It's not acting anymore... can it be real?

Discuss all the finest actors, living or dead -- their films, their talents, and their weird, drug-related escapades.

Postby Pacino86845 on Sat Jan 07, 2006 5:55 pm

Hmmm, Deadwood, eh? I guess that'll be the next television avenue to explore once I'm through with Carnivale. That good, eh?
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Postby Brocktune on Sat Jan 07, 2006 6:01 pm

yeah, some people think its stupid. mostly because of the dialogue. but if you can hang with it (i kind of didnt like it at first, but then it grew on me) then that show gets very very good. i would reccommend watching the first season from start to finish. dont try to jump in in the middle, or the events that take place will lack significance, and emotional punch. seriously, ian mcshane is the shit!
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Postby tylerfulltilt on Sun Jan 08, 2006 3:17 pm

Ralph fiennes in schindler's list.

I think that's all i have to say.
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Postby Cpt Kirks 2pay on Sun Jan 08, 2006 4:19 pm

I have no idea if Ray Winstone in Nil by Mouth is just being Ray Winstone in real life, and that in real life he is a London East End studly Hard CUUUNTT!!, or whether it's just great acting, or both. He's that convincing.
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Postby DennisMM on Sun Jan 08, 2006 6:47 pm

I saw Capote nine days ago. Hoffman is Capote. Almost the entire film is perfect, especially Hoffman's (I typed "Capote's" there. lol) scenes with Clifton Collins as Perry Smith.

Never once did I feel as if Hoffman was working. It never went over the top. The voice was just right and did not sound like an imitation. The only thing Hoffman could not manage was that he could not quite look like Capote. Capote was a beautiful young man, like something out of a P. Craig Russell drawing, and in 1960 traces of that still peeked through the weariness and alcoholism.
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Postby Peven on Sun Jan 08, 2006 10:50 pm

Ian McShane OWNS the screen whenever he is in a scene in Deadwood. mesmorizingly evil, yet there are places where evidence of a real soul hiding in all that blackness peaks through, at least to me. his treatment of the preacher, for instance. and Brad Dourif also does tremendous work, some of his best without a doubt. Deadwood is a must see for anyone who appreciates quality writing and acting, imo. just so long as you aren't squeamish or prudish, fucking cocksuckers, lol.
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Postby Cpt Kirks 2pay on Fri Mar 17, 2006 8:26 pm

How about Chopper?

Even after seeing it for the second time and becoming familiar with Eric Bana, it's still like they got these actors who aren't that different from their characters, and just put them on screen.

I was thoroughly disgusted with Chopper himself, when I first saw him and knew nothing about Mr Bana. All of his scenes (even though his cell stabbing scene only feels true because it apparently has been stated as so) make you feel genuinely put off.
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Postby Lady Sheridan on Sat Mar 18, 2006 12:46 pm

Leonardo DiCaprio in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape."

He was basically an unknown at the time and I knew many smart people who were convinced he was a real mentally ALF kid.

It seems over the top, but that's what makes it real...not long after I saw the movie, I was working at one of those "Great American Cookie Company" stores, awful job. A kid used to visit, every week, who looked and acted just like DiCaprio. It was a bit surreal! I was the only one he was willing to talk to. He would bang on the window and wave at me. It was a big deal that his mom gave him money so he could buy his own. He was really sweet, actually, and when I lost the job I cried wondering how he would get his weekly treat without me!

Anyway, DiCaprio has never managed to equal that performance, let alone top it.
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Postby unikrunk on Sat Mar 18, 2006 2:09 pm

Harvey Keitel IS Bad Lieutenant. I felt like I was watching something real, his not so slow descent into oblivion felt shocking and sad and scary. It did not seem to be acting at all, but a day in the man’s life.

edit: Fuck it, Harvey Keitel in anything, including Saturn 3. The man inhabits every character, no matter how small the role is.
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Postby HollywoodBabylon on Sun Mar 19, 2006 7:14 am

Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen in Malick's masterpeice 'Badlands' were so wholly believable it was like watching a documentry at times. Beautifully understated performances.
Likewise, Linda Manz in 'Days Of Heaven' (I wonder what became of her?).
And Liv Ullman and Erland Josephson in Bergman's 'Scenes From A Marriage' were so realistic that when Josephson beats her up you felt like averting your eyes from the screen. It's that uncomfortable to watch.
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Postby buster00 on Sun Mar 19, 2006 7:29 am

Hey, glad this got kickstarted again so we can speculate about the look on Natalie Portman's face during V for Vendetta's head shaving scene.
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Postby Chilli on Sun Mar 19, 2006 7:33 am

Steve Martin in Grand Canyon.

The acting in general is rock-solid... but he takes the role of a Hollywood Producer and just adds shades around the character -- plus the 'Speed-style' footage of his action film is hilarious.
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Postby HollywoodBabylon on Sun Mar 19, 2006 7:41 am

Another one springs to mind which, from what I've read, was not acting at all, but a geniune, spontaneous reaction. Anyone recall the scene in 'East of Eden' when James Dean trys to 'buy' his father's love by giving him money he'd made by selling beans in the war?
Well, when his father rejects the money, Dean starts to cry and wail and hug his father, begging for his love and acceptance. This scene was improvised by Dean and the reaction of Raymond Massey (who plays the father) is wholly geniune.
Kazan kept the cameras rolling and what you see on screen was Massey's horrified and surprised reaction. After the take, he was apparently furious.
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Postby Cpt Kirks 2pay on Sat May 20, 2006 12:03 pm

WONDER HOW MUCH OF HARVEY KEITEL IN BAD LIEUTENANT AND DENnis Hopper in Blue Velvet was actually them just being themselves and not 'acting' at all?

Also, I wonder if Al Pacino has done any kind of role where he is not noticeably acting but is doing things for real? I dunno if I've ever seen him do such 'raw' stuff as these two and Robert de Niro.

Oh shit, forgot to mention The Deer Hunter, which is truly one of the best 'acted' films I've seen, simply because it doesn't feel that they are acting, mostly in the beginning, where it seems that Michael Cimino just placed a camera there and let these guys just hang out and do things for real. Gotta get the DVD with the documentary. Why haven't I done this yet?
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Postby HollywoodBabylon on Sat May 20, 2006 12:34 pm

Marlon Brando's tour-de-force in 'Last Tango In Paris' also springs to mind. He later said he felt as if he'd been "violated" by the film and never had he given so much of himself as he did when making it. It shows. It's an astonishing piece of self-revealment. Perhaps the nearest we've got to seeing Brando the man and Brando the actor merge into one on screen.
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Postby Flumm on Sat May 20, 2006 1:51 pm

Cpt Kirks 2pay wrote:WONDER HOW MUCH OF HARVEY KEITEL IN BAD LIEUTENANT AND DENnis Hopper in Blue Velvet was actually them just being themselves and not 'acting' at all?

Also, I wonder if Al Pacino has done any kind of role where he is not noticeably acting but is doing things for real? I dunno if I've ever seen him do such 'raw' stuff as these two and Robert de Niro.

Oh shit, forgot to mention The Deer Hunter, which is truly one of the best 'acted' films I've seen, simply because it doesn't feel that they are acting, mostly in the beginning, where it seems that Michael Cimino just placed a camera there and let these guys just hang out and do things for real. Gotta get the DVD with the documentary. Why haven't I done this yet?


If you don't know it already, Kirk, you have to buy/rent that DVD if nothing else to hear the story of how the Helicopter stunt almost went fatally wrong and watch how De Niro and everyone acts in the moment...

It's the take Cimino uses in the movie too if I remember rightly.

Plus I just read that De Niro's face as Walken improvises by spitting in his face, was completely genuine.
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Postby Cpt Kirks 2pay on Sat May 20, 2006 2:25 pm

I'll do one on this Flumm, cheers. How about Robert de Niro as Leornard Lowe in Awakenings? Thought it was a real patient if you didn't know better.
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Postby The Thin Man on Mon May 22, 2006 6:49 am

I always think Joe Pesci's performance in Goodfellas was so convincing that to be honest I would be actually scared to meet him in real life. Hard to pin down an actual scene but the one in the club where he shoots the waiter freaks me out.
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Postby Cpt Kirks 2pay on Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:34 am

I always wondered about Tom Cruise in Magnolia. The whole thing about a bitter man who became a huge success all the while holding a hatred towards his dad who helped make him this way. I know this mirrors Tom Cruise's real life and how he is estranged with his own father.

I'm not just talking about him throughout the movie, and that he is getting a lot of real shit off his chest as he is reenacting many of his memories probably, but in particular the scene at the end where SPOILERS.....








He is forced to say goodbye to his dying of Cancer dad, Jason Robards. That breakdown scene of his. You don't see him close up, you don't see him cry (maybe if you look closer), you see him with his head obscured and covered up for a good deal of it too, but damn me, if it isn't one of the more realistic breakdown scenes I've seen these Hollywood actors do. Stars or not. Now I've gone and bashed movie crying acting in the past before. After a while it all looks so technical and surface performance only, and it really gets on my tits. You'd be amazed at the amount of actors that just use a tear stick. So I like to think I know my crying actors.

But here, you wonder how much of this is real. I know Cruise had some kind of patch up meeting with his real dad around this movie coming out, but I don't know if it is before or after this film. But damn me if you don't wonder if he was just re-enacting some of that moment when you watch this scene.

OK, take this out of the equation then. Let's just see the scene, knowing nothing about real life Tom. You STILL get right inside the guy's emotions. He's still right there, in the moment, living something real right in his centre. The fact that he is also spitting out hate to Robards too and it is in fact a scene not just of opposite emotions, hate, glee, love, grief, but it is one of resistance and reluctance. His character is actually fighting NOT to breakdown. As another actor told me, it is these breakdown scenes that are the most effective.

The fact is though, is that 'cos Tom is so convincing in doing this and really pulls you into such a dark and weak moment in him that we're normally too scared to go or admit in ourselves, he really is quite scary in this scene as he does play it as if in real life, as if he is doing it for himself and no one else, like he doesn't care if that camera is there or not or what it thinks.


I hate to say this, as I do normally hate Tom Cruise and I know a few others out there do too. So damn.
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Postby Pacino86845 on Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:05 am

I concur wholeheartedly, Kirk. Good call on Tom Cruise. Normally an actor I don't care much for, but on the occasions when he was at the top of his game, he was really outstanding.
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Postby ThisIsTheGirl on Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:13 am

Good call on that scene, Kirks!

Magic Monkey already mentioned Wild at Heart - there are a few moments from that which I can think of, but probably the most obvious is the scene with Diane Ladd and Laura Dern, who are mother and daughter in real life. Here's a nice little anecdote which fits in with this thread:

There is an emotional scene near the end of the film where Marietta finally catches up to her daughter. Outside a dusty small-town jail, they embrace each other, sobbing. as Dern was getting ready to go in front of the camera, concentrating, she dimly heard someone trying to get her attention. Then she heard Diane Ladd´s sharp reprimand, "Leave Laura alone! She´s preparing!"

Ladd recounts fondly: "Well, the scene started and we looked in each other´s eyes."

Two generations of Method actresses meeting in Lynchland. "We both have been through a lot of stuff together and we both just really lost it, looking at each other cry."

"And I knew what memory Laura was using to get the tears and she knew which one I was using," says Ladd. "What were they? Honey, we´ll never tell."
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Postby Doc Holliday on Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:13 am

Yup - good call Kirks, though both Robards and Cruise were drawing heavily on real-life circumstances. I wonder how Cruise would fare with a crying scene if it was something more removed from his own immediate experience? He'd have to go some to beat this guy, I know that much:

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Postby Cpt Kirks 2pay on Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:19 am

HAHAHAA!!!!

Yeah as much as we may dislike him, Tom Cruise was a lot more realistic than that put on pathetic piece of not fooling anyone piece of shit that Bernard Hill did when he was King Theoden crying over the grave of his son. What a load of boring bollox bit of acting. All facial profile to camera and squinting his eyes closed, creasing his face up, then covering his hand over his forehead just to cover up his insincerity right at the point when he knew that the audience were onto him for being CRAPSHITE!

Yeah, real life circumstances. It makes me think about Dustin Hoffman in Kramer Vs Kramer. Brilliant and real, effortless but excellent to watch. Then I read that it was based on his real life divorce and I started to wonder how much of that was like 'real work' and how much of that was just like reliving that experience. I know he looked so natural and real in the movie to begin with.

All I know is that whenever I have to do a laughing scene on camera, well I use a lot of Zone memories to help me laugh. I think Flumm's bear comes in handy a lot.
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Postby papalazeru on Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:17 am

Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs. The whole film is well acted but Tim Roth really steals it...I do believe he's dying.
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Postby unikrunk on Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:19 am

Keitel -> Bad Lieutenant -> Way too real
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Postby papalazeru on Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:22 am

unikrunk wrote:Keitel -> Bad Lieutenant -> Way too real


That's another one...but for some reason I find Harvey Keitel crying, really really really funny.
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Postby Chilli on Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:27 am

Robin Weigert in Deadwood. Her role on Lost is shit, and therefore she can't make it good, but as Calamity Jane she's absolutely fantastic. There's this scene with Ian McShane in the 2nd episode, and its so simple and beautifully acted. He's calm and composed, and she's breaking down, showing disgust towards him and herself, while he just continues to be calmly threatening, seeing no need to go over the top. Its just awesome, and its an example of how much better Deadwood was than 99% of the other crap on TV.
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Postby Zarles on Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:27 am

Can we take this to TV, too? More deliberately, who are some people on television (or in movies) that you LOVE to see act together? This might need its own thread.

Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson playing any number of scenes from 'Lost' together never fail to blow me away. Personally, I think they're the best actors on the show, and there have been moments where I honestly BELIEVE that I'm seeing John Locke talk to Ben Linus. The real people just melt away, and all that's left are the characters. Yet another reason why I love that show so much.

James Gandolfini and Edie Falco on 'The Sopranos'. There's a scene from Season 3 or 4 where Carmella just told Tony that she's in love with Furio, and he erupts. The fight that the two of them have with one another is REAL. I've had screaming matches like that, and I've heard my parents have them, too. That is EXACTLY how they are. Terrifying.
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Postby Cpt Kirks 2pay on Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:28 am

papalazeru wrote:I find Harvey Keitel crying, really really really funny.


Just like we do Colonel_Lugz.

Speaking of Colonel's, sort of... Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now. Yeah, we all heard the story of how drunk he was when he did his first intro scene in his room in Saigon and breaking the mirror and having a breakdown, but throughout the rest of the movie I couldn't help but find him thoroughly IN that character, like he really was him. Funny how some performances or moments can remind you of something similar in your own lives, but that one did do that. Maybe 'cos I was going through some similar heavy moments myself at that young age. I dunno, but I still got it from him, and not many others.
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Postby HollywoodBabylon on Tue Jun 26, 2007 1:49 pm

A few others spring to mind.....

David Bradley in Loach's Kes. Heartbreakingly real. Still gets to me every time I watch it.

Harriet Andersson in Bergman's Through A Glass Darkly. Andersson has to be one of the most neglected actresses of all time and here she gives one of the best studies of insanity I've ever seen. She becomes this character in all it's suffering and complexity. Along with Jeanne Moreau and Liv Ullmann she's the world greatest living movie actress. By far.

Klaus Kinski in Herzog's Aguirre, Wrath of God. Speaking of the insane......

Bill Murray in Coppola's Lost In Translation. The real Murray unmasked I thought. Laconic, world-weary, a true sad-faced clown without the make-up.

Maria Falconetti in Dreyer's The Passion Of Joan of Arc. Simply put, she WAS Joan. Forget Method acting and the like, this was the real deal. And she didn't need words. Just that extraordinary face, full of grace and suffering. Brilliant.

Ryan Gosling in The Believer and Christian Bale in The Machinist. Two movies that really left an impression on me mainly because the leading performances were so nuanced and understated that at times I felt I was watching real characters and not fictionalised ones.
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Postby Maui on Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:12 pm

Jim Carey in Man on the Moon

Val Kimer in The Doors

Benicio del Toro in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


I think all 3 just mentally jumped into their roles and became that person.
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Re: It's not acting anymore... can it be real?

Postby Ribbons on Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:07 pm

Pretty much Mickey Rourke's entire role in The Wrestler. One of those performances that had more to do with the actor being great for the role than the actor necessarily being great himself (although Rourke is a pretty good actor as well). If I had to narrow it down to a scene in particular, I'd say the one where "The Ram" gives his speech to the crowd at the end of the movie.
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