Posts Tagged ‘acting’

Starring The Mousy Girl as The Killer

May 17, 2012

I found some pictures on the Internet of Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs and the resemblance was uncanny. Well, that got me thinking. What about? You ask. Actors and their roles, specifically what if a certain actor who is known for playing a certain kind of role, plays against type. Such as:

Bette Davis as a Boozy Single Mom
Yes, it is true. She played a single mom in Frank Capra’s final film Pocketful of Miracles (1961), which is a remake of an earlier film of his Lady for a Day (1933). The film deals with Apple Annie who sells apples on Broadway and has a daughter who is studying in Spain. One day she learns that her daughter, who has no idea that her mom sells apples for a living, is coming to visit with her fiance, who is the son of a Spanish count. So, she enlists her best customer, gangster Dave the Dude to help her convince her daughter and her daughter’s fiance that she is a part of New York society. As interesting as this film sounds, there was trouble on the set from day one (a good deal of it came from Davis) and when the film premiered the reviews were tepid at best. So, Capra never directed another film after Miracles.

Pat Boone as a Cold Hearted Husband
Yes, Mr. Sweaky Clean can go beyond sweaky cleanness. In the film The Yellow Canary, (1963) he played a famous singer by the name of Andy Paxton. On the surface, he has the life many could dream of, he has a successful career as singer, a beautiful wife, played by Barbara Eden and a baby boy. Well, when the lights go down Paxton is very self-centered and his wife is fed up with Mr. I’m-So-Great-And-You’re-Not. Yet, just as she is about to leave him, their baby is kidnapped. Does this cause a turnaround in Paxton? No, he refuses help from the police and even agrees to pay $200,000 as a ransom for his son. Yet, once Paxton arrives at the location to make the payment, the kidnapper is no where to be found. Hmmm, the plot thickens.

Meg Ryan as a Tough as Nails Army Helicopter Pilot
Yep, America’s Sweetheart (how in the world did she get that title), can play tough. In  Courage Under Fire (1996), Ryan plays Army Captain Karen Walden, a rescue helicopter pilot who is up for the Metal of Honor. Reports say that just before she died, she rescued a downed helicopter crew and fought off the Iraqis after her helicopter crashed. Well, as the investigation into Captain Walden’s actions goes on, conflicting reports come out and lead investigator Lt. Colonel Serling, played by Denzel Washington, begins to wonder if she deserves such an honor. Does she or doesn’t she get it? Watch the movie to find out.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Kindergarten Teacher
How many movies have Schwarzenegger playing a tough cop? Lots of them! How many of them have have Schwarzenegger playing a tough cop who has to go undercover as (insert dramatic pause here) A KINDERGARTEN TEACHER! Only one and it is called Kindergarten Cop (1990). In order to catch a drug dealer, Schwarzenegger has to find the dealer’s ex-wife, who is hiding out in Oregon as a teacher. So, if he wants to find her and ultimately get the drug dealer, he has to pose as a kindergarten teacher. Does he find the ex-wife, nab the bad guy and save the day? If you really want to know, put the film in your Netflix queue and all will be revealed.

Yes, it can be interesting to see actors playing against type. Yet, when you think of it, there should be no “type”.  After all, it is called acting for a reason.

Sources:
http://www.movieweb.com/news/first-look-at-ashton-kutcher-as-steve-jobs-in-jobs

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055312/

http://www.amazon.com/Pocketful-Miracles-Glenn-Ford/dp/B00005LOLA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336876323&sr=8-1

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057700/

http://www.allmovie.com/movie/the-yellow-canary-v117884

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115956/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099938/

I Don’t Like Horror Films

September 1, 2011

This past weekend, while Hurricane Irene was creating havoc up and down the east coast of the United States, a remake of the made-for-television horror film Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark was released. The film starred Katie Holmes and was directed by none other than Guillermo del Toro. Yet, no matter who’s directing or starring in the film, I must admit that I was never a fan of horror films. Yes, that’s right, while the people I grew up with saw Friday the 13th Part Whatever, I either saw E.T., the latest Star Wars re-release or was working on my book that was destined to become the Great American Novel. Now that Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is in movie theaters, I thought take the opportunity to highlight the reasons why I don’t like horror films.

All that Blood and Gore
The old time horror films such as Dracula with Bela Lugosi and Frankenstein with Boris Karloff were built upon good acting and suspense. The violence happened off screen. Since the 1970’s, the unofficial motto of horror films is “We give you BLOOD!” All that slicing and dicing does nothing for me. I don’t think it is thrilling or even funny. It just seems like a big waste of acting, special effects and film. A car chase, as implausible as it is in a horror film, would be a much better use of all those things.

Too Many Damsels in Distress
Why is it that the chicks in the film are always the ones who are being chased and killed by the villain? If you are going to portray someone who kills indiscriminately, why discriminate against guys? Don’t guys get in the villain’s way?  So how about having a few guys sliced and diced, just to even out the body count? After all, it’s only fair.

Eddie Murphy Was Right
If you are of a certain age, you will remember when Eddie Murphy hosted Saturday Night Live in December 1982. He did a stand up routine in place of a monologue and during the routine he talked about the horror film plot device of the haunted/possessed house. The routine goes like this:

“Wow, baby, this is beautiful. We got chandelier hangin’ up here, kids outside playin’, it’s a beautiful neighborhood, I really love – this is beaut–”

[demonic whisper] “Get out!”

“Too bad we can’t stay.”

Exactly. Horror movies that utilize the haunted/possessed house plot device beg the question of “Why don’t the characters just leave?” The obvious answer is that it would end the movie without much of a dénouement. Still, lots of times in these films the characters heard the stories about said house or place, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise when things start go wrong. Dudes, they put a “Keep Out” sign for a reason. Don’t you think it would have been a good idea to stay away.

Of course, even with these “corrections” I still won’t like horror films. So, if you are in the mood for Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street don’t bother inviting me because I’ll either be working on another blog entry or watching Star Wars on DVD.

Sources:
http://movies.yahoo.com/blogs/movie-talk/don-t-afraid-katie-holmes-182915204.html

http://snltranscripts.jt.org/82/82imono.phtml

My Favorite Films & Why

May 14, 2010

It was going to happen eventually, my writing about my favorite movies. So, let’s get started.

Star Wars Episode I-VI
When I saw the first movie in the series, now known as Episode IV, with my brother in 1978 , I had no idea what kind of movie I was going to see. Once the movie was finished, I was hooked.  Like many kids growing up in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s whenever Episodes IV-VI were re-released, I was at the movie theater.  (Remember, this was before the proliferation of VCRs. Also, I live in Philadelphia and the city wasn’t wired for cable until 1986.) The Star Wars series was a story of finding your place in the world, finding love and finding redemption. George Lucas and company did a very good job for all of them. Don’t look at me like that! Yes, he did do a good job with both the original three and the prequels. While the acting was off the mark at times, Lucas took those age old stories and retooled them for modern audiences.

E.T. The Extraterrestrial
This movie was directed by Steven Spielberg, who is a contemporary of George Lucas, incidentally they joined forces to make the Indiana Jones movies.  I went into this expecting a film where alien comes to earth and creates havoc with the people the alien lives with. Instead, I got a film that shows how love and friendship encompass all that we know and yet to know.

It’s A Wonderful Life
An oldie but a goodie. I first saw this film on a Philadelphia UHF television station in the mid 1980’s and I watch it every December since that time. I love the story of George Bailey, played superbly by Jimmy Stewart, the every person who had dreams but set them aside for the sake his family and his community. After a serious business mishap, Bailey felt that his life was worthless and he decided to kill himself. An angel came along to stop him and showed him what life would be like if he had not been born. Life sans George Bailey wasn’t a pretty picture. This film reminds me of the power of small acts of kindness and how these small kindnesses mean a lot to others.

Avatar
Now comes the recent stuff. I read an interview with Sigourney Weaver in Parade Magazine in December 2009 and she spoke a little about her role in Avatar. That piqued my interest. So, once the holidays were over, I went to see it and WOW! Watching Avatar, I didn’t just engage in a little fantasy, I inhabited the world of Avatar. The acting was first rate, the visuals were spectacular and the story of indigenous peoples being forced off their land, is applicable to our time. As deserving as The Hurt Locker was for its Oscars, it would have been nice if that movie won the Best Director award and Avatar won Best Picture award.

Well, those films are a motley bunch. Still the one thing they have in common is this:

I loved them all.