Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Dustin Hoffman!

This was originally going to be another "gadget-post", but I felt it was getting too long for that, which just shows my genuine admiration for the actor in question. Today commemorates the seventy-fifth birthday of yet another Hollywood Great. Three-quarters of a century is quite a milestone for any person, especially one worthy of such a revered declaration. I've never really had an opinion of this fine actor, until I watched several of his films of course. Here is just a mere sampling of some of his brilliant achievements:

Rain Man - As a film, this wasn't all that impressive, let alone deserving of a Best Picture Academy Award (though, other than the amusingly cheesy Working Girl, there wasn't much competition). Directed by Barry Levinson (whom I admire in honor of Bugsy), the film follows two brothers traveling cross-country while increasing the inheritance their father gave them. In the meantime, the two form a special, very sweet bond, made all the more sweeter because of Dustin Hoffman's innocent, reserved character. He plays Raymond Babbitt, an autistic genius, whom his selfish brother Charlie (played by Tom Cruise) takes advantage of, at first. It's been a while since I watched this, so my judgement may be muddled. Nevertheless, I recall Dustin Hoffman to be more-than-deserving of his Best Actor statuette for his uncanny performance of an autistic person. He "nailed" the quiet and odd nature of such an individual flawlessly, which earned him a spot on Hollywood's acclaimed legends.

Wag the Dog - This is a rare gem in cinema, as it covers the hush-hush inner-workings of government and how exactly they create the fabrications that fool simple Americans. It's a bit complicated, overall, because they use certain political/business vernacular that uninformed critics, such as myself, aren't adapted to. But I got the big picture anyway, using my damned wit. In order to cover up a presidential scandal, a "spin doctor" recruits the talent of a Hollywood producer to fabricate an entire war. That's right, they fool Americans by making up a whole war. (While this is completely fictional, it is realistic.) Dustin Hoffman is fantastic as the fast-talking, cynical Stanley Motts, and that's all there is to say about that. This may be the film that brought me to admire him as much as I do. Robert DeNiro, another Hollywood Great, co-stars in this brilliant political farce as the alleged "spin doctor", who is just as manipulative and quick-on-his-feet as the Hollywood producer. All in all, a marvelous picture.

Tootsie - How shocking that someone as foreboding as Dustin Hoffman could portray a Susie-female. (The term "Susie-female" is one I made up to describe a rosy-cheeked, strict-standard woman, like--let's just move on.) I had some difficulty in actually watching this movie, for my dad doesn't particularly care for cross-dressing roles. While I don't blame him (it's better than preferring such films), I was relentless in making him sit with me to watch it. And, wouldn't you know, we both loved it. Well, I did anyway. He liked it just fine, too, though he wouldn't admit to it. Now, I've been browsing through feedback about the movie, and many call Dustin Hoffman's character a transvestite, which is just ridiculous. It's not that he wanted to dress like a woman, he needed to in order to get the part on a television show. In other words, he did for the money. Also, transvestites are more often than not, homosexual. It's the cold truth, and for those who are idealists about it being untrue, you can just get the hell out of here. Moving on. Dustin Hoffman was, once again, wonderful as Michael Dorsey, portraying the role of desperate-aspiring actor superbly. What was more impressive was his performance as his female alter-ego Dorothy Michaels (clever pseudonym), from his "feministic" demeanor to his perfected womanly voice. He was just dandy, as always. Unfortunately, Gandhi received the Best Actor statuette that year. I'll allow you to remember who portrayed him.

Meet the Fockers - Obviously, this isn't his finest moment in movies, though it was a surprising change of scenery for the actor. This was probably the first film I saw him in, and I didn't know who he was, and I just found him to be hilarious. Maybe that term exaggerates it a bit, but he did humor me immensely. This statement extends itself after I became acquainted with Dustin Hoffman's serious career. His easy-going, exuberant nature is so amusing, and made even more amusing when you know just the kind of person Dustin Hoffman is. Compared to the stern, grumpy Jack Byrnes (played by Robert DeNiro, as you all should know), the two both shine as the film's brightest cast members. Barbara Streisand, as well as her husband in the film, were excellent additions to this quirky sequel, which I thought was great, despite what the lousy critics out there say. Once again, I say bravo to Dustin Hoffman.

Well, there you have it. A mere sample of the impressive career of Dustin Hoffman. I apologize this is not as long as the usual birthday-posts are, but it is too long for a "gadget-post", wouldn't you agree? I'd like to make an additional note about Dustin Hoffman, and it concerns the actor himself. On the set of Tootsie, the director, Sydney Pollack, was quoted that he would never work with Dustin Hoffman again because he is complicated to work with. And that just made me a little sad inside because it's heartbreaking to discover that an actor you admire is not an altogether nice person. It makes you sigh in desolation when you see them on the screen and you think to yourself, "Did he give the crew a hard time during this scene?", which makes the entire movie-watching experience a tad sour. Despite all that, I am firm on my declaration that Dustin Hoffman is, indeed, a Hollywood Great, and I do, indeed, admire him a whole lot. Happy Birthday, once again, good sir.

P.S. The punctuation rule is deemed void when it's a birthday-post. See the explanation point in the title? That is what I am referring to, and I am telling you that it is an exception.


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  2. Great actor indeed. My favourite performance of his just has to be Rain Man followed by Kramer vs Kramer. Favourite movie of his is The Graduate.