Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: movies (Page 2 of 4)

Why they say actors are like herding cats

220px-Sarah_Bernhardt_as_Theodora_by_NadarI think actors have only two states in their real lives, when they aren’t pretending to be someone else. One is a state of arrogance. This is when an actor has a job. It doesn’t really matter what the job is, only that they have it, and one better, that they took it away from somebody else. This arrogance gives them the right to take on other work at the exact same time, mess the director/producer around with dates, be demanding about everything to do with the job, ask the other actors on the job how much they are getting, and generally behave like the most indispensable commodity in the world.

The second state is the opposite. It is desperation. Most actors try and hide that they are in this state. It is the state just before the job, when the job is the most badly wanted thing. Suddenly the actor is polite, on time, has airtime to phone you and confirm things, makes a plan, reads the brief, asks questions, says yes to shit money, and shares with you how long they have waited to work with you. This state either continues, when the actor doesn’t get the job, or immediately flips into arrogance when the actor does get the job.

This is why SAGA (the actors’ union in SA) struggles for membership. Actors in their desperate state don’t have money for subs. Actors in their arrogant state feel invincible. Nothing will go wrong for them! Actors will criticise a producer and swear never to work for them and their shit money, all the way to the audition, and then agree to to the shit money and take the job when others before them swore that nobody would work for that money and those conditions. Actors will take jobs away from others by accepting less pay, and then be so hurt when the scumbags take them for a ride. Actors will cry foul after accepting shit work and shit money and won’t understand why they can’t get the support from others in the industry, even when they aren’t union members, and even when others have warned them that they have been there before, and the guy employing is a psycho and a cheat. Actors always complain bitterly when the job falls through, and call you to commiserate, even though you could have warned them, after they accepted the job that you walked away from, that it wasn’t going to work.

Actors are either or. And they have absolutely no loyalty, yet demand it from everyone around them. Imagine a producer or director offering a job to someone and then suddenly changing their mind and dropping the one and choosing someone else. I have never seen that happen. On the other hand, I have seen many actors accept work with enormous gratitude, only to turn it down days before it happens because something better came along, leaving the entire production in the lurch.

Actors. Can’t live with them, can’t kill them and get away with it.

*I write this from the perspective of trying to secure a cast for a project. When I am an actor I will behave in the exact manner described above.

Black Butterflies

It’s quite weird sitting in a movie theatre alongside one of the stars of the movie you are watching. That’s what happened last night when a whole bunch of us went to the V&A Waterfront to watch Black Butterflies. (When last did anyone go to the movies at prime time on a Saturday night?)

Black Butterflies is a bio-pic about famous South African poet Ingrid Jonker, her crazy relationship with her father, her tempestuous relationships with men, her dependence on her sister, her poetry, her life and her death. Our fabulous Candice D’Arcy plays her sister.

The movie is slow, brooding, dark, painful and extraordinary. Set in the 60’s in a very clean but apartheid controlled Cape Town, the styling is magnificent. The old cars, the Sea Point promenade, the township, the blocks of flats and hotels. But mostly there is the sea; the wild, bright, hectic, amazing, gloomy, powerful, dangerous, vicious Atlantic that teases, torments and destroys. A lot like Ingrid.

This locally written (and mostly local talent) movie transcends what we have come to expect from a South African film. While it is set during apartheid, and the effects of it are continually felt, it never preaches or becomes message driven. It is a masterfully shot, beautiful art movie, making me want to go and fish out those Ingrid Jonker poems again. And Candice D’Arcy is fabulous.

Broken Embraces

I love Almodovar movies. I also think that Penelope Cruz is my favourite actress. Last night we went to see their latest movie Broken Embraces. It is very typical Almodovar; a complicated story about human relationships, altered by tragedy, brought to light by nostalgia, and filled with emotion. It is almost soapie, but it is redeemed from being that by the exquisite cinematography, amazing performances and totally hilarious moments.

While this film certainly doesn’t attain the high drama of Volver, which I adored, or Talk To Her, which was extraordinary, it still has that strange, seedy, sexy, real, heartbreaking feeling. Tiny moments are remembered. Strange dialogue accompanies very down to earth scenes. Emotion is released. Strange relationships are uncovered, discovered, and forged. And, I must confess, that after watching these movies all I want is to be in one of them, or write one just like it.

Gypsy

My dearest friend has been on and on about a movie that changed his life. About four weeks ago he gave me the DVD. Somehow it sat on my dining room table until this morning and, having just sent in a huge chunk of work I needed to do, I knew that it was a good time to watch it. Gypsy Caravan: When the Road Bends, is a documentary that has managed to move me in a way that has delighted me, made me so unbelievably sad, and mostly, given me total clarity about my roots.

Five gypsy bands from four different countries go on a six week tour of America, playing to sold out shows the whole way. The movie charts their travels, concerts, informal music collaborations, and also shows the band members at home, in Rajasthan India, Macedonia, Romania and Spain. It is also an informal, patchy history of the Romani, where they originated, how they travelled, and their history of persecution.

I have never understood how I love traditional Indian music, Eastern European brass band music, Middle Eastern music, Bulgarian choir music, Gypsy punk, Kletzmer and Flamenco. Well, this movie manages to not only show the connection, which is Roma, but also how the music transcends culture and language and is the height of connection.

The movie, directed by Jasmine Dellal, is absolutely beautiful. I started crying right at the very beginning, when Macedonian diva Esma came through the huge audience, singing her first notes. I cried, and laughed, and clapped along, all the way to the end, salivating with every cigarette lit (yow can they all smoke!). Every time a group or dancer took the stage I was, they’re my favourite! It really is mind blowing.

I am smiling and dancing as I write this. Big Friendly, recognizing my delight, rushed off to find me music, links, downloads and everything gypsy and music, from Hungarian country, to my favourite Gogol Bordello, to Esma herself and Turkish gypsy, and Ukranian traditional folk. I am in heaven.

Avatar hooha

On the morning of Christmas eve, a day after I got back from Europe, I dragged Big Friendly to Canal Walk (he calls it Anal Crawl) to catch the 9am showing of Avatar. I always try to go to early morning time slots; they seem to be the least popular.

I must confess that I knew almost nothing about the movie, other than it was sci-fi and 3d. I had never seen a 3d before and this seemed like a good choice. Am I delighted that I saw it before the hooha hit the interweb!

Now it is only fair to say that I hated James Cameron‘s blockbuster Titanic, and I didn’t even know he was the creator of Avatar. Not that it would have mattered. I loved the movie. I loved the 3d, I loved the aliens, I loved their planet, I loved their magic, mystical hair, I loved the plants and creatures, I loved the music, I loved Sigourney Weaver. I loved Sam Worthington and his avatar. I loved the styling and the seamless way real photography mixed with animation. I fell in love with the sexy, long, skinny blue people. I was transported to another, simpler world, and however unrealistic or schlock the storyline was, I wanted the bad guys to lose and the good guys to win. I walked out uplifted and delighted and in awe of the director’s vision and accomplishment.

So, when Big Friendly started telling me about the hooha, from left and right, Christians and Americans, movie snobs and historians, I started to get wtf-ish. I’m always up for a good debate, and while I love trying to force my opinion onto others, I don’t really do it anymore. But hold on a minute! The right are calling the movie anti-American. The left are calling it unrealistic. The other night my friend told me that Christians walked out of the movie house when the aliens were praying to the tree. They are aliens! On another planet! That’s the story! Big friendly told me he had read opinions that the movie was racist; the blue people needed a white man to save them. Have you ever in your entire life? The movie snobs are calling it trite and simplistic and mainstream. James Cameron was accused of plagiarising the story of Pocahontas.  I kid you not.

The final straw was the info Big Friendly sent me today, that people are depressed after the movie because the realise that they will never be able to go to that beautiful planet. Now there is an increase of people wanting to kill themselves. You know what? Might not be a bad idea.

District 9 – Bravo Blomkamp!

Well, Big Friendly and I loved it. We finally got to see it this evening and I was very proud of this latest SA product.

District 9, directed by Neill Blomkap, is a relatively straight alien vs human sci-fi, only it is set in Jozi, so all the comparisons with apartheid are incredibly resonant, without being shoved down your throat. The recent xenophobia in SA is also felt strongly through the film, in the same way that there is always interspecies intolerance and lack of understanding.

Here, Jozi is the main attraction with the downtown shots and the depressing squatter camp all feeling very real. The performances are fab, especially Sharlto Copley as Wikus Van Der Merwe. (Of course I was delighted to see friends like Jonathan Taylor and Rob Hobbs in it too). The movie is brilliantly styled; the baddie Nigerian gang are especially outrageous, and the alien technology is great. 

The very funny first third (laugh out loud often), which is very mockumentary in style,gives way to a more serious sci-fi dilemma as we follow Wikus’s journey to self-awareness, and his shift in allegiance.  I love that the movie helps us connect with the prawns the way Wikkus does. It ends up being rather powerful stuff. And the Wikus/prawn flower was almost Wall-e-esque, it was so touching. It’s also very skop, skiet en donner.

Great story, great performances, great shots of Jozi, gritty local gangsters, hard core urban violence – both human to alien and human to human make me understand why it shot to the top of the charts in the US. It is cheeky, original, independent, and totally world class.

And, to borrow a certain prawn restaurant in Jozi’s nickname, well done Blomkop!

PS. And I have to say to all detractors; I think you’re being a leetle over sensitive.

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