Cameron Crowe on Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Perfect Performance as Lester Bangs

If it wasn’t for Philip Seymour Hoffman, my childhood self would have never asked where and how I could listen to Iggy Pop. And with the devastating news of his passing this weekend, it’s hard not to look back through his astounding career and remember just how many wonderful roles he lent his talents to over the years and how he played them with an authenticity and brilliance like no one else ever could.

But there are few characters more perfectly suited for Hoffman—and had a more poignant effect on me personally, than Hoffman’s performance as Lester Bangs in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous. I mean, let’s be real, will we ever be able to tell someone: Don’t let those swill merchants rewrite you, ever again without crying? And in the wake of his all too sudden death, many of his dear friends have expressed their personal sentiments on their loss, and yesterday, Crowe took to his website to post a statement about one of the best moments in Almost Famous—Hoffman’s impeccably acted and infamous, “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool,” scene.

See what Crowe had to say about the experience and watch the clip below.

My original take on this scene was a loud, late night pronouncement from Lester Bangs.  A call to arms.  In Phil’s hands it became something different.  A scene about quiet truths shared between two guys, both at the crossroads, both hurting, and both up too late.  It became the soul of the movie.  In between takes, Hoffman spoke to no one.  He listened only to his headset, only to the words of Lester himself.  (His Walkman was filled with rare Lester interviews.) When the scene was over, I realized that Hoffman had pulled off a magic trick.  He’d leapt over the words and the script, and gone hunting for the soul and compassion of the private Lester, the one only a few of us had ever met.  Suddenly the portrait was complete. The crew and I will always be grateful for that front row seat to his genius.

And for more PSH as Bangs:


So, Should Heroin Be Legalized?

Almost 70 bags of heroin were found in Philip Seymour Hoffman’s apartment along with syringes, prescription drugs, and other drug paraphernalia. Hoffman was no tourist in the lifestyle.

According to the NY Post, investigators are also trying to find the drug dealer who supplied the actor with the heroin. Timothy Bugge, the new commanding officer of Manhattan South Narcotics, sent out an alert to supervisors trying to find the source of heroin labeled “Ace of Spades,” or “Ace of Hearts.” So who is the culprit; was it the source supplying the heroin or the troubled actor who consumed the heroin? Isn’t the source arbitrary in the case where a multimillionaire had a sad, insatiable appetite, and enough money to fund it? The answer is both; a great deal has to do with the type of heroin being sold on the streets.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdoses have been on the rise in the U.S. Drug overdose deaths increased by 102 percent between 1999 and 2010. Jeff Deeney, former user and writer for the Atlantic stated that, “Overdoses become advertisements for strong product.”

I can tell you that it’s particularly dangerous out there right now. Recently, an unpredictable and hard-to-track bad batch of Fentanyl-tainted heroin dipped and dodged its way through the mid-Atlantic: Camden, Philadelphia, moving west to Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and now Pittsburgh. It also popped up to the south in Baltimore. Health practitioners in North Philly are getting bombarded with faxes from the Centers for Disease Control about the bad bags working their way around the streets, with instructions to warn their patients who might be using. Fentanyl-tainted bags go fast; ironically, when news of a batch laying users low spreads on the streets, heavy users seek the potent bags out by their brand stamp.

In the Atlantic article, the argument is presented that legalizing heroin could have saved Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s life; such as an American version of Insite, Vancouver’s celebrated, medically supervised, legal injecting space.

If Philip Seymour Hoffman had taken his last bags to a legal injecting space, would he still be alive? Had he overdosed there, medical staff on call might have reversed it with Naloxone. Had he acquired an abscess or other skin infection, he could have sought nonjudgmental medical intervention. Perhaps injection site staff could have directed him back to treatment.

The answer to that question is “yes” and “no.” “Yes,” if that scenario would have occurred it would have saved Hoffman’s life. But, “no,” in the age of TMZ, Twitter, and iPhones, a famous Oscar winning actor would never go to a public legal injecting space to consume heroin.

What are your thoughts? Do you think heroin should be legalized? Could a legal injecting space have saved Hoffman’s life? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Explore the Life & Work of J.D. Salinger With the First Trailer for ‘Salinger’

Caught amidst a slew of big-budget studio films to come out this September, The Weinstein Company will be releasing a literary gem of a film Salinger, writer and director Shane Salerno. Diving into the mystery of the beloved and reclusive author’s life, the documentary picks up after the publication of his last novel featuring interviews with over 150 subjects from Salinger’s friends and cohorts to Tom Wolfe and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

In speaking with the LA Times Salerno, who put $2 million of his own money into the film said: 
Salinger is a massive figure in our culture and yet remains an extraordinary enigma.  The critical and popular game over the last half-century has been to read the man through his work because the man would not speak, but the untold story of his life is more dramatic than anything he ever wrote. And that’s the story I wanted to tell: his life. Not the myth that has burned so brightly for nearly 50 years. I had three questions when I began this project nine years ago: 1. Why did J.D. Salinger stop publishing?  2. Why did he disappear? 3. And what has he been writing for 45 years?
And now, you can see a full trailer for the sure to be incredible doc debuting September 6th. Check out the trailer below.


The First Actual Trailer for ‘Catching Fire’ Premieres

So now it’s 2013 and we have this thing now where we do teaser trailers for the actual trailers for movies, which is what happened with the hype around the upcoming sequel to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire. About a month ago, there was a 15-second teaser for this trailer, and its appearance last night at the MTV Movie Awards. This is a ridiculous marketing strategy why are we doing this, but if you’re into the Hunger Games series, these are very exciting times. 

In this trailer, we get the first look at the brewing revolution in Panem, for which Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has become a symbol of hope and defiance. Things start to get real (really real) and the government, led by the evil President Snow and his new right-hand man, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman!) starts going after previous winners. As per the name, lots of things do, in fact, catch fire. For more, watch the trailer below. 

Darren Aronofsky, Martin Scorsese, Sofia Coppola, and More Head to The Inaugural First Time Fest

And in more festival news of the day: the inagural First Time Fest—a new New York festival showcasing the talents of first time filmmakers—has offered some exciting news as of today. The premiere Fest will be held between March 1st and March 4th at the Loews Village VII Cinema in Manhattan, and includee a hefty lineup of wonderful new films, as well as a retrospective of established directors first films. The organization hosting the event, The Player’s Club, have also announced that the John Huston Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinema will go to the thrilling genius Darren Aronofsky. And better still, he will be presented the award by none other than Hollywood’s greatest living cinematic treasure himself, Martin Scorsese. 

Check out the full line-up of films below, as well as what will be showing at the First Exposure retrospective from The Virgins Suicides to Welcome to the Dollhouse.

New York Premiere. USA, 86 minutes.
Written and directed by Seth Fisher. With Fisher, Brian Cox, Mark Blum, Laila Robins, Mei Melançon.
U.S. Premiere.  Belgium/France, 89 minutes.
Written and directed by Amélie van Elmbt. With Alice de Lencquesaing, David Murgia, Jacques Doillon.
World Premiere. Belarus, 133 mins.
Written and directed by Dmitry Marinin, Andrey Kureychik. With Leonid Pashkovsky, Tatyana Bovkalova, Viktor Rybchinsky, Anna Sirotina.        
U.S. Premiere.  Argentina, 75 mins.
Written, directed, and produced by Luciano Quillici. With Ramiro Aguero, Santiago Gobemori, Diego Jalfen, Valeria Louis, Leticia Mazur, Margarita Molfino, Alan Sabbagh.     
USA, 90 mins.  
Written and directed by Tony Glazer. With Tom Pelphrey, Neal Bledsoe, Harris Doran, Summer Crockett Moore, Anthony Rapp, David Zayas, Michael O’Keef.
U.S. Premiere. Australia/Mongolia, 90 mins.
Documentary, directed by Benj Binks.
New York Premiere.  Chile/Argentina, 112 mins.
Written and directed by Diego Rougier. With Fele Martínez, Patricio Contreras, Sergio Hernández, Javiera Contador.
World Premiere.  Australia, 90 mins.
Directed by Sophie O’Connor. With Lily Hall, Christina Hallett, Kevin Dee, Georgia Bolton.
New York Premiere.USA, 90 mins.
Written and directed by Max Weissberg. With Lethia Nall, Eric Garcia, Rob Hollander, H.R. Britton, James Eason, Jenny Grace, Olivia Horton, Michele Cesari.
USA/Egypt, 85 mins.
Documentary directed by Fredrik Stanton.
U.S. Premiere. Israel, 90 mins.
Written and directed by Eliav Lilti. With Barak Friedman, Noa Friedman, Esti Yerushalmi, Zohar Shtrauss, Ohad Knoller, Michal Shtamler.
USA, 77 mins.
Documentary directed by Amy Nicholson. 
USA, 1996, 91 mins. Speaker TBA.
Directed by Wes Anderson.
Written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson.
Cast: Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Robert Musgrave, Andrew Wilson, Lumi Cavazos, James Caan.
USA, 1976, 103 mins.
Barbara Kopple in person.
Documentary directed by Barbara Kopple.
USA, 2010, 91 mins.
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Ryan in person.
Directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Written by Robert Glaudini.
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan, John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega.
USA, 1941, 101 mins.
Speaker TBA.
Written and directed by John Huston.
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Elisha Cook, Jr.
USA, 1998, 83 mins.
Speaker TBA.
Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky.
Cast: Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman, Pamela Hart, Stephen Pearlman.
USA, 1991, 85 mins.
Producer Christine Vachon in person.
Written and directed by Todd Haynes.
Cast: Edith Meeks, Millie White, Buck Smith, Anne Giotta, Lydia Lafleur, Ian Nemser
USA, 1968, 87 mins.
Melvin van Peebles in person.
Written and directed by Melvin Van Peebles.
Cast: Harry Baird, Pierre Doris, Christian Marin, Nicole Berger
USA, 1989, 84 mins.
Nancy Savoca in person.
Directed by Nancy Savoca.
Written by Nancy Savoca and Richard Guay.
Cast: Annabella Sciorra, Ron Eldard, Aida Turturro, Roger Rignack
USA, 1989, 90 mins.
Hal Hartley in person.
Written and directed by Hal Hartley.
Cast: Adrienne Shelley, Robert John Burke, Edie Falco, Gary Sauer.
USA, 1999, 97 mins.
Sofia Coppola and cinematographer Ed Lachman in person.
Written and directed by Sofia Coppola.
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Josh Hartnett, Michael Paré, Danny DeVito
USA, 1996, 88 mins.
Todd Solondz in person.
Written and directed by Todd Solondz.
Cast: Heather Matarazzo, Brendan Sexton III, Matthew Faber, Daria Kalinina, Eric Mabius

Which One of These Old White Guys Will Win Another Oscar?

Happy Oscar Nominations Day! Did you wake up early to watch Seth McFarland and Emma Stone announce the nominees? Can you think of a quirkier couple to do so? Here’s the run-down: they only bothered to come up with nine movies to nominate for Best Picture, they figured Kathryn Bigelow didn’t need any more nominations (probably because of Bridesmaids solving feminism or something last year), and Jessica Chastain with the Julliard degree is up against a nine-year-old. But most importantly: five old white men are gunning for another Oscar in the Best Supporting Actor category. Who will it be?!

Will it be Alan Arkin, showing his range after winning for playing a grumpy, foul-mouthed grandpa in Little Miss Sunshine with his brilliant turn as a grumpy, foul-mouthed film producer in Argo? How about Robert De Niro, who in Silver Linings Playbook gave us the best performance of an old man with OCD tendencies since Jack Nicholson won for As Good As It Gets? Then there’s Philip Seymour Hoffman, who famously raised his voice and twisted his eyeglasses a few times for his Oscar-winning turn as Truman Capote, this time playing L. Rob Hubbard (basically) with his natural, deep voice in The Master. Or will it be Chrisoph Waltz, bringing levity and humor to the American slave trade in the same way he made it OK to finally laugh at—and with—Nazis.

Personally, I think it’s going to be Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln. You see, he sleeps with his black maid (spoiler alert, I guess, although I still refuse to see Lincoln). Remember when he won an Oscar for The Fugitive and said, “I don’t care,” right before Harrison Ford jumped out of that dam? That was a good movie. Hell, just give him another one. Who cares.

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‘The Master’ Shatters Taboo About Drinking Household Poisons

Finally, thanks to a brave script from Paul Thomas Anderson and even braver performance from Joaquin Phoenix, I am free of the stigma that comes with casually poisoning yourself in a quest for utter self-annihilation. Never again will I have to pretend I don’t put Lysol in my gin-and-not-tonics.

How liberating it is! Just as Brokeback Mountain taught us it was okay for cowboys to cuddle for warmth when it got cold in the tent, and Do The Right Thing made us realize that black people have the right to eat pizza, The Master in one fell swoop does away with the choir of hypocritical voices that say you shouldn’t mix rum with chemicals commonly used to develop photographs. Take that, backward social conservatives.

I shan’t be sipping my paint thinner from a brown bag any longer, I can tell you that much. It’s a new dawn in America. To those who, like me, have chafed at an appallingly narrow definition of “spirits”—who have been laughed out of liquor stores because we asked for a pint of gasoline, anything to give our hooch some bracing lethality—I am pleased to announce that our righteous struggle is over. Hollywood, it turns out, can still make a difference. So raise a glass of bleach to them. 

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Philip Seymour Hoffman to Direct Spooky ‘Ezekiel Moss’

Let’s be honest, if there were anyone I’d like to sit me down in the dark and tell me a ghost story, it would be Philip Seymour Hoffman. A bit of a phantom himself, it’s just not that Hoffman disappears into his roles, he finds a way to embody them completely while always bringing that classic PSH mix of voracity and charm. (I mean, just think about the difference between Scotty J. in Boogie Nights and his turn as Lancaster Dodd in The Master.) But acting is just one of the many hats Hoffman wears—and we know the man likes a hat. When not captivating our movie screens, he can usually be found in the theater, acting or directing—most recently playing the iconic role of Willy Loman in the Mike Nichols-directed Death of a Salesman on Broadway. As a member of the LAByrinth Theater Company, Hoffman has been lending his talents to the stage for decades now, but it wasn’t until 2010’s Jack Goes Boating that marked his directorial film debut.

And now, fresh off critical praise and Oscar-buzz from his frighteningly good performance inThe Master, Hoffman is slated to direct Ezekiel Moss, a Depression-era gothic ghost tale for Mandalay Pictures. According to Variety, the script by In Treatment’s Keith Bunin follows “a young, imaginative boy living in a small town who befriends a mysterious drifter who may have the ability to communicate with the dead.”

"Hoffman is one of the great talents of our generation," professed Cathy Schulman of Mandalay Pictures. “We are thrilled to be in his capable hands directing this captivating and gothic exploration of faith and the supernatural." As of yet, that’s about all the information that’s been released on the project, but it’s hard to imagine anyone being anything less than intrigued.

It’s Time For Your “Catching Fire” Cast Update

The sequel to the explosive film adaptation of The Hunger Games now has a director (I Am Legend‘s Francis Lawrence) and key principals including Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci and, of course, Lenny Kravitz as Capitol stylist Cinna. But as Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark prepare for the Quarter Quell, a more intense version of the games featuring winners from previous years, fans are already anxious over who will join them in this dangerous competition.

Two notable names have been added to the cast within the past week: Jena Malone (Donnie Darko, Saved!) as Johanna Mason, a previous winner from District 7 who gets by with her wit and sarcasm and forms an allegiance with the star-crossed lovers of District 12. And today, as IMDb confirms, Philip Seymour Hoffman will join the cast as Plutarch Heavensbee, the Head Gamemaker of the Quarter Quell and successor to the deposed, weird-bearded Seneca Crane. Let the speculation over Hoffman’s Capitol-appropriate facial hair begin. 

Perhaps the biggest casting-related speculation has been related to who will play the role of Finnick Odair, the buff, trident-wielding previous champion from District 4 who forms an alliance with Katniss, Peeta and co. during the brutal Quarter Quell. Names that have buzzed about include Robert Pattinson, Taylor Kitsch, Trevor Donovan and Hunter Parrish, but no one has been confirmed for the role.

This has been your Catching Fire cast update. Back to you, Sofía.