Monday, March 15, 2010

Oh, Cheez, How I Do Love You

I'm a big movie watcher. I sometimes fool myself into thinking that it's a form of professional research, but really, I just like to watch movies. Two movies I've seen recently have proven to be pretty educational from the standpoint of the struggling actor, however, and when that happens I do a little happy dance and watch them again (and again, and again, and again...).

imdb: What Just Happened In this spirit, I am encouraging every actor who hasn't hit the really big time yet to watch What Just Happened with Robert DeNiro, supported by a stellar cast including Bruce Willis, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, Stanley Tucci, John Turturro, and Robin Wright Penn, among others. Everyone was great in this hilarious send-up of the film industry, told from the perspective of an over-caffeinated producer during a turbulent two weeks of agonizing, bribing, berating, threatening, begging, acquiescing, painful film-making.

But that's not why I'm recommending it to you. I'm recommending it to you because one of the bonus features on the DVD is a collection of some of the actors' audition tapes, paired with the scenes as they appeared in the film. This is far and away the most educational DVD extra I have ever seen. By turns making me think "WOW, he is so good! Look at his eyelines! He's so ALIVE in this audition!" and "WOW, that audition tape was nothing like the way they played the scene - I wonder what process they went through to get from there to here?" and everything in between, this had my eyes glued to the screen from start to finish. Rent it. Watch it. Learn from it. Know that one day, that could (will!) be you.

I am also encouraging you to go out and rent a really bad movie or two (or ten). I had the pleasure of renting and watching a (blockbuster!) movie recently that was so unexpectedly bad, I laughed out loud. A lot. It was not a comedy, but it was hlarious. And then in the middle of the movie, I realized that despite the cheezy special effects and wooden acting and plastic sets and overdone musical score, I would be lucky to get cast in a movie like this. I would be so lucky to get cast in any movie that hits the mainstream theatres, as this one had. Sure, I can aspire towards better, I can dream about the Oscars and the Emmys and the Golden Globes, but to actually get cast at all? I would be lucky. It was a very humbling moment. I need those moments once in a while; I think we all do. So, next time I find myself smirking at the contrivances in a script or about to complain that I have an audition for this thing that really looks lame, I'm going to rent this movie. And remember that I am LUCKY to even have an audition to go to in the first place.

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