RIP, Philip Seymour Hoffman

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One of the best actors of our generation. Very very sad news.

Picking my favorite Philip Seymour Hoffman scene from a film is difficult since the man positively rocked the screen in every movie he was in. Hoffman specialized in playing characters who were untrustworthy, weak, pathetic, or duplicitous. While he won the Oscar for “Capote” and was brilliant in “The Master, his role as the hospice nurse in “Magnolia” is perhaps his most heroic and the one that I feel is his most underrated. In a film full of characters who are experiencing life at its worst, his efforts to fulfill the dying wish of Jason Robards’s character to reunite with his estranged son are a wonder to behold.

Honorable mention: Hoffman’s portrayal of Lester Bangs in “Almost Famous”. It’s too bad he never got the chance to play him in a feature-length Bangs biopic.

“One” – Aimee Mann

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Another terrific Aimee Mann cover … this time of Harry Nilsson’s “One” which Three Dog Night turned into a big hit during the early 1970s. Mann’s version was brilliantly used over the opening of P.T. Anderson’s 1999 masterpiece “Magnolia.” I like this version WAAAAY better than Three Dog Night’s cover, which is the best known version.

First Date “Magnolia” (1999) dir. P.T. Anderson

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This is one of the many moving scenes from P.T. Anderson’s magnificent 1999 film “Magnolia.” This is the first date between John C. Reilly’s decent police officer character Jim and Melora Walters’ troubled Claudia character. This event occurs about 2/3 of the way into the film. Jim is a very good, compassionate man who feels tremendous guilt over losing his gun on the job. Claudia is a promiscuous drug addict trying to blot out an abusive childhood. On the grand scale of things, Jim’s troubles are far less severe than Claudia’s … but somehow, they seem to be meeting at the right time in the right place in their lives. Nobody in their right mind would EVER have a first date like this … but as we all know … if we’re lucky … we know that life is strange. And sometimes fate compels you to act in ways that you otherwise wouldn’t … because you have a strange hunch that the person you happened to just meet and sitting across from could potentially change your life for the better. Granted, a lot of people choose this path and wind up with someone who is a complete disaster. But sometimes it goes the other way, too.

This scene always brings a lump to my throat and is one of the best scenes in a film that I consider one of the best of the 1990s.

“Wise Up” – From “Magnolia” dir. PT Anderson (1999)

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From PT Anderson’s 1999 film “Magnolia,” the audacious scene where all of the lead characters (who are experiencing incredible emotional trauma) sing along to Aimee Mann’s tremendously emotional song “Wise Up.” A brilliant and artistically ballsy scene and one of the reasons PT Anderson is our generation’s greatest filmmaker.