Friday, December 30, 2005

Inside the Actors Studio: Barbara Walters

I watched Inside the Actors Studio with Barbara Walters.

Has Walters really done over 4,000 big-gun interviews? Wow.

I found a bunch to learn from Walters that's applicable to acting. Most notably, her immense preparation and "homework" that she does, re-does, does again, then puts away for the actual interview, and adapts based on what's said (yep, she listens).

Sounds like a good recipe for success.

It's almost sad there's a whole generation that will just know her as "the older one on The View" (she's really good on the The View; she's just more than that).

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Inside the Actors Studio: Robert Redford

I watched Inside the Actors Studio with Robert Redford.

Besides being a legend in the industry, Redford has done a ton for independent and off-mainstream media (largely through the Sundance Film Festival and its offshoots).

Redford told a very visceral story (of which he admits, "I'm not proud of this"), where in his first class acting scene, he became so incensed at his scene partner not listening to him -- even mouthing Redford's own lines in preparation for his own -- that Redford grabbed him and physically threw him across the room.

Visceral, yes, but it was a vivid reminder of what my coaches -- particularly the wonderful Van Brooks -- have been drilling into me: Listen, connect, and genuinely interact with your partners in the scene.

Along those lines, it encouraged me immensely to hear Redford say he "kind of distrusts actors who have their lines memorized." He said he thinks genuine acting comes from improvisation -- but improvisation that doesn't "show" it's being improvised. I find a lot of freedom in knowing my lines cold, but having the directorial lattitude to see where the scene takes us.

Though I was encouraged, but also a little discouraged, because I haven't yet run into many directors with Redford's same mindset (OK, one; but all of my scenes ended up being cut from the final film); and I'm not sure I'll get the chance to act in one of Robert Redford's films in the short term ...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Saturday Night Live

I watched Saturday Night Live this last weekend.

I think I'd unofficially sworn of SNL some years ago; it just wasn't doing
it for me anymore.

I watched this weekend because Jack Black was hosting, and the musical
guest was Neil Young -- two of my favorites.

The show was OK in places, and I only really enjoyed Black when he was
singinging (dude is talented and funny).

The other stuff was kinda weak (though the "Chronicles of Narnia" rap did
crack me up).

Neil Young was, of course, amazing.

Friday, December 16, 2005

reality tv

'Twas the week of finales for reality television.

Survivor: Guatemala on Sunday (Stephenie should have won, and certainly deserved more votes); The Amazing Race: Family Edition (I'm happy the Lenz Siblings took it); and Thursday for The Apprentice (Randal's da man).

Yeah, I know actors aren't supposed to like reality TV, 'cause it's "robbing us of jobs", and ... whatever.

Anyway, now I've got three additional hours a week to devote to, uh, other frivoulous activities ...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Cinderella (Disney)

I watched the Walt Disney's Cinderella again last night.

Say what you will about the rest of the cast and portrayals, but for me, the characterization of Lady Tremaine (Wicked Step-Mother) is striking, unsettling, and non-caricatured.

Tremaine was voiced skillfully by Eleanor Audley, who was also Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent.

Rest her soul ...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Aeon Flux (Paramount Pictures)

Last night I saw the film Aeon Flux, and am pleasantly surprised.

The flick not only didn't suck, but was pretty good.

Sure, Charlize Theron just reconfirmed for me that she can do whatever role she darn well pleases, and do it well, but the overall translation of this anime to live action came across very well, and without a lot of obvious CG bolstering.

Sure, some of the things didn't come across well (turns out the whole tongue fixation, though used blessedly little in the film, just isn't "there"; and the series' monologues caused the film to tread dangerously into "show, don't tell" waters).

Theron plays a tough Aeon, and my only criticisms are she's a bit attractive (not angular enough) for the original character, and they softened her a bit -- which makes sense, since they don't have as much time for her character to arc in the film as they did in the series.

Martin Csokas? Surprisingly strong performance, and a good balance for the heart injected into the film.

And Jonny Lee Miller, with a "small but crucial role", was fun to watch -- I'm actually now looking forward to him in The Flying Scotsman.

Liking Aeon Flux might have been helped by my being a fan of the original MTV Aeon Flux animation from Peter Chung, and his technical advisor position on the film is pretty apparent.

My fan-ness doesn't blind me too much, though (remember my spiel about Doom)?

Do check out the movie site, though. In particular, there are some interactive comic books that can be played from more than one perspective, with multiple endings.

Oh, and Graeme Revell does the music. Revell is the Aussiie (or maybe Kiwi) version of Danny Elfman. And both are brilliant.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

"Live with Regis & Kelly" (Alan Alda)

I'm probably outing myself in some way, but I watched Live With Regis and Kelly, and their interview with Alan Alda.

Say what you will, but Live has some of the more mature inteviews with big people in the Biz; people from whom I want to learn -- and Alda is one of the best.

I'm grateful for my ReplayTV, which lets me record interviews from various shows/channels/times, and watch them at my leisure (because it's all about me ;-).

Oh, and The Click Five performed. I may have to check these guys out. And I don't know who this generation's Yoko is, but keep her away from these guys ...

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"The Amazing Race: Family Edition"

I'm watching "The Amazing Race: Family Edition".

Phil, you are quite the trickster (and a genuinely great host).

Lenz siblings, rip it up!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Austin City Limits

Just saw Austin City Limits tonight, with Franz Ferdinand and What Made Milwaukee Famous.

Like 'em both. The latter more than the former.

Can't wait for the The Pixies on November 26.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Inside the Actors Studio: Russell Crowe

It's a two-fer ItAS kind of day!

I watched Inside the Actors Studio: Russell Crowe, and I'm impressed -- has this guy really done 25 films in 13 years? I'm amazed and inspired by people in the biz that work this hard.

I think Crowe's got a "Hollywood Bad Boy" monicker, but at least on this ItAS, he was direct, generous, and humble. Maybe he's hated because he's so direct, and cares about working, not being a metaphorical rockstar?

Anyway, particular nuggets of wisdom I got out of the interview included Crowe asserting what I already know -- it's a director's medium. As Crowe said, "It's his gig. It's her gig. You're just lucky enough to be along for the ride."

What made this particularly remarkable to me is this was Crowe's response as to when do you push your ideas for the character or the scene as an actor, and when do you bow to the director's wishes.

I also found it interesting that he advocated not falling in love with the part, because that can keep you from being objective about the character. Crowe made the argument that you need to be able to show the character's flaws, and if you fall in love with the character, you might not be willing to do that. He did say we should fall in love with the job; the acting.

I'm glad that despite his success and marquee status, Crowe's staying humble.

"Wasting time on a film set is not your privilege," he said. "Being on the film set is your privilege."

Bloody brilliant.

Inside the Actors Studio: Sissy Spacek

I watched Inside the Actors Studio: Sissy Spacek, this morning.

I think Spacek (Coal Miner's Daughter, Carrie, Badlands) is an amazingly solid actress (and a native Texan), and though I think she's an attractive woman, she's inspirational in her success as a self-labeled "Hollywood ugly duckling". This gives me hope.

Though I like Spacek, this ItAS wasn't all that engaging.

Could have been me, though ...

Inside the Actors Studio: Robin Williams

I caught up the Inside the Actors Studio with Robin Williams.

The guy is brilliant and amazing, unstructured but rich in continuity ...

"Legalized insanity", he calls it.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I watched Bewitched tonight.

OK, to put aside a bias real quick -- do we really need to remake these shows? Either it was good, and doesn't need to be redone (Bewitched), or they bit at the time, and shouldn't be redone (*cough* guilty-pleasure-Dukes-of-Hazard).

That said, Bewitched really wasn't bad.

The premise is clever -- it's a movie about trying to remake the 1960s series, and it's done pretty well.

It's a better SNL alumn film than Fever Pitch, which I watched the other night.

Will Ferrell is entertaining. Nicole Kidman is a joy to watch. Michael Caine is an inspiration, Jason Schwartzman is underused as Ritchie. And I'm not sure there could be better casting for Iris Smythson/Endora than Shirley MacLaine.

And though I felt this was a better film than Fever Pitch, it felt like the premise and story would have been better served as an episode (maybe a pilot episode) of a TV series, rather than a movie.

What did strike me about both Bewitched and Fever Pitch is it is SNL alumns joining alumn Adam Sandler, acting along Hollywood leads.

Though it's not one of my explicit acting goals, I think if I had the chance to do a film with Drew Barrymore or Nicole Kidman or Michael Caine, I'd experience a of version of, "Huh. I've sort of arrived."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Fever Pitch

I just saw Fever Pitch on DVD the other night, and am a bit disappointed.

Overall, the flick isn't real strong, and though Jimmy Fallon's performance is pretty solid and believable throughout, I don't know what happened to Drew Barrymore.

This wasn't Never Been Kissed Drew. It wasn't 50 First Dates Drew. It wasn't even Titan A.E. Drew.

It was kind of ... wooden, unconnected Drew.

And I like Drew Barrymore. Just not in this film. Didn't feel like she was having fun. Or had anything to lose.

On the upside, watch Jimmy Fallon for some moments showcasing some neat acting chops for the guy.

And the DVD gag reel is lame, and the deleted scenes hurt to watch.

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Terminal

I watched The Terminal, and it was good (Tom Hanks? Steven Spielberg? Of course it's going to be good).

But it wasn't great. The premise is tough (man without a country stuck in the international portion of JFK, not being able to go home, and not being able to enter the U.S.), so you're really left with a hefty character film.

And it just wasn't as good on that front. Characters make these sudden changes, and they didn't feel organic. Or I didn't feel prepped for them. Or something.

And Catherine Zeta-Jones does an atypically wooden performance (atypical outside of Entrapment, anyway).

But there are some great character moments.

I think Diego Luna is really underrated.

And for me, there were two powerful/ingenious moments in the film: Viktor Navorski's (Tom Hanks) reaction to the news of military violence in his home country (watch for the scenic metaphor -- subtle and telling), and a great Don Quixote/tilting at windmills moment.

The film's worth a watch overall.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


I saw Doom last night.

OK, I wasn't expecting a great movie, and it had its moments, but overall, Doom perpetuated the "bad movies from licensed from video games" trend.

Movies are shot out of sequence, and I felt like I could tell which scenes were shot earlier (where the acting almost sucked), and which scenes were shot later (where the acting sucked a little less).

And they messed with the premise of the game. It's not marines on Mars where a gateway to Hell has opened up and is letting Demons through. It's a pseudo sci-fi -- And by "sci-fi", I mean "skiffy", the semi-derogatory sub-genre that is the lesser sibling to better sub-genres like speculative fiction and space opera -- semi-horror, and zilch supernatural.

And they they seem to try to make excuses for it being out of whack with the games' continuity -- things like half-hearted references to the situation ("this is hell") to trying to classify the monsters ("these demons"). Even the website tries to bridge the disparity when they summarize the story: "... researchers at this Red Planet station have unwittingly opened a door" (they're being metaphorical); and "A hellish zoo of demons, Imps, Barons, and Hell Knights ..." (which is their way of trying to get the games' menagerie into the tale).

I don't get what went south on the acting.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has recently done a decent job in things like The Rundown, Walking Tall, and Be Cool. He's got like 7 new films between now and the end of 2006 in various states of production, so maybe this performance will just prove to be an aberrancy.

Even Karl Urban did a much better job as Eomer in The Lord of the Rings, but was pretty uneven here.

Solid supports like Deobia Oparei and Brian Steele (the man behind many good creature performances) do a good job.

On the upside, Rosamund Pike (Samantha Grimm) does a great job throughout.

Again, the flick had its moments. There are nods to Doom (the video game) conventions throughout -- many of them somewhat clever. There's a subtle "pick up moment" between Ben Daniels (Goat) and Al Weaver (The Kid); and some good refreshes classic Doom tunes.

One of the best nods, though, is the much-ballyhooed first-person sequence, which is a great video-game-fanboy-slash-music-video-moment, but not a great music-video-slash-movie-moment (for that, you want to see Underworld).

Speaking of which, the high point of Doom wasn't in Doom -- it was the full trailer for the upcoming Underworld sequel, Underworld: Evolution. I'm a fan of the first film, have been fairly stoked since the sequel was greenlighted, and, I admit, I'm taken with Kate Beckinsale's work.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Guess Who

I just watched Guess Who from Sony Picture's.

I dunno; who thought "a comedy version of Look Who's Coming to Dinner was a good idea? That's an important, deep flick dealing with a tough issue. Methinks you would want to tread lightly with spinning it on its ear.

Don't get me wrong -- the film has its moments. Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher do a good job, and there are some funny moments, and at least one, "Ah, now that was kind of important" moment.

But a lot of the film feels uneven and an overall missed opportunity. There's a dinner scene that typifies this, and I don't want to provide any spoilers, but I was expecting it to got a different way. I think the scene could have been handled such that it could have still been humorous, but been used to subtly and powerfully show whites and blacks do some of the same things to each other. Instead, it turned a little dark and lost its point. When you see the scene, you might get what I'm talking about.

Zoe Saldana (Theresa) and Judith Scott (Marylin) do well in this film. Both were fun for me to watch, and have a whole bunch going on, especially in their faces, and especially when they're listening.

If you want an Ashton Kutcher comedy, see Dude, Where's My Car?. If you want a movie that deals with race issues, see Crash.

Or the original Look Who's Coming to Dinner.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Clifford's Really Big Movie

I'm watching Clifford's Really Big Movie, which has some great voice acting.

On the celebrity front, Wayne Brady does a passable job on one of the supporting characters, I wasn't all that fond of Jenna Elfman's performance, but John Goodman was decent.

As far as professional voice acting, Jess Harnell (Dirk) is a prolific animation and video game talent (recently with Kingdom Hearts II, The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge, and has been a mainstay in games since at least 1996).

Then there's Grey DeLisle, who is an absolute powerhouse of a talent in animation, film, and live performances. Check out her uber slick website for a ton of info, but fans will recognize her from Everquest, Hunter: The Reckoning Wayward (and Redeemer), Doom 3, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, and so on. I really like her diversity in projects and sound -- a real artist.

And a lot people don't seem to realize John Ritter was the voice of Big Red himself for years-- we lost a good one when John went ...

Friday, September 30, 2005

A History of Violence

I saw A History of Violence today, and it's a good film.

Viggo Mortensen continues to do a solid job of (A) showing that he'll never be forever typecast as Aragorn, and (B) that he's a top-notch actor.

As a matter of fact, though the story is a bit disjoint, the acting pretty much across the board is A-List. Besides Mortensen, Maria Bello (*sigh*) does a knockout job, I've never not liked Ed Harris, and William Hurt (who I do generally like), did a surprisingly "different" performance (at least as I saw it).

And Ashton Holmes was a new face and performance for which I sat up and took note -- and I'm grateful David Cronenberg gave him so much opportunity.

Speaking of Cronenberg -- I do think he's talented. I also think he tends to be a bit gatuitous for gratuitous sake, and that presence in this film detracts from specific moments, and a bit from the film in general.

Overall, I think A History of Violence is worth seeing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Amazing Race Family Edition

I'm a bit hooked on The Amazing Race reality TV series, and The Amazing Race Family Edition takes the show in a fun new direction.

There are some opportunites to watch some compelling personality dynamics in this kind of highly competitive show anyway, but the whole family dynamic lets me see more facets of each person's personality. As an example, whereas before I might see a guy acting as a competitor and a husband, now I get to see him as a husband and dad, and maybe how he acts differently as a dad of son versus the dad of a daughter; "Dad as Disciplinarian", or "Dad as Encourager"; etc.

I wonder if Phil Keoghan just got this gig because of that eyebrow thing he can do. Not that I begrudge him at all -- more power to him. I also wonder if he gets called a "kiwi", like Russell Crowe. And I wonder if that makes them kindred spirits. And I wonder if I'm rambling ...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Tim Burton's Corpse Bride

I saw Tim Burton's Corpse Bride today.

Tim Burton is an artist, and the stuff that he creates with Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Danny Elfman is a ton of fun. And I think co-director Mike Johnson may be a guy to watch.

The film's a weird (but working) mix of sentimentality and "ew". Also, I'm not going to tell you (because it will give away too much of the plot), but a gold star to you if you can figure out after you watch the film what classic (not Disney)children's story Corpse Bride retells.

And there's a nice, subtle, and infinitely deserved nod to Ray Harryhausen that's kind of fun, too.

Now, it's off to find the musical score ...

(You may notice the offical movie website is having problems; while it's down, check out the trailer at Apple.)