2/03/2014
Too many to mention

"Noooo!" I yelped out from the bathroom. I was doing number two - number one for the day - and I was flicking through Twitter, like we all do, and there it was. Philip Seymour Hoffman is dead.

I don't do lists of my favorite things. I mean, I likely have done this - I have a good idea of who my favorite musical acts are, for instance - but when you're writing on a friend's slumbook and you're faced with a limited space under "favorite" this or that, you realize you'll have to name one as your absolute favorite, and forget the others who you like a lot, too. And then you can't decide on who you like the most, and you end up writing "too many to mention".

In the case of favorite actors, there's also the fact that I don't, unsurprisingly, watch a lot of films. Sure, I took some film courses in college - watched the best of them, ended up doing two of them, and writing a few short screenplays in between - but I'm not really that guy who treats film as a religion, who can name a definitive actor and enumerate his definitive roles and explain the nuances of it all. So you can imagine how frustrating it can be to see my film-inclined friends talk about these things - say, Krizzie, about her love of Martin Scorsese - and you get it, but at the same time you don't, so you just hit like or something.

If I had a list, though, Philip Seymour Hoffman would be on it. Now, again, I'm not that guy who can point you to this and that. I'm certainly not that guy whose first instinct, upon hearing the news, is to go to YouTube and search for that quote-worthy clip of him on Almost Famous, a film which I haven't seen. I first saw him on Capote, the 2005 film about the enigmatic writer working on what would be his last full-length book. There was his very detailed take on the role - how Philip was completely different to the dimunitive, squeaky-voiced Truman Capote - and then there was how he sold his conflicted emotions, his attachment to an accused murderer and his devotion to finishing In Cold Blood. I was sold, and he won an Oscar.

It didn't compel me to watch every Philip Seymour Hoffman film ever, but whenever I see his name on the credits of whatever was screening, I knew he'd do well. I liked him in Doubt, the 2008 film where he played a priest accused of an inappropriate relationship with a young boy. The film wasn't perfect, but the performances were and Philip managed to make me root for him even if his intentions are perhaps the opposite of what he preaches.

I have seen the third Mission: Impossible film, but not Charlie Wilson's War. I should have watched Moneyball, but was not interested, just because. (This makes me a bad so-called film enthusiast, but then again, that isn't what I set out to be. I mean, Aaron Sorkin wrote this film. I watched The Newsroom solely to see him at work without having to marathon anything. And no, I still have not seen The Social Network.) I haven't seen The Master despite the critical acclaim it got two years back. But I have seen Catching Fire. You know, boyfriend duties.

It was my brother who reminded me that Philip was on Catching Fire. It was an unexpected film for him to be in, but of course, considering who he played and how that guy ultimately played into the brewing revolution at the end of the film, it had to be him. Again, that conflicted nature, the way he sells both sides, although the Hunger Games film trilogy is built like a crappy young adult film with added dystopia, which means the good guys have to clearly be the good guys.

Rainy was on lunch break - these call centers expect you to work six hours without a "proper" lunch, and I put quotes in that because, really, lunch at night? - and so I told her that Philip is dead, and that I was a bit distraught.

"Basta he was in Catching Fire," I texted her.

"Sino siya sa Catching Fire?" she replied. "Cause of death?"

"Drug overdose. I don't remember his name though. Ahhh, 'yung nasa game control center something. 'Yung nag-connive with Katniss."

"Plutarch Heavensbee?"

And in that moment, I realized that, if you haven't read the Hunger Games and are only relying on the films, the only character names you know are Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, and maybe, Finnick Odair. Everybody else, you know as that Tessa Prieto-type, that guy from Zombieland, and, in my case, Philip Seymour Hoffman, who has died with, reportedly, a needle in his arm, with seven days left to shoot the revolution Plutarch so slowly fomented.

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