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Date Posted: 07:51:53 01/26/06 Thu
Author: manwitch
Subject: Just some comments on acting
In reply to: fidhle 's message, "Re: eye of the beholder" on 21:31:10 01/25/06 Wed

I don't really agree or disagree with the points being made about the special features. I'm on SMGs side there. I buy Buffy DVDs for the eps.

Point One: I do think there is a strong bias in favor of the writers when considering Buffy. Particularly Joss. Buffy is believed to be his creation. To a degree that is true, but the Buffy that we actually got, the seven year saga, is not attributable to Joss alone, by any stretch of the imagination. SMG is HUGE in delivering to us the Buffy that we saw. Her ability to take that writing and bring it to life. There is an interaction that takes place when writing for a particular actor or group of actors over time. As you get to know them, you write for them as much as for the character. Its not just what Buffy would say or do, its what SMG as Buffy would say or do. The performances of the actors do influence the writing. And the other craftspeople behind the scenes who have been mentioned a number of times also have their role. Dawn isn't gorgeous at the end of Potential by accident or just because she showed up looking great that day. They made her gorgeous with makeup, costuming, lighting and camera work. And then she acted gorgeous. Its a team effort from a large team. We tend to think the roles are much more compartmentalized then they are. In rehearsals, one is frequently told to wear the shoes you're gonna wear. Because it changes how you stand, how you move, how you carry yourself, how you speak. Shoes do that. Which is costume department. Huge impact on your acting. The character of Buffy is an interdisciplinary achievement. Joss, SMG and a host of others we don't know deserve credit for it. It would be hard to say who is most dominant in delivering it to us. But SMG is its face. And its a nice face.

Point two: There is no one way to act. People do it differently. People say SMG is a great technical actress, but they mean things like continuity between takes, hitting her marks, that sort of thing. She knows whether the olive was in her hand or in her mouth when Willow says her line. She knows exactly the spot on the floor to stop so that her face fills the right side of the screen, even though the camera is twenty feet away. That stuff she's supposedly really good at. She's not a great craftsman as an actress. In Simply Irresistable, she may be charming as a likable girl, but she's preposterous as a chef. She couldn't be bothered to learn how to use a knife. The director obviously didn't care much either to allow it. But typically, actors will spend time around people that do what their character is supposedly doing and will learn the basics of doing that. You can see in movies about musicians who really plays and who doesn't. 99% of the time, the performance will be dubbed by a professional, but you can tell that the actor learned the piece. SMG doesn't seem to do that consistently.

Point three: Buffy is once in a lifetime for an actor, but they can't acknowledge that yet. Buffy was a great confluence of events and people that allowed her to shine. Of course it won't happen again. Its comparable to Leonard Nimoy and Spock. And interestingly enough, Nimoy's first autobiography was titled I am not Spock as he distanced himself from this character that had taken over the world's perception of him. His second autobiography was titled I am Spock as he came to terms with just what that role was to him and to his life. There will hopefully come a time when SMG speaks about her experience as Buffy, but that time is understandably not now. I say hopefully because it would be interesting, and also because its possible she will turn out to be more like William Shatner than Leonard Nimoy. Shatner never understood what he had been part of. He would go to Star Trek conventions and tell jokes about elephants crapping and then leave. Talk about a shocked and disappointed fan base.

Point four: Acting is disjointed. Stage acting is as disjointed as film acting, except in rare circumstances. When you leave the stage, you are in a very different world. Character drops, you hurry to your next costume change, to get the props you need, or if you aren't on again till act five you go across the street and get a burger. You come back on stage, character is up, you're ready to go. There is feedback on stage between the performer and the audience, which encourages or discourages certain nuances in the performer. And over the course of an 8-week run, performers get bored out of their mind and attempt to do something different. Does that make it a fuller exploration of character? Not to the audience there that night. They don't know the difference. To the audience its a coherent linear story, same as on TV. It takes more people to get it that way on TV, but I'm not sure the acting is much different. The biggest difference between film and stage is that on the stage you are thinking about the people in the balcony, so everything is a little bigger, every gesture a little more articulated. On film, the camera may be ten yards away and still the shot is just your eyes. And the mike is right over your head. You have to get real small, real internal, something that Keifer Sutherland, arguably our country's worst actor, has failed to learn. But I don't think the lack of linearity has much effect on the actor. They don't have a sense of linearity on stage either unles they are on stage for the duration. The backstage world is totally different from the onstage world, and they pop back and forth. The other big difference obviously is that if you screw up on stage, well, there it is.

So those are some extraneous points about acting. I wish SMG the best, but don't expect it of her. She's already done her best. Depressing for her perhaps, but I'm happy to have it.

The extras seem to me to be a marketing ploy and filler. That's true on almost any DVD. Really only the extras on Julie Taymor's Titus have been worth buying in their own right. My opinion anyway.

Later. I agree with everybody.

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