Posts Tagged ‘Dustin Hoffman’


Chef, written by, directed by and starring Jon Favreau, is the kind of movie you need to watch if either (a) you’re a foodie, (b) you need a feel-good funny movie, or (c) both.

Favreau is Carl Casper, chef at a prestigious restaurant, has a public meltdown after a restaurant critic writes a savage review of his food, and quits his job. Initially bereft, he buys a food truck and travels through (part of) America, providing the opportunity for  himself to get back to cooking creatively and to reconnect with his son.

It sometimes teeters on the edge of over-sentimentality, but never quite tips over. I loved the energy and colour. Carl is likeable even when he isn’t, thanks to Favreau’s geniality. A great supporting cast – Sofia Vergara as Carl’s ex-wife Inez, Emjay Anthony as his son Percy, and a brilliant turn from the fabulous John Leguizamo as Carl’s best friend Martin – add to the enjoyment. Also, watch out for a very funny turn from Robert Downey Jr.

My one slight criticism of Chef is that it may be slightly over-long. But it’s always enjoyable and good fun, and I highly recommend it.

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Also known as ‘Hero’, this film from 1992 did not do very well at the box office, despite the cast being headed up by Dustin Hoffman, Geena Davis and Andy Garcia.  Still, it’s a lovely movie and if you get a chance to see it, I would definitely suggest that you do so.

Dustin Hoffman is Bernie LaPlante, a small-time crook, who saves the passengers of plane which has crashed.  However, when a monetary reward is offered for the ‘Angel of Flight 104’, homeless drifter Andy Garcia steps up to take the credit…

This is a thoroughly enjoyable film from start to finish.  It’s funny, yet very touching in places.  Dustin Hoffman once again proves his immeasurable talent as LaPlante, a character who in the hands of a lesser actor, could be completely unlikeable.  Hoffman however, manages to make the audience like LaPlante, despite his selfishness and despite his criminal tendencies.  Andy Garcia also shines as John Bubber, who it’s impossible not to feel warmth towards, even when he is taking credit that he knows he does not deserve.  Geena Davis rounds out the main cast, as a newsreader who is searching for story with meaning, that doesn’t revolve around gossip, and when she survives Flight 104, she thinks she might have found that story.

All in all then, this is a great comedy drama, with a real message at the heart of it’s story.  Thoroughly enjoyable.

Year of release: 1992

Director: Stephen Frears

Producers: Joseph M. Caracciolo, Laura Ziskin, Sandy Isaac

Writers: Laura Ziskin, Alvin Sargent, David Webb Peoples

Main cast: Dustin Hoffman, Andy Garcia, Geena Davis, Chevy Chase, Joan Cusack

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Dustin Hoffman is excellent in this 1980s comedy. He plays Michael Dorsey, an actor who is talented, but has a reputation for being ‘difficult’. When his agent says that nobody will hire him because of his attitude, Michael disguises himself as a woman who he calls Dorothy Michaels. As Dorothy, he gets a job in a soap opera, and meets the lovely Julie. He falls for Julie – but she thinks that he is her good friend Dorothy…

The American Film Institute rated this as the second funniest comedy ever (beaten to the top spot by Some Like It Hot). I personally wouldn’t agree with that – but of course it’s all subjective – as I can think of several films which I found funnier. However, Tootsie IS a lovely film – it’s warm, amusing and sweet. And the acting is just superb. Hoffman really shows just why he is such a respected actor, switching seamlessly from Michael to Dorothy and back again.

Jessica Lange is just gorgeous as Julie (and she won an Oscar for her performance), injecting just the right amount of humour and vulnerability, and the excellent supporting cast includes Sydney Pollack, as Michael/Dorothy’s agent George – and who was also the director of Tootsie; Bill Murray as Michael’s friend Jeff – Murray improvised all of his lines; Terri Garr as Sandy, Michael’s on-off girlfriend; and Charles Durning, as Julie’s father.

Overall, it’s a lovely, ‘feel good’ film, elevated from good to great by the excellent cast. If you have never seen Tootsie, I would recommend giving it a try!

Year of release: 1982

Director: Sydney Pollack

Writers: Don McGuire, Larry Gelbart, Murray Schisgal, Robert Garland, Barry Levinson, Elaine May

Main cast: Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Bill Murray, Terri Garr, Dabney Coleman

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This film tells the story of J M Barrie, his friendship with the Llewellyn-Davies family, and how it inspired him to write his most famous work, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up.

At the beginning of the film, Barrie is a playwright whose last play flopped badly with audiences, and he needs a hit.  Dustin Hoffman plays Charles Frohman, a Theatre Manager and friend, who indulges Barrie by staging his works, but despairs of him ever writing anything successful again.

Caught in an increasingly distant marriage, Barrie has a chance meeting with a the widow Sylvia Llewellyn-Davies and her four sons in the park, and becomes close to the family.  He especially feels an affinity with one of her sons Peter, who has taken the death of his father especially hard.  He starts work on his new play, drawing upon his time spent with the children, but more tragedy is just around the corner…

I thought this was a beautiful film.  Johnny Depp, as always, was simply wonderful, and his Scottish accent was pretty much perfect (had I not known otherwise, I would have believed that he was Scottish in real life).  Kate Winslett is also perfectly cast as Mrs Llewellyn-Davies, and Dustin Hoffman, Julie Christie (as Sylvia’s mother, who disapproves of the friendship between her daughter and Barrie) and Radha Mitchell (as Barrie’s wife Mary who is unhappy in her marriage and does not like her husband’s budding friendship with the LLewellyn-Davies family) provide very strong support.

I also loved the way that many scenes were shown as Barrie imagined them in his mind’s eye.  For instance when he was playing at pirates with the children (giving Depp chance to use his Captain Sparrow accent!), the scene was shown as onboard an actual pirate ship, and when Barrie was dancing with his pet dog and pretending it was a bear, we actually see him dancing with a bear – because that it is how he imagines it to be.

The story does employ some poetic licence; although here, Sylvia is shown as already a widow when she first meets Barrie, in real life her husband was alive for much of their friendship (and allegedly unhappy about Barrie’s presence in his family’s life).  Also, there were five Llewellyn-Davies children, not four as depicted in the film, although I have no idea why this change was made.  However, this is not supposed to be a documentary, and certainly did not detract from my enjoyment of the film.

Beautifully shot, beautifully acted, and a wonderful story – I would definitely highly recommend this movie.  But make sure you have a box of tissues nearby – it made me sob!

Year of release: 2004

Director: Marc Foster

Writers: Allan Knee (play), David Magee

Main cast: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslett, Julie Christie, Dustin Hoffman, Freddie Highmore, Radha Mitchell

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This is a courtroom thriller, based on a novel by John Grisham (which I haven’t read).  It features an excellent leading cast – namely Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack and Rachel Weisz.  Set in New Orleans, Dustin Hoffman plays Randall Rohr, the pro bono lawyer acting on behalf of a woman who is suing a gun company who she feels is responsible for the shooting of her husband two years earlier.  Gene Hackman is Rankin Fitch is a jury consultant, working on the side of the defence – helping them during the jury selection process in picking jurors who will tend to side with the defence and deliver a not guilty verdict.  Fitch has a remarkable success rate in his career and is clearly excellent at picking jurors who will be easily manipulated, and sympathetic towards his ‘side’.  However, somebody on the jury wants to manipulate the verdict from the inside – and when both Fitch and Rohr find themselves with an intriguing proposition, it becomes anybody’s guess as to which side will win…

I thought this movie was excellent.  The cast of big names does not disappoint, and Hackman and Hoffman in particular, shine throughout.  Cusack also slides easily into his role as amiable juror Nick Easter, who has his own agenda, which is not revealed until near the end of the film.

Although the film was a shade over two hours long, it felt like half that time, as it carried me along with it, and events moved at a rapid pace.  The plotting was clever, but not over-intricate and there were enough about-turns to keep me guessing.  Simply a good solid drama, with plenty to recommend it.

Year of release: 2003

Director: Gary Fleder

Writers: John Grisham (book), Brian Koppelman, David Levien, Rick Cleveland, Matthew Chapman

Main cast: Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Rachel Weisz

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