Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Different tastes...

I read an interesting article on acting, online, and this guy -- who's supposedly a director and producer -- took issue with what I call stunt acting. That's when an actor does something physically intense and over the top to prove he's an actor. I lump Eddie Redmayne, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Hanks and Jack Nicholson in this category for the Oscars they've won.

Redmayne playing Stephen Hawking was a bit of stunt acting. Good, but more physically impressive than revealing of character. Same for Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot and Hoffman in Rain Man. Both geared to the external limitations of their characters -- one due to his body, the other due to his mind -- that were neither subtle nor revealing.

That doesn't apply to all stunt acting. When I saw Leonardo DeCaprio playing a kid with cerebral palsy in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, I believed him in that character so completely, I think he was robbed at the Oscars.

It sort of fits in with my disagreements with actors about who is good and bad in a film. I once had a long discussion with some friends who thought Brendan Fraser should have been nominated for Gods and Monsters. I thought he was good, but he didn't earn his emotion breakdown near the end. His voice was flat, to me. They insisted I was wrong.

Another one is Kristen Stewart. I've heard her referred to as the best actor of her generation, but what little I've seen her in, she's one-note and boring. I see nothing going on with her or her characters, and her voice is like a drone. She's not interested in bringing a whole person to you.

I like actors who can keep you guessing as to what their reasons are, even as they reveal their characters. To me, one of the best jobs of acting I've ever seen was Sir Ralph Richardson in The Heiress. He's a cold man who probably blames his daughter for his beloved wife dying in childbirth, but at the same time he's trying to protect her from a fortune hunter. Or...he might be doing all he can to thwart her happiness, as punishment for living. You don't know, but he sends you the man's complexity with the slightest of movements -- an arched eyebrow, a polite smile with a subtle change of tone in his voice... It's a master class in acting, unto itself.

Same for Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep in Norman's Room. Both were majors stars when this movie was made, yet by the end of the first act, you forget you're watching actors and instead feel like you're witnessing people's lives, because every bit of their performance was geared to bringing you a whole human being, not just part of one.

Oh, well, I guess this is why I never was cut out for acting -- my reality is too warped to bring anyone else's reality into the world.

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