Safer paths?

There’s been an interesting post on the marvelous Facebook of Humans of New York (which you should follow, it’s… humanist).

One guy was in NYC, in his mid-30, struggling to be an actor with no or little success, living paycheck to paycheck. The people’s answers under the post were interesting, picking paths for him (from “go on you’ll make it” to “wisdom says you should let go now”).

I chose an answer from a reasonable person, who chose a family life. Drawing a three branched tree :

  1. People with a more safe and secure life, as a choice, staying anonymous.
  2. People with dreams and passion, wishing for success (in entertainment).
  3. People “mourning unfulfilled dreams” within an ordinary life : they were too afraid to try and dare.

With a conclusion : “Not all dreams work out” and people fall down. But also the maybeness of dreams become true – with the eternal behind-law which says approximatively “When the Gods want to punish you they fulfill your dreams”.

Of course, the actor was necklacing castings, with very little success. It looked like  lottery and gamble…

It becomes a game : What’s worse, to have an ordinary life complaining you should have been an artist, or to struggle for decades until nothing happens? What if you succeed, and it’s boring? What if my book is at least edited and no one buys it? Are there stages in these paths? What if you succeed and then fall into oblivion? What if you decide to move and act at mid-life? Or the contrary, disappear after success?

Oh oh, my three-branched tree became a tree!

Thanks for reading!

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The Mastroianni/Mitchum State

Robert Mitchum (1917-1997) and Marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996) were two actors. Both are known for their state of mind, which are different and similar at the same time.

They don’t give a tinker’s damn

Where? Well, it spouts from all the texts, books, articles and interviews about them :

  1. The characters they impersonate often seem… floating, or watching, rarely “intense”. See Mitchum in Ryan’s Daughter.
  2. In their relationships with directors. Fellini, for example, adored Mastroianni because he was not the “I have another question” type. He just followed. He did what he was told to do. Like a clay ball.
  3. In their work. They never seemed to work a lot. But they were ready though. Mitchum is known for partying and drinking all night, then appearing on the set in the morning almost… defeated, then giving a splendid acting work in front of the camera.
  4. In their lives.

 

This “I’m not really here” state is hard to name. Aloof sounds a bit snob, right? And indeed I don’t think it’s really a decision.

Here we also touch the Paradox of the Actor : “Do great actors experience the emotions they are displaying?”.

What are the limits of Actor’s Studio‘s methods? Mitchum was much less pulling faces than De Niro in their respective role of the bad guy in the two different versions of Cape Fear (1962 and 1991) – and Mitchum is said to be much more terrifying.

 

Is it a state of floating? Of being a “watcher”? Of being cool? Clever? Indifferent? Polite? A genius? A zen master like “I observe but I don’t judge”?

Is it a wisdom, an elegance of life, a modern, Chekhovian way of knowing that all is NOT that important, and we’ll die pretty soon, and let’s stand up cool, nothing big deal?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

Intention of Effect Kills Effect

Chekhov, Fellini and Sisyphus’ lesson : “Slide, mortals, don’t bear down”

Best Documentaries about Cinema, Actors and Film Making

I can’t wait to watch the HBO Documentary about S. Spielberg. This impatience made me thought about great other documentaries about cinema I watched before.

Here a some you could stream one day. I know them, they’re GOOD :

  • Stanley Kubrick, A Life in Picture (awesome)
  • Hearts of Darkness : A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991) (flabbergasting)
  • The Kid Stays in the Picture (about a Paramount producer)
  • Listen to me Marlon (built around the voice of Marlon Brando)
  • The Cutting Edge – The Magic of Movie Editing (I ADORED this one)
  • Cameraman : The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff
  • Fellini : I’m a big liar
  • Dangerous Days : Making Blade Runner (very, very good)
  • A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies
  • Room 237 (really fascinating theories about The Shining)
  • The Beast Within : The Making of ‘Alien’

I googled to find more docs with good notes (or on “every” list), I will check soon :

  • Side by Side (digital or not?)
  • Visions of Light (about Photography in movies)
  • Directed by John Ford
  • American Masters Episode: Woody Allen (Sydney Lumet, too, I think)
  • Burden of Dreams (Herzog & Kinski in the forest)
  • Final Cut: The Making of Heaven’s Gate and the Unmaking of a Studio
  • Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
  • No Subtitles Necessary : Laszlo & Vilmos
  • Billy Wilder : confessions
  • Jodorowsky’s Dune
  • Lost in La Mancha
  • That Moment : Magnolia Diary
  • Cinematographer Style
  • The Godfather Family : A Look Inside
  • Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau

 

Have fun!

JP

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To be better elsewhere, a Kubrick Tool

In a Stanley Kubrick interview yesterday I found a little tool for you.

Kubrick likes actors, and he needs them to be there, not to be puppets or reciting idiots.

That’s common sense, but he goes pretty far to get the actors out of their comfort zone.

One is to shoot scenes for hours, 20, 30 or more, to kill (or get) something.

For Full Metal Jacket, the terrible instructor at the beginning of the film had to yell his lines (plenty of horrible things, he says) to young rookies.

He didn’t want the guy to think about acting, but to BE that guy.

Thus he asked an assistant to work the text with the actor, for days, while playing basket ball.

Wait what?

If you “think” about what you say you cannot play anything. You can not do this. Therefore, the instructor had to know his text so well that he could do anything while he was screaming at the young recruits…

Voilà.

The tool is this little pattern : what could YOU do with that?

How and where and when would you need to be annoyed by something else to gain effectiveness? What for? ? To write within a crowd? To keyboard your blog on the left hand only (to slow down)? Or paint with the wrong hand? Or, as a French, to blog in English?

Wait, what? 🙂

Have a nice day, et bonne semaine à vous !

Jean-Pascal

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Casting Imagination : “What do you need to see?”

“Let us leave pretty women to men with no imagination.”, said Proust. , a little quote that made me smile, thus I posted it in my last Chronicle.

 

Yesterday I found and read a Stanley Kubrick interview. He was told : “In all your castings choices, the most surprising is Ryan O’Neal in Barry Lyndon. Suddenly, everybody realized : “Oh, well : he’s a good actor”.”

And indeed, one needed imagination to cast O’Neal in this role. It’s so disturbing to see this Californian former boxer playing this 18th-century Irish opportunist! And the film is gorgeous.

I think of a similar pattern in another movie : when Visconti casted Burt Lancaster – former acrobat, pirate or cow-boy actor –  to play a Sicily Prince in The Leopard!

 

Proust, Kubrick, Visconti : it’s the story of imagination. And it’s probably a little tool, right?

If you have to hire people and build a team, do you pick “the best” from all logical reasons, or to you think it’d be cool or useful to have some… imagination?

This could lead to other articles, right? What brings someone who has no experience, or not in this “field”? Why would we need sometimes to look “not under the light”, but elsewhere too?

It becomes one question :

What do you need to see… to see that other people don’t see?

 

Have a nice day!

 

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Thank you Elia Kazan

Elia Kazan (1909 – 2003) was a Greek-American director, producer, writer and actor, described by The New York Times as “one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history”.

His autobiography, “A Life”, is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Smart, fast, generous, complex, it made me study his films, Marlon Brando, McCarthyism, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, the “Methods” in acting, New York vs Los Angeles, the crisis of 1929, what it is to be a director, a migrant, etc…

Kazan is a controversial personality because he gave testimony before before the “House Committee on Un-American Activities”, and you can see an example on YouTube when he got an honorary Oscar at 90 years old, a few actors refused to applause him.

So, you could study this interesting struggle between what is quick-easy to judge as a “mistake”, and the huge talent of this man. I read his own book (he explains himself in many pages), I watched “On the Waterfront”, and I understood. It was like a relief…

I’m thankful today because he made me understand many aspects of the American culture, he whetted my curiosity on many other artists. I read the Arthur Miller’s autobiography just after Kazan’s book, and watched many movies adapted from Tennessee Williams (Kazan directed A Tramway Named Desire on stage and as a movie, both with Brando).

A book, and a year long travel, around this, in fact : “What is it to be a standing man?”. Thanks, mister!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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