Monday, July 11, 2011

Where are the actors?

Ramblings Post #152
I'm supposed to be taking an exam right now. Not like, I should be studying, or prepping or anything like that. I was supposed to have downloaded the thing at 9pm and gotten cracking. But I got home and ate too much. Coincidentally of the wrong thing, not wanting to cook then have to clean up, so i stopped somewhere. And instead of the salad I got the chicken fingers. So instead of typing furiously and having one of two behind me, I got sleepy. So, I'll cue it up on tomorrow and go at it. Tired of looking at the material, I went on and pulled a post out of my half finished folder...polished it up...and don't judge me. I am taking the final tomorrow.

A lot of actors today aren't really actors. They stand in front of the camera, recite the lines, and they get paid, yes, but mostly they're just being themselves in roles written specifically for them. Essentially playing themselves over and over again. Different names, different locales, slightly different scripts, but the same. Nice work if you can get it. But there is no ability there, only the same riffs on the same old concepts again and again, recycled because of the buzz of the moment, the laziness and fear of the producers and studios.

Think about it. How many times has Vince Vaughn played Vince Vaughn? Don't get me wrong, I like Vince, with his snarky comments and that deadpan look he gives when the script calls for him to face something exasperating. But where is the depth? Where is the reaching of ability? Where is the Vince as, I dunno, somebody not Vince?

And aren't most of Adam Sandler's movies just about Adam Sandler being, well Adam Sandler? Other than that travesty Little Nicky, which was Sandler doing a bit for a film's length, when has Sandler been somebody other than Sandler on film as of late? The thing he's got coming up where he plays his own twin sister looks like an extended episode of an old 80's sitcom trope.

Chris Rock's last few outings have him getting a little lazy too. Technically, he was barely even a defined character in the last thing I saw him in, the remake of Death at a Funeral, or Head of State or a movie I actually liked - I Think I love my Wife. Its not like he can't act, he was decent in ...wait, how many years ago was New Jack City?

Has Russell Brand ever been anyone on screen other than Russell Brand? And no, Russell Brand with and without mustache is technically not a different character.

There was a time when actors actually had to act to be in movies. They'd take the role given, and mold yourself into the character. If you were really good, people might not recognize you if you stepped out of your established character - see Larry Drake in Darkman v LA Law. Although crazy now, Randy Quaid was an actor, shifting from the crazy cousin in the National Lampoon movies to playing a believable President Lyndon Johnson. Billy Bob Thorton can act. Almost unfairly, Brad Pitt can act if given a chance. Nobody's asked Denzel to act in ages. Bruce Willis used to be able to until he cut all his hair off.

Geoffery Rush, who appeared in The King's Speech and was nominated for an Oscar also plays pirate rogue caricature Captain Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Now that, in case you're wondering, is real acting.

A great actor melts into the role. A star does the opposite. An actor isn't worried about his personal presence, which seems to dominate the idea of the making of a film now, but is more concerned with his character's appearance. I think Tony Curtis put it best. His first onscreen role was a bellhop delivering a message - in front of the camera for all of 5 seconds. He said he looked like star, you could just tell. The problem, to hear him say it, was he was supposed to look like bellhop.

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