Tag: Dustin Hoffman


The Meyerowitz Stories

October 23rd, 2017 — 7:05am

*****

The Meyerowitz Stories

As we eased ourselves into this movie and we meet Harold (Dustin Hoffman), the not quite successful New York sculptor in his senior years, we could not help but remind ourselves how we and this wonderful actor have come a long way since he played the young man who was so enamored by the older Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate. This time, Hoffman is playing a very self-centered man who has had four marriages and three wives (he married one of them twice), as well as three children.

Screenwriter and director, Noah Baumbach provides a magnificent insight into the feelings of these three grown children and how their inner emotional life has been impacted by their father who clearly shows how he cares more about his narcissistic needs than the feelings of his children. Adam Sandler turns in what we believe could be an award winning performance as Danny, newly divorced, who despite how he suffered growing up by the lack of love and recognition by his father, appears to have raised an accomplished daughter (Grace Van Patten) who is entering into a film study program at Bard College (although her film work is interestingly bizarre). An almost equally fine performance was given by Ben Stiller who plays the successful son Matthew who lives on the other coast in Los Angeles as a financial manager to the stars but appears to be also damaged by his early relationship with his father. We see that he also hasn’t achieved a good marriage but is trying to be a good father to his five-year-old son. The interaction between the two grown sons is riveting and range from fierce physical fighting to showing insight into each other’s feelings.

The supporting cast of this movie is quite strong with several well-known and recognized actors. This includes Emma Thompson as Harold’s alcoholic current wife, Elizabeth Marvel as Harold’s third grown child, Candice Bergen as Matthew’s mother and one of Harold’s ex-wives, and Judd Hirsch, a friend and a more successful artist.

If this movie achieves the recognition we believe it deserves, it will not only be because of this great ensemble of actors, but it will be due to the talent of director/writer Noah Baumbach who also was involved in writing some of the very appropriate music heard in the background of this film. We certainly put this movie on the do-not-miss list. (2017)

 

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama

Chef

May 24th, 2014 — 9:40pm

**** Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 1.17.07 AM

Chef-rm This is an extremely well done movie about food and much more. Chef Carl Casper is played by Jon Favreau who write the screenplay, directed and coproduced the movie) is the famous chef of a well know restaurant in Los Angeles. He finds himself at odds with owner of the restaurant (Dustin Hoffman) who wants him to prepare and serve his standards rather then be newly creative on the day that famous food reviewer Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) will be visiting the restaurant. The critic pans the Chef for being unimaginative and at an expected repeat visit, Casper quits rather be then be forced to stifle his creativity once again. This ultimately leads to foodie road trip in a food truck with Casper, Percy (Emjay Anthony) his 10-year-old son and Martin, a staff cook who formerly worked for him(John Leguizamo). We see the great passion that the deposed chef has for food and it’s preparation but also see the tender father son relationship which is played out by the son wanting to learn about food and the father who really puts him to work but teaches him his love and skill of this genre. Sofia Vergara has never looked better as the beautiful but very caring ex-wife. Scarlett Johansson likewise is very appealing as the empathic hostess at his previous restaurant. The road trip starts off in Miami where the food truck is put together and we can almost taste the Cuban food, which becomes an important part of the menu of the truck. The Cuban music beat becomes the pulse of this film and the face of it is Cuban musician Jose C. Hernandez who plays the father of Casper’s ex-wife and the grandfather of the boy. His playing is a recurrent strong part of the wonderful musical background of this story. We also experience the great music and atmosphere of New Orleans which is the next stop on this trip. The food truck becomes very popular here and we are shown the familiar views of this great city while the musical beat goes on. Perhaps characterizing the chef’s relationship with his son, as he buys him the famous product from the Café Du Mundo, he says to him, “ Eat it slowly, you are never going to taste your first beignet again.” Next stop was Austin, Texas where the food truck also achieved great popularity while the music of Gary Clark Jr. played on. Final stop was back home in Los Angeles where this food truck and it’s great crew held their own against other food trucks in downtown LA. Aside from the great screenplay and very fine acting by an outstanding cast, especially Mr. Fareau who is on screen most of the time, there are three non-human stars of this movie. We have already highlighted the music. Of course there is the food and Los Angeles chef Roy Choi should be included in the kudos since he was the food consultant and there were many mouthwatering scenes of very appealing food. The third star was modern technology, particularly social media and the cell phone with constant tweeting. It was tweets that spread the word about the food critic’s views, the counter arguments of the chef and the popularity of the gallivanting food truck. Also the movie was topped off with a few weeks of one second per day video clips posted on the Internet, put all together by Percy the Chef’s young son which summed up his affection for his dad and the journey on which this movie had taken us all. (2014)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

The Quartet

August 19th, 2013 — 6:08am

The Quartet***
The Quartet-nf The setting is a home for retired musicians in Great Britain which apparently does exist in some form there. Many of the retirees are well known opera singers as well as other types of musicians. Three of the main protagonists played by Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay, and Pauline Collins are joined by the fourth (Maggie Smith) who makes a grand entrance befitting the diva that she must have been. It turns out that many years ago she had been married to one of the men (Courtenay’s character),for nine hours, but he has never gotten over their romance and being jilted. He thus is quite unhappy about her arrival. Life in the home seems meaningful to the residents who interact with each other, reminisce about times gone by and sometimes play their instruments and also do some singing. Director Dustin Hoffman in an extra clip on Netflix declares that this is a film about life and (older people) enjoying it and living to their fullest. There was no dialog in the film which indicated that any of these residents had meaningful relationships with their families (although some small children were seen visiting and even being given music lessons). It may be that many very successful professional musicians have traveled a great deal and never have time to develop such connections and that such a retirement home serves this very special purpose. It is also of note that aside from the 4 main stars many of the other musicians seen doing small bits of performing from opera to comedy were actual retired professional musicians. This was demonstrated also in the closing credits where they were identified with a picture of them in his or her prime. It becomes clear early on in the film that the issue, which must be resolved, is whether the four main characters will perform the Quartet from Rigaletto in a benefit show to keep the home open. It will not spoil this movie experience to learn in the end they do it and we hear what have to be recordings of the rich voices of the real opera stars in their prime. Dustin Hoffman’s goal is achieved as we have a feel good experience about the ability to find meaning and satisfaction late in life. (2012)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

Barney’s Version

February 7th, 2011 — 11:30pm

***

Barney’s Version: rm   The last time we saw a Paul Giamatti film, this talented actor was in  Cold Souls, a 2009 release and he was present on screen for what seemed to be more than 95% of the movie. Such is the case with Barney’s Version as the film revolves around Barney Panofsky and his arrogant, self centered and yet needy persona over a forty year period. A man who meets his third wife (Rachell Lefevre) at his  wedding to his  second wife (Minnie Driver) and then leaves the reception to pursue her is certainly suspect of being not such a nice guy. Then there is the question why would #3 allow her self to be interested in him knowing his history? Despite her seeming to be a charming intelligent, lovely woman herself is she so  flattered by his attention and persistence that she ultimately becomes his wife and mother of his two children? It is interesting to consider how this movie depicts women. While certainly a complicated issue considering the time setting of most the scenes (20-30 years ago), it did seem that for the most part they are shown in a stereotypical manner mainly  as appendages to the men in their lives. Then there is the fact that Barney is clearly Jewish. The wedding is a stereotypical Jewish affair (except perhaps there is an over emphasis on alcohol). The movie is based on a novel by Mordecai Richler is well known for writing about the struggle of Jews such as his acclaimed book Apprentice of Dudley Kravitz set in Canada in a Jewish environment as was much of this story. In this regard Dustin Hoffman plays Izzy, Barney’s very Jewish father but he happens to be a cop! It also seemed to us that the storyline really had to go to an extreme at the conclusion to get us to really feel sympathetic towards Barney. However, in the end it is the acting of Giamatti which will stand the best chance of selling this movie. He apparently sold the Golden Globes as they gave him the award for the best actor in a musical or comedy and we don’t think this movie is a  comedy at all and certainly isn’t a musical. In fact the movie was released in late January 2011 so we aren’t even sure how this qualified for the award. But on the other hand, this isn’t your ordinary story; it is Barney’s Version. (2011)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Romance

Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story

December 30th, 2010 — 1:09am

****

Jews and Baseball rm-  An American Love Story- You don’t have to be Jewish or a baseball fan to get something out of this well done documentary. However, the more you fit into these categories, the more you will want to be sure that you catch up with this film. Every Jewish kid should get a DVD of this film for his or her 13th birthday. It is written by Ira Berkow, Pulitzer Prize winniing author and directed by Peter Miller. There are interviews with baseball greats and people who knew them. There are also personal comments by people such as Larry King, Ron Howard and Dustin Hoffman The emergence of Jewish baseball stars, mirrors the story of the Jewish immigrants being able to partake in the American dream. The difficulties that these baseball heroes encountered spotlight the anti-Semitism that festered in the United States. The film also makes a point of showing that the problems that these Jews had in taking their rightful place on the baseball diamond were not very different than the next group had in challenging the discrimination barrier in this game. This latter point was illustrated in an incident that happened at the tail end of Jewish icon Hank Greenberg’s baseball career during the rookie year of Jackie Robinson. Robinson was trying to beat a base hit when he collided with Greenberg who was playing first base. As the two highly competitive players brushed themselves off, Greenberg gently offered Robinson good luck in dealing with the resistances, which he knew Robinson, would experience as the first black baseball player. The film tells the stories with interviews of the pioneer Jewish ball players in the major leagues. One such player is the legendary Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodger Sandy Koufax, who will be known forever for pitching four no hitters and also skipping a crucial World Series game in order to attend Jewish high Holiday services. This movie also profiled a budding Jewish baseball player whose name we sadly don’t recall because he only had one major leagues at bat during which time on the first pitch he was hit in the head and suffered a severe concussion. After months of recovery he is still struggling in the minor leagues hoping to come back to major-league baseball with the hope of living his dream. This movie is about the baseball dream that many Jewish kids have had and a select few have realized but it is a dream that every kid understands.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Biography, Documentary, History, Sport

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