On this week's Voice Film Club podcast, this paper's film critics begin by honoring the career of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who tragically died on Sunday at the age of 46. Voice film editor Alan Scherstuhl, after calling Hoffman "one of the best actors the screen has ever known," goes on to explain why he embodied the concept of the "done-deal actor." Voice film critic Stephanie Zacharek, meanwhile, states, "He was my favorite living actor...He never, ever disappointed me." (Zacharek also takes a moment to single out Hoffman's performance in the little-seen 2003 film Owning Mahowny.) L.A. Weekly film critic Amy Nicholson, who considers Synecdoche, New York to be one of her two favorite films, adds the following: "I don't think he had a false bone in his body."
In an abrupt but necessary topic shift, the critics then discuss two of this week's high-profile releases, beginning with The Monuments Men, the latest directorial effort from George Clooney (The Ides of March). Nicholson, while professing an admiration for both Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov, nevertheless admits that she "couldn't stand a second of [the film]." Zacharek, though agreeing that the "movie is a complete disappointment as a whole," describes individual scenes with the actors -- particularly Bob Balaban and Bill Murray -- as "really wonderful."
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To end the podcast, Nicholson and Scherstuhl clash over The Lego Movie, the new experiment in property-based entertainment from 21 Jump Street co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. In defending the film, Nicholson focuses on the ingenuity of Lord and Miller, saying, "they have a real knack for taking an established property and spinning it around." Scherstuhl agrees, but only to a point, and ultimately dismisses the film as "a grand and sprightly entertainment that I wanted to punch in the face."