Friday, February 27, 2009
Tigerland And Gloria's Hands
The other day my sister left a comment on the "Why Keanu Reeves?" post I made...and it's an example of why "good acting" is not only a subjective term...but also a performance or movie doesn't always have a concrete need for "realism". We've come to expect that good acting is "believeable" or "realistic"...but it's not always been that way. When we watch an older film, or a film from another country, we might give it a different expectation level...(? do we?)
My sister, the Underground Baker, wrote...
Speaking of acting I just caught the last half of sunset blvd. on the weekend. OH my god, the woman (ok, I've forgotten her name, can you believe it?) with the over the top characterture was so amazing.I bought into her character because it worked in the context of the movie and because I couldn't take my eyes off of her. Not to mention the total creep factor. And how refreshing to see a male character playing the whore.
(I can't get her claw like hands out of my mind)
What is great about Penn and many other actors is that its not just about emoting feelings - but movement, gesture, breath and for some actors that metamorphasis on what seems like a cellular level to becoming a character is just magic. I especially love it when they can turn the characters on and off on cue. (not that I get to see that very often but it's wonderful to witness)
Well, that was Gloria Swanson, the terrifying Gloria Swanson. I thought she was a god when I was a kid. Her and Suzanne Pleshette. I loved Glora Swanson because she played such a good villian. And I loved Suzanne Pleshette because she got her eyes poked out in The Birds. :)
Yes, it is cool to see a man, William Holden, cast as the whore...and considering that was 1950 it shows how insightful film noir is for studying the human condition. I love George Peppard in Breakfast At Tiffany's for a similar reason that he plays a whore. (well, so does Audrey Hepburn)
But we would probably reject the style of acting Gloria Swanson does in her body of work today...because acting styles and approval are subjective and go in and out of fashion. Merryl Streep pretty much comes close to pushing the limits with her role in Doubt...very Gloria Swanson-ish! Notice Swanson's hands in the above pictures...it's as if they aren't the same hands!...how they help communicate what kind of person she is playing.
"that it's not just about emoting feelings-but movement, gesture, breathe" ...Yes, that would be part of the study of "body work" performers practice. Here are some books on that topic...click here. There are a number of actors who I think of who are so adept and use their body in movies. Some I think of are Martin Short, Lisa Marie (remember how she moved in Mars Attack and Planet of The Apes?) Matthew McConaughey (his performance in Fool's Gold is a perfect example...okay okay...and his raw sexuality didn't hurt either), Edward Norton...and lots of easy examples would be comics, like Jim Carrey and Steve Martin, Bill Murray. (which reminds me...Buster Keaton had a cameo in Sunset Blvd.)
A lot of people trash Colin Farrel but I've always been a fan. I actually was very curious when he did the movie Phone Booth ...how can a whole movie be made in a phone booth?... but it was not bad actually. His steady performance helped with suspending disbelief. Realisism is valuable in unlikely situations or plots. I also liked a little seen movie called Tigerland, I landed up buying it on dvd (I really like war movies, okay) and in the dvd extras...are Colin Farrels screen tests. I was pretty blown away watching them develop...and here they are for Underground Baker...because it's true, unless you work with actors, most people don't get to see the process of building a character. (I hope these videos work in Canada...if they don't just go to YouTube and search for "screen test tigerland")
I guess maybe I might do a special shout out to Ireland for giving us Colin Farrel, easy on the eyes too, Sinead O'Connor, U2, The Pogues, The Waterboys, Aidan Quinn, Albert Finney, Cillian Murphy, The Cehiftans, Gabriel Byrne, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Day-Lewis, Van Morrion...jesus, whats in the water over there!
Yum...Irish hotties...way more fun than talking about the public outrage towards the Octuplets.