Tag Archives: dustin hoffman

Wag the Dog by Barry Levinson (1997)

“Why does a dog wag its tail? Because a dog is smarter than its tail.” goes the opening quote.

The main question in this fine piece of cinematic feast seems to be – who is the most important person/shaker in the film industry? Is it the director? No. Is it the writer? No. It’s the producer!

Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman – two old classics accompanied by blondely bobbed Anne Heche – deliver a fictitious war on Albania to stop the leak from the White House two weeks before the presidential elections – for the second term. All that to cover up a sexual harassment case that did or did not happen, but certainly got created as a story.

The main message delivered through the mouths of Mr Fix-It (De Niro) is that no matter the truth, people believe in what’s on TV.

It is finely written, delivered and full of golden quotes and thoughts for our times of media/news industry running our reality. A definite must watch every 5 years.

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Filed under Cult Classics, film reviews

Barney’s Version by Richard J. Lewis (2010)

In the Catching Up Section

Starring Paul Giamatti (who bagged the Golden Globe for this role) as well as Dustin Hoffmann. A long tale of a life of an unhappy artist-writer and his wives. Over the years he lives in Rome, New York and finally in the countryside somewhere in New Jersey.

Another warm approach at presenting a tragic character who does not mature throughout his whole life, however is still capable of unconditional love towards his third wife.

Full of politically incorrect jokes at the expense of the Jewish community with Dustin Hoffman openly expressing his supposed discrimination, ignorant of the fact that it could have little to do with his ethnicity and much more with his attitude.

A good piece of cinema, again, a little too long to my taste. Watch it if you can.

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Filed under Catching Up, Off Plus Camera 2012

Tootsie by Sydney Pollack (1982)

Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray, Jessica Lange, Geena Davis…

This was the next film that Hoffman did after his Oscar awarded “Kramer vs. Kramer”. The role is strikingly different from anything he did before. Comedy. When (still) attractive male actor turns into a tragically unattractive masculine woman actor. To get a job, transforms himself physically to discover an entire new world he was totally oblivious to before.

I watched this film for the first time in early 1980’s on a black&white micro-tv made in East Germany. Over 25 years later, with a surprise I recognised some of the scenes that I had carved in my memory as magnificent. And they did not lose any of the charm and magic. Interestingly, the film did not age and is still a great entertainment. And probably will be for at least the next 25 years. Cult classic.

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Midnight Cowboy by John Schlesinger (1969)

With young Jon Voigt and Dustin Hoffman, who, one more time, proves to be an an incredibly talented prolific actor. Hoffman puts on a voice and accent of a New York vagabond cheat of declining health who cons the freshly out of Texas newbie (Voigt) aspiring to make a living as a male escort.

The story is illustrated in a romantic way showing the glass ceiling and the glass walls of the big metropolis. The first day we watch Joe Buck smiling happily at the outside world, observing the busy streets, shop vitrines, beautiful women, dog walkers. Gradually he realises how many doors are closed for him, a dummy out of nowhere, with limited spelling capabilities and not enough confidence to actually succeed at the dreamed path of a hustler as he defines himself.

In an unlikely fashion, the pair becomes friends and they both abandon New York City after a few misadventures and a few brighter spots – such as the Warholesque party where they manage to eat, smoke, drink and where Joe finally finds a woman willing to pay for his company.

The film won Best Picture in 1970. Deservedly. Great cinema.

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Filed under Catching Up, film reviews

Kramer vs. Kramer by Robert Benton (1979)

Another (next to Woody Allen’s Manhattan) 1979 gem. A film made in the times, when no element, no line of dialogue, no gesture would appear in the frame for no reason. Every single component has a meaning; certain scenes placed at various points in the plot cement the emotional aspect of the film – like the elevator scene, when Meryl Streep walks out on Dustin Hoffman (NB he got the Oscar for this role – quite deservedly) who is so stunned at the fact that he does not even attempt at holding the elevator to prevent her from doing this. Like the morning breakfast scenes illustrating the development in the relationship of father and son – especially the constrasted morning of the first breakfast without the mother and the last breakfast without the mother in their lives.

It is a painful and emotional tale of a breakup between two adults, which would be most probably less complex had there not be a child involved. Their son brings into the equation a whole different set of complications for their careers and emotional development.

Excellent film. Fantastic (as always) Dustin Hoffman…

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Filed under Catching Up, film reviews