David Edelstein reviews A Most Wanted Man, starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman:
Part of me wishes that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final lead performance, in A Most Wanted Man, wasn’t very good. I know that sounds perverse. But if he’d been flailing as an actor at the end, it would make his loss easier to bear from an artistic—if not a human—perspective. The thing is, though, the actor we see in this movie is at his absolute peak. This might even be my favorite Hoffman performance of all, damn it.
Zach Braff Will Never Stop Making Movies, and It’s Your Fault
Zach Braff’s new movie, Wish I Was Here, ends with the milquetoast, whiny protagonist (played by Braff, because who else could play this role?) proclaiming that it’s OK to abandon your dreams and just be a normal person. That might be the most controversial part of the most annoying movie of the summer. Whereas Braff’s last film, the equally irritating navel-gaze-athon, Garden State, famously encouraged its audience to “Let Go” as the credits rolled, this new weenie roast of a movie implores you to give up. Of course, there’s one guy out there who stubbornly continues to push his monotonous artistic agenda on a culture that has long since moved on: Zach Braff. Kickstarter and online donations will allow Zach Braff to keep making movies, even if most of us don’t want him to.
The problem with that is those Hollywood fat cats get paid millions of dollars to make the movies lots of people want to see. This is why no one will give me $2 million to make a sci-fi romantic comedy set in the 25th century that features me falling in love with a talking salmon. OK, actually, it’s very possible that this movie could get made if certain directives were put in place:
- My character is to be played by Robert Downey Jr. or hot up-and-coming African American actor Michael B. Jordan.
- The talking salmon will be voiced by Cameron Diaz or Melissa McCarthy.
- Instead of being set in the distant future, all the action takes place in a hot-shot San Francisco tech start-up.
- James Cameron or Christopher Nolan has to direct.
What do all of these elements have in common? They are people, places, or things the general public has already made clear that they enjoy. It’s been a long time since Zach Braff did anything that the general public enjoyed. Did you see The Ex? Were you enthralled by The Last Kiss? Did you obsessively blog about the last few tedious seasons of Scrubs? Do you sometimes punch yourself in the face just to feel something real? Of course no one who gave a shit about the bottom line would give Zach Braff more than a pat on the back to make a passion project. Braff was hot shit on a gold-plated serving dish after Garden State, but I am here to offer a rather startling, potentially earth-shattering revelation: It is not 2004.
July 16, 1951: The Catcher in the Rye is Published
On this day in 1951, J.D. Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye, was published. The novel tells the story of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield, a troubled character who challenged 1950s conformity, much like Salinger himself.
Due to its somewhat rebellious tone, Salinger’s work has been linked to issues of controversy and censorship. Even so, over 60 years later, The Catcher in the Rye has sold over 65 million copies and continues to sell an additional 500,000 each year.
Photo: A 1951 copy of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress).
Can the “day-and-date” distribution model—whereby movies are released simultaneously in theatres and on video on demand—help indie films succeed? Calum Marsh on the debate: http://nyr.kr/U4AFGd
Photograph: Mark Dye/Star Ledger/Corbis.
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