2.02.2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman eulogy, as posted on my personal Facebook

I feel guilty attempting to personally eulogize Philip Seymour Hoffman because it seems as though I am making the event about myself rather than about him. But here we go, after a sad, sad, day of reflection on this unfortunate circumstance.

It's difficult to recall exactly, but I believe I first discovered Hoffman as Scotty J. in Boogie Nights. The actor's work in Paul Thomas Anderson movies is what I will always remember him for most prominently, but I think it is important to see the impact he had on many of us in his smaller roles that often stole the show prior to his (deserved) Oscar win in 2005. I just about scoffed when I first saw someone post that they would need to rewatch Twister in tribute to the man, but then I told myself, "You know what, that's not silly at all; he was great in that movie and if that's one thing he's remembered for then that's fantastic."

Hoffman never seemed to approach two roles the same way, and sometimes I think it was easy to take him for granted. I always loved him - even when he was playing goofier, insubstantial roles (for example, he makes something like the insignificant "Along Came Polly" a memorable experience through his self-deprecating comedy).


Boogie Nights, Scent of a Woman, The Big Lebowski, Happiness, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, Red Dragon, M:I:III, Moneyball, The Master (the latter of which is one of the best demonstrations of screen acting in recent memory, in the realm of Orson Welles)... many more, and assuredly those I have not yet seen (I need to get to Synecdoche, New York now more than ever)... PSH was a special, special performer and - so selfishly - it pains me to know I will now think of this tragic day whenever I see one of his films... almost moreso than it pains me to think that this man had at the very least 30 more years of phenomenal performances to offer us.


You can call me a sick motherfucker, but I don't even begin to care that the cause of his death was a heroin overdose. If I may be perfectly candid, when an artist is as great as Hoffman was, I condone whatever self-destructive methods they utilize to reach those creative highs. Of course I sympathize with addiction and have learned much about addiction's power over we contemporary humans, but if that's what it took to give us Lancaster Dodd, Scotty J., Phil Parma, Brandt and more... fine. I apologize to anyone offended by my opinion. I do realize he leaves a wife and three very young children in his wake.


Even with the recent deaths of Pete O'Toole and, more of an apt comparison, James Gandolfini (seeing as the incomparable O'Toole had finished with acting and was in his winter years anyway), I cannot say an artist's death has affected me this much. Many of my cinephile compatriots share this feeling, so I know I am not alone... it has simply taken me a much-needed night of heavy drinking to come to share it in this detail.


I suppose that's all. RIP Philip. You were one of the very, very best, and you will always - ALWAYS - be deeply, dearly treasured.




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