, has to go back there and be Pan again to save his children, kidnapped by the nefarious (and title giving) Captain Hook. The film is typical Spielbergian fare – a fantasy adventure expertly made, with an engaging storyline, some heartfelt remorse and a clear view for how entertaining movies can be. Oh, how I miss those early 90s days before Spielberg decided he was an auteur. The film drags on a bit and naturally is extremely silly, but for what is essentially a family film solely made to make money, it’s just good enough.

Random Observations:

Hook at the IMDb

The couple kissing on the bridge, when Peter first flies again? Carrie Fisher and George Lucas. That’s Spielberg for you.

Raise your hand if you didn’t recognize Dustin Hoffman in the Hook outfit. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

For a film almost twenty years old, some of the special effects hold up remarkably well. It certainly looks more realistic than Jurassic Park, which supposedly was a milestone for special effects.

As much as I like to riff on Steven Spielberg and repeat my claim that he is the most overrated director of all time, I have to admit I own and like a large number of his films. He is an expert craftsmen, he knows how to entertain better than almost any other film-maker, but that doesn’t mean that he has ever made a good dramatic film.

Minute Movie Review – All the President’s Men

Mittwoch, Juni 17th, 2009

Review:

In June 1972, five men are arrested while breaking into the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate complex. Two reporters for the Washington Post investigate tirelessly and uncover the greatest political scandal in US history. The film is the true story of that investigation, focusing on the early days when few people involved were willing to talk to the journalists and even fewer believed them. And while the film is expertly made and it is certainly an engaging and thrilling story, this focus on the early days is also a bit annoying since it leaves the later events up to and including President Richard Nixon’s resignation to quick headlines before the credits roll. Before that, however, the film offers fascinating insights into investigative journalism.

Random Observations:

All the President’s Men at imdb.com

The screenplay for the film was based directly on the book of the same title that Bernstein and Woodward, the two reporters, wrote about their investigation. The book also focuses on the early parts of the investigation, since it was published before the full story had unfolded.

The re-creation of the Washington Post newsroom in the film is meticulous and adds much to the atmosphere of the film.

The most famous of the journalists’ sources, Deep Throat (only recently revealed as then second in command at the FBI, William Mark Felt, Sr.), must have been very patient, for once he waited in the parking garage where he met with Woodward for hours, since the reporter had fallen asleep.