Posts Tagged ‘Acting’

Oscars 2013: The Write Stuff

February 26, 2013

Oscars 2013 Daniel Day-Lewis Jennifer Lawrence Anne Hathaway Christoph Waltz

So, another Oscar night done and dusted. And what have we really learned?

Seth McFarlane? Likes boobs, singing, self. Dislikes Hollywood, women.

‘Argo’? Fun, American as Apple Pie, directed by a ghostly presence whose reflection only appears in a mirror when you say his name three times.

Jennifer Lawrence? Adorable, falleded over.

‘Lincoln’? So worthy that it’s TOO worthy for the Oscars (at least that’s what Stevey’s muttering as he cries himself to sleep, his head buried in his pillow stuffed with $100 bills).

Meryl Streep? Does not need to even open an envelope, has earned the right to decide winning nominees for herself.

‘Chicago’? Apparently the musical of our generation (incidentally, last night’s Oscars were produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who also produced… ‘Chicago’. Oscars tribute to the Musicals, and two separate tributes to ‘Chicago’ kinda makes sense now, huh?).

Anne Hathaway? Has Manic Pixie Twitter Nipples.

But the key takeaway for me?

Was that the Oscars once again reinforced that harshest of truths about actors and actresses – they are incandescent creatures. Winners of the genetic lottery, owners of an ethereal beauty beyond most mortals.

But without a gifted writer to put words in their mouths for them, they more oft than not are incapable of stringing together an interesting sentence.

And yet screenwriters remain eternally unappreciated at these shows. An example? Chris Terrio won Best Adapted Screenplay for ‘Argo’, and the only recognition of any kind I saw him receive from most mainstream media outlets was a) mentioning that he has a passing resemblance to ‘Stifler’ himself, Sean William Scott, and b) that he was an undeserving winner because the ‘Argo’ script lacked real depth.

Wait… what? So ‘Argo’ was, by most accounts, a popular ‘Best Picture’ winner. Alan Arkin was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. People are STILL upset about Ben Affleck not being nominated for Best Director. But the screenplay was not especially well written?

Wow. So the cast and crew just turned up each morning and made up on the fly that day’s shooting pages, huh? Affleck directed an empty page, Arkin obviously made up all of his dialogue, and Clooney produced a $45 million film based on a stack of 120-odd pieces of bound, blank paper.

With that all being said, Academy Awards 2013: We Out.

Only 364 days to wait until Tina & Amy.

I wonder if they’ll sing a song about boobs too…

BPM

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Inside the Actors Studio with Nicolas Cage

February 17, 2012

Some actors make interesting ‘choices’ when it comes to their performances…

And then there’s Nic Cage.

Almost hypnotic, isn’t it?

Oh, and a healthy reminder this awards season – that guy has been nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award more than once.

Ponder that,

BPM

BPM – the Ape who said “Why not???”

August 19, 2011

If you think we got political in my last post, then strap yourselves in peeps – here’s where we attempt to create some REAL change in the world:

I firmly believe that Andy Serkis deserves an Academy Award nomination next year for his incredible performance as Caesar in ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’.

For realsies.

I’ll confess that when I saw the initial trailer for this flick a few months ago, I was a little cynical… right up until the point where we see a gorilla leap off the Golden Gate Bridge and take down a helicopter. That one shot guaranteed my 17 bucks.

But I remained sceptical. I think over the past 10 years we’ve seen CGI take massive leaps. I recently re-watched the ‘Harry Potter’ DVD’s over the space of a week, and some of the early effects now look incredibly dated compared to what we see in 2011.

But even with what I’d consider good CG… Gollum in ‘LOTR’, several moments in ‘King Kong’, Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button, ‘District 9’, ‘Avatar’, and more recently the downsized Chris Evans in ‘Captain America’… I’ve still been yet to suspend disbelief long enough to forget that THAT’S NOT REAL.

Enter Andy Serkis, THE pioneer in motion capture performance (sorry Rob Zemeckis, and your creepy, Xmas-themed, quasi-animated zombielike movies).

Caesar lives, he breathes… he delivers a fantastic, emotional performance.

You believe in that character. You empathize with that character. If you can make it halfway through this film without realizing you’re now firmly pro-simian / anti-human, then YOU, sir, are a robot.

I was really interested to hear recently that Serkis has been acting as a 2nd Unit director for Peter Jackson on ‘The Hobbit’. Wouldn’t it be incredible to see this guy develop his skills behind the camera for a few years, then turn to directing films that are similarly motion-capture heavy? What more could any actor ask for than to work under the guiding hand of the world’s greatest artist in this new medium?

Just a thought…

For those not so intrigued with the process of motion-capture, I highly recommend ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ regardless. Great storytelling, good performances, a script which realistically retcon’s the Apes mythos much the same way ‘Batman Begins’ did for Batman, or ‘Casino Royale’ did for James Bond.

Plus Caesar manages to do in 30 minutes what Harry Potter couldn’t do in 8 freakin movies… he schools Draco Malfoy’s ass in a big, bad way.

Until awards season rolls around, let us dream… sure, perhaps Producers of the flick make a few concessions by pushing Andy Serkis for a Best Supporting Actor nod instead of Best Actor. No need to rock the boat too much so soon.

But is is too much to hope that members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences recognize a good thing when it’s right in front of them?!?!

Because if you can nominate Nicole Kidman for an Oscar 3 times over the past decade alone, then Serkis DEFINITELY deserves to be thrown a bone (or a banana) at least once…

BPM

Are you ready to join the Martin Lawrence Movement?

February 15, 2011

Man. Myth. Icon. Large Mother.

… or the M.L.M for short.

You know, life is far too short to spend consumed with regret, and I’m a big enough man to admit when I’m wrong. And so, I have a confession to make, a revelation which has profoundly changed me.

Martin Lawrence is a comedic genius.

There.

I said it.

Now we may have had our doubts in the past…

We may have lamented his seeming lack of range, or his choice of extremely similar roles over and over and over again (cop, thief, cop, cop, cop, thief, cop, animated bear).

We may have scoffed at his ability to headline comedic-action flicks.

We may have wished Will Smith and Michael Bay each a thousand deaths for propelling Martin’s career into the stratosphere with ‘Bad Boys’.

We may have even posed sarcastically beside his handprints outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in L.A last year.

If you'd guessed the (obscured) look on my face was less than impressed, you'd be correct.

But. I. Was. Wrong.

How do I know this?

Observe… the trailer for Lawrence’s latest instant classic, ‘Big Momma’s: Like Father, Like Son’:

Now, the ollllld Monkey, pre ML-conversion, would rant. He’d rail. He’d point out the cliched set-up, villains, setting, characterization, slapstick, soundtrack, and so on and so on.

Not anymore.

Because last weekend at my local Hoyt’s theatre, as this trailer played before me on the big screen, I realized what should have been obvious all along:

Martin Lawrence is serving us a parody of Martin Lawrence. He’s gone Meta!

In the era of ‘Disaster Movie’, and ‘Epic Movie’, and ‘Scary Movie 47’, Lawrence has transcended comedy by giving us a parody of a Martin Lawrence film with a completely straight face!

I mean, come on… a third Big Momma’s House flick?!? Who do you know that sat all the way through BMH2 and asked “But what happened next?”

This is incredible. Having lost Leslie Nielsen just a few short months ago, are we witnessing a Nielsen-like rebirth for Martin?

Only time will tell.

Until then, I salute you, Mr. Lawrence, for daring to take a risk and make the stupidest movie possible, all in the name of art.

And to think, if 20th Century Fox had just timed their run at awards season a little better…

BPM

Outside the Actor’s Studio – A Question of Motivation

June 9, 2010

WHY?!?! HOW?!?! WHEN?!?! WHO?!?! WHICH?!?!

As I’ve mentioned here before, my professional development thus far has led to an illustrious position on one of the lowest rungs within the entertainment industry. Ergo, I have no stroke whatsoever on the TV shows I work on, but I’m constantly around the people who do.

However if you need something photocopied on multi-colored paper? I’m the shit.

Anyhoo, amongst the bizarre collection of misanthropes I deal with on a day-to-day basis, it goes without saying that Actors are by a considerable margin the most cuckoo magoo. Pause for a moment and actually ponder the mentality of someone who pretends to be an imaginary character for a living. That’s playing make-believe 5 days a week. And generally (not all of them, but a lot) seem wayyyyy more comfortable within a fictitious persona than their own.

When discussing character and performance, one of the most common recurring issues Actors seem to have is Motivation. It’s really a cliché now, the Actor muttering “But what’s my motivation here?” It’s right up there with the Hooker saying “Looking for a good time?”, the Pirate growling “Shiver me timbers!”, and the Police Office yelling “Hey you! Stop where you are and put the Dachshund down!”

Or something

When an Actor questions motivation, what they’re asking a Director or Producer is “How do I play this scene? What is my character thinking? Why would he/she behave this way?” Without this knowledge it might be impossible to convincingly ‘play’ their part.

At least this is what they want you to believe.

FILM & TELEVISION SPOILER ALERT!

Going purely by my meager experience, the simple sentence “What’s my motivation?” actually means something entirely different.

What’s my motivation?” as a rule instead seems to translate roughly to “I don’t want to do this as written“.

“I don’t think my character would react that way”…

“I’m not sure why my character would stand by and just watch this happen”…

“My character wouldn’t fall for Janet, she’s not his type”…

“My character would know that Steve was up to something”…

When you invest so much of yourself into an imaginary person, the line between reality and make-believe inevitably becomes blurred from time to time. And the more you invest yourself into this caricature, the less likely you are to allow them any weakness whatsoever.

Method acting, you have a lot to answer for…

So, “What’s my motivation?“… more often than not actually means “I don’t want to appear stupid/weak/inept/cruel/selfish/racist/ignorant/shallow/villainous/like an asshole“.

Which is fair enough, until you remember that most every story needs an Antagonist. Not everyone can be The Great Leslie.

Photo taken shortly before Jack Lemmon said "I just don't think the evil Professor Fate WOULD wear all black and cackle in a villainous manner at other's misfortune, is all..."

A sociological experiment then;

Try going home tonight, and when your partner asks “Do you want pasta for dinner?”, respond with “Hmmm… I don’t think my character would eat pasta on a Wednesday. My character is the kind of person who’s very focused on their carb consumption. In fact, if my character was to eat pasta, he’d probably make his own by hand”.

“Do you want to watch a movie?” “Well… I think my character would be far more inclined to watch a documentary on a weeknight. That or read a book. My character has a thirst for knowledge, and I just don’t think he’s the kind of guy to waste an evening on watching ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ again”.

How long do you think it would it take before you received a much-deserved slap to the jeans?

Actors are a breed different to our own. Never forget it. Whether you’re watching Mark Harmon on ‘NCIS’, Rebecca Gibney on ‘Packed to the Rafters’, or Christian Bale in ‘Batman Begins’… ALWAYS remember:

The Actor in question is probably better at inhabiting that particular role than they are at being themselves.

Look, I love William Goldman. He’s like a Screenwriting God. And he had it totally right when he famously said that stars never want to appear anything less than perfect.

Scary to think thought that by only mentioning stars… maybe he didn’t quite go far enough.

If you need me, I’ll be over here in the corner… questioning whether my character would eat a McChicken for lunch or not.

BPM