Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hoffa (1992)

Director: Danny DeVito

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Armand Assante, J.T. Walsh, John C. Reilly, Frank Whaley, Kevin Anderson, John P. Ryan, Robert Prosky

More info: IMDb

Tagline: He was capable of anything. He wasn't afraid of anyone. That's why everyone was afraid of him.

Plot: Jack Nicholson's portrait of Union leader James R. Hoffa, as seen through the eyes of his friend, Bobby Ciaro (Danny DeVito). The film follows Hoffa through his countless battles with the RTA and President Roosevelt all the way to his disappearance in 1975.

My rating: 10/10

Will I watch it again? Duh.

Twenty years ago I caught this one in the theater with my mom.  She liked it but I was blown away.  A few months earlier I had interviewed the composer, David Newman, for a film music radio show I had in college and it was killing me that this hadn't come out before then so I could discuss it with him.  It's his best score (from what I've heard so far and he's got some great ones) and one of my all time favorites.  I've heard it hundreds of times in the twenty years since.

There's not a note I would change regarding this film in any aspect.  Jack Nicholson IS Jimmy Hoffa.  You might notice Jack for a few minutes but it isn't long before you're completely absorbed into what he's doing and how he's doing it.  What a performance!  If that's not enough, there's not a weak performance from anyone.  DeVito nails it, Riley nails it and damn it if Armand Asssante isn't one of the handsomest guys in the business.  I'm not gay but I could be if he showed up.  Good looking bastard. 

Over the years I've heard and read from a lot of people who poo poo DeVito's direction, citing mostly that his scene transitions are too showy.  I never felt that.  I liked the flow of the film from start to finish.  It's a movie not a documentary.  If I should ever meet DeVito I'll probably gush like a fanboy about nothing else but this picture.  This movie fills me full of emotion.  It grabs me from the opening notes of Newman's tender score and doesn't let go even for one moment.  I don't care how accurate it is.  I know the real guy was probably better or worse than he's portrayed depending on who you ask but I'm not watching a documentary; I'm watching a movie and a damn fine one at that.

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