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Hello Michael, Goodbye Philip

My pick for this week’s  cheap movie Tuesday was A Most Wanted Man. I was going to skip it: first, for the most obvious reason; and second, to date, it’s the only John Le Carre film adaptation for which I have not read the book before seeing the movie.

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death hit me hard. I guess I missed all the talk about his battle with addiction. But Philip, no matter what role he played, revealed demons of one kind or another, that I could relate to. He not only breathed life into his characters and wore their skins, he created people who somehow became part of the fabric of my life.

I’m glad I didn’t skip it, because I had the pleasure of meeting Michael. Standing in line ahead of me, he smiled but didn’t say anything, even though he kept looking at me. Finally, I felt compelled to say something; I asked if he was going to see “A Most Wanted Man.” For the next 15 minutes, we chatted away like we were old friends until he bought his ticket, and I lost sight of him.

After the movie was over, we caught up with each other again, this time in the foyer and discussed the movie’s themes –  post 9/11, terrorism, prejudice, overreacting, being American (he lived in the US for many years). When it came time to part company, Michael said that he hoped to run into me again. I added that I enjoyed talking with him. And I meant it; having someone to talk to before and after the film seemed to take the sting out of saying goodbye to Philip.

As testimony to his ability as an actor, I actually forgot that it was Philip Seymour Hoffman in his last starring role  – with a German accent; a splash of whiskey in an afternoon cup of coffee; an insomniac’s impromptu piano solo in the early hours of the morning; and the ghosts of past failures reflected in his eyes, Gunther Bachmann appears, tells his story and then abruptly vanishes from sight, leaving me wanting to know more.


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