Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New York Times Does Feature On Acting, Inadvertently Demonstrates Why Modern Movie Acting Sucks


So the Times, to get us all excited for their annual Hollywood issue, gave us an exciting multimedia preview of said issue today called '14 Actors Acting.' One-minute, silent clips of pure acting from the Times's 14 favorite actors of the year. These clips, the Times says, will "show - with a few gestures and props but without dialogue or story - what acting is." Wow. More than that, "these brief clips portray not only the art, but also the joy and vigor of performance." You might think, then, that you'd see some good acting in these clips. But of course you would be wrong. Rather, you see the sort of excessively mannered, thoroughly phony, utterly self-conscious and self-aware, actorly acting that tends to win awards at the Oscars and get raves from your local newspaper of record's movie critic. Specifically, we get:

  • Jesse Eisenberg trying to do Mark Zuckerberg gone psycho by making a ridiculous expression in which he clenches his teeth and furrows his becurled brow
  • Robert Duvall doing the same old winking cutesy wise old man thing he's done in his last, what, two dozen movies
  • Lesley Manville playing a breakdown so broadly you'd think she was doing an opera performance for the benefit of the people in the 800th row in a megachurch
  • Tilda Swinton tearfully tugging her hands across her face so slowly and emphatically it looks like she's being recorded in slow-mo
  • Michael Douglas sitting in a chair and pretending to pretend to ponder old age and the mysteries of life, then lifting up and hopefully cocking his drooping head in a procedure that takes at least ten seconds, as if to mime thinking, "well, I'm still technically married to Catherine Zeta-Jones," and finally gazing into the camera in supposed-to-be-haunting-and-profound fashion, as if to say, "but I'm still really old and it makes me sad." All while doing stupid mannered things with his thumb and forefinger
  • Jennifer Lawrence doing a supremely awful job of reenacting the shower scene in Psycho
  • Natalie Portman, who's trying to effect a transformation from cute girl who can't act into sex symbol who can't act, doing an atrociously exaggerated take on existential weariness while stripping
  • Chloe Moretz trying to portray anger, I think. Judging all by the teeth-baring, she might simply be pretending to transform into a vampire
  • And some other stuff that isn't quite as bad.

And here's some actual acting:

1 comment:

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