Monday, February 7, 2011
Top 10 Dustin Hoffman Anti-heroes
9)Marathon Man Babe
Thomas Levy, or Babe, is a history student and runner. His brother, Doc, (Roy Scheider) is a secret agent acting like a business man. Doc visits Babe in New York, as cover for his real purpose, secretly tracking down an infamous Nazi's brother who's retrieving stolen diamonds. When the Nazi's brother is killed in an accident, complications ensue as the war criminal himself, Dr. Christian Szell (Laurence Olivier) heads to New York to retrieve them personally. Babe soon realizes that although it has nothing to do with him, he's caught in the middle of this game, which culminates in Babe, a truly unlikely hope, facing Szell, one of the most memorable and ruthless screen villains of all time (and Babe endures one of the most memorable interrogation scenes out there!)
8)American Buffalo Teach
Don (Dennis Franz) owns a pawn shop and feels robbed when he realizes he sold a Buffalo nickel for much less than it's value. He discusses this with his assistant, Bobby (Sean Nelson) the two plotting to get it back and sell it for a higher price. The plan is disrupted by the shady Teach, who lacks Don's conscience. He plays his own angle, cutting Bobby out by playing on Don's reluctance to corrupt the boy. Primarily a riveting conversation movie about motive and the way we can justify just about anything using lofty sounding goals. Ultimately Don and Teach aren't capable of much more than talk, but Teach's true nature is viciously exposed by Bobby's desperation.
7)Wag the Dog Stanlet Motss
Stanley Motss is a Hollywood producer enlisted by Conrad Brean (Robert DeNiro) a DC spin doctor, to provide a distraction for the president who is on the verge of a major sex scandal. Motss' job is to make a "war" which will only exist in the media in oder to keep the American public too occupied to care about the scandal. Using Hollywood technology, he easily comes up with war footage, war heroes to rally behind, and songs to sing, ensuring that America is united in their support. The job is very effective and the scandal is quickly forgotten. Unfortunately for Motss, that does leave a few ends to clean up. "Wag the Dog" is a chilling movie, presenting a world where the public's opinions can be shaped easily and according to plan, by a few people with the influence and desire to do so.
6)Death of a Salesman Willy Loman
A truly great performancee with Hoffman as failed salesman Willy Loman. The story, of course, is an essential piece of disenchanted Americana, and Hoffman is perfect for the role. Loman doesn't have it anymore and has little to show for the time he's spent hawking his wares, except for troubled relationships with his sons and his wife. He's about to lose his job, which was more important to him than he realized. Loman is a real salesman, and he knows his life is broken, and has little idea how to fix it, finding himself in a hole he can't sell his way out of. Willy confronts his failures the only way he knows how, but he's more lost than he realizes. His humanity with all it's contradictions makes this a tragedy of the highest order, and it succeeds if Linda Loman's thought is fulfilled "Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid."
5)Papillon Louis Dega
Louis Dega is an imprisoned counterfeiter rumored to have a lot of money hidden. He's befriended by Papillon (Steve McQueen) a fellow prisoner, who decides to protect him and ends up saving his life a few times. Shipped to a prison island where escape attempts can lead to execution, Papillon still can't get the idea out of his mind. Degas is reluctant but goes along with Papillon's plans. They escape, although Degas breaks his ankle in the process and Papillon ends up betrayed and imprisoned again. Over five years later, Papillon reconnects with Degas on Devil's Island. He still plans to escape, although it appears impossible. He convinces Degas to come with him, but he reconsiders at the last minute, settling for wishing his friend well. Papillon is a great look at a strong and enduring friendship tested by the worst conditions possible.
4)Straight Time Max Dembo
Max Dembo is a professional thief just released on parole. Initially he makes an attempt to go straight, but an old friend Willy (Gary Busey) shoots up in his room leaving some evidence behind, which Dembo's parole officer (M. Emmett Walsh) uses to throw Dembo back in jail for a drug test. Dembo is clean, but angry at the indignity. He assaults his parole officer and handcuffs him with his pants down on the side of a highway, forcing himself to live on the run. Dembo falls in love with a girl named Jenny (Theresa Russell) and attempts to make things work while he plans a robbery, involving Willy and his old friend Jerry (Harry Dean Stanton) The job goes bad and Dembo has to flee, taking Jenny with him, although he loves her enough to consider the consequences of where he's headed. Straight Time isn't so much a critique of the system as it is a look into the mind of a career criminal.
3)Straw Dogs David Sumner
Mathematician David Sumner takes his wife Amy (Susan George) to a quiet English village where she grew up, planning to focus on his work away from the tension (Vietnam era) in America. They're soon spotted by Amy's old friends including an ex boyfriend Charley (Del Henney,) who David hires along with his group of friends to work on their house. David neglects his wife, treating her as a nuisance for keeping him from his work. He treats the workers condescendingly, having no common ground with them. It soon becomes clear that they dislike David and they begin an assault, killing a cat and leaving in their closet, and inviting David out hunting in order to rape his wife who is alone at home. The situation escalates until David feels he has to take a stand which he does finally without half measures.
2)Lenny Lenny Bruce
Lenny, is a look at the life of influential 60's comic, Lenny Bruce. Part "interview" with Lenny's associates, primarily wife Honey (Valerie Perrine) and agent Artie Silver (Stanley Beck) and part flashback. We trace his climb from mediocre stand up, to influential figure constantly arrested for and fighting obscenity charges. We also see the aspects of his personal life including the rise and fall of his marriage, his, and Honey's experience with drug addictions and the addition of a daughter to their lifestyle. This isn't a film that paints a rosy picture, but neither does it diminish Lenny Bruce's contributions. It's interesting to see Dustin Hoffman become a character, who really existed. Although, much of Bruce's "obscenity" would be considered tame by current standards, without him who knows if that would be the case, the first amendment providing protection now that unfortunately for Lenny, took some time to sink in. The swearing was never the point.
1) Midnight Cowboy: Ratso Rizzo