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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Hoffa -- in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

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I recall my initial reactions to Danny DeVito's Hoffa, which I saw theatrically in 1992.

First and foremost, was the performance by Jack Nicholson. I rate it among his best. The supporting cast was equally superb, and beautifully directed.

My next thought was "what unbelievably great transitions!"

Hoffa holds up today, and stands the test of time, while many films do not.

All of this would be moot if Fox's new Blu-ray of what I consider to be a brilliant film did not live up to the quality of the base element.

And I'm thrilled that it does. In spaces.

The new Filmmaker's Signature Series Blu-ray is very much like watching a 35mm print in your home theater. Just beautiful.

Resolution, color, densities, grain structure, shadow detail, all appears to have been translated from film to disc intact. Audio, which comes to us via DTS-HD MA, is perfect. Originally presented in major cities in prints blown up to 70mm.

A wonderful film.

A great Blu-ray.

Image - 5

Audio - 5

Very Highly Recommended.

RAH
 

Moe Dickstein

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Couldn't agree more, as I said in the War of the Roses thread, those Hoffa transitions were a huge influence on my filmmaking.
I wore this out on the LD box set and this disc is glorious.
 

Vincent_P

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I wasn't a huge fan of HOFFA when I first watched it theatrically- in fact, the only time I've ever watched the film. It struck me as being technically very precise and controlled, but left me cold. In retrospect, my memories of it remind me of my reactions to certain films of David Fincher films that don't work for me- technically incredible, but maybe a bit too precise, if that makes sense. Still, glad to hear this Blu-ray getting getting great notices, maybe it's time for me to revisit this. No doubt, Mr. DeVito is a gifted filmmaker who obviously LOVES the medium.
Vincent
 

rsmithjr

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This is the kind of review that causes me to buy something I wouldn't otherwise have bought.
The studios should start thinking that excellent work on the mastering etc. will result in more sales.
Thank you.
 

lark144

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rsmithjr said:
This is the kind of review that causes me to buy something I wouldn't otherwise have bought.
The studios should start thinking that excellent work on the mastering etc. will result in more sales.
Thank you.
+1 There are films that, while wonderful, I don't necessarily need to own, and I think HOFFA is one of them. However, Mr. Harris' review has caused me to reconsider. Since buying a Blu ray player last year, I confess that I am collecting much more towards a consideration of the cinematic qualities of the release, and therefore find Mr. Harris' column extremely helpful.
 

Reagan

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Saw a 70mm blow up of Hoffa on its release in late 1992. As is the case with 70mm blow ups, fantastic audio. Another cool thing (back then) was that the previews were also 70mm blow ups as well. And guess what also had fantastic sound? The preview for Body of Evidence.

So that's my lasting memory of seeing Hoffa in 70mm. The great audio of a preview for a really bad Madonna movie. Memories are funny things.
 

Reggie W

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The other day I was getting my haircut and a nice discussion about movies broke out. Jack Nicholson came up and I lamented how I've missed seeing him on the big screen. The last Nicholson film I saw in a theater was The Departed in 2006...so, it's been a decade since I went to a movie theater to see a Nicholson film and really he was a supporting player in this. The last three films he made were The Bucket List (I still have yet to see this but this was his last lead role), I'm Still Here (cameo as himself in this oddball faux documentary), and How Do You Know (in a supporting role for his friend James L. Brooks). Had I known in 2007 that The Bucket List was going to be the last chance I would get to see Jack Nicholson star in a major motion picture I would have made the trip to the cinema to check it out...they tend not to tell you these things in advance. There are mixed messages on if Jack is retired or just waiting for something that interests him to inspire him to work again but honestly...it seems unlikely we will get another film that stars one of the greatest screen actors of all time.

All that said, as I drove home from my haircut I was thinking about pulling a Nicholson film out of my collection to revisit. This month due to some recent releases the theme in my home theater is period gangster films and while Hoffa is not really a gangster film it is a period film and there are gangsters in it. So, I decided to add Hoffa to my list of films in May.

So, last night I watched this blu-ray, one of the "Filmmaker's Signature Series" from 20th Century Fox and all I can say is "Wow!"

Now, I did see this film in a theater way back in 1992 and I recall I liked it but I don't remember loving it. I watched this blu-ray once when it first came out and I guess that was 4 years ago now. Somehow when I think of absolutely beautiful films this film just has not been one that pops into my mind but when I watched this film last night I was in awe of what a beautiful piece of filmmaking this is. DeVito seems to have been heavily influenced by Sergio Leone here utilizing intense close-ups of his actors faces and their eyes and contrasting these with wonderful shots that bathe us in the landscapes these characters inhabit.

It may have taken 3 viewings but I now feel this film is...well...a masterpiece. Maybe it is that it had been a long time since I have seen a film that was shot like this and DeVito and his DP Stephen Burum put on a clinic here. Maybe it was that I was just so enthralled watching Nicholson again in a starring role after not having seen him for so long. Everything in this film is brilliantly done from the direction, acting, photography, writing (David Mamet really at the peak of his powers), and it may well be one of the most wonderfully edited films ever made. I honestly can't believe I did not fall in love with this film at first sight. I think I took it for granted when it came out and maybe missed how wonderful Nicholson actually is in this because of the manner of speaking he adopts for the role.

Two things went through my head as the picture ended:

1. I can't wait to watch this again...and nearly just restarted it at the end of the credits roll.

2. I ached for another chance to see this on a big screen in a theater again.

This truly is a tremendous motion picture and should have been recognized as one of the best films of the decade it was released in. I feel guilty for not recognizing long ago what a great film this is and it never seems to get a mention when people are talking about great films of the 1990s. Maybe in 1992 many of us compared this picture to Goodfellas and that film being such an epic from Scorsese overshadowed Hoffa and colored how we felt about it. Maybe we felt DeVito was just trying to be like Scorsese and did not give him the credit he so richly deserved. I don't know but with time and some distance I now feel I egregiously overlooked this film and I think it has remained sort of overlooked by most people.

Vincent in a comment above mine calls this film very "technically precise" and he is right. The attention to every detail in this film is flat out jaw-dropping. It's the kind of obsessiveness we attribute to people like Kubrick, Leone, or Hitchcock. The transitions alone, as noted by Mr. Harris above, are worth the price of admission. When do you ever say that about a film? People also sometimes say Kubrick and Hitchcock leave them cold...but I'd hate to think of a world without their pictures.

So, what I'm saying is give this one another watch. Or if you have never seen it...well...take a trip back to 1992 when Jack Nicholson was still starring in major motion pictures and Danny DeVito had crafted this beautiful love letter to cinema. He should be quite proud of this film...very few people can make or have made something like this.
 
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Scott Merryfield

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This thread being revived inspired me to watch Hoffa for the first time ever -- it was free via Amazon Prime. As background, I have lived my entire life in southeastern Michigan where Hoffa is sort of a legend, and my dad was a Teamster for 30 years.

Anyway, I found Nicholson's performance to be very good (when is it not?). DeVito didn't really stand out, IMO. The biggest thing that bothered me, though, was the setting for Hoffa's last meeting. In these parts, the Red Fox restaurant in very suburban Bloomfield Township is an unofficial historical landmark as the last place Jimmy Hoffa was seen, yet this film depicts that place as a remote, rural Roadside Cafe in the middle of nowhere. I understand "Hollywood history" and artistic license, but as someone who's lived through the Hoffa story it was hard for me to get past. I'm sure that people from anywhere else in the country (or world) wouldn't think twice about this, but it really bugged me for some reason.
 
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Reggie W

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On the drive back from coastal Maine we were listening to a podcast about the acting career of Jack Nicholson. The three guys that were speaking about Nicholson and his career seemed to have seen less than half his pictures. This was more than mildly irritating because why do a podcast that purports to be about the "best Nicholson performances" when you have seen less than half of them. I think the main issue was these guys were all born sometime in the 1980s or perhaps slightly before and so they did not become aware of Nicholson until some time in the 1990s and so their top performances (outside of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) were 1990s pictures.

They listed as Nicholson's top films Batman, A Few Good Men, and As Good as it Gets...everybody in the car broke out into laughter as my wife asked "Where the hell is Chinatown?" and one guy listed Terms of Endearment as one of his best films...outside of Cuckoo's I do not think anything from the 1970s was even on their radar.

They never even mentioned Chinatown. They talked about Nicholson films they wanted to see AFTER talking about his "best films" and mentioned things like The Witches of Eastwick, Wolf, and they mentioned how The Shining just missed making their "best of" lists.

It was ridiculous. They then mentioned some "worst" Nicholson films and one guy went on a rant about how bad The Pledge was while one of the others thought he was talking about The Crossing Guard...and as the two of them went back and forth about how bad this movie was, while confusing the plots, they kept saying and apparently thinking they were talking about the same picture. Anybody listening to this show that was not familiar with Nicholson's career was seriously misled with this earful of nonsense.

Anyway, with ten minutes left in this ridiculous podcast we turned it off and had a discussion of Nicholson's work. I brought up Hoffa because the podcast guys seemed to think Nicholson was just hitting his highwater mark some time around 1990 but they failed to even mention Hoffa.

I said that Scorsese's next picture was going to feature Hoffa as well, this time played by Pacino, and so everybody in the car talked about wanting to revisit Hoffa...and so when I got home I pulled this disc out and we should be watching it this week.

Long way around of saying I will be very happy to watch this again.
 

TravisR

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On the drive back from coastal Maine we were listening to a podcast about the acting career of Jack Nicholson. The three guys that were speaking about Nicholson and his career seemed to have seen less than half his pictures. This was more than mildly irritating because why do a podcast that purports to be about the "best Nicholson performances" when you have seen less than half of them. I think the main issue was these guys were all born sometime in the 1980s or perhaps slightly before and so they did not become aware of Nicholson until some time in the 1990s and so their top performances (outside of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) were 1990s pictures.

They listed as Nicholson's top films Batman, A Few Good Men, and As Good as it Gets...everybody in the car broke out into laughter as my wife asked "Where the hell is Chinatown?" and one guy listed Terms of Endearment as one of his best films...outside of Cuckoo's I do not think anything from the 1970s was even on their radar.

They never even mentioned Chinatown. They talked about Nicholson films they wanted to see AFTER talking about his "best films" and mentioned things like The Witches of Eastwick, Wolf, and they mentioned how The Shining just missed making their "best of" lists.

It was ridiculous. They then mentioned some "worst" Nicholson films and one guy went on a rant about how bad The Pledge was while one of the others thought he was talking about The Crossing Guard...and as the two of them went back and forth about how bad this movie was, while confusing the plots, they kept saying and apparently thinking they were talking about the same picture. Anybody listening to this show that was not familiar with Nicholson's career was seriously misled with this earful of nonsense.

Anyway, with ten minutes left in this ridiculous podcast we turned it off and had a discussion of Nicholson's work. I brought up Hoffa because the podcast guys seemed to think Nicholson was just hitting his highwater mark some time around 1990 but they failed to even mention Hoffa.

I said that Scorsese's next picture was going to feature Hoffa as well, this time played by Pacino, and so everybody in the car talked about wanting to revisit Hoffa...and so when I got home I pulled this disc out and we should be watching it this week.

Long way around of saying I will be very happy to watch this again.
You might really enjoy a podcast that Joe Dante and Josh Olson (screenwriter of A History Of Violence) do called The Movies That Made Me. Their guests (folks like Dana Gould, Illeana Douglas, Keith Gordon, Robert Forster, Caleb Deschanel, Ernest Dickerson, Joe Bob Briggs, William Friedkin, John Landis, Leonard Maltin) come in with a specific topic (it ranges from favorite scenes to favorite rock and roll movies to French crime movies to Russ Meyer) and they discuss movies that influenced them or that they love. Dante is an encyclopedia of movies and the guests are big movie fans so there's no chance of someone on there saying that they haven't seen Chinatown.

https://trailersfromhell.com/podcast/
 

Reggie W

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You might really enjoy a podcast that Joe Dante and Josh Olson (screenwriter of A History Of Violence) do called The Movies That Made Me. Their guests (folks like Dana Gould, Illeana Douglas, Keith Gordon, Robert Forster, Caleb Deschanel, Ernest Dickerson, Joe Bob Briggs, William Friedkin, John Landis, Leonard Maltin) come in with a specific topic (it ranges from favorite scenes to favorite rock and roll movies to French crime movies to Russ Meyer) and they discuss movies that influenced them or that they love. Dante is an encyclopedia of movies and the guests are big movie fans so there's no chance of someone on there saying that they haven't seen Chinatown.

https://trailersfromhell.com/podcast/

Thank you for this recommendation, Travis. I enjoy listening to podcasts while driving. I have a lot of driving to do over the next several days so I have already begun with the Friedkin episode, which had me laughing right from the beginning. Friedkin not being one to bullshit around. Next up will be the Panos Cosmatos episode.

You know, on this Hoffa film, it seems like it draws almost zero interest. I mean the people that love it really love it but there seems to be few of us. I'd love to hear more people talk about how they feel about this picture but I can't really tell if there are many people that have even seen it.

It is a beautiful piece of work.
 

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