Friday, December 31, 2010

Words and Pictures: Nicholas Ray pt 1

"The celluloid strip is not made in the writer's studio"

to be continued...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Racket - Great Story, Dialogue, Acting, Direction

Here is a clip from one of my favorite movies, directed by John Cromwell and Nicholas Ray. "The Racket" along with other Robert Ryan movies was the inspiration for my web series "Weekend Pussy Hunt".

This movie works on almost every level. It has a good story, great dialogue, brilliant direction and what I look for most of all in movies- wonderful interaction between rich personalities portrayed by distinct charismatic actors.

The Racket stars Robert Ryan and Robert Mitchum and they play wonderfully against each other. Mitchum is usually an underplayed character. He has such a strong natural presence that he doesn't really need to act much, although he fills these scenes with subtle amusing expressions that contrast and color Ryan's more active character. Robert Ryan is a methodical thinking actor who adds inventive quirks, expressions and actions to his own natural charisma. These distinct nuances make his best characters positively gripping - and ominous. Watch all the things Ryan does with his tongue-even with his mouth closed!

I'm gonna guess that none of these actors' touches that make the movie come to life have anything to do with the script - even though it's an excellent script. The directors may have helped the actors bring out their best, but at least they didn't hinder their performances as some other directors had. (I always wonder how anyone can make a boring movie with charismatic actors, but it's happened often.)

My favorite part of this sequence is the way Ryan violates a poor apple that he is munching. He turns a simple and innocent prop into an instrument of filth and horror.

This whole clip is full of ideas and is the opposite of stock generic acting. The rest of the movie is too.

*** The movie credits John Cromwell as director, but Nicholas Ray did a lot of reshooting.


Nicholas Ray on the relative roles of words and pictures in film.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

There Must Be Something

in common with these images.
I'll explain later.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rusty Caricatures

Well sometimes they just come out boring. I apologize.

The best reason for animators to do caricatures is to help us break from formula animation shapes, features and expressions. It's a long road though.

Monday, December 27, 2010

It Is Possible

to be good looking and still have distinct features. I can tell these two guys apart.

And all the rest of these fellows.

On top of their looks they all have extremely distinct voices, personalities and mannerisms. That's why they called them "stars".

Duke Starts To Morph

Everybody changes as they age but nobody did it better than the Duke.He turned into a completely different design.And everyone loved him even more.
His personality is as distinct as his head.
"Distinct" is the thing that to me is most missing from entertainment today and especially animation.From some of the comments I can see that many people are actually repulsed by anything that isn't cookie-cutter stock mathematical blandness.
I guess the last couple generations have been raised to expect sameness and any time anything sticks out or breaks formula they just don't know what to make of it.

To me, I've always loved things that stand out from the norm and it's one of the reasons I veered away from even the real Disney cartoons at an early age. It was just too much re-use of the same character designs and story formulas over and over again and no amount of slickness could cover up the blandness.

By the 80s blandness had added sloppiness to its brew and again for me, no amount of shadows, pores, shiny hairs or production value can hide the fact that we are in the biggest creative rut of repetitive degeneration I have ever seen.

These modern "pretty boy" clone characters in all the animated features are just pale imitations of Anime characters, but toned down so much that everything but the eyes and short foreheads is exactly like 70s and 80s Filmation cartoons or Ken dolls- and why anyone would want cartoons to not be imaginative or be less interesting than real life is beyond me.