Thursday, June 30, 2011

ON ACTING: A Brief Definition

How do you explain the process and craft of acting briefly to a group of non-actors? I found myself in that situation a week ago. The group was not discussing acting, or theater, or film. The topic of the moment was totally unrelated. But when someone in the the group mentioned to another member of the group that I was an acting coach and longtime actor--probably in support or explanation of my previous views on the group topic--I found myself parenthetically explaining to the group that acting was not, as many people believe, "lying," or "pretending," but actually the opposite: "acting was living truthfully within fictitious circumstances." I did not wait for a response from the group, whether they understood me or not, believed me or not, but in short order moved my ensuing remarks back to the topic at hand. I don't know if my definition on acting was understandable to them, or whether they agreed with me or not, or were confused, or. moreover, whether my being an acting coach that viewed his craft in such a manner refuted or supported my general views on the unrelated subject matter at hand. But I do know that I now--as I did then--feel pleasantly content with my brief definition/explanation of acting as "living truthfully within fictitious circumstances." Case closed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Of Apatow and Wilder

I recently saw again Judd Apatow's "Funny People"...two movies in one: the first half is darker, the humor subtler, sharper; the other half is sweet, simple, predictable. Unfortunately, I went expecting and wanting to see one movie, not a double bill.

I'm discovering that a central artictic dilemma occurs in all Judd Apatow's movies: he can't decide in any one film whether God or the Devil controls his soul; or in other terms, whether his art or his commerce rules his artistic visions. So he chooses not to decide; to give you both...unblended. (The great film genius, Billy Wilder, knew how to create a smooth admixture of both, sweet and sour. But that's why he is considered a genius.)

The first part of "Funny People" is the stand-up comic charcter war time; ironic, mean and funny at the same time, a competitive world of funny guys--where bawdy humor standing in for fists, and intermural fights draw blood with a thousand pin-pricks of personal truth.

The other part of "Funny People" is a sweet domestic comedy: "Will the boy get the girl?" The dramatic thrust is: after a twelve year absence, will the beautiful girl stay with her more boring husband and clever two daughters, or will she return to the comedian-leading man? Is bachelor an addction or a choice? Can good sex conquer family, duty, and responsibility?

Tune in, soap fans. Judd Apatow is a wonderful filmmaker. He's just not a genius...yet.

Me and Animation

A confession: Animation was great when I was a kid. I still think "Bambi" is one of my all time favorite films. (Interestly, it is about animals, not humans.) But, as an adult, I find animations of humankind like botoxed women, augmented breasts, face-lifts, or plastic sex-dolls: clever, often well-designed. sometimes beautiful (SEE: "Up in the Air,") but ultimately a cheat and unfulfilling. When dealing with humans, I say: give me the real thing everytime.

Friday, June 17, 2011

ON ACTING: Comedy and Excess

Comedy is reason gone awry.

We all care for money; a funny character has sex with his money pouch on.

We all like sex; a funny character genuinely believes he will die is he misses a day.

We all have doubts; a funny character doubts his doubts.

We all are jealous; a funny character attaches a tracking devise to his girlfriend's boots as a wedding present.

...and on and on...

Comedy takes a normal feeling which the audience can easily identify with and expands it to unreasonable excess.

Sorry I haven't posted in two weeks. I have been teaching/travelling. I am returning to blog duty today!