Monday, January 3, 2011

Actors and Flexibility

Hey Y'all.  Been long enough since I posted anything.  Think I'll put some stuff up.

I was thinking about actors and what makes a good one.  Admittedly, I don't like most of the more famous actresses.  Most of them irritate me in the fact that they tend to play such one-dimensional feminist stereotypes, and heaven help you if you portray women having flaws!  

So this makes it hard for me to pick out my favorite actresses.  So far, the only actress I like, in one sense,  is Queen Latifah, and this is more to do with her actual existence rather than her acting.  I like that she proves that a woman can be both bigger and attractive still.  She's a good actress, in what I've seen of her.  Probably a fun person in real life.

The actress I would list as the most skilled (there is a difference between the best and the favorite) is Sophie Marceau, with Mila Kunis getting an honorable mention.  Notedly, Sophie Marceau wins the contest because of her face.  With the twitch of an eye she can convey a ridiculous amount of emotion and give the audience an exact impression of what she is trying to portray.  Her performance in Braveheart aside its King Edward is absolutely astounding.  

Mila Kunis picks up the honorable mention.  I don't particularly care for her as an actress (I'm not going to see a movie just because she is in it), but I do have to admit that she's very skilled.  In That 70s Show, a show I rather despise, she portrays this really annoying chick.  Then I see her in Book of Eli, and it actually takes me a bit to recognise her because she has done such a good job of becoming the person that she portrays.  She doesn't drag any remnant of her 70s Show character into the movie, instead being exactly what the script requires.  I was ready to forgive her for being in That 70s Show, but then she ended up in Black Swan.  You can say that film is as good as you want, but the spiritual darkness of that movie will not permit me to go anywhere near it.  I don't even like talking about it.   So I will now stop.

So while I was thinking about Mila Kunis, I got to thinking about flexibility.  Now, to a certain extent, flexibility is good.  It means that you can take a lot of roles and get a lot of money as an actor.  It means that you can become various people and do an artful and unique job at each.  There is, however, a limit to this.

Okay, so let's start with Eastwood.  I put him on the less flexible side of the scale, because most of his characters tend to be darker, tougher, and have a more or less brutal view of life.  This same theme plays throughout all the movies that Eastwood directs, where life is more brutal and harsher than what most filmmakers would show.  He doesn't play silly people and he's definitely not into fantasy or the imaginative.  He does change from movie to movie, but in the end he is generally crusty and violent to varying degrees.  

However, this is a good thing.  Eastwood does gritty things, and there is an audience for the gritty.  You, as a moviegoer, will think "Oh, Clint Eastwood did this movie.  I like his other stuff, so I'll go see this too".  As someone hiring for a film, the director would go, "Ah, I need a gritty person to act in my movie.  Clint Eastwood does gritty, so I'll hire him".  So therefore a certain level of less flexibility is very good in that people more or less know what elements to expect.

Johnny Depp, on the other hand, is far too flexible.  He's very good at being weird and doing more sarcastic roles, friendly roles, stiff roles, sad ones...etc.  He even said in one interview that he likes hiding under makeup and masks.  And that's the real trouble with Depp.  He doesn't have any concrete identity as an actor.  I can't point to him and say he's anything, other than weird and in some sense very shy.  Seeing his name on a movie poster means pretty much nothing because you never really know what to expect from the guy.  I'm not saying he sucks or anything, I'm just saying that his acting suffers from a lack of himself, a lack of his heart.  There really should be a movie about Johnny Depp, just him being himself.  That might scare the crap out of him, but everyone would like it.  

Yeah, while Mila Kunis is more flexible than Clint Eastwood, she's still good to go.  She's flexible, and yet she's still good at holding down the whole worldliness vs naiivety theme, which right at this point is her actress identity.  It might change as she gets older, as it does for some, but for now, yeah.

Oh, so here's the actors I like.
Favorites: John Wayne, John Rhys Davies
Most skilled: Denzel Washington

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