Tuesday, January 15, 2013
AMOUR AN ATTEMPT TO STATE WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT
Amour is a watershed movie:a very important point of transition. Amour will change the making of films for better or for worse.
In a movie theater, why do you continue to watch the screen? Well we think we've always known the answer to that one. We've got that one solved. We watch because we want to find out where the story is going. Our interest has been aroused: will Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert get together? What will the King of England say to President Roosevelt? Will our hero get his revenge on those who have harmed his loved one? Notice that these are broad subjects. They carry the viewer along from scene to scene.
In Amour we are not partially suspended wondering what will happen next. we are fixed in present time, urgently wanting to know, "What is happening now?"
Right now,in front of us (no overview)a man sits on a small sofa reading a paper and his wife lies dead in the other room. Glued to the screen, we watch avidly as a man reads his paper. The camera doesn't move. In present time, right now, we ask ourselves, "what is he doing?" "what is he doing?" "what is he doing lying there reading that paper?"
Or, we have before us, a man catching a pigeon. Right now, in present time, we are watching to see if he will catch the pigeon. We know it is happening now, right now and not shot earlier and later and edited together -because the camera doesn't move.
Nothing is done for us. Nothing is pressed forward into our faces. We must find it in there for ourselves. Our attention and interest are invited in. We are the ones reaching toward the screen. It is not the film maker's notion that he must hand us over the scene after he has made into the collage he is moderately sure will be understood the way that he has made it to mean.
Because of the elegance of this film, the unmoving camera causing reliance upon human perception and the concentrated brilliance of the performances, the ending of this movie can be pure metaphor.
I dont remember ever seeing a movie where the ending is utterly satisfying in every way, and yet it is pure metaphor. Again, not depending for its meaning upon fact and generalities, it can be as specific as true metaphors always are, and as truthful as they always are.
Funny how it took the French to show us the new way. Reminds me of the sixties.
Monday, December 31, 2012
I don't think any actor in performance, or any artist for that matter, should try to please anybody. This does not pertain to taking direction which is completely on the purpose line of the actor , to evince just what is needed and wanted to make the story work. It is the audience he should not be trying to please. Because then it is always going to be a generality. For there is no specific person or personality he is trying to please- it is "them". It is a generality.
And only specifics endure, only specifics actually occur or have any presence in art. Either say it or do it the way you see it or you have said or will have done nothing.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
BEST SCREEN MOMENTS
1. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS 1958
O.K. Here's my favorite moment from all Science Fiction, Fantasy and horror films I've seen. . .
In this absolutely terrific movie, Kevin McCarthy knows full well that if anyone from his community where the body snatchers are replacing humans with outer space unfeeling replicates of its citizens -- if anyone falls asleep, that during that unconscious moment, the body snatchers will take over and you will wake up, not "you" anymore and never to be you again.
McCarthy and his girl, Dana Wynter escape the town, make a run for it. But it's late and they are getting more and more tired. McCarthy goes to search for a path for them to take. When he returns, he sees Dana asleep on the ground and tries to wake her. Here's the moment: Close up. She opens her eyes. They are unseeing, utterly passive, opaque. She's been snatched!
2. IT'S ALIVE 1974
One of the great science fantasy movies, this one by Larry Cohen. Sharon Farrell has given birth to a very small but deadly monster. But she's his mommy. She loves him. She hides him away. But he keeps killing people.
Finally the police are onto the little guy and with ludicrously unnecessary force, about 44 police cars surround the big building where the child is hiding. His dad is appointed to go in and get him and surrender him to the police in whose keep his baby will surely be put to death.
John Ryan looks at his little son, knowing what he must do and what he is going to do. Great tears of love and sorrow fall from his eyes and were falling from mine, I can tell you. What a moment. It's emblazoned within forever. But without the masterful performance by John Ryan this moment would not have been realized and would not have become unforgettable.
3. SPIRITS OF THE DEAD 1968 TOBY DAMMIT segment
This film is a collection of three shorts or segments, one by Frederico Fellini, one by Louis Malle, and a third by Roger Vadim. The short by Fellini about a tormented actor named Toby Dammit and played by Terence Stamp, is in fact known as a great film. When it was last screened at a theater in L. A., respected directors who know good film came out of the woodwork to see it.
Toby Dammit is pursued by a small, glitteringly happy little girl who represents death in the film. The great screen moment, in this horror science fantasy film, is as follows: Toby Dammit, a famous actor, walks through the audience toward the stage where a TV interview has been set up for him. The stage has roaring blatant white lights and looks more like a fighter's ring than a television broadcast. As he walks, he looks down upon all those faces in the audience upturned towards him. They are Fellini faces: splendid and sordid, people who are real yet seem to have arrived from a nearby circus with skin a little too white, lips a little too red.
Faces, faces, faces, and the great screen moment was there for me. I swear I got high watching them. I went into a trance of some kind. Only the genius of Fellini could transport his audience in this way.
4. UNEARTHLY STRANGER 1964
The only way we can tell that this beautiful woman, Julie Davidson, played so wonderfully by Gabriella Lecudi, is not from our planet is that when she achieves human emotion and cries, great dark crevices appear in her face where the tears have fallen. And the other way? She experiences no heat. The moment occurs when her husband Dr. Davidson, played by John Neville, suddenly walks into the kitchen to see his wife taking a 400 degrees, steaming hot casserole out of the oven with her bare hands. You've got a lot of 'splainin' to do Lucy!
5. DRACULA 1931
I know this is a popular favorite. That does not mean that it is not one of the best moments ever to be seen in the horror genre and really, it must be mentioned.
Count Dracula, played by Bela Lugosi, is welcoming Van Helsing, played by Edward Van Sloan, to his castle, and is standing on a vast gray, splendidly crumbling staircase. There is a noise. We all know what Dracula will say. And he says it so beautifully that many of us can remember his exact inflections. "Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make!"
6. THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE 1974
Would anyone but Tobe Hooper ever be masterful enough in the horror genre to think of having people be utterly casual at the moment that someone is waiting to be slaughtered?
In "Chainsaw Massacre," the father of the ratty household and his son sit chewing on the decision, arguing in the most casual of ways, as to which one of them will slice off the girl's head and let it fall into the bucket placed in front of the chair onto which she has been tied. This chair, by the way, is between the two men, each trying to impress the other with how right he is to do the task, so we can watch her enduring this contest while she waits for her horrible end. An entirely original and unforgettable moment in all of horror films.
7. TERMINATOR 1984
Here is a stunning classic moment so good I'm surprised it's never occurred before in film: Arnold Schwartzenegger holds out his hand and stops an enormous truck dead in its tracks. I think it's his right hand.
8. E.T. 1982
We all know and love this moment: Drew Barrymore and Henry Thomas' mom, played by Dee Wallace, looks into the closet in which her children have hidden the little loveable guy from outer space! She scans the shelves. The children hold their breaths. So do we! We see a shot of what she sees: rows and rows of dolls and stuffed animals of all kinds. The moment comes when we all breathe a sigh of relief, because to their mom, E.T. looks just like every other stuffed plaything sitting to his left and to his right! Adorable.
9. DAWN OF THE DEAD 1978
We are all used to that ominous knowledge, watching zombie movies, that the undead are man-eaters! But in this George A Romero movie a zombie simply walks toward camera and actually takes a big bite out someone's shoulder in a shopping mall. Pretty neat and it let me know that Mr. Romero has quite a sense of humor.
10. TWILGHT ZONE Episode title: "Time Enough at Last" 1959
Henry Bemis, played by Burgess Meredith, absolutely loves to read, but works so assiduously at his bank, he never has enough time to do so. Outside the thick, protective walls of the bank's vault, a terrible war ensues, and at its end, there is no more work nor any world for Henry, but what there is, is "time enough at last" to read and read to his heart's content. But alas, the violence of the blast has shaken him and his glasses have fallen. And now, the unforgettable moment: he steps on his own glasses and shatters them and also his own hopes for a contented future.
What are your favorite moments? Mind you I don't mean your favorite movies, I mean those moments you will take with you for a lifetime.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
September 18, 2009
Lee Sankowich called about a weekend ago and asked if he thought I would be okay to go into first public performance for SLASHER on the 22nd of October [at the Zephyr Theater in L.A.] I checked dates and checked how long this play, (my play here in Georgia) had been in rehearsal and called back to say it would be okay. [ I WAS IN REHEARSAL FOR MY PLAY, MUSIC BY HARRIET SCHOCK, “MISSOURI WALTZ”.]
Then I realized that Celine is starting on a life. [SHE HAD BEEN ACCEPTED IN PHOTOGRAPHY AT ART CENTER OF PASADENA AND THIS WOULD BE HER FIRST SEMESTER] This is it. Her chance. Hope is something that looks so beautiful on her just as when she was the most beautiful little thing with a great lifting space around her.
Her voice now, the quality of the bounciness of it, her opening in her spirit to look forward to and not to renounce tomorrow -
I called Deborah Taylor [PRODUCER FOR THE ZEPHYR] that lovely miss and we talked about schedule for rehearsal and then I called Celine and between the three of us we seemed to work it out and I was relieved.
I would do the play, which I loved very much, and Celine would do most of our school work Saturday evenings and all day Sunday.
Then the word NO woke me up at 3:30 in the morning. I lay there, and with all assiduousness and rapt attention tried to honestly mock up the days - those days of her being at Art Center and my being in rehearsal and eventually, in performance. What would they be like? I remembered the way I am almost completely absorbed into the play when I do a play; how I re-memorize every single day so I am sure I will be okay for the evening’s performance every night. I thought of how, after opening, I would not be there any evening, or many of them. I thought of how I would be at rehearsal, earlier, when she came home from school at 3-4 in the afternoon. I remembered the way when my parents came to visit with me, I would have a feeling of subtle joy in my gut, I would sort of float with them there downstairs, talking. I knew I had to be at home for her, even if she doesn’t like my dinners, (which she often doesn’t) even if she wants to finish watching the TV show she’s got up instead of talking to me (which she often does), even if I can’t get her to take vitamins and she eschews some of my attempts to help; even then, I know that inside of her there will be that satisfaction that is so important -that sense of contentment – and she will feel it because we are both there and that she is cared for in a contiguous way.
So I turned it down.
Kristen Anacker came over to dress me for Christopher Munch’s movie last month. She brought with her a wool jacket with quite small squares of a mild green, somewhere between wintergreen and meadow green, very English looking. “I thought this was you,” she said. I looked up at her with astonishment, when I could pull my eyes away from this ideal garment. “How did you know? I asked. “How could you see me so well?” I love that people do this about and for each other.
Later that week, I talked to my briiiiiilllllllliant accompanist for my one woman show (now called “My Life For A Song”), Tracy Stark. She was asking about the tour that those last people for whom we did the show would like us to go on. “Well,” she said, “you’re not the touring type. You like to stay indoors and at home.” Now Tracy and I have only worked together. She lives in New York and I live in Sherman oaks, CA! “You are spot on,” I told her. “How could you know that?” She knows I love to perform and I can’t recall ever sharing recipes with her! “ I don’t know,” she said. “I just did.”
My daughter is now twenty-two and her birthday is on November 22. my husband’s birthday is on December 8th, so I decided for the first time this year to have one birthday party for them both!
It was a wonderful party, and the next morning I wandered the living room/ front room alone, totally elated (I just love the next day after big parties!) fingering through my daughter’s presents lying about - the earrings, the lip color pots, and so forth and I saw that my pal, Lisa Yesko had left a bag for not him and not her, but for MOI! Looking down I saw oh! My favorite tea, Darjeeling! My favorite brand, Ahmad! So I joyfully pulled out the box of tea. Oh oh. There was something underneath. It was a teapot, one of my favorite things to possess. It had flowers of the most exquisite delicate colouring. It was completely representational England. It was a garden in England in the late spring with morning light falling across pale roses. Well I took one look at this gift, and though I don’t like to admit it, I actually screamed!
I looked away, shut my eyes tight. Swiveled my head back so that my face once again was facing that perfection. I opened my eyes. IT WAS STILL THERE! I screamed again!
I called her. “How could you know?” I asked. "Well," she said about my being feminine and the colors and… “I don’t know. I just did know.”
WOW. Let’s all do this for one another- go with what we sense about our friends, trust that we know, from this day forth!
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Karen Black: Still sexy after all these years
'70s movie icon brings new cabaret show to the Gladstone
Eric Veillette special to the star
Karen Black's voice still sounds as vibrant as it did when she sang to Jack Nicholson in 1970's Five Easy Pieces; her soft tremolo as fresh as when she hosted Saturday Night Live in 1976. Reclining on a leather sofa in the art gallery at the Gladstone Hotel, she sings a few breathy lines from an old standard and, without hesitation, turns the song into a country-western tune full of twangs and growls.
Black is in Toronto for her new one-woman cabaret show, My Life For a Song, which premieres tonight and continues tomorrow at the Gladstone. Her stories of working with some of the greatest names in Hollywood – she has appeared alongside Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Bette Davis and Oliver Reed, and has been directed by Dennis Hopper, Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Altman – will be interspersed with appearances by characters she created for past stage shows, along with musical interludes featuring long-time musical director Tracy Stark on the keyboard.
"It's an eclectic mixture of music," Black says. "I might do `Ten Cents a Dance,' then a delta blues or a country song."
After both shows, local filmmaker Bruce LaBruce will join her onstage to discuss her career and take questions from the crowd. "She brings a tremendous intensity to her roles," says LaBruce. Her performance in 1975's The Day of the Locust is "tragically underrated," he adds.
After her heartbreaking portrayal of Rayette Dipesto in Five Easy Pieces, which won her a Golden Globe Award as well as an Oscar nomination, Black became one of the most sought-after performers of the '70s. She appeared in The Great Gatsby – which earned her a second Golden Globe – Cisco Pike, Family Plot and Burnt Offerings.
But anyone familiar with Black's work knows she loves to sing. She grew up in a musical family – her grandfather was classical musician Arthur Ziegler – and she briefly studied opera before her acting career took off. "Our living room was always filled with music," she says.
While Jascha Haifetz records would play, she says she would hum along to Julie London and Doris Day. She has been known to sing a tune or two in many roles and recorded the title track to the 1973 Canadian horror film The Pyx, as well as two of her own compositions in Altman's Nashville.
As an actor, she's still incredibly busy. She received critical acclaim for her dual roles in Steve Balderston's Firecracker and appeared as Mother Firefly in Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses. Among other things, she just completed a pilot for a comedy co-starring Bud Cort.
"I have very few regrets," she says when discussing her career. Among those few is a script Woody Allen once sent her that she ultimately turned down.
"It was the part of a woman who loved to have sex in public but couldn't do it privately. That's great," she says with a laugh. "What was wrong with me?
"But I did meet him. He told me I looked like Warren Beatty."
She speaks highly of her son Hunter Carson, her co-star in Tobe Hooper's 1986 remake of Invaders From Mars. "He had a great acting career as a child," she says. "Wim Wenders came to our house because he wanted to cast him in Paris, Texas. Hunter tried to sell him a lemon from the tree in our backyard." Carson got the part.
As we speak, people come in to introduce themselves, followed by adulation and offers of dinners and tours while she's in town. But tonight's show is on her mind – there's limited rehearsal time, as well as technical aspects that need to be ironed out.
As one of the visitors departs, Black – well known for her impressions – jokingly musters her best Greta Garbo: "I just vant to be alone."
The screen legend comes to the Gladstone to debut her new one-woman show
Actress Karen Black has garnered a reputation over her four-decade career for being a somewhat strange star of the silver screen. Her roles in movies like Five Easy Pieces, the Great Gatsby, Nashville, and The Day of the Locust have earned her two Golden Globes, an Academy Award nomination, and a Grammy nod.
She first popped up on the radar in the epic road movie, Easy Rider, but somewhere along the line Ms. Black began to earn the reputation of being the Queen of the C’s, and, in fact, in some cases the movies she made might not even make it to the Z’s.
It’s tempting to feel like you’re stranded on Sunset Boulevard in her company, but the sweet and affable actress is certainly not for want of work.
She has five movies out this year, and just finished shooting a David Lynch-produced sequel to the 1980s film, Repo Man, called Repo Chick, and a Will Ferrell produced pilot for HBO called the Magic Balloon, in which she plays one-half of a husband-wife team that produces oddball corporate videos.
She has also written and starred in her own play, the Missouri Waltz.Ms. Black sat down with the Ampersand ahead of her new one-woman show, My Life for a Song, a retrospective of her career in film, stage and in song, which will be debuted at Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel this weekend.
More from this article: Karen Black National Post Article