dustin hoffman

Stranger Than Fiction

Year: 2006
Directed By: Marc Forster
Written By: Zach Helm


I don’t really know what to expect from this one. Sometimes I see a movie that leaves an impression on me and I add it to the collection immediately. Occasionally those movies go unwatched after hitting the shelf and that’s the case with this one. I saw it once at my brothers house because it was part of his collection. I think I was really caught off guard by the performance of Will Ferrell. I was not a fan and thought most of what he did was stupid. Seeing him in a serious movie for the first time left the impression that got it added to the collective. Now, I’m sitting down to watch it for the first time in maybe six or seven years, let’s see if that impression was correct or not.

I’m immediately sucked in with this story about Harold and his watch. It’s interesting and gets more so when Harold begins to hear the narration of his life. I was caught off guard by the idea of taking Will Ferrell seriously. I don’t dislike him, on the contrary I think he is quite talented, but some people don’t belong on the center stage. Some people are better as an addition but suffer when they’re the star. I think Ferrell was hilarious in films like Old School and Zoolander but when given the lead in movies like Talladega Nights or Step Brothers he resorts to a weak and ridiculous type of comedy. Here on the other hand he is playing a role where he isn’t trying too hard to be funny because he’s not supposed to be funny at all.

Emma Thompson has such a great reading voice. I can’t say I really see a lot of her work as she specializes in a different type of film but she really does have a great voice. She recently was the voice of Mrs. Potts in Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast. Don’t know if it was actually her singing the big numbers but if it was it only proves my point. Regardless, her voice makes her a perfect narrator for this film. Her imagination’s efforts to figure out death make for some scenes that really catch you off guard and keep the movie interesting.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is specifically cute in this movie. She plays the sassy tattooed girl that gets the attention and admiration of the uptight IRS agent. You kind of feel sorry for him because she is so mean to him but then you remember he’s an IRS auditor. Nobody is thrilled to see those guys, gotta be hard to find love on the job. I like when she finally comes around because it’s a sweet thing between her and Harold.

“Don’t move the plot and see if the plot moves you.” Dustin Hoffman’s words can serve as good advice to all of us now and again. We are all part of a story after all, the story of life. Sometimes in life you move the plot and sometimes the plot moves you. As Harold finds out to his apartment’s woe. He isn’t exactly sure it’s plot, but everything in life is isn’t it? This movie is about life, in a nutshell. I find that life is easier when you try to avoid the plot, but inevitably it will find you.

Harold tries to cling to life while the narrator tries to figure out how to kill  him. Such an interesting dynamic. He has found love and has a whole new reason to live. I love these scenes of Will Ferrell running as he tries desperately to reach the author of his life. He should run more often, he could give Tom Cruise a run for his money. It’s so wild and out of the box for them to speak on the phone. It only gets better when they meet in person.

I can’t say enough about the acting of Will Ferrell in this movie. This movie was over ten years ago and I don’t understand why he hasn’t exercised this talent more. In this movie he goes toe to toe with the acting legend Dustin Hoffman and he holds his own. When Hoffman tells him to accept his fate it’s a magnificent scene. He understands and he gets it. The fact that his character is willing to make the sacrifice makes him all the more lovable.

This is an amazing movie. I feel like I’d need to watch it five times at least to really write about it. It says so much about life and fate and creativity. I love so much about this movie and I love that Harold survives in the end.

The watch is what keeps him alive, that’s beautiful. That’s a fantastic ending and on par with the author’s usual death ending. This is a wonderful movie and I just love it. The love story that lives on with Harold’s life brings tears to my eyes. Didn’t see that coming but it makes me appreciate this movie that much more.

This is a wonderful movie that can hit you in the heart and make you appreciate the creativity of writers. It’s a thoughtfully crafted story that leaves an impression. Will Ferrell should do more movie like this because he really has a talent for it. I think this movie is not only worth your time but worth plenty of your time. This movie is worth multiple views.

NEXT MOVIE: Street Kings (2008)

Rain Man

Year: 1988
Directed By: Barry Levinson
Written By: Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass


The vast majority of the movies I grew up with were found on my own or I came by them through my mother’s side of the family. My father, despite his job while I was growing up never really got into movies as I or others in my family did. He’s not the type to get anything from a movie and they rarely mean very much to him. Sometimes though, an occasional film will stick with him. Sometimes they are the most unexpected of films but that’s not the case with this one. My dad, always the Tom Cruise fan, loves this movie and even to this day may quote it on a daily basis. Not even two days ago I heard him running through the warehouse yelling “V-E-R-N!” to a group of guys quietly trying spell it out in their heads and desperately trying to figure out what the boss wanted of them. Now, most of these kids were not even alive when this movie came out, oh how the time is flying, much less familiar with one unmemorable line from a classic they hadn’t seen. I got a kick out of watching the confusion created for these youngsters who are mostly in their late teens or early 20s but the point is that after 27 years my old man still has this movie at the forefront of his mind.

I don’t think it’s the kind of classic that holds up quite like that but it is a classic regardless. My point is that this is a classic movie that most movie fans have seen but here I witnessed a group of kids completely in the dark and even unaware of the film altogether when it was explained. One of them in particular, who had specifically been made to feel dumb over the whole thing, came up to me later and so pitifully asked, “what’s a vern?” I laughed and told him not to put too much thought into the old man’s references and for the love of God never mention the Timewarp or anything from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. If he did I would hold him personally responsible for what followed. For reasons I will never understand my dad is really into that one too (it should be noted that I know for a fact drugs aren’t involved and I often tell him he’s the only sober person who likes that movie). He’s so into the movie that it is embarrassing and I have literally had to hide my face in shame many times when he completely uncharacteristically breaks into song and dance at the mention of the film.

My point being, this movie reminds me of my dad more than anything else. Which is ironic given it’s about a guy with a tumultuous relationship with his father. All fathers and sons have layered relationships that can create animosity from both sides but I generally think it’s a typical thing. I think when it comes to fathers and sons they are more often than not too much alike yet too different at the same time. Under those dynamics the circumstances can create a variety of different outcomes.

I bought this movie a couple of years ago because Amber had never seen it and I felt like it was good enough for the collection. Nevertheless it’s not a movie that’s ever really meant much to me. I think Dustin Hoffman gave an outstanding performance and I appreciate the awareness it brought to a largely misunderstood condition at the time. Truth is, I’ve never been a fan of films about the mentally handicapped. I appreciate and respect the mentally disabled and my opinions about films focusing on them often give people the wrong idea. I feel like the films always have the same message in the end; which is that these people matter and we shouldn’t treat them like they are insignificant. I know that and I believe in that but I don’t feel like sitting through every actor’s efforts to win an Oscar by taking on the part. All the inevitable hallmark moments in between only meant to make our eyes leak bother me too. I’m a sap when it comes to movies and I try to avoid crying when it’s abundantly clear to me it is going to happen. I don’t really feel like this movie falls into that category, but generally speaking that’s just how I feel about movies of the subject matter. I feel like this about several types of films. For similar reasons I don’t watch movies about junkies, and I don’t watch movies about sports for a different but similar reason in that they are all the same.

In the case of this film I do feel like it is an exceptional movie. Although, if I’m not mistaken, it exaggerated Autism to a severe degree but if it brought more awareness to the condition it’s still a good thing. I think Dustin Hoffman proved he was still one of the greatest actors out there when he won the Academy Award for Best Actor with this part. I grew up knowing Hoffman mainly from this role, granted I never realized he was Captain Hook in Hook because of the costume, so I was really surprised to find out how notable of an actor he really was back in the 60s and 70s. Hoffman is an actor who didn’t age well, but he kept getting roles because he was that damn good as an actor. I’ve never been a fan particularly but I respect him for what he has accomplished throughout his career.

This is actually the role I have most associated with Tom Cruise throughout my life. In this movie he plays such an unbelievable asshole and he does it so well. Almost too well to the point it makes me think this is who he really is. Given this is the role I grew up knowing him from it should be easy to understand why I have always despised him as a person. It easier to understand if you learn a little bit about the guy and listen to what he’s all about but that isn’t the whole story for me. I think Tom Cruise is a terrific actor but I despise the man. I think that he is the guy we see in this movie and that’s the base of my dislike for him. I have enjoyed so many of his roles and cannot deny his talent but I just cannot openly support a proponent of Scientology and all the madness that this man is involved with. As much as I love to hate the guy though he is good at what he does. Even in this film as an unbelievable asshole he wins us over in the end by actually connecting with his brother and being less of an asshole. The change of Charlie Babbitt in this movie is what makes it endearing. The performance of Hoffman is what makes it great but the change we see in Cruise’s character is what makes it lovable. Tom Cruise is a total douche, but he knows how to win us over and no matter how much I dislike him I can’t help but admit how talented he is.

I came into this movie with an attitude that was less than enthused. I have to admit it though; this is an endearing movie that wins you over in the end. It’s inspiring to see this asshole learn to be a different person by finding out he has a brother and connecting with him despite all odds. I like that kind of character arc and I always feel like I learn about myself a little as I watch a character learn and evolve into a different person. It inspires me to think about who I am and how I can be a better person myself. Charlie Babbitt was an unbelievable asshole, but if you asked him he probably wouldn’t say so. Some of us can be blind to who we actually are because we are arrogant and selfish creatures by nature. Truth is we can all be better. I certainly can at least and I strive to be better on a daily basis; it should be noted I don’t always succeed. I’m a big believer that when we stop getting better we are simply getting worse. I don’t see a plateau and I don’t want to. I want to always be aware that no matter what I am doing I can always be better.  I appreciate movies like this that make me think, and the lessons I can take from watching someone else learn a little bit more about himself.

This movie didn’t get nominated and win Academy Awards simply because Dustin Hoffman started counting toothpicks. It was well-recognized because it is a great movie. It’s funny, dramatic, and interesting throughout. I think it also gives an interesting glimpse into the world of 1988, which I had never noticed until watching it now, in 2015. If you have already seen this movie I think you might find yourself as surprised as I was when I watched it again. If you haven’t seen it then you should check it out. It’s a great 80s movie that is worth your time to see.

NEXT MOVIE: Raising Arizona (1987)

The Graduate

Year: 1967
Directed By: Mike Nichols
Written By: Calder Willingham and Buck Henry (screenplay) Charles Webb (novel)


Some movies speak for a generation, and every once and a while comes along a timeless film that speaks for all generations to come.  This movie may take place in a specific time in history but has content that will speak to any and every generation. We all hit this stage in life where we have done what we were supposed to do but have to face the next question of “now what?” There is nobody there to answer that question and not knowing is something you have to face and rise above when the time comes. This was a provocative and ambitious movie in 1967 but in 2013 it is a legend.  I cannot even begin to think of how often I hear or see references to this movie in everything from other films and TV shows to fast food advertisement. When a movie continues to be relevant for so long it is really something special. It’s going on 50 years now since it came out and I literally hear the same Hardees commercial nearly every day in which they do a parody of this movie involving Mrs. Robinson seducing a guy with some new burger. It’s truly incredible and absolutely justified.  This movie speaks for itself and anybody that sits down and watches it can relate to it.  It’s a truly telling story about life and youth within a larger story about sex and scandal. It’s about rebellious youth and the confusion that comes along with it.  That is something that every generation to come will experience and that is what makes this movie so timeless.

This is a great movie and the struggle of the main character is one we can all relate to.  You can see plainly in the intro that if nothing else Ben is obviously unhappy and confused about something.  He gets home and a large party is thrown in his honor.  As he sits alone upstairs the party goes on without him below. This isn’t really his party, it’s his parent’s party.  The party is for them to celebrate their son’s accomplishments.  The guests are all his parent’s friends and none of his own.  Ben has reached a difficult crossroads in life. He has accomplished what he set out to do but doesn’t know what to do next, and doesn’t even know what he wants.  Despite his recent ascension into adult life as a college graduate he is still very much the child to his parents and they expect him to behave. He tries to discuss this with his parents but they don’t hear any of it, they just want him to shut up, be a good boy, and go downstairs to make them look good. This movie is as much about rebellion as anything else but it takes him time to get there. Later in the film when he has to do the demonstration for his parents he tries to express his reluctance but they aren’t listening.  That’s the whole point though, they aren’t listening. His dad has to correct himself multiple times just to quit calling him a boy and the mere fact that he is putting on a demonstration for their friends says a lot about how they see him. It’s not until Mrs. Robinson actually makes him a man that he makes the transition into a real adult, but even then he doesn’t really know what to do with himself.

Ben does what all young and confused men would do in his place.  He goes with the crazy decision that will keep life interesting.  He knows he shouldn’t be doing it but inside every young man is a horny teenager who hasn’t left yet (and in truth never really does).  His relationship with Mrs. Robinson isn’t even a happy one.  It’s nothing but pure carnal desire and the thrill of doing something dangerous. For Ben I have always felt that Elaine was simply stage two of that dangerous behavior.  He thinks he is in love with her but he doesn’t know what he wants.  His confusion led him into trouble before and it only gets him into more later on.  You can see it on the bus as the movie ends.  He has just become obsessive over Elaine and she has gotten swept up in the foolish romantic gesture.  They don’t look sure if they are in love or not or if they have even realized what they have done yet, they are just caught up in the excitement of the moment.  For those of us who are older now we know what is to come.  When reality sets in things aren’t going to get any easier for these two star crossed lovers. Yes Elaine walked out on a good life and possibly avoided the same mistake her mother made in entering a loveless marriage but reality is tough.  Life is no fairy tale and as sad as the truth is she made a horrible mistake. She knows it too, as she looks at Ben she is considering all of this and you can see a hint of regret along her expression of uncertainty.

It is alluded to that Ben is a very intelligent young man because of an award he received in college and his age indicated that he graduated from college early.  Despite this I have always thought Ben was aloof and fell ass backwards into ass. No matter how awkward he is Mrs. Robinson continually throws herself at him.  It also doesn’t matter how much of an ass he is to Elaine she still keeps coming back to him. Yet he doesn’t understand why the woman he is having an affair with doesn’t want him to see her daughter.  Then he doesn’t understand why it wouldn’t work with Elaine after she knows about the affair. When he is confronted by Mr. Robinson he seems to think this man will understand that he is in love with his daughter and that what he did with his wife meant nothing but he has made a cuckold out of this man. What was nothing more than a handshake to him means a lot more to a man who has so much to lose because of it. He has shamed him and humiliated this man but fails to understand that.  Ah the ignorance of youth and how foolish they can be.  I don’t know who I’m kidding either, we as humans seem to never really grow out of foolish decisions.  We just don’t always get so caught up in them as Ben.

Dustin Hoffman is a legend, and this film is a huge part of what makes him so legendary.  Ben Braddock may be a bit of a dope caught up in the foolishness of youth but Hoffman brought him to life and he will live on forever in the part. Hoffman received his first Oscar nomination for the role but that year the award went to Rod Steiger for his role In the Heat of the Night amid heavy competition in 1968. This was his breakout role and he would go on to be nominated for the top award seven times and winning twice. In the role of Mrs. Robinson Anne Bancroft was sexy and desperate.  She was only six years older than Hoffman when she played the part but she still brought an elegance to it that conveyed an older woman.  She was so seductive as the woman who had made a decision and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Katharine Ross was also great as Elaine.  She didn’t go on to have a very significant career but she was perfect in this movie.

This is without doubt the most famous of all the films directed by Mike Nichols.  Nichols has not had the most distinguishing of careers but he has still made some really memorable movies.  While this will always be called his greatest film my favorite has always been The BirdcageIt is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.  What Planet Are You From? is also a very funny movie and I have long since loved that one too.  Nichols is now in his 80s and we have probably seen the end of his career now.  It’s unfortunate but I think he can easily look back and be proud of what he has accomplished.

Like many classic movies we review I don’t think you need me to tell you this one is worth your time or how good of a movie it is.  I have certainly enjoyed revisiting it and writing about it but it is a film that speaks for itself.  If you are unsure about how important this movie has been then simply turn on the TV, radio, or go to the movies and eventually you will see references to it. I am terrified that the persevering marketability of this film will eventually lead to a remake.  When a film offers this much chance to show sex and nudity it usually not only get a remake but a few sequels to boot.  I think it would be a shame and I hope the rights are protected against such a thing.  This is a film that should never be touched and I hope it stays out of greedy hands. I have really enjoyed watching this movie again and don’t know why it took so long to add into the collection.  It’s actually a movie I used to own on VHS in the years preceding our DVD collection and there are a few of those that just didn’t make the transition because I had watched them so many times already.

Well I think I have blathered on and on sufficiently for this film but I would like to invite you to share any of your own thoughts on the film.  I am always interested to hear other opinions.  More specifically if anybody has read the book the film is based on and would like to offer a recommendation I can easily be talked into reading it.


Year: 1991
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: J.M. Barrie (novel), James V Hart, Nick Castle, and Malia Scotch Marmo


I once heard the hosts of my favorite morning radio show, Two Guys Named Chris, criticizing this movie and suggesting that it was a stain on Spielberg’s career.  I was shocked because I was under the impression that everyone loved this movie. Although maybe that is just because I have grown up loving this movie and still do. I was seven years old when it came out and I was exactly who the movie was made for.  I supposed it seemed silly to adults then and probably does now as well but through a seven year old’s eyes it just doesn’t get any better than this. Hook was made for young kids and it was made by a director with a reputation for getting through to kids.  This movie is dear to me for many reasons and it is one that I look forward to watching with my children one day.

If there is a stain on Steven Spielberg’s career it’s Indiana Jones 4 or the re-editing of E.T.. I say if for the simple fact that Spielberg’s career has been so distinguished that it’s easy to overlook the minor lapses like the aforementioned. I hardly think this movie was bad though, it might fail in comparison to some of his other work but I think it had a real special quality to it.  Spielberg used his talents to get great acting out of a group of young kids and paired them with a group of seasoned and talented actors. Robin Williams was on the rise in the early 90s and I think he was great as the grown up version of Peter Pan.  Dustin Hoffman was fantastic as Captain Hook, his wardrobe and stylist had a lot to do with that but he was really terrific.  As I got older and saw more Dustin Hoffman movies I could never believe that he was the guy that played Captain Hook.  The guy that I saw in those other movies just didn’t look the same.  It’s because Hoffman wasn’t Hoffman in this movie, he was Captain Hook in this movie. I think his performance makes the movie memorable as much as anything else does. I am not usually a Julia Roberts fan but I think she was great as Tinkerbell in this movie.  It was a role that I don’t think will ever be matched with that character. Roberts looked so great in that little outfit too, she has great legs. Though I read that she was so difficult to work with on set they nicknamed her “Tinkerhell.” Bob Hoskins is great playing the part of Smee, but I think he is too lovable as the character.  Hoskins is at his best when he is the mean and nasty villain, but I like the diversity we see with this character.

I also think a good argument against the critics of this film is the simple fact that it is a good idea.  I like the idea that Peter Pan decided to leave Neverland and grew up in the real world. That he forgot all about who he was until the day that he had to return to Neverland. The Lost Boys have had to learn how to survive without him and they turned to a new leader, one who isn’t keen on the idea of turning leadership back over.  When I was a kid I thought Rufio was the coolest guy I had ever seen.  I desperately wanted to have my hair done in that crazy multi-mohawk thing he had going on but my mom wouldn’t allow it.  She was protecting me from reality though really, it never would have worked with my hair and I would have looked ridiculous. I also like the idea that Neverland as a place can start to change who you are, just as the real world did for Peter Pan.  We see this with Peter’s son played by Charlie Korsmo.  By the time his father has regained his persona he barely remembers who his father even is, and he has become the protégé of Hook.

The battle at the end of the movie is epic and fulfilled all my wildest expectations out of a movie at seven.  It was big and exciting battles like this that influenced and developed my love for these types of scenes in movies today.  The all-in fighting and swordplay was so exciting, and then the tragedy makes it all real before the ultimate and final showdown between Pan and Hook. I also like that in the end Hook isn’t finished off by his greatest enemy, but by the creature he feared the most.  There were many themes I related to as a kid watching this movie.  Such as having a father that spent the majority of his time at work and missed things.  It was a movie that gave me comfort at the time because there was so much excitement and everything worked out happily in the end.

This movie may have been hated on by plenty but I doubt I am the only person of my generation that has sentimental feelings for it.  It’s that movie we all loved during the same age range and we remember the feelings it invoked within us.  I would recommend this as a good movie you could watch with your kids and one that if you take it for what it is you will enjoy yourself.  This movie is worth your time and I hope I have convinced you to give it a chance.


I remember watching this movie as a kid and loving it. I still love it. I think it especially special to kids who grew learning about the Peter Pan story. This is a real-life version of it including some popular people in the cast. I think Robin Williams makes a good Peter Pan, and in my book Julia Roberts is Tinkerbell.

I don’t hate this poster, but I don’t love it either. I think it is a little done over and over, this use of old paper and torn edges. This poster reminds me somewhat of the Goonies style poster. The characters are in a painting style, which I feel leaves Robin Williams looking way younger than he actually is in the movie. The font choice is perfect; it’s my favorite thing about this poster.

NEXT MOVIE: Hostel Part 1 & 2 (2005 &2007)

Dick Tracy

Year: 1990
Directed By: Warren Beatty
Written By: James Cash & Jack Epps Jr.


I was six years old when this movie came out, and I watched it about a million times.  It’s a movie that inspired my love of action films as well as comic book themes. The color coordination really hooked me in as a six year old too.  Turns out the main colors of the film are yellow, orange, green, red, blue, and purple plus black and white. Which are the six colors the comic appeared in when originally published. Twenty-two years later and I still like what Warren Beatty did with this film and his use of the colors at hand.  This film is so bright it resembles a Tim Burton film, especially with Danny Elfman doing the score.  That’s a good thing though, I think this movie has a timeless quality that will help it live on forever, or until the inevitable reboot because studios are too stupid to come up with new ideas these days.

I like everything Warren Beatty did behind the camera as director of this movie.  Not just the color coordination but the style, the sets, the cars, the walkie-talkie watches, and the costumes are all top of the line. Beatty is also great in the role of the title character, he rocks the hell out of that yellow fedora. Al Pacino is always an excellent choice for the mob boss.  Under a lot of make-up he does a great job of playing Big Boy Caprice, based on the Chicago mob boss Al Capone. Pacino was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor for the role but didn’t win.  Madonna plays her part well; she is really sexy and seductive as Breathless Mahoney.  She was one of the many women to jump start my sex drive at a very young age and it was this role that did it. At the age of six my parents thought I wasn’t old enough to see her doing anything else.  This film has a terrific supporting cast beyond those top three including Paul SorvinoDustin HoffmanWilliam ForsytheDick Van DykeJames Caan,  and Kathy Bates.  There is also Charlie Korsmo in the role of The Kid, he was in a few movies I loved as a child in the early 90s then mainly disappeared.

This was the cops and robbers story I identified the most with as a child.  It had a strong hero who always knew what to do, a large variety of really animated bad guys, and a big time shoot out in the end. It offered scenes that my imagination was really able to run wild with and it helped aid in my young creative spirit. This is a film I would recommend to anybody and I have really enjoyed seeing it again. This movie is worth your time if you get the opportunity to see it.


This movie is beautiful. I feel like this movie is an animated film, that isn’t actually animated. The colors are completely vivid and pretty and the characters are made up in a way that doesn’t even seem possible for the time period that this movie was made. Madonna looks exquisite in this film. I remember watching this movie when I was younger and not really ever knowing exactly what was happening, but watching it now I still really like this movie. It has action and suspense and is made in such a whimsical way. I think that Warren Beatty is one of the only men in the world that could actually pull off wearing that classic yellow hat and jacket.

This film is well worth your time of you haven’t seen it. It has a little something for everyone and is a movie you should definitely see in your lifetime.

NEXT MOVIE: Die Hard (1988)