to be or not to be

Absolutely dreadful title. I was having a discussion on a message board about Joseph Gordon-Levitt vs. Leonardo DiCaprio. It wasn’t really a discussion because well, who honestly has discussion about acting? The deepest these conversations usually go is a listing of each actor’s filmography and adding adjectives to whatever profession the character had. Granted I never try to press the issue because I’m not the most articulate fellow, not well versed in all the different styles of acting, and I don’t think much will honestly come from the conversation. Hell, even most seasoned (old people or young old people) don’t examine much about characters unless it is directly relating to the plot or one of those rare character study films. Ironically though, the “uneducated” populous only focus on the actors.

I believe these are lazy reasons for myself to not pursue something I love. Not necessarily acting, though I would be open to it if I fit a part, but as someone who desires to become better educated in film, I’m depriving myself because I’m not being actively engaged by other people. Hell, considering a good portion of my favorite films I love are because of the characters (not because of superficial reasons for me liking or hating them) I should at least be attempting to better communicate with myself, if no one else, about why I enjoy such-and-such performance.

Quentin Tarantino made an interesting comment during an interview. I can’t recall if it was 08, 09, or from this year, however it was concerning classic Hollywood cinema and melodrama. He ranted, because Quentin never just talks, about how younger audiences would cringe and laugh at the screen because they were so uncomfortable by the fact that it was so melodramatic, that actors would sincerely go “there” in a performance. Unfortunately, for my generation and the one prior to mine and maybe even the one before that, we grew up in the Marlon Brando era so we reject any other style that’s not “naturalistic”. The only time melodrama is accepted is when it is in a foreign language. Quentin specifically and more specifically referenced Spanish (as in Spain) and Pedro Almodóvar were he believes audiences find this acceptable. I can’t really agree or disagree because I’ve only seen Broken Embraces from Almodóvar. It was certainly melodramatic. It’s a shame that people are so opposed to older forms of acting because I believe Jim Carrey would perform beautifully in a silent film.

To get into what I hope to discuss with other people, because this is currently just me yelling at myself; I will make an earnest effort to move beyond the usually laziness of discussing acting. For example, I’m not a big fan of Leonardo DiCaprio. Not because he isn’t decent at what he does, but because he is only able to do one thing. While he has taken a variety of different roles throughout his career, he has largely emotes in the same exact one the majority of them. For example, if you’ve placed his performances in Gangs of New York, Blood Diamond, and The Departed I doubt you would see much difference in character even though they take place in different time periods and have a variety of accents. DiCaprio hasn’t been able to create different people in his acting performances. Contrast this against one of his contemporaries and co-star Matt Damon who has created a myriad of different people throughout Ocean’s Trilogy, The Informant, The Talented Mr. Ripley and The Bourne trilogy (granted he does constantly do the gum chewing thing).

However, to slightly reference back to the Tarantino interview before, variety and range aren’t necessarily the best or only acting choice. The Bogart Mystique for example, would have never existed if he did films only like The African Queen. Our love and the lore of Bogart comes from the many noir and romances he was in like In a Lonely Place, Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, etc. etc. That’s part of the reason he’s remained in our conciousness all these years later. The same could be said of Charlies Chaplin and his silent film exploits, Arnold the Governator and his action films, and Jackie Chan and his many comedic martial arts movies.

I can’t really say I have a preference for either because I do love the familiar of the charming, witty, and often emotional distance Bogart (Mystique) and seeing someone like Gena Rowlands (nuff said).

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About panamaenrique

Afro-Latino film lover in NYC. I love blues, jazz, soul, funk, and everything else under the sun. Any questions, comments, or concerns about anything I say, feel free to hit me up. My contact info is there and I'll be sure to give you a lengthy response about what I said and why I said it.
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