RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman

Tom Cicero

It’s always strange to hear about a celebrity dying. It’s as if they live in a different world, and they are immortal. We spend so much time catching up on what celebrities are doing and with who that we forget they too are humans, and they too will die.
As is the case with recently deceased Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the greatest actors of our time. In his memory, here are three must-see movies starring the late, great Hoffman:

Synecdoche, New York
One of Hoffman’s best performances, “Synecdoche, New York” is a movie about life, loss and death, with one of the most brutally honest endings to ever be in a film. It shows the life of Hoffman’s character Caden Cotard, who tries his best to make some form of art that is brutally real and honest, as he finds his own life falling apart around him. What starts off as a simple plot quickly escalates into the Meta area, with Cotard trying to recreate the mundane everyday life within everyday life. Nothing I can say about this film or about Hoffman’s performance will come close to doing it or the film justice, so just go see it. Just make sure to bring a box (or three) of tissues with you.
Favorite Hoffman line: “I will be dying, and so will you, and so will everyone here. That’s what I want to explore. We’re all hurtling towards death, yet here we are for the moment, alive. Each of us knowing we’re going to die, each of us secretly believing we won’t.”

Mary and Max
In this claymation, Hoffman does the voice of Max Jerry Horowitz, an obese 44-year-old man with a wide array of mental problems. He finds a pen pal in the phone book, and begins to write back and forth for decades. The ending is shocking to say the least and will stick with you long after the credits roll. Similar to Synedoche, this is a very dark movie about loneliness, neglect and the importance of friendship. Through just his voice, Hoffman is able to bring Max to life and make him believable. Throughout the film, you will grow to love Max and all of his quirks. Though the film is claymation, the vocal performances from Hoffman and the cast are so well done that they may seem human, in the end. Once again, if you get the chance, be sure to check this film out. This one only requires one box of tissues.
Favorite Hoffman line: “You are my best friend. You are my only friend.”

The Master
This one won’t make you cry, but it is just as dark as the previous two, if not more. “The Master” is the tale of Freddie Quell (played by Joaquin Phoenix, whose performance is incredible, to say the least), a WWII veteran who is trying to adjust to life after the war. He stumbles across Lancaster Dodd (played by Hoffman), who is a religious leader for “The Cause” which shares many similarities with Scientology. It is a strange film which talks about the effects of war on humans, the abusing of power and religion, as well as what it means to be human. Hoffman’s performance in “The Master” is extremely eerie and very effective. By the end of the film, you may actually want to get out of your seat and hit the guy, which speaks to how great of a performance Hoffman gave as the “villain” of the film. You don’t need to bring tissues for this one, but be ready to think.
Favorite Hoffman line: “If you figure a way to live without serving a master, any master, then let the rest of us know, will you? For you’d be the first person in the history of the world.”

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