Sunday, January 13, 2008

Watching the end of "Summer and Smoke" on TCM, remembering seeing this film way back in 1961, taken by my grandmother to the RKO Albee in Brooklyn. Now that so many of those movies (the ones based on plays by Williams, or William Inge, or Lillian Hellman) haven't really been much in circulation, it's hard to remember a certain type of film....

Two films which i'd really like to see again are "Toys in the Attic" (based on Lillian Hellman) with Page and Wendy Hiller and Dean Martin in the cast, and "The Stripper" (based on William Inge's "A Loss of Roses")... unless my memory has really betrayed me, it's the best performance ever by Joanne Woodward.

On Friday night, i watched the documentary "Today's Man" by Lizzie Gottlieb on Channel 13; it was reviewed in the NY Times on Tuesday (because it played on some PBS stations on Tuesday) but it didn't get to NYC until Friday. It was obviously a personal work, and a personal expression. It was a little jagged (and we're getting so used to really slick documentary filmmaking now) yet this depiction of the effects of Asperger Syndrome on a family was determinedly emotional.

But it reminds me that last week, i happened to be channel surfing when i caught sight of Colin Ferguson; he was in a made-for-TV movie (done in Canada) called "Playing House". Decided to watch, and was glad i did. Nothing special as a movie, and the plot was rather banal... but there was a young actor named Lucas Bryant who was amazing. He played the hippie-musician who is told that this woman he's had a casual relationship with is now pregnant, and he shows up to take care of her. And he becomes fulfilled by being a father. And this young actor pulled it off. And that's not the easiest thing in the world to play.

There are these kinds of performances, which aren't (really) showy, but which nevertheless seem very truthful. It's like when Larry and i watched "Transamerica" and were really flabbergasted by Kevin Zeger's performance. Playing a certain type of sullen, drugged out street kid, he was just so accurate: the way he didn't quite look anyone in the eye, the way he seemed to shuffle, the way he looked down... Larry exclaimed that Zeger caught the "sullen vulnerability" that characterized those kids. And (of course) we know about it, because of Kenny.

And it was like two years ago, when Lou Taylor Pucci was in several movies, including "Thumbsucker" and "Fifty Pills", and i was in shock, because the nervous bravado of this young actor was so reminiscent of David, the way (initially) that David would always seem to be blinking, hunching his shoulders.

This brings me to something: how do we know what "values" we're bringing to something (especially something like acting). In short: what is good acting? In the case of Kevin Zeger, i'd seen him in some of the "Air Bud" movies he's done, and what he did in "Transamerica" is totally different. It's a different style of acting, he's changed his looks....

But if you don't know that, you don't realize the real care and craft of the performance.

And i thought of that last week, when i thought that Lucas Bryant was really brilliant playing a young father. The way he seemed so satisfied to have his infant son in his arms... that's real acting (since, according to IMDB, Lucas Bryant isn't married and isn't a father).


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