Monday, December 13, 2010

Lights, camera, acting

Sometimes we forget that acting is a craft, and a difficult one at that. Actors become celebrities and then who they’re fucking becomes somehow more important than what they’re portraying. But acting, that grand game of make believe wrapped up in the fabric of basic human truths, is difficult. And great acting, well, that’s something almost otherworldly. It is making something out of nothing. In fact, acting may be the most basic of arts – to create using only our bodies and brains. No paint, no clay, no music. Just emotion.

But, like I said, sometimes we forget that amid the razzle dazzle and the gaudy glitz that accompanies acting. So it’s nice when someone like the New York Times magazine reminds us once again that acting is indeed an art – and a thing of beauty. Like they did with female tennis players, the Times has crafted an amazing multimedia package featuring 14 actors acting. The magazine asked the year’s best actors to “show us — in a few gestures and with a few props but without dialogue or story — what acting is. And here they are, striking some of the classic attitudes of cinema, turning their bodies and faces into instruments of pure, deep and enigmatic emotion.” In less than 90 seconds, all of them manage to transport us somewhere and make us wish no one ever yelled, “Cut!”

A look at a few of my favorites. See all of them here:

Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”


Noomi Rapace, Millennium Trilogy films


Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”


Chloë Moretz, “Kick-Ass,” “Let Me In”



Tilda Swinton, “I Am Love”

I can’t stop watching Tilda’s. I don’t think she is human, and I mean that in the best possible way.

9 comments:

CAB said...

These are great - thank you for sharing

Shannon said...

These are all so engrossing-they just suck you in with the semi-creepy sounding music and then you get mesmerized by the actors and what they are doing.

Very cool!

capturing-words said...

Dear Lord, I'm with you: Tilda's is AMAZING! I even have tears in my eyes. They're all great, thanks for sharing. And again, Tilda's... WOW.

Anonymous said...

I think my favorite is Vincent Cassel dancing in front of the mirror. He's actually really good. I wasn't expecting that.

Norma Desmond said...

I might be the only one, but I didn't actually find this project that compelling. I know they were all around 1.00-1.30, but I didn't really get the story from most of them (with the exception of Tilda's, which is weird, since I usually don't care for her) and didn't, frankly, think most of them were indicative of "good" acting, necessarily. I know, I know, that sounds super douche-y, but too many of my friends are (great) actors for me to be impressed by a couple clips of 1.30 worth of Hollywood types acting.

Anonymous said...

It's a great idea, but I think they (the creators) missed the mark a bit. They should have just had each actor acting out all the universal emotions or something like that. That's why I found Chloe's and Tilda's the most compelling, just raw emotion. I think they made some of the actors "act" too much. Or they should've just had them reenact some great scenes from classic films because that's what some of them looked like anyway.

Meh said...

You're right Norma, You do sound super douche-y.

Norma Desmond said...

Thought I'd give 'em another go, and I think what Anonymous #2 said is dead on the mark... and basically what I was trying to get at without being able to find the words.

Laura said...

For a second I thought this was the first time I've ever seen Natalie Portman with a blonde wig, but then I realized I had completely forgotten Closer. Needless to say, both times were breathtaking.