The Bill Cosford Cinema is pleased to host the Norton Herrick Center for Motion Picture Studies’ tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of America’s greatest character actors. The series will span two weekends and include some of his past films – such as THE BIG LEBOWSKI, SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK, and THE LATE QUARTET, as well as the Miami Premiere of one of his final performances in GOD’S POCKET. Screenings will be supplemented by special presentations supported by the Herrick Center. Please join us in celebrating this immense talent.
THE BIG LEBOWSKI
Friday, May 9 at 8:45PM
The plot of this Raymond Chandler-esque comedy crime caper from the Coen Brothers (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen) pivots around a case of mistaken identity complicated by extortion, double-crosses, deception, embezzlement, sex, pot, and gallons of White Russians (made with fresh cream, please). In 1991, unemployed ’60s refugee Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) grooves into his laid-back Los Angeles lifestyle. One of the laziest men in LA, he enjoys hanging with his bowling buddies, pompous security-store owner Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and mild-mannered ex-surfer Donny (Steve Buscemi). However, the Dude’s life takes an alternate route the afternoon two goons break into his threadbare Venice, California, bungalow, rough him up, and urinate on his living room rug. Why? Because Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara) is owed money by the wife of a certain Jeff Lebowski. However, the goons grabbed the wrong Jeff Lebowski. With the right info, they would have invaded the home of philanthropic Pasadena millionaire Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston). The Dude looks up his wealthy namesake, manages to get a replacement for his rug, and meets the millionaire’s sexy young wife Bunny (Tara Reid). Later, Jeffrey (“The Big”) Lebowski calls in the Dude to deliver a $1 million ransom for the return of his kidnapped wife. Fine — except that Walter intrudes and botches the ransom drop. As events unravel, the Dude gets caught up in the schemes of Lebowski’s daughter, erotic artist Maude (Julianne Moore), encounters both cops and bad guys, and drifts through an elaborate bowling fantasy sequence titled Gutterballs. The Coen Brother’s stoner-film-noir-comedy has become a cult classic. Hoffman’s screen time is small, but his portrayal of Brandt, the manservant to the millionaire Lebowski has become one of his most beloved roles. It displays Hoffman’s comic talents as well as (along with BOOGIE NIGHTS) bringing him to the attention of audiences as one of America’s greatest character actors.
Presented with an introduction from Christina Lane, director of the Norton Herrick Center for Motion Picture Studies and author of MAGNOLIA from the Wiley-Blackwell Series in Film and Television.
SYNECDOCHE NEW YORK
Saturday, May 10 at 5:00PM
SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK marked the directorial debut of iconoclastic, cerebral screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as Caden Cotard, an eccentric playwright who lives with artist Adele Lack (Catherine Keener) and their daughter Olive in Schenectady, upstate New York. Prone to neuroses, misgivings and enormous self-doubt, Caden also begins suffering from accelerated physical deterioration – from blood in his stools to disfigured skin. Upon receiving a prestigious MacArthur grant, Caden decides to use the money to concoct one gigantic play as an analogue of his own life; he builds massive sets amid a New York City warehouse, casts others as his friends, family and acquaintances, and casts others to play the ones he’s casting. After Adele whisks Olive off to Europe but demonstrates no sign of returning soon, Caden drifts into a series of relationships with lovers – first with box office employee Hazel (Samantha Morton), who purchases and moves into a house that is perpetually on fire; then with Tammy (Emily Watson), an actress assigned to play Hazel in the theatrical project; and subsequently with others. Unfortunately, the play itself grows so big and unwieldy – and rehearsals go on for so long, taking literally decades – that it becomes unclear if the production itself will ever launch.
Followed by a presentation by film scholar Michael Hable on SCYNEDOCHE, NEW YORK and the work of Charlie Kauffman and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
THE LATE QUARTET
Sunday, May 11 at 5:30PM
When the beloved cellist of a world-renowned string quartet receives a life changing diagnosis, the group’s future suddenly hangs in the balance: suppressed emotions, competing egos, and uncontrollable passions threaten to derail years of friendship and collaboration. As they are about to play their 25th anniversary concert, quite possibly their last, only their intimate bond and the power of music can preserve their legacy. Inspired by and structured around Beethoven’s Opus 131 String Quartet in C-sharp minor, A LATE QUARTET pays homage to chamber music and the cultural world of New York. An example of the small, independent films Hoffman was drawn to, THE LATE QUARTET is a performance show piece allowing Hoffman to play off against other amazing talents like Catherine Keener and Christopher Walken. One of Hoffman’s undiscovered films, THE LATE QUARTET was herald by critics and displays Hoffman at the height of his tremendous talents.
Followed by a presentation by film scholar Michael Hable on the career and legacy of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Friday, May 16 – Sunday, May 18
In the gritty, blue-collar neighborhood of God’s Pocket, Mickey Scarpato’s crazy stepson, Leon, is killed in a construction “accident,” and Mickey quickly tries to bury the bad news with the body. But when a local columnist comes sniffing around for the truth, things go from bad to worse. Mickey finds himself stuck in a life-and-death struggle compounded by a body he can’t bury, a wife he can’t please, and a debt he can’t pay.
Acclaimed actor John Slattery makes an impressive jump behind the camera with an assured directorial debut that shows he has a razor-sharp eye for conveying the absurdity, cruelty, desperation, and tragic optimism of the people he portrays. Like life, his scenes seamlessly fuse humor and heartbreak, but it’s Slattery’s wit and confident style that make the portrait so authentic. Featuring a top-shelf cast and impeccable cinematography, GOD’S POCKET oozes with talent and marks the emergence of an inspired directorial presence.
One of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final performances.