Wednesday, August 17, 2005

On Acting - Beware Some Acting Schools!!!

Brian wrote to me:

"Hi Cliff
I just want to compliment you on your acting skills. I just finished watching Gunsmoke and as always when I see you as a guest I know it's going to be a great show. You show so much feeling, add meaning to the show! I am from mid-western Ontario, Canada and have always dreamed about acting, you would be an icon to follow.
I was in a shopping mall in London, Ontario and was chosen by Barbizon, an acting school, to come for a try out, which I did. After the meeting they said I did very well and wanted me go join Barbizon for training. I turned it down as it was a costly venture and I had heard from some that the "good" agents don't charge so much and will have better luck, as they are not just trying to fill their classes and make money that way. What should I have one?, some times I wonder.
Best Wishes - Brian"

I wrote to him:

"Brian...I don't know the specifics, but I think you did the right thing. Beware of modeling or acting schools that charge alot for a little (except hype). Check around as you did, with reputable agents and other actors whose work you respect. See who and what schools they recommend, where they studied. Acting classes can be an expensive purchase. Don't be an uniformed buyer, dazzled on a whim by a 'hot' sales person.

And thanks for your nice words RE my acting in Gunsmoke. It was a wonderful show in all respects (creative, $$, professionalism, etc.) to work on. The lesson there RE our discussion: Quality-in = Quality-out. In teaching or acting. Good luck, Cliff "

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

********MOVIE RECOMMENDATION********"Broken Flowers"

I have acting students who loved it. Obviously they are depressed, unhopeful people. (I may have to change my teaching of them accordingly.) I found the film slow, dull, pretentious, and meaningless, especially in its attempt at meaning-full-ness. I was consistently put off by it's offering of maga-doses of unknowing pauses and reactions between characters substituting for profoundly complex character studies. I assume the director's/editor's slow pace was an attempt at a director's creative indication: shouting: "something significant is going on onscreen!!! (when nothing is)." Come to think of it, such pauses-as-indications-of-profundity is a signature of its writer-director, Jim Jarmusch. See his earlier film Coffee and Cigartettes (NO! Don't see it!!)

Bill Murray in this film is a depressed (in fact a less-than-funny Bob Newhart of a prior generation) playing a doleful unmarried man in his early fifties who has financuially succeeded at technology but seems to be failing at life: witness a girlfriend who leaves him in the first scene of the film due to his ongoing lack of committment. Next scene: enter a pink letter from an ostensibly old lover who informs him he is the father of a twenty year old son. And the son is on his way to visit old dad. The film's plot, such as it is, begins. Bill Murray is sent off on a search for the mother of his child to clear up his paternity or non-paternity, as the case may be. Actually, he doesn't have the energy/desire for the quest. He is pushed into it by a neighbor who loves children. How do you know? He has lots of them and they always play in front of his house!Which leads us to Bill Murray's journey, and his series of old lovers.

They appear on screen as a sad residue of male hit-and-run experiences (for them), leading us to desperate, fucked-up Sharon Stone and Jessica Lange and the female lead from Six Feet Under who tries to look beautiful and sexy but doesn't quite make it and Sharon Stone's daughter, called Lolita, who was the highlight of the film for me, by the way: Call me Humbert-Humbert; but at least she had energy to have wants and desires and not be be tired and bitter and settling for half).

As I watched Sharon Stone and Jessica Lange, I realized why I have this uneasy and uncomfortable feelin about face-lifts. They look like the faces on skin-grafted burn victims. The taut, unresponsive skin, which worked by the way for the great character actor Jack Palance (purported truly a burn victim when young). But his success arose from his being 'The Man You Loved To Hate' ( a 'heavy') not someone designed to inspire you to have sex with them. Sex still has something to do with humanity, doesn't it? Oh well, I could go on and on....but I won't...although the film does. I recommend your not seeing see the film. Unless, of course your life is as depressing as the film's. In that case you will be uplifted by its compatible and identifiabe message of doom, gloom, and its ultimate message: men are horrible; they have fucked up women's lives by their lack of commitment. (Unless, of course, women such as the ones portrayed on screen began fucked-up and that's men like Bill Murray never committed to them.)

Saturday, August 06, 2005

********MOVIE(S) RECOMMENDATION********June Bug; Mad Hot Ballroom; Hustle and Flow; Wedding Crashers

JUNE BUG...Forget it. A must miss. Slow and unpredictably predictable. Another generational re-discovery of old Freud: mothers are domineering, father's are castrate, children of those situations miss-marry and are unhappy. But, I assume the director/editor assumes, if you slow the pace of the film to a crawl, we will think something meaningful is going on. Unfortunately, the director adds to it a permanent disaster ending....We are doomed to stay unfulfilled in relationships. Some really good acting. The writer/director didn't deserve it.

MAD HOT BALLROOM...Exquisite. On all levels. "Reality"/documentary film at its best. It traces public high school students and schools as they prepare for a NY-citywide ballroom dancing contest. Great perserverance in shooting the footage and editing on the part of the filmakers. Sociology, psychology, hope, conflict, cooperation...Its all there. You can be unaffected only if you are dead. I saw it twice. The battle-hardened movie audience applauded both times.

HUSTLE AND FLOW...Rocky meets Rap. A pimps dream of success told with energy, grit and heart. Great acting. Once you get past the street 'black-ese'--which is enjoyable in and of itself, even for an old white man like me--it's an old fashinoned and easily understandable tale of upward mobility...with whores with hearts of gold, friendship, camaraderie, great funny lines and character, much laughter, little sex and no gratuitous violence: the punching and gunplay is tasteful, and all justified by character and plot. My brain must be getting addled: I'm liking too many films.

WEDDING CRASHERS...Cotton candy for a long dull day. Another young people's old fashioned movie. But fun. Boy meets girl: actually, boys any girls they can find, then one boy meets one girl, and other boy meets impossible girl. If you can drop the logic of the attraction, and just go with it, its not a bad ride. Wonderful comedic acting, especially by Vince Vaughn. His love affair with his virginal but really been-around girlfriend reminds me of Jack Lemmon and Joe E. Brown in Some Like It Hot. "Well...Nobody's perfect." Vince seems to have hit his starring stride with these roguish parts (he's finally come out of the personality closet?) in ribald comedy, fast rhythmed and totally un-PC. Is that is what he is really like in everyday life?! Answer: hard to think otherwise.