Monday, August 19, 2013

The Decline of High Caliber Actors and Accepting Mediocrity as Greatness.

Every year more and more classic actors are dying, some before they have reached their peak, some who have worked in the business for many decades and are seen as a high caliber actors. It's these actors with such class, versatility, heart and depth which are getting old, and even though they are still very active, it's going to be a sad day when we wake up and realise that true quality has died. When I realised that Robert DeNiro had just turned 70 it made me think back to his roles in 'Cape Fear', 'Goodfellas', 'Taxi Driver'.  It was these roles which were so iconic, not just for him but for the film industry. Will the film industry continue to have such a high class of actor to follow DeNiro? I highly doubt it. I am not automatically writing off actors with a semi decent talent, but you either have the heart, strong mind, and soul to really bite into the role you are given, which you will live and breathe, or you don't. I think nowadays we accept mediocrity in acting and praise it as AMAZING. At the end of the day prestigious awards don't mean anything, because we constantly see actors winning awards because it's either politically incorrect if they do not win the award, or there is buzz around the film which is generated by media in terms of internet forums, magazines, online publications, and the actions of these particular actors. As film viewers we are all bias about who our favourite actors are because it's our personal taste. For example I am more likely to see a film with Stallone in it rather than a film containing Megan Fox. Are we slowly losing the high level of talent to the inevitable fate of death or is the upcoming talent just taking a while to find their feet? Or are we as film viewers so nostalgic that we cannot let go of the classics?

Cinema has come along way since the silent film era, so many films have been shaped by times, events that our society has lived through. Films have flourished because they have been made at the right time for all the right reasons, while some were left behind. There are many actors which I only discovered several years ago which made me sad, because when I finally got around to seeing their films and loving them, I just wished I could have viewed them earlier. Film is so broad, it's got many twists and turns, many alleyways and avenues, but everything goes full circle and everything is somehow linked. Actors from different eras have come and gone, some were more famous than others, and some were very underrated. Being underrated to this day still happens. Sometimes it's the choices the actors make for themselves in terms of what films they want to attach their name to, sometimes the direction they are given isn't the best, or sometimes they just get overlooked completely because Hollywood has a flavour of the month because of the actors private life. It's actually quite a shame that actors get recognition because of what is going on in their private life. For example there could be a health issue, surrounding them and because their story has intrigued readers, film lovers, and film companies,  feel if they cast these actors, viewers will be able to relate to them more, and what do you get from that? More seats sold at your local theater and more session times which equals more cash to line the studio's pockets.

As a culture we are so invested into their private lives than their films that it is starting to seem more important for them to be a Celebrity rather than an actor.  We allow mediocrity because we are used to it, we are used to zero challenges in film.  I am not saying that certain genres are dumb because the plot is simple, to the point, knows exactly what it is, because let's face it, Action films are the most honest genre. You may think I am being bias, and yeah maybe I am a little, but with an action film you know what you are getting, and if you happen to get a few surprises along the way, that is just a bonus. Critics, film viewers and film companies do not mind being slanderous to the action genre because of the self aware cheesy acting, however you will not have companies slandering a film like 'My Sister's Keeper' despite it's terrible cast and acting, because it is a film about Cancer. I watch a lot of films, and it just saddens me to see where the film industry is going. While there are some actors now which you can see the direction they are heading, and it gets you excited for them, you can't help but wonder if  one day they too will become mediocre because it will be more of an advantage to them Are we as an audience too embarrassed to say we like an actor or a style of film because it's adventurous, different, honest or just purely there for your entertainment? Viewers and critics claim they want to see a film with credibility, a strong story line and narrative, but get so mixed up in rich visuals, a best selling soundtrack, and flavour of the month actors that they couldn't tell you what a strong narrative is.

It isn't just the actors fault though that we are accepting mediocrity. When you see a film that is glossy, bright, colourful, spectacular and just overall extravagant, you become so enthralled with what your seeing, because it's the first time your eyes have been treated to such an amazing visual feast. And at times that is a great thing to experience, but there are times that is done purely for the fact they needed to attach a big name to the project and they want you to be distracted from the overrated acting. It's not exactly rocket science, but it seems as though visuals are a huge life saver for a big scale production. And now with Blu Ray DVD's it seems it's more evident that people are willing to shell out the thirty bucks for a film with glossy visuals and zero substance. And if that is what you like, that's fine, but don't kid yourself into thinking that it's a brilliant film because of the acting. There are some masterpieces which do have it all when it comes to the script, direction, story, visuals etc, and it's those films which people will always remember. But there are a lot of films which are just filler, a quick buck and are disguised as future classics.

To be a great, powerful actor, you need the intensity within yourself to capture the audiences attention to the point they cannot look away. Intensity can be subtle but effective, or it can be so over the top it feels like you are getting hit with a sledgehammer. Either way it works for all the right reasons. Some of the most intense actors are method actors and actors who are known not just for the silver screen but also for the stage. You have to possess an extraordinary talent to be consistently amazing on stage. You have to practice to the point that you are living the characters life, so when you are on stage, the audience isn't even there, the script you have  memorised is embedded into your brain, heart, flesh, just your whole being. What will happen when the Ian Mckellen's of the film industry die? John Giulgud and Laurence Olivier are now playing Hamlet and Richard III in their own theater heaven, but even though they are no longer with us, their legacy will remain. Their achievements will never be erased.

When we look at actors today that are making a big name for themselves, do they have what it takes to have their  achievements so concrete and set in stone? Are we going to have another Brando? McQueen? Olivier? Pacino? Will we have actors portraying such iconic roles, that the film industry and pop culture will be vastly effected by it? Sure I do believe that there are talented actors that are making a name for themselves and I do believe they can reach that same height that DeNiro has, however the amount of actors that will reach that height, will be a lot less. It is so easy to be an actor these days compared to the hard work you had to put in all those years ago. It seems as if you can be on a reality TV show and then just get a semi good agent and get a film role. The lack of talent is actually astounding, but what is even more surprising is that they get good roles given to them. But hey if you have an active Twitter account, a blossoming love life which intrigues magazines and their readers, then you have a better chance of getting constant work, than someone who is a struggling actor working two jobs and actually studying to be an actor.

I think back to a lot of books that I have read and documentaries that I have seen on the film industry and I know there is one thing for certain, there is no privacy anymore. It's the private life which defines their profession and their acting roles. For example if there is an actor who has come out as homosexual they are now known as John Smith 'gay actor'. But why should them being gay affect their job? If I was gay it's like saying Jade Lindley 'gay casual sales clerk', yet that isn't the correct job title, so why is it so important to attach any kind of label about the actor to their job? The same thing could be said about Lindsay Lohan and how the words 'troubled actor' or 'troubled former child star' go hand in hand in every article. Why are we letting the private lives define their job? Oliver Reed is a perfect example of a scapegoat in the film industry. He was by several accounts loud, brutally honest, uncaring, and just overall a bit of a prick who enjoyed his alcohol a little too much. But that is how people remember him now, they do not recall him in such films as 'Oliver!' or 'Burnt Offerings'. Yet nowadays you can have nude photos circulating, a sex tape that sees the light of day, you can also make racist and Anti-Semitic comments, and you can still get a big pay check, a reality show, and constant work in the industry. It just becomes more and more clear to me, that a lot of these actors are more than fine with just pissing on the path that was created for them. I am not saying all classic actors are saints, because they were not. But we are coming to the end of the classic actors who could be alcoholics, drug users mentally and psychologically unstable and they were still coherent enough to show the world how to convey emotion and be completely believable.

Am I being too nostalgic? Possibly. Am I being too bias? Probably. But do I have a write to be concerned that the acting ability is going down the toilet? As a film lover, I do believe I have that right. I am only twenty five years old, and I cannot convey the amount of jealousy I have for the people who got to experience these classic actors when they were young, up and coming and just surprising the world with their talent. Because now when you see up and coming actors, you see Disney Channel actors getting big roles, which their tiny feet just can't fill. You see constant superhero films which cannot convey the right amount of emotion because they take themselves too seriously and are cold. You see the same mold of how women should look in films and portraying such a pathetic and stupid ideal of women, and not actually bothering to look past their fake boob jobs and see how real women look and act. The film industry has always been fake, I mean it makes sense right, it's about hiring people to pretend to be someone else. But let's face it, everything is so cluttered now, that the film industry just doesn't make any sense. Do I sound bitter? Yeah I would say I do. Is my movie taste impeccable? By no means, I have always admitted I loved terrible films however, I can straight up accept that I like certain films that can just switch off my brain for a little while, and there are hundreds of films that I have watched many times which are like that. But I can also see them for what they are. I don't watch mindless action movies, creature features, and just bargain bin fun and say they are films with strong acting, narrative and direction, but I can get a lot of enjoyment out of it. I don't watch complete turds of film and label them as cinematic masterpieces. I don't kid myself. And neither should other people. There isn't anything wrong with seeing an ambitious blockbusters, or comedies which switch off your brain, because I do it too. I love to switch off my brain and not have to think about what is going on in my life. And that is the joy of film making. I can accept average actors because they can be quite enjoyable, but I just refuse to put them up on a pedestal of greatness because they win an empty award or have a very public private life. I think because we are exposed to so much through the internet, people just start to believe whatever they are told and think it's the word of the Film God...whoever it is. It goes down to mass hysteria, if a lot of people talk about it, it MUST be true.   

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