Posts Tagged ‘Movies’

What Does it Take to be Best Actor?

January 3, 2017

We’ll learn February 26th, 2017, who gets this year’s Academy Award for Best Actor, and, of course, who gets one for lots of things. But, acting is what I’m discussing here.

What does it take to be a good actor?

I am no expert on the subject, but I have done some amateur acting. My first role was Santa Claus in a play I wrote in 1942 in the 7th grade at Eleventh Street School in downtown Columbus.  We performed it for the 6th and 7th grades. You can read about it and a lot more in my memoir The Newsman: a Memoir.    I also did a part in a play in 1943 at Columbus Junior High School, then one at Teen Tavern in Columbus when I was a teenager. I played Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew for Columbus Little Theater, which was morphed into the Springer Opera House after that, and I acted in a number of plays for the Springer and for Theater Atlanta in the late fifties and sixties.  Theater Atlanta exited the stage  before the Alliance Theater  came into being.

Considering all that, maybe I can say what it takes to a be good actor with a thimble of expertise. First of all, learn your lines.  The drama professor at Agnes Scott said she was so happy that I would act in some of the school plays because she knew I would learn my lines. Just that accounted for a lot she said. She said nothing about the quality of my acting that I can remember. Some of the male teachers at Agnes Scott, a women’s college, would help her from time to time, but she had to go outside the school had to ask male amateur actors to participate in school plays. I think I did minor parts in two plays for her.

Second suggestion: concentrate. The Springer’s first director Charles Jones emphasized that a lot. He said it’s really important in everything you do. I agree.

Third suggestion: learn how to ad- lib when other people forget their lines and you have to reply to the lines they made up. Often when the other actor forgets his lines, the audience thinks you are the one who forgot his lines because there is a pause while you are waiting for your cue which is never delivered. That happened to me more than once. Once when that happened, Charles complimented me on my improvising a line when the lead forgot his and ad-libbed something that  didn’t make much sense. He said, “Thanks for bringing him back into the play.”

O.K., now here’s what some experts reportedly said about acting.

“Talk low, talk slow, and don’t talk too much. ” — John Wayne

“Never get caught acting.” – Lillian Gish

“Without wonder and insight, acting is just a trade. With it, it becomes a creation.” – Bette Davis

“With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be, otherwise it’s just hat you ust not acting. It’s lying.” – Johnny Depp

“Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance, that you o’erstep not the modesty of nature.” – WIlliam Shakespeare, Hamlet

And Orson Welles said, “The essential is to excite the spectators. If that means playing Hamlet on a trapeze or in an aquarium, you do it.”

Now, if we really want to get serious about this we could discuss the different schools of acting, things like method acting, naturalism, non-naturalism., realism, and romanticism.  I don’t want to  get that serious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some May Just Like Symphonic Music and Not Know It

September 5, 2016

CSO OScars

Symphonic music is highbrow, stuff for the snooty social elite, some think. For an example of that not being the case, look no further than movie music.  D.W. Griffith’s 1915  silent blockbuster Birth of a Nation  featured a symphonic score played by a live orchestra. Like many film score composers, Joseph Breil adapted some classical music for the film, using, for instance, passages from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 and Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries.

For a modern example,  composer, conductor, and pianist John Williams wrote symphonic scores for Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park and three Harry Potter films.

It’s impressive on the big sound systems in movie theaters. But, to me, better when played by a live orchestra. The Columbus Symphony Orchestra demonstrated that last year with its highly successful John Williams concert. The orchestra is going to give us more memorable movie music this year. CSO at the Oscars features such blockbuster scores as James  Bond, Out of Africa, Lawrence of Arabia, and many more including a repeat of the John Williams’ Star Wars composition.

CSO AMerican Icons

The other pops concert this season will be American Icons: Words of our Nation. Musical tributes will be paid to the flag, jazz, bluegrass, baseball, cowboys, and the Grand Canyon and, iconic Americans like Martin Luther King, Jr,  John Wayne, Lincoln, and Elvis, featuring the music of Aaron Copland, John Williams, Ferde Grofe, and others.

The season will feature great classics also. The opener on September 17th is Beethoven’s Fifth, which also features his Piano Concerto no. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37, and Consecration of the House Overture, Op. 67.

There will also be concerts featuring the music of Mozart, Chopin, Brahms, Saint-Saens, Strauss, and Prokofiev and others.

So, join me at the River Center for a super CSO season.

For more info go to www.csoga.org.

 

 

“Florence Foster Jenkins” is Laugh-out-loud Hilarious and Sad

August 13, 2016

Critics aren’t being kind reviewing a movie that isn’t that doesn’t portray them as a kind lot.  When informed that  the review in Friday morning’s Ledger–Enquirer  panned “Florence Foster Jenkins,” I informed my informers that a critic’s review is simply one person’s subjective opinion.  I can judge for myself whether I enjoy a movie or not. I found the film very entertaining.  A friend who I ran into in the theater after the movie said he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I told him I did both. He admitted that he did, also.

Meryl Steep being in a movie is enough to get me in the theater. And she didn’t disappoint in this one about a wealthy Manhattan socialite who a 1944 New York Post critic called the “world’s worst singer.” Streep, Hugh Grant, and Simon Helberg all turn in the great performances.

Not only did I get caught up in the emotions of the film, I found the depiction of 1940s Manhattan very entertaining. I love really good period pieces, especially ones using a lot of antique autos.

Do I recommend it? Definitely.

Oh, and we enjoyed the recliner seats Carmike has recently installed in some of its theaters.

Symphonic Music for Everyone

November 12, 2015

It’s good to see that the Columbus Symphony Orchestra is playing symphonic music that everyone can enjoy. I like a lot of the classics, but a good way to get the general public to become symphonic music fans is to play new, popular movie scores like the ones featured Friday evening in the Bill Heard Theater at River Center. Maybe it would be a good idea to do more pops concerts during a season. This one starts at 7:30. Hope to see you there.

Cameron Bean, Executive Director of the orchestra, says now is a great time to pay a tribute to John Williams because more of his musical masterpieces are premiering this year, “Jurassic World” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”  “We thought it would be fitting to celebrate his works with a pops concert for the whole family to enjoy.”

Also, there will be a costume party before the concert.  Sounds like a winner to me.

 

A Columbus Film Society?

July 1, 2015

Anyone interested in restarting a film society group in Columbus, Georgia?  I don’t know what happened to the one that existed at one time, but I think it would be fun to have one now.  After all, the Screening Room at the Ritz 13 is showing a Carmike Classic every Tuesday night at 7.  All seats $5. Not bad.  We plan to make the next one and hope to see you there. We saw “Raging Bull” last night. Robert De Niro turned in an incredible performance as Jake LaMotta.

220px-BriefEncounterPoster

This Tuesday, July 7, it’s David Lean’s (yes, the fellow who directed “Lawrence of Arabia”) production of Noel Cowards “Brief Encounter.” It is indeed a classic.

 

“Hollywood South”

February 3, 2015

Hollywood is still considered the movie capital of the world, but it’s getting a lot of competition from Georgia now.  Lee Thomas, Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, told Columbus Rotarians that Georgia came it third last year in the number of productions filmed in America.

There are a  number of sound stages operating in Atlanta now, and a lot of movies are being shot on locations all over the state.  It’s become a billion-dollar industry in the state. More than 700 films of different types have been made in Georgia since 1972. Westville has been the location for a number of films, including one just recently released, The Homesman,  directed and starring Tommy Lee Jones, and featuring Hillary Swank, and Meryl Streep. And some major ones were made before then.  Parts of Gone With The Wind were shot in Georgia in 1939.  A number of movies have been made at Fort Benning, including the Green Berets with John Wayne.

Why are so  many being made in Georgia now?  Impressive tax breaks, and many suitable locations for shooting feature films, television shows, commercials, and more.

So now if you want to work in the movies, you can do it here in Georgia.  Movies employ about 150 locals for middle-range budget movies, and about 250 for big budget fims.

Mixed Feelings about Seeing “Into the Woods”

December 29, 2014

The movie was very  entertaining, extremely well done, so well done that the audience that attended the 4:05 showing at the Ritz 13 Saturday actually applauded when it was over.  That almost never happens at a movie.  None of the people who made the movie were there to hear it.  I was glad I saw it. It deserves applause.

What I  was not glad about was going to  see it on the first Saturday it showed because the theater was packed.  That wouldn’t have been so bad except there was lots of juicy coughing, with one person emitting a deep bronchial cough numerous times.  I hope my immune system is performing well.  I’m going back to seeing matinée movies  during the week when most people are at work. That’s one of the advantages of  being retired.

 

 

Great Theatrical Documentary Movies I’ve Missed

August 25, 2014

Each year an Academy Award is given for the Best Documentary and usually I  have  not seen any of the nominated films.  I think  it ‘s because they are rarely shown in a theater near me before they win an Oscar.  Now, there is a solution to that. We can either rent or buy some of them on DVDs or catch a lot of them on Netflix and pay-per-view channels on cable. Still, I had rather see them on the big screen with the big sound in a theater.  Also, being a part of an in-person audience is a dynamic you don’t get at home.

Fortunately some get shown in the Screening Room at the Carmike Ritz 13 in Columbus.  And some get so much publicity they even make it to the larger stadium-seating theaters.  Michael Moore’s highly controversial docs quite often make it to the larger theaters, for instance.  They attract large audiences and make mega-bucks.

Still, there are many critically acclaimed docs ones that  I never seen. I came across a bunch of them when I decided to check out the director of the new feature film If I Stay.  R.J. Cutler got an Oscar nomination  for The War Room, which got rave reviews when it was released in 1993.  No, it’s not about the famous War Room, a bunker that was used as headquarters by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the U.K.’s top  military staff during World  War II.  It was preserved and is open to the public in London. I saw it and was really impressed.  The Cutler War Room film is about the inner-workings of the Bill Clinton’s first campaign for president.  If he had lost, Cutler and company felt the doc would fail, but he didn’t lose and the doc was not a failure.

He also made A Perfect Candidate, which was about the Virginia U.S. Senate election  in  which Republican Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, famous for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, narrowly lost to Democrat Charles S. Robb. a Vietnam War hero and former Virginia governor.  Both candidates gave Cutler’s film crew access to their campaigns. The film got rave reviews.  The Washington Post’s critic called A Perfect Candidate and The War Room the two  best political documentaries ever made.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to rent those docs, and many others that I missed over the years that probably never played in a theater near me.  

I just saw a really good new one about finding  the world’s most complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex on a home TV screen, Dinosaur 13, that features Bill Harlan, a former South Dakota journalist who now lives in Columbus and is a friend of mine.  It is playing in theaters in most of the country, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom, and some other countries, but not in the Southeastern United States.  I hope Carmike Cinemas will remedy that situation.  Meanwhile, checkout this YouTube about a T-Rex and a really big snake.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVMCuZZ3XKk

 

 

 

Having a Drink with the Duke

July 14, 2014

As I read the news about John Wayne’s estate engaging in a legal battle with Duke University over the use of  the name Duke, it reminded me of  the time I had a drink with the Duke.

The estate wants to put the name “Duke” on the label of bottles of Kentucky bourbon. Duke University reportedly opposes that idea. From personal experience, I know that Wayne did like bourbon.

He had just finished shooting some scenes for The Green Berets, a film about the Vietnam War at Fort  Benning.   Meeting him on location the night before, I had so upset him when I asked if he was making a propaganda movie that he cut the interview short and stormed off, saying, “You’re just trying to provoke me. I’m  trying to make an entertaining  movie.”

The next morning his publicist called me to say that Duke felt bad about the episode with me, that he had been upset by something else and that he would give me another interview if I wanted it. The publicist and I met him at his apartment after that day’s filming.  He gave me his famous smile and a hardy handshake,  explained that he had been in a bad mood the night before because of problems he was having with one of his actors who had a drinking problem,  said he understood I was just doing my job and I could ask  him anything I wished.  I responded by honestly telling him I was a fan and had really enjoyed his latest movie in the theaters, The War Wagon. He invited me to join him at the apartment’s  kitchen table to do the interview.  He also asked me if I would like to have a bourbon and water with him.  Usually, I didn’t drink on the job, but there was no way I was going to  not have a drink with John Wayne.

I interviewed him for an hour.  He gave me a lot of interesting inside stories about such things as the mafia’s influence in Hollywood. I sent both the short interview from the  night before and the hour interview to  CBS.  They only used the one with the verbal fireworks from the night before.

 

Mickey Rooney Memories

April 7, 2014

472px-Mickey_Rooney_stillThough he wasn’t among the movie stars I interviewed over the years, I feel as though I lost a buddy when I learned that Mickey Rooney died.  That’s because I saw his Andy Hardy movies when they were first-run.  The first one, A Family Affair,  was shot in 1937.  Mickey was 17-years-old, and  I was 6 at the time.  There was no question about it. When an Andy Hardy movie  played between 1937 and 1946,  somebody in my family – sometimes my mom and dad took me, but there were others when either my older sister Betty or Brother Elbert would take me – and I went to  see it.

Judy Garland not only starred with him in three of the fourteen Andy Hardy films, but in some smash hit musicals.  They were never reported as being romantically involved, but Mickey said their love ran deeper than that.  Maybe that’s why they played so well in movies together.

Those movies catapulted him to  being the top box-office draw in 1939. Time magazine put his face on the cover of a 1940 edition, saying, according to Wikipedia, “Hollywood’s No. 1 box office bait in 1939 was not Clark Gable, Errol Flynn or Tyrone Power, but a rope-haired, kazoo-voiced kid with a comic-strip face, who until this week had never appeared in a picture without mugging or overacting it. His name (assumed) was Mickey Rooney, and to a large part of the more articulate U. S. cinema audience, his name was becoming a frequently used synonym for brat.”

He proved he could also act in a serious role,  starring as “Young Tom Edison” for MGM in 1940.  He won a bunch of awards over the years, including a Jspecial juvenile Academy Award when the Academy was giving those and a Honoirary Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a few Emmys.

He continued to work in movies, radio  and TV right up until his death, April 6, 2014.  He was married 8 times.  He was surrounded by his family when he died in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.  He was survived by his wife of 37 years,  Jan Chamberlain, eight surviving children, nineteen grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.  He was 93-years-old.  As Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley sang, he did his way.  He did it very well “his way.