humanity / Meandering

Meandering Monday about Whether It’s Really the Acting

I used to act (I really think we all act – we have our exits and our entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts. Sorry for the plagerism, William Shakespeare…) Seriously, all of us, whether we choose to admit it or not, are actors. We perform different roles depending on our audience. We act differently with our Significant One than with our kids, or our co-workers, or our boss, customers, friends, closer friends. All the world’s a stage…

I used to act on the literal stage. My first performance was in sixth grade – playing Unbearable Scragg in a high school production of L’il Abner. By the time I was wrapping up ninth grade, I was a member of the Tewksbury Teen Theater Workshop, and I thought I was going to be an actor from then, through high school (when I rejected the thought of a chemistry scholarship), three years in the Richland College, and couple of years after that when I decided that being a starving artist wasn’t all it was cracked up to be (you see, I could play any part in college – including sixty-year-old men, but you’re far more limited when you’re acting in the general population. I might consider getting back into theater now, but sixty year old men would probably be ALL they’d let me play now. Darned type-casting…)

Writing is something I can do by myself. You can act by yourself, too, but it’s not as common – and not quite the same. Theatre is really intended to be a team sport. Film is more so.

When you watch a movie, have you ever wondered if the acting you’re seeing is really as good as it feels? Or is it the story? Or the efforts of a master editor, blending just the right mix of heart-stabbing music along with precisely cut shots of the actor from multiple takes?

I love movies, but I stopped watching awards shows long, long ago (they’ve become such a politically infected platform it was ruined for me, just as has happened with the NFL.) I remember the year that Kevin Spacey got the Best Acting Oscar for playing Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects. I was really bummed out. Not only was I hoping that Mel Gibson would win the award for William Wallace in Braveheart (one of my favorite movies of all time), but I found it very annoying  that there were many people who thought Spacey was superb because he was playing a character (Keyser Soze) pretending to be someone else (Roger “Verbal” Kint), as though these were all layered in there, and finally revealed when we see Spacey’s legs walking on the sidewalk and loses his limp as he transitions from Roger “Verbal” Kint to Keyser Soze.

Really? The amazement audience members felt wasn’t from a superb acting performance – it was a clever plot with a surprise twist that the director, writer and editor had more to do with (why didn’t Bruce Willis get an Oscar for The Sixth Sense? he was playing a live psychiatrist who didn’t realize he was a dead psychiatrist, and that surprise didn’t reveal until the end of the film, either. And it’s HARD to play dead people without looking dead…)

Meanwhile you had an actor playing two different characters who happened to be the same person, just as you and I and Billions of ither people do every day (without the advantage of a director, writer, editor, and the rest of the film crew to make us look clever and masterful.

This came back to me because I’m watching The Midnight Sky. I’ve seen some praise of this as being a great job by George Clooney, and although I haven’t watched the enire movie yet, I have suspicions about what’s going on. If George Clooney is touted for an acting award because of a well executed plot twist, as is what happened with Kevin Spacey.

For something that neither one was really responsible for – at least not by themselves. For something we all do in our daily lives.

Where’s our Oscar? Just saying…

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