Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Denzel Washington

I watched Malcolm X released in 1992, and He Got Game released in 1998, starring Denzel Washington, both films directed by Spike Lee.  I enjoyed both films, both performances were great, both required an abundance of emotional output.  I enjoyed the father son relationship from He Got Game which is a highly nationally ranked basketball prospect hates and resents his father (played by Washington) to the fullest for a hard up bringing and accedential murder of his mother, resulting in having to raise his little sister by himself, a broken home tragedy that so many Americans can relate to. It's a movie dealing with family struggles and broken relationships which fits SWW.  I would have to say Malcolm X was a more challenging role, requiring Denzel a lot of prep and research to portray X accurately.  Denzel prepared by reading books and articles by and about Malcolm X and went over hours of tape and film footage of speeches, he also interviewed his two brothers. I think both performances were executed successfully, but Denzel did an astonishing job with Malcolm X.  Denzel Washington is a great actor hands down, he is very talented as an actor, and director.  He is a extremely hard worker, In my opinion he can play any character thrown his way. An interesting fact about Malcolm X is how hard it was to get this movie written and made, Spike lee contributed 2 million of his 3 million salary to finish the film along with contributions from Bill Cosby, Oprah, Micheal Jordan, Magic Johnson, Janet Jackson, and many others.  It's inspiring to see people put there all into getting a movie out there.

Javier Bardem

The Sea inside(2004) No country for old men(2007)

In the movie "The sea inside"directed by Alejandro Amen`abar, Javier Bardem played a quadriplegic man who had campaigned for 30 years to end his life with dignity. In the movie "No country for old men" he played a psychopathic killer who would stop at nothing to what was in his mind living an orderly and correct life. I felt that both of these performances required tremendous prep and research and it would be difficult to determine what role required more, but I felt that the role Ramon Samperdo would take more character work. The reason being is that Javier Bardem was also playing a man much older than he is and he had to put on age and weight and motivate his throughline as wanting to die.

Both of these performances were executed with great character work and were two different works of art in their entirety. To say that one performance was executed better than the other would mean I would have to feel that way. I honestly feel that both performances were carried out with great creativity and discipline and as an end result you see the complete differences in both characters and commend Javier Bardem as an extremely talented individual.

I now view Javier Bardem as a great actor who inspires me to work harder and keep growing as an artist.


Natalie Portman

    This week I reviewed two films starring Natalie Portman. The first was Goya’s Ghosts (2006) directed by Milos Forman. In this film, Portman plays two different characters living in Spain during the time of the Spanish Inquisition; Ines Bilbatua and Ines’ estranged daughter Alicia. Ines Bilbatua, who ages throughout the film, wants nothing more than to live a traditional family life. Alicia, who was taken from Ines by the priests at birth, is a rebellious young woman who longs to be free of authority and uses men to gain money and prestige. The second film was V for Vendetta (2005) directed by James McTeigue. Portman’s character in this futuristic film is named Evy, a young woman who befriends a mysterious revolutionary while searching for truth and justice.
     It is hard to judge which of these films would have been more challenging for Natalie Portman. I was surprised at how strikingly similar the themes of these two films were. I chose to watch these particular films almost at random and had no idea what similarities I would find. Both films are about the struggle of the people to overcome an oppressive government/government-like authority. In both films Portman’s character is imprisoned, tortured, and falls in love with the head revolutionary and must watch him die at the at the hands of the oppressors. Both films had the challenge of being set outside of our time and culture (one in the past and one in the future). That being said, if I had to choose one to be more difficult, it would be the role of Ines in Goya’s Ghosts because of the more explicit torture she had to face and because of the “insanity” she had to play in the second half of the film. Likewise, I would say that the role of Ines was more successfully executed because I had an easier time following the through line of her character in that film.
     I have seen Natalie Portman in other films (Brothers, Black Swan, Thor, The Other Boleyn Girl) and I have always admired her talent. She is probably my favorite actress. In my research I learned that she actually regrets doing the torture scene in Goya’s Ghosts saying that she is sorry she didn’t listen to her intuition and that the scene was “inappropriate” for her. I imagine that much of that film had to be difficult for her because of the way Jews were treated at the time (and especially in the film) and in real life she is a Jew. Natalie Portman is an actress who can display both innocence and strength very well.

Denzel Washington

2010 The Book of Eli
2002 John Q
Every Denzel Washington movie I have watched to date, have proven true that he has a strong through line for his character and is able to craft them with great intent.  In “The Book of Eli”- his through line was to protect the good book, The Book of Eli, as a messenger, or disciple of God.  In “John Q”, his through line was to protect his son and save his life by getting him a heart transplant. 
 As we have learned from our beginning fundamentals, the stronger our choices, the better things will play:  obvious the relationship and the circumstances in both of these movies are very strong.   We were able to see parts of him in each of these movies- In John Q- we saw the love, pain, frustration, desperation that his character goes through to save his son who he loves the most.  We see rhythm changes throughout as he desperately tries tactic changes with doctors and lawyers to convince them to put his son on the donor list.  We feel the panic, but courage as he decides he may need to take his own life in order to give his son his own heart.  We even find ourselves routing for Denzel Washington (who clearly is out of line, and the one who should be stopped) after putting the ER department in lock-down and holding both doctors and patients hostage.  The Book of Eli also finds Denzel once again on a mission- this time in an Action-Drama which is done at a slower pace.  Unlike John Q, this movie required physical demands on his body, playing Eli- later to reveal a blind man who has walked over 30 years cross country carrying the only bible left on Earth.   Even though his through line in this movie was to protect the Bible- his secondary goal was to survive his way into socialization. 
I felt John Q was more personal.  The audience could feel every step of the way the emotions that were being felt.  In the Book of Eli, there were many scenes with powerful  unspoken dialogue, but the honesty in this movie was at a different level- almost exhausting.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Denzel Washington

This week I watched two films starring Denzel Washington. The two films I watched were Training Day (2001) and Man on Fire (2004). Both characters in these films were violent and intense characters, but they were very different, especially where they stood on the morality scale. Both of these characters were men with “history”. Men who have seen a lot and done a lot before the events of the film. You could tell that the preparation that Denzel put into the characters was very extensive.
            In Training Day, Denzel played the seemingly psychotic LA narcotics detective Alonzo Harris, as he trained a new member of his team, played by Ethan Hawke. Denzel’s performance in this film is amazing. Words that I would use to describe it are raw, primal, intense, unpredictable, unstable, and frighteningly real. When we first meet him, I sensed his violent nature, but was strangely comforted by it. We see the world through the eyes of Hawke’s character, and we feel safe that Alonzo is on our side, because he is a survivor and he has our back. When that ceases to be the case, it becomes a very dangerous world for Hawke’s character. Denzel’s portrayal was very real and there was absolutely no sense that this wasn’t a real man. I think a great challenge for Denzel was to completely immerse himself not only in the dangerous world of the LA drug scene, but into the dangerous mind of Alonzo Harris. Alonzo was the ultimate alpha male. To play that kind of intensity must have taken extreme prep and concentration.
            In Man on Fire, Denzel played a depressed and suicidal former assassin, who took a job as a bodyguard for a couple in Mexico City to watch after their daughter. He develops a friendship with the daughter which gives him hope and love in his heart again. When the girl is kidnapped, the film turns into kind of “revenge porn” and Denzel goes on a rampage on anyone that had anything to do with it. What made the film was the relationship between Denzel’s character, Creasy, and the little girl Pita (played brilliantly by Dakota Fanning). Denzel’s character had this arc from being a quiet and cold bodyguard to really opening up and showing a tender side. Then when the girl is kidnapped, he releases that Denzel primal intensity. The challenge of the role I feel is to be able to display that character arc truthfully and not have it seem forced.
            Although Denzel was great in both films, Training Day definitely presented more challenges, required more focus and preparation, and as a result was the much better performance. I felt that in Man on Fire, Creasy might have been a more 3-dimensional character. He needed to show much more range of emotions, but the intensity of Alonzo was so great that you cannot deny that performance was greater. I have noticed that each of the reviews I have done so far, the role that present the most challenges and required most of the actor produced the better performance. I think part of it has to do with the strong choices the actor must make. The more the actor puts into the character, the more the actor will get out of the character.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Katharine Hepburn

            I watched Bringing Up Baby (1938), directed by Howard Hawks, and Adam’s Rib (1949), directed by George Cukor, both starring Katharine Hepburn.  I felt that both performances had a strong sense of truth.  As Susan in bringing up Baby, Hepburn showed a genuine need for David (Carey Grant) that led her to “stalk” him and do crazy things just to keep him around.  She was drawn to him to an extent that she needed him, and she was determined in her mission to ultimately marry him.  In the role of Amanda in Adam’s Rib, she embodied true inner conviction in her beliefs of equal rights for men and women, showing a strong-willed, independent spirit, but also a real sense of vulnerability when her husband Adam (Spencer Tracy) was angry with her and leaving her.
            The two roles showed range because the characters, while having some similarities, were each very different.  In Bringing Up Baby, Hepburn played a needy and somewhat na├»ve girl.  In Adam’s Rib, Hepburn played a strong, confident, working woman.  Amanda was more fierce and showed more “masculine” qualities.  I noticed physical differences in the characters, such as how they walked.  Amanda had very confident posture, standing very tall and with a sense of authority, whereas Susan leaned forward a little more, in the sense of chasing another person.  Each character also spoke differently.   Susan’s voice was higher-pitched and she spoke faster that Amanda.  Both characters had a sense of humor, determination, and often got distracted in conversation as their minds wandered. 
            I’m sure that both roles were a challenge, but in a way I feel like the role of Susan could have been more challenging.  Hepburn really had to need David to an extent that her every move was guided by her desire for him and she could not pull herself away from him or let him leave her.  She was so clumsy and silly it seemed that one would actually have to really work on theses traits for a character in order to make the character so carefree.  However, for the role of Amanda, I’m sure Hepburn had to do a lot of research on lawyers and court systems to really become a lawyer.
            Katherine Hepburn was inspiring in both roles.  Although both films were funny, Adam’s Rib seemed to have the deeper content of issues of women’s rights and law, whereas Bringing Up Baby was more light-hearted.  Hepburn showed that she could perform in both of theses styles of films, and move people in both as well.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

WSJ: Strindberg Bio

hi guys,

I saw this piece about a new book on Strindberg in the Wall Street Journal the other day...


Occultural Ambassador

Late 19th-century Europe was a hothouse of the weird. Strindberg thrived, claiming to have discovered X-rays and made gold in his kitchen.

While living in Paris in 1895, the Swedish author and playwright August Strindberg asked his friend Edvard Munch to create a portrait of him. Presented with the resulting lithograph, Strindberg was not entirely satisfied: Munch had misspelled his name "Stindberg"—stind is Swedish for "stout" and carries a suggestion of pompousness—and had placed a naked woman along the border, which somewhat detracted from the seriousness of the image. At their next encounter, without saying a word, Strindberg placed a revolver on the table. Munch got the message: In the new version, he corrected the spelling and removed the lady.

From then on, their friendship deteriorated rapidly. Strindberg was given to absinthe-fueled paranoia, at one point believing that assassins were lurking next-door, playing three grand pianos simultaneously. He accused Munch of trying to kill him with a stream of gas through the wall and fired off a postcard: "Your attempt to kill me by the Pettenkofer method failed. Enjoyed the evening." Munch chose to leave town in a hurry.

Despite the tumult of their friendship, the two men were vital intellectual foils, as Sue Prideaux, the author of the superb "Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream" (2005), shows in her rich "Strindberg: A Life." They were part of a generation of writers and artists who in the last decades of the 19th century rebelled—not against science as such, Ms. Prideaux writes, but against the notion that there was a materialist explanation for everything. Instead, they strove for "a great renaissance of the soul against the intellect," she writes: "Munch was considered 'to paint souls' and Strindberg to write about them. Together they slaked the great thirst for the acknowledgment of the metaphysical."

Ms. Prideaux memorably captures not only the turbulent intellectual atmosphere of the period but also its legacy for later eras. The emotional chaos of Strindberg's "Miss Julie" (1888) and other works, she argues, foreshadowed Freud and a slew of writers, dramatists and filmmakers: Kafka admired him, as did Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill. He influenced Alfred Hitchcock and of course Ingmar Bergman, that other Swedish purveyor of domestic hell.

Strindberg did not have the easiest start in life. He was born in 1849 to a shipping-agent father who thoroughly disapproved of him, and an uneducated, sectarian mother who told him that, though his brother was going to heaven, he was marked out for hell. His ultimate destination thus settled, his route was certainly circuitous. As a student, he studied chemistry and medicine but found the idea of sick and smelly patients unappetizing. Instead, he set up shop as a novelist, playwright and journalist, continually upsetting the Swedish establishment with his socialism and enlightened attitudes toward women and Jews—which, regrettably, over time changed into misogyny and anti-Semitism of the most rabid kind.

Strindberg: A Life

By Sue Prideaux
(Yale, 371 pages, $40)
His habits were as irregular as his politics. A restless individual, Strindberg lived abroad for extended periods, in France, Germany, Switzerland and Denmark, always bringing with him a green-and-white-striped foot bath and a shapeless green flannel sack containing his writings. His associates were distinctly odd: In Berlin the welcoming committee at the train station included Stanislaw Przybyszewski, a doctor turned libertine and Satanist who detected auras: "I see the placenta still attached. He'll never free himself from Woman. He'll never turn himself loose from the womb," was the good doctor's verdict.

Amid artsy carousing and girl-swapping in a Berlin hangout nicknamed the Black Piglet, Ms. Prideaux shows us Strindberg hopping around on one leg, strumming a guitar that he had tuned randomly to accommodate the role of chance in art, much as he advised Munch to leave drips from a leaking roof on one of his portraits. In Paris, he dabbled in black magic, spiritualism, mesmerism and alchemy. He haunted the cemetery at Montparnasse "to capture the emanations of the dead in test tubes." He claimed to have discovered X-rays 10 years before Roentgen and bragged about endangering the banking system by producing gold in his kitchen. Later, he tried to prove that mankind originated from Sweden.

Despite general anarchy and three tortured marriages, Strindberg's literary output was vast, ranging from satirical novels, historical dramas and naturalistic plays like the early "Miss Julie," which explores the themes of sex and class, to late expressionist efforts such as "The Ghost Sonata." In his "Occult Diary" he probed the recesses of his mind, documenting dreams and strange coincidences, such as the resemblance between the faces of pansies and those of people and a supposed link between a crab's shell and false teeth. He would also record his moods in stormy oil paintings, whose surface he charred to make the black paint extra black.

As for his scientific "discoveries," Ms. Prideaux says that they were taken seriously for a while by the scientific community, which, at a time when invisible rays and electric pulses were making themselves felt, was itself having trouble distinguishing the fake from the genuine. Marie and Pierre Curie, the author reminds us, were themselves taken in by a levitating spiritualist medium, while Jung in the mid-1920s still saw alchemy as "a bridge to the future, to the modern psychology of the unconscious."

As with her Munch biography, Ms. Prideaux shows herself a little too eager to find artistic justifications for her subject's erratic behavior, no doubt as a result of our age's knee-jerk reverence for the notion that to qualify as a genius, the artist or writer must be barking mad. To think that Strindberg's eccentricities all had artistic ends is to ascribe entirely too much order to them. As one of his contemporaries, the novelist Ola Hansson put it: "Strindberg's mind is a chaos where all thoughts are coming together, scuffling, elbowing, somersaulting, an orgy of ideas, a carnival of contemporary thought, a battlefield of armed masses fighting without a leader."

Mr. Bering last wrote for the Journal about Edward Burne-Jones.

A version of this article appeared May 24, 2012, on page A15 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Occultural Ambassador.

Henry Fonda

Once Upon A Time In The West(1968), Midway(1976). Both films were of certain eras(wild west, World War Two) but I would have to choose Midway as the more challenging role for Henry Fonda because his role was a real life well known person at the time(Navy Admiral Nimitz) and he had to be very precise with mannerisms and speech.. His role as Frank the villain/hitman in Once Upon A Time was more loose and open for more creativity as it was fictional. For Henry Fonda he has played in both World War Two movies and western movies previous to these, so the experience for the era was there for both films and it was evident. He has a commanding presence as both the good guy and the villain. I would have to say he executed the both roles with excellence but following criteria, in my opinion I'll choose Frank(Once Upon A Time In The West) as the more well executed role only reason I can give is because I enjoyed it more. Fonda playing the fictional villain Frank gave him plenty of room for personal creativity which made it more entertaining for me to watch. These are the first films I've watched starring Henry Fonda in a long time, he was a legend and you can learn a lot by watching closely. His experience is remarkable and his ability to transition from villain to hero with ease is impressive.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Heath Ledger

This week I reviewed two films starring Heath Ledger. I watched the two films that could be considered Ledger’s two landmark performances in his career, Brokeback Mountain (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008). The characters that Ledger plays in these two films are so drastically different—both in voice and physicality—that sometimes it’s hard to believe they are played by the same actor. In addition to being different from each other, both of these characters seemed to be very different from Heath Ledger himself. This makes the challenge of both of these roles very ambitious choices for the young actor.
In Brokeback Mountain, Ledger plays Ennis Del Mar, a quiet Wyoming cowboy who starts a sexual relationship with fellow cowboy Jack Twist, which turns into the love of his life. His character is shy and stiff, not wanting to open up or reveal his true self to anyone. He is very masculine, perhaps trying to mask his feminine qualities. This is especially evident in the deepness of his voice. Ennis is a very tortured soul, battling his true feelings and true nature. The challenges that the character presented to Ledger were (other than the obvious challenge of playing a gay or bisexual character) digging deep into the tortured soul of Ennis Del Mar, being a part of a pair of star-crossed lovers. People have even compared the tragic love story in Brokeback Mountain to those of Titanic and Romeo and Juliet.
In The Dark Knight, Ledger plays the mysterious and chaotic Joker, a threat to the people of Gotham City and their protector, Batman. In a complete contrast to Ledger’s Ennis Del Mar, his Joker has a very high-pitched and nasally voice. Instead of standing up straight and emphasizing his masculinity, the Joker has a hunched over posture. He also displays facial tics and very expressive facial expressions. The major challenge for Ledger in this film (other than the pressure of living up to such an iconic character) was to portray a character like the Joker in the realistic world that director Christopher Nolan had set his Batman films in. The Joker couldn’t just be crazy and evil, there had to be motivation behind his madness. Ledger had to find Charles Manson-like insanity for the Joker. The prep that went into playing the Joker, Ledger lived alone in a small hotel room, developed the Joker’s signature voice and posture, and kept a diary of the Joker’s thoughts. This prep for his character is monumentally inspiring.
I have to feel that Ledger chose to pursue these roles due to their challenges, which is also inspiring. The acting range that he shows in these two films is phenomenal. And on top of all that, he played these characters with a great sense of truth and honesty. Another thing that I find interesting while thinking about these two roles is that in Brokeback Mountain, one could say that his character’s goal was “to hide”. To hide his true feelings and his true nature, because of his fear of what might be the consequences. However in The Dark Knight, you could say that his character’s goal was “to expose.” He wanted to expose the chaos in the world and reveal the true nature of the people of Gotham, to reveal their ugliness.
Regarding which role I felt presented more challenges or which role was executed better, it is tough to decide between the two. I feel that both Ennis Del Mar and the Joker would be pretty challenging. The thing that I liked about Ledger was that some of the challenges were self-imposed by him and the strong choices that he made for the characters. If Heath had made weak choices, the challenges presented by the material would not have been as great. But if I were to choose between the two, I would say that the Joker really challenged Heath and forced him to really dig into the depths of himself and discover some darkness within him that he might not have discovered before. The amazing thing was that he was able to get there, able to dig that deep within himself. And this was evident in the challenges of both Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight.

Evan Rachel Wood

For this week, I chose to review two films starring Evan Rachael Wood. In the first film I watched - Thirteen (2003), directed by Catherine Hardwicke - Wood plays an adolescent struggling to fit in. Wood plays Tracy who is a good girl with a family full of problems. After stealing a woman's wallet, Tracy becomes best friends with bad girl Evie. Tracy soon finds herself in a whirlwind of drugs, sex, and crime all the while cutting herself to deal with the stress of her family. The second film I watched is Running With Scissors (2006) directed by Ryan Murphy. In this movie Wood plays Natalie Finch, the odd, sarcastic daughter of an unorthodox psychiatrist. Both of Wood's roles were well executed, however, I think her performance in Thirteen required more research and presented more challenges because of the sex, drugs, and violence incorporated into the film. Since Wood was only 14 at the beginning of shooting, many of the scenes must have been difficult and awkward for her. I read that they shot all the cutting scenes in one day and that between takes, she went to her brother for emotional support because it was a lot for her to handle. I was also impressed by the way Wood executed this role. Since I was a teen full of emotional angst myself, I really felt like I could relate to her in a weird way. I felt her anger and frustration. Many of the scenes felt very improvisational (but I know there was a definite script - and it was written in 6 days!) Wood's character in Running With Scissors was well played too. However, I didn't really see a whole lot of range between these two roles. In fact, I've seen her in a couple of other things and still, I don't think she exhibits a huge acting range (although, I heard she was really good in Mildred Pierce but I couldn't find that one at the library). She usually plays the good girl gone bad or the sarcastic rebel type. That being said though, I do feel like she is an extremely powerful actress who throws herself completely into a role and the circumstances of the role. After watching these movies, especially Thirteen, I honestly felt better about my character in SWW. If Wood could handle sex, drugs, and violence in the film at 14 years old, then I can definitely handle it now!!!

Denzel Washington

I compared Denzel Washington in the movie John Q (2002) & Training Day (2001).

One of my favorite actors in a couple of my favorite movies.  I think overall Denzel's better overall performance was in Training Day, but John Q's performance was much more touching.

The intensitiy levels are probably pretty equal in both movies, given the circumstances and differant situations of each film and script. 

As far as research goes, from what I gather about Denzel was a pretty rough and rugged dude growing up but also raised with strong family values that he carries to this day as a father and husband of 4 children.  I think both these roles tapped a significant portion of Denzel's personality...but if I had to guess, I'd say more research went into Training Day to make the movie "hard" and give it "street credit"  as opposed to playing from pure emtion and heart for John Q and his love for his family.

I can't say which one was more successfully played, I mean they are both two of my favorite movies by one of my favorite actors.  I'm not much of a film critic anyways,  but both movies seemed real to the point where they've shaped my life as a young teenager maturing into a man.

I chose these two movies because in a lot of Denzel movies he's portraing REAL people, but in these two cases it was strictly a Denzel performance...and I think he crushed them both.  His intensity is unmatched, and scenes from both films have stuck with me to this very day.

Javier Bardem

Reviews for Biutiful & Goya’s Ghosts This week I chose to review two films starring Javier Bardem – Biutiful (2010) directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Innarritu and Goya’s Ghosts (2006) directed by Milos Forman. In Biutiful, Javier Bardem plays a poor urban father named Uxbal on the streets of Barcelona. Uxbal’s goal in the film is to right the wrongs in his life before his cancer overtakes him. Uxbal is a conflicted character that both works in the hardened criminal underground of Barcelona and is a loving, devoted father. He goes from helping to exploit Chinese workers to playing with his children at the breakfast table. The relationship between Uxbal and his wife was surprising and touching. Bardem made this role look easy (though it obviously was not). He really brought the character to life. The whole film felt as if you were eavesdropping into someone’s real life. In Goya’s Ghosts Bardem plays a friend of the famed Spanish painter, Fransico Goya, named Lorenzo. Lorenzo’s goal in the film is to lead the world toward what he feels is the truth and to destroy what he feels in false. In the beginning of the film, Lorenzo is a priest who believes that the Spanish Inquisition is doing the right thing to rid humanity of those that would defile it. He is very gentle and soft spoken though he does speak harshly about those he considers to be “sinners.” After a series of events causes Lorenzo to doubt his beliefs about the Spanish Inquisition, he leaves the church and the priesthood. In the second half of the film, Lorenzo re-emerges as an atheistic French revolutionary who is willing to spread the ideas of human rights and freedom by any means necessary. He also finds himself in the position of needing to hide from the world the fact that he has a secret love child with one of the prisoners of the Spanish inquisition to whom he was a priest. This film would have really fallen apart without the outstanding performances of Bardem and Natalie Portman. I think that of the two films, Goya’s Ghosts probably required more research and prep because it is a period piece. I imagine that Bardem would have wanted to learn a lot about the Spanish Inquisition, being a priest, the French Revolution, Napoleon, Francisco Goya, etc in order to play the role accurately. I’m sure that Bardem did a lot of research and prep for Biutiful as well, but it was probably not as difficult to pull together the information that he needed since it was set in modern times. I would guess that for Biutiful he was actually able to visit the slums of Barcelona and take in the culture of his character first hand. So far these are the only two films I have seen starring Javier Bardem. I would have to say that Javier Bardem is an incredible actor according to what I’ve seen. He shows a lot of range going from “normal guy” types of characters like Uxbal, to soft spoken characters like Brother Lorenzo the priest, and bold rebellious characters like Lorenzo the French revolutionary. Even his physicality was changed greatly from character to character. He really has a knack for complicated emotions – he definitely does not shy away from emotions that are hard to reach. It was easy to see that he was deeply involved in each role.

Assignment for May 23, 2012

Assignment for Actor as Filmmaker class: Watch two films that feature performances by the same actor. The point is to compare and contrast one actor or actress per week in two different roles. 

The comparisons are expected to be short and stimulate thinking about the work the actors/actresses devoted to their preparation and performances.

The revised criteria for the reviews is included in an Email sent out last night and also in my previous blog.

Here are the actors and/or actresses from whom to choose.  Remember, one actor in two different films (two different performances) each week.


Katherine Hepburn, Cicely Tyson, Anouk Aimee, Liv Ullmann, Emily Watson, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Natalie Portman, Eva Green, Ann Hathaway, Evan Rachel Wood


Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Marlon Brando, Max Von Sydow, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Denzel Washington, Daniel Day-Lewis, Javier Bardem, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Leonardo Dicaprio

The revised criteria for your reviews include answering the following questions: 1) What year was each film made or released?  2)  Which performance do you think presented more challenges (required more research and prep) and why?  3)  Which performance was more successfully executed?  4)  What did you learn about the actor or has your view of their talent been changed by either or both of the performances?  You're free to expand briefly on any other insights or opinions you'd like to share on the actor/actress and the two performances.  Have fun: It's not a writing competition.