The Best Thing Not on TV this Week

July 30, 2014 — 3 Comments

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Gunther Bachmann in A MOST WANTED MAN (Roadside Attractions)

Let me just say up front — this is not a review. It is a recommendation.

Just a few years ago if you’d said about a movie you’d just seen that it was as good as the best thing currently on television, people would have assumed you were damning the film with faint praise. How things have changed. You can hardly read or hear anything about the entertainment industry these days without someone commenting on the new Golden Age of television. A-list movie stars headline shows on cable and streaming services while feature film writers and directors declare that getting a series picked up is the new (preferred) version of a 3 picture deal. Critics, pundits and your co-workers all seem to agree that the new breed of television series is doing what quality film used to do. Well, run to your local cinema while you still can – because A MOST WANTED MAN is as good as any Netflix original series you’re going to binge on tonight.

Based on the John le Carre spy novel of the same name and set in current day Hamburg, A MOST WANTED MAN provides counter-programming to the summer studio tentpoles in the forms of street-level settings, unvarnished characters, and complex perspectives. It’s a spy movie with a POV we’re not used to seeing. The film is intimate and unsettling. It is serious filmmaking that is seriously entertaining. MAN has the kind of slow-boil-plot with a gobsmack payoff that we’ve come to expect from a ten-episode arc on a hot, new HBO series. And it’s all done in a just a hair over two hours.

Much has already been speculated about the hard-not-to-notice parallels between the beleaguered and brilliant lead character in this movie and the actor who plays him. This is Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final lead role. (He will appear in a supporting role in the upcoming HUNGER GAMES sequel.) Hoffman’s performance here doesn’t lead me to wonder about his personal life as much as it reminds me how masterfully he inhabited his characters. Whether you call Hoffman’s GUNTHER BACHMANN an antihero, a conflicted hero or a complex hero — he is a man of vision and action who is increasingly out-of-step with the people who hold the real keys to power. He’s running out of time and options. If you appreciated the work Hoffman did before this, then A MOST WANTED MAN is a must-see film.


A MOST WANTED MAN (R) (122 mins); Anton Corbijn (dir); Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright


3 responses to The Best Thing Not on TV this Week


    Nice “recommendation,” Tim. And I agree with it all. A moving performance from one of our very best.



    I do both, agree and disagree with you. I absolutely miss the classical old Hollywood movies in cinemas or on TV screen. What modern studios offer us can in no way be compared to the legendary stories, line-up and overall films of 30s & 40s. I have not seen an original, creative & smart movie in literally ages! Given that fact, I doubt Hollywood Future can bring along much better… What is interesting is your opinion that series have replaced the high quality of movies. Watching several thrilling Netflix of HBO series myself, I must say they really put a lot of effort into being special and very innovative. But calling it a TV Golden Age? I don’t think so… Running through my TV channels I hardly catch anything I wish to watch… Nevertheless, I will definitely try to see A Most Wanted Man and will get back to you with my thoughts later. Thanks for the recommendation!


Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Cinephile’s Weekend Dark Edition 11.07.14 | Rev. Hollywood - November 7, 2014

    […] on DVD/Bluray now) Rather than repeat myself, I’ll just re-post myself. Here’s what I said about A MOST WANTED MAN during it’s theatrical release — and why I still recommend […]


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