No more Method acting!

No more Method acting! (photo)

Posted by on

With everyone so busy doing year-end and decade-end round-ups of The Way We Live Now, it’s inevitable that someone would come along and try to define what Acting Looks Like Now. And that someone is film critic David Thomson, a specialist in the parlor game of presenting his own readings and interpretations as general truth.

His article, in the Wall Street Journal, is on “the Death of Method Acting.” There are generalizations about how method acting was about trying to locate “emotional truth” (by which Thomson seems to mean overt self-seriousness and agony). And there are more generalizations about the emergence of a “new style,” which — helpfully for us — “has no studio, no text and little public understanding.” According to Thomson, its exponents include George Clooney, John Malkovich, Robert Downey Jr. and Kevin Spacey.

These “new style” actors are (mostly, and not always in the past) comfortable with providing micro-variations on the same part over and over, with carefully differentiated nuances keeping each performance fresh. Two things attractive about this (heh) “method”: It indicates comfort with your personality, which is always nice: self-confidence, as the relationship experts tell us, is sexy. And these actors are all essentially comic, which makes sense — if your persona depended upon constant brooding and self-seriousness, you wouldn’t get very far, because it’s just not much fun. Luckily for them, the comedy doesn’t have to be in the lines themselves, more in the delivery, an inherently non-self-serious approach to acting.

Anyone who watches a lot of movies (and Thomson certainly does) is lying when they claim an actor “disappears” into a performance. That implies there’s something to hide — i.e., a well-known persona — which, for any name actor, is obvious.

No one really disappears. Daniel Day-Lewis may have gotten more plaudits than anyone this decade, and Daniel Plainview is a ferocious creation, but who seriously forgets who they’re watching in “There Will Be Blood”? Not to mention that, whatever thespy strain he went through, part of that role’s popularity is that Plainview’s rapaciousness and violence are frightening, but also very, very funny, a walking caricature you wouldn’t mock to his face. It’s an Oscar performance the same way, say, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Capote was, but it’s got a range for fun that playing a historical figure usually precludes.

Elsewhere in the pages of the WSJ, James Franco has the good sense to recognize this while explaining at least part of what he’s been doing on “General Hospital”: “I disrupted the audience’s suspension of disbelief, because no matter how far I got into the character, I was going to be perceived as something that doesn’t belong to the incredibly stylized world of soap operas.” And that goes for pretty much everyone with a name.

There’s no real point in trying to figure out who’s a “method actor” and who’s, uh, “reveling in performance” or whatever Thomson wants to call it. We respect and appreciate it more these days when actors cruise through, relaxing in themselves without getting lazy. The awards may still go to the big impersonators and showboats, but people (especially critics) rarely fall into the “oh, he’s just playing himself” trap these days. Once you’re famous, you’ll never truly fool anyone; you might as well get comfortable and make the rest of us the same.

[Photos: “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Warner Bros. Pictures, 1951; “There Will Be Blood,” Paramount Vantage, 2007]

Happy Gilmore

Spoil Sports

The 10 Biggest Jerks, Bullies and Weasels From Sports Movies

Catch Benders Thursdays at 10P on IFC.

Posted by on

To the victor go the spoils, and in sports comedies there is no bigger spoil than the feeling of defeating the sports jerk. You know the sports jerk — he’s the kid who tosses snot-nosed but loveable Timmy Lupus into a garbage can in the The Bad News Bears or the guy who shouts “Put him in a body bag!” before Ralph Macchio gets up on one leg to make that famous Crane kick. Before the Benders guys hit the ice tonight at 10P on IFC, check out the ten biggest jerks we love to hate from sports movies.

1. Shooter McGavin, Happy Gilmore

There is no bigger A-hole-in-one than Shooter McGavin, and Christopher McDonald really seemed to enjoy messing with Adam Sandler. Cocky golf pro McGavin was the perfect foil to Sandler’s childlike Happy and helped to update the sports movie bully for the ’90s. You know you’re the bad guy in a movie if behemoth actor Richard Kiel, (aka Jaws from the James Bond movies) thinks you’re a dick.

2. Reese Bobby, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

It wasn’t Sacha Baron Cohen as French rival Jean Girard that pushed Ricky Bobby to become a winner — it was the lack of love and nonsensical guidance from his absentee father, Reese Bobby. No matter how deadbeat a dad Reese Bobby was, you have to love a character that can get thrown out of an Applebee’s. The moment when Ricky Bobby was able to forget Reese’s pearls of ignorance (“If you ain’t first, you’re last”) is when he truly became a winner.

3. Ernie “Big Ern” McCracken, Kingpin

Bill Murray never “pulls a Munson” when it comes to comedy and he basically nailed a split as “Big Ern” McCracken in what is arguably the funniest Farrelly Brothers movie. Woody Harrelson might be the Paul Newman in this hilarious send up of The Color of Money, but Roy Munson would never have received his redemption without his nemesis “Big Ern.” In a bowling buddy comedy adventure where one guy has a rubber hand and the other is Amish, it’s Big Ern and his amazing hair that sets everything in motion.

4. White Goodman, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

In the words of legendary dodgeballer Patches O’Houlihan, “dodgeball is a sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” Ben Stiller’s White Goodman surely lives by these words as the Globo Gym douche standing in the way of Vince Vaughn’s rag tag group of misfits. When he’s not torturing himself with electric nipple clamps in order to stay away from donuts, he’s gleefully attempting to prevent The Average Joe’s from taking the Dodgeball championship and making ESPN: The Ocho history. Even though he’s not nearly as tough as his consigliere Michelle, the ’70s porn star mustache alone makes him an all-time sports A-hole.

5. Rachel Phelps, Major League

Charlie Sheen’s Ricky Vaughn might have been called “Wild Thing,” but even he knew to stay away from the team’s diabolical owner. Phelps couldn’t wait to take the Indians to Florida and was more than happy to put the team through hell in a plane that screamed “Buddy Holly.” Despite the fact that her funniest scene was as a cardboard cutout, Rachel was one hell of a villain. Even Jobu hated her.

6. Chas, Back to School

“Why don’t you call me some time when you have no class?” Rodney Dangerfield was the king of one- liners, and Back to School was filled with hilarious Rodney moments as he comes to college to help his son Jason enjoy school. Jason’s obstacle in his path to diving glory was none other than the king of ’80s teen movie A-holes himself, William Zabka. As Chas, Zabka is more frat douche than tough guy, as he can be seen cowering under the table with a pipe in his mouth as a bar fight breaks out. In the end, Jason gets the girl and we get to see The Triple Lindi.

7. Johnny Lawrence, The Karate Kid

Depending on how you look at it, The Karate Kid is either the ultimate feel good story of a teenager who learns the ancient martial art of “waxing off” in order to stand up to the karate dojo bullying him; or it’s a master acting class on how to act like a teen movie A-hole. William Zabka’s legendary performance as Johnny provides everything you want in a villain, right down to his maniacal grin in a skin-tight skeleton costume. He’s such a great bastard, another member of the Stepford bully group the Kobra-Kai even tries to stop him as he lays a beat down on Daniel-san.

8. Coach Turner, The Bad News Bears

The original Bad News Bears is as perfect a movie as you can get. Walter Matthau and Tatum O’Neal have hilarious and heartwarming chemistry, and Jackie Earle Haley’s Kelly Leak was definitely “un bandito.” But the real bad news in this movie is Coach Roy Turner, played by the great Vic Morrow. It’s only fitting that Turner coaches the Yankees and the Bears are the loveable underdogs (with a second baseman who has a mouth like a drunken sailor). The shocking moment when Coach Turner slaps his own son on the field elevates him to all-time sports jerk status and makes the audience wonder how this angry guy ever landed a wife who looked that good in bell bottoms.

9. Clubber Lang, Rocky III

While Ivan Drago might be the most ruthless villain in the Rocky series, he was really just a pawn of the Soviet military industrial complex. Mr. T as Clubber Lang, on the other hand, was one seriously bad dude. Where Apollo Creed was cool, Clubber Lang shouted and grunted all of his lines to great effect and trash-talked Rocky by telling Adrian to come find a “real man.” You don’t mess with a man in a Mohawk who predicts “pain.”

10. Judge Smails, Caddyshack

Ted Knight personified snooty Waspy-ness while delivering such classic lines as “Are you my friend Danny?” and “Spalding, get your foot off the boat.” (He also rocked a sailor’s cap like nobody’s business.) In the end, Danny Noonan chose “badness” and with the help of a wily gopher, beat Smails to win the tournament. Cue the Kenny Loggins theme music.


Sweatpants 4 Ever

5 Great Moments in Sweatpants History

Spend Thanksgiving in sweatpants with IFC's Sweatsgiving Weekend.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: United Artists/courtesy Everett Collection

Ah, sweatpants. They give us so much and ask for so little. Before you pull out your sweats for IFC’s Sweatsgiving weekend, take a moment to remember some iconic moments in sweatpants history.

5. Regina George wears sweatpants in public, Mean Girls

Regina George Mean Girls

Head “mean girl” Regina George discovers the wonderfully elastic qualities of sweatpants after gaining weight from the Kalteen bars Cady gave her.

4. Meg Ryan watches TV in sweatpants, Sleepless in Seattle

Everett Collection

Everett Collection

In the ultimate meta movie moment, Meg Ryan watches TV on the couch in sweatpants while scarfing on popcorn. This process would be repeated a million times over in the real world with every Meg Ryan movie ever made.

3. Johnny Depp hangs out in sweats, A Nightmare on Elm Street

Johnny Depp A Nightmare on Elm Street

Johnny Depp burst onto the movie scene in the original Nightmare on Elm Street, forever immortalizing the sweatpants and a half-shirt look. And then he was never heard from again. Whatever happened to that guy? Be sure to catch his one and only film when A Nightmare on Elm Street airs Friday, November 27th during IFC’s Sweatsgiving weekend.

2. Rocky jogs through Philly, Rocky franchise

Rocky Balboa

Robert “Rocky” Balboa brought sweatpants into movie history thanks to his triumphant training montage in Rocky. The sweatpants returned in Rocky II and Rocky Balboa, hopefully thoroughly washed.

1. That time you hung out in sweatpants and watched awesome shows and movies, IFC’s Sweatsgiving Weekend

What better way to spend Thanksgiving weekend than in your sweatpants while watching your favorite IFC shows and hit movies? All weekend long starting Thanksgiving day, IFC is airing marathons of That ’70s Show and Todd Margaret. Plus, you can scare off the calories with Nightmare on Elm Street, The Exorcist and Resident Evil movie marathons. And since you’re spending the weekend on the couch, be sure to tweet or Instagram a selfie while watching IFC with the hashtag #IFCSweatsgiving and you’ll be entered to win a sweet pair of IFC pants. Because if history has taught us anything, it’s that you can never have too many pairs of comfy pants.


David Cross Gets Busted

David Cross Fights For Your Rights in With Bob and David Sketch

Todd Margaret returns January 7th, 2016 at 10P.

Posted by on

If you’re a fan of Todd Margaret star David Cross, then you know he isn’t afraid to stand up for the every day American’s rights. And in the latest sneak peek of  W/Bob and David, the Netflix series that reunites him with Bob Odenkirk, Cross plays a Constitutional rights enthusiast who does his part to document police abuse for his YouTube followers.

Key and Peele‘s Keegan-Michael Key plays a cop in the sketch based on the very real internut subculture of “Know Your Rights” videos.

For more David, be sure to catch the return of Todd Margaret on January 7th, 2016 at 10P. Todd is back and very, very different.

video player loading . . .
That 70s Hyde

Higher Learning

Stoner Wisdom From That ’70s Show’s Circle

Catch That '70s Show Mondays and Tuesdays from 6-11P on IFC.

Posted by on

The gang from That ’70s Show had some of their deepest conversations in “The Circle.” They also never failed to crack themselves (and us) up. Get high on knowledge with some deep thoughts from “The Circle.”

video player loading . . .
Powered by ZergNet