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Most recent posting below. See other blog postings in the column to the right.

Most Wanted Men

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I must confess -- I am not a lover of the summer blockbuster. Yes, I did see Jaws one summer of adolescence (at the beach no less) as well as Star Wars in high school.  But today's big budget flicks don't quite do it for me -- perhaps it's my age, gender, or that I didn't read the Marvel comics (or look at them). A raccoon with a machine gun is not my idea of movie fodder (even though Bradley Cooper is the voice behind it).

So I was relieved to discover A Most Wanted Man in the cool quiet corner of AMC Hamilton theaters. 

Philip Seymour Hoffman is a key reason to see this chilly thriller this summer, but there are more...supporting cast members Robin Wright (the anti-Claire with dark limp hair, bad navy suits and powdery makeup), Willem Dafoe and Rachel McAdams, plus standouts are Homayoun Esrhadi (Zero Dark Thirty, Kite Runner), Nina Hoss and the central "terrorist" protagonist played by Grigoriy Dobrygin.

PSH's last leading performance (he is also coming up in the next Hunger Games) captures what Hoffman plays best (and perhaps knew best) - on one hand, a kind, passionate, brilliant, supportive man, and on the other, tortured, lonely, insecure, occasionally bumbling. Seeing this performance brought to mind the excellent Lumet production When the Devil Knows You're Dead. So close to home, so close to the flame.

If you opt to stay in the cool of your own A/C (as I did last night) and appreciate quirky Wes Anderson flicks, take in "The Grand Budapest Hotel." Seing the passing parade of familar Wes-faces (Norton, Brody, Lewis, Murray, Schwartzman, Swinton, Balaban, Dafoe, Keitel) with a few handsome new mugs in center stage (Fiennes and Law) you may feel deja vu if you've seen almost every other Anderson oeurvre like I have. However the Grand Budapest Hotel experience is totally original. 

Fiennes is drily hilarious as a seemingly by-the-book, refined concierge with a split personality, spewing profanity in the midst of perfume and affairs with octogenarian dowagers. It's also great to see F. Murray Abraham on the screen again (last time I saw him was perhaps Amadeus).

As in other Anderson works, there is young love, loss, familial dysfunction, and a bit more violence than the usual.

Along with zany scenes that seem to pay homage to The Shining and Shawshank Redemption. Who knew Wes was a Stephen King fan?





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