Saturday, February 8, 2014


Here is one of the most reveting pieces of acting ever captured on film.  Viola Davis and Meryl Streep in a seven minute scene from the film, "Doubt".  The writing and acting in this scene show how a "walk on" performance can be entire story/film in-of-itself -- like Streep in Kramer Vs. Kramer.
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The following motion pictures titles are listed for the benefit of actors who would like to learn more about film acting techniques. Here's what to look at and why:

1. Sunset Boulevard 1959

Not only is the story an original (told from the point of view of a dead man), not only are shots invented (a shot from the bottom of a pool), not only is it about ageism, sexism, power, madness, murder, the history of Hollywood (in a pseudo-documentary fashion), it's boy-meets-girl, and it's got two distinct acting styles brought together...This film is a good example of how the "story" starts before the movie begins and goes on after the end. Plus it’s one of the few voice-over narratives that actually enhances the plots, instead of dictating what is happening.

2. Whatever Happened To Baby Jane

Again, two different styles of acting -- one a "movie star" and one a "character actress". No movement is wasted. It's about jealousy, insanity, sibling rivalry, the rise and fall of stardom.

3. Doubt

The "mother" in the film is on screen less than ten minutes but made a powerful performance, like Meryl Streep in "Kramer vs. Kramer". She packs a lifetime into those minutes onscreen.
4. The Hours

It's about how lives and ideas intertwine, about choices, about the sacrifices creative people make. Nicole Kidman gives the performance of her life -- totally unrecognizable. Julianne Moore gives a great "repressive" performance.

5. Citizen Kane

Tells the same story from several points of view -- actors had to know who's story they were telling at what time. Wells was a young man at the time.

6. All About Eve

New-comer Marilyn Monroe in the same scene with Bette! Watch Bette "do business" in every scene. Even putting her hands in her pockets means something. Also see "Jezebell".

7. Straightjacket/Queen Bee/Mildred Pierce

Highly stylized acting and delivery -- with a camp quality. In "Straightjacket", Crawford -- in her late 60's -- plays a 29 yr old hotsy-totsy.

8. Rocky Horror Picture Show

This is about being uninhibition and committing to the character -- no matter how outrageous.

9. The Virgin Spring

Simplicity. This is about the power of acting and story-telling (the power of the idea) over technical limitations.

10. 2001 A Space Odyssey

See how actors are used in conjunction to environment, almost as props to be part of a whole visualization.

11. The Pink Panther

Comic timing by a master of the "dry dead pan delivery". Watch the physical acts propel the dialogue and plot lines.

12. Raging Bull/Taxi Driver

De Niro commits completely to the part. You never catch his "acting" -- as opposed to Crawford and Davis who are completely self-aware of what they are doing.

13. Sophie's Choice/The French Lieutenant's Woman

If De Niro is a driving drum beat, then Streep is a violin.

14. Apocalypse Now

Pushing not only art, but the artist. Beyond movie making or movie watching, it's an experience.

15. The Maltese Falcon/To Have And Have Not/Casablanca

This is acting on what is NOT on the screen -- the subtext, the implication, wanting the people within the story to succeed.

16. China Town

Nicolson's character needs to know one piece of information for the entire film and his performance to change. Had he known in the beginning...It's all about the motivation. Why does this person act this way? This is about an attitude.


Any movie with Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich or Charles Laughton...

Movies To Avoid That Are Generally Thought Of As "Good Movie"

1. Gone With The Wind

Nothing more than a Soap Opera -- and an exasperating one at that. The "Titanic" of its day. It took 4 yrs to make, hours to watch, and is not "deep" in any sense. It ends with a supposed "up" but not really.

2. The Wizard Of Oz

Snuff the dog already. Without Toto there is no plot or motivation -- so, really, it's a movie about a despondent girl's dog surrounded by nonsense, lots and lots of nonsense. It ends up where it begins and so what?

3. Singing In The Rain

Should be titled "Singing About Nonsense". Just goofiness and not in a fun way.
4. Star Wars

Little children, not adults, can watch this on DVD. It already looks dated and is technically a poor movie.

5. Rosemarie's Baby

The main character is so dumb that you hope she gets slaughtered by the devil. This is an example of what happens when a character is only reactive and never pro-active. You just don't give a damn.

6. Shindler's List

Over-wrought, manipulative and contrived. The best part is when the Nazis shoot people, otherwise you see starving people for hours on end without any context to the black/white good/evil of the situation. It's plain poor film-making. It's a cartoon that's supposed to have "meaning". "Armistead" is another example of "fake sincerity". Black slaves are in the bowel of a ship, during a storm, at night -- naked, starved, beaten. As a baby is born amongst death and evil, lightning strikes. The lightning illuminates the baby. How? There are no windows in the bottom of a ship.

Ignore John Wayne, Elvis -- they were "personalities", not actors.


Brother Andy portrait by
Shahram Farshadfar from the film
"Art Never Dies"

I began Dolce Vita di Cinema ("The Sweet Life of Movies") at the end of last December 2013 (a month-and-a-half ago) as a sister blog to the wildly popular Dolce Vita di Libro ("The Sweet Life of Books") blog, which is used as a clearinghouse for all kinds of media for the murder mystery book club in Palm Springs (of the same name) and for entertaining/educating murder mystery book clubs anywhere in the world -- filled with feature films, in-house videos, retro radio programs, reviews, interviews, member profiles, meeting up-dates, images, games, and tons of other stuff. The response to Dolce Vita di Libro has been positively mind-blowing.

Dolce Vita di Cinema was consciously designed to be a kind of on-line film class, to concentrate on hard-to-find features, insightful documentaries, and other educational materials.  The work of incredibly talented geniuses are free to see in full, uncensored. I wanted the blog to become a handy source of inspiration for artists, writers, directors, actors and editors -- anyone with a serious interest in films -- as a kind of free-form library. To help beginners in the film business, I wrote a free PDF downloadable book ("Brother Andy's Notes To The Actor") about my experiences with actors in my films and included it in the blog materials, as well as posting my own independently-produced feature films, open to critique and questioning, such as "The Mummy's Desire" (a satire of Hammer films), "I Am...Dead" (a film noir zombie thriller), and "The Rush of the River" (a Western with a twist).

Now, Dolce Vita di Cinema has built an amazingly loyal following, without a scrap of advertising or promotion.  I am extremely proud of what has been accomplished in such a short period of time. 

Next, I am hoping to not only continue to scavenge the vaults for lost film treasures, but to give a platform to new creative visionaries who have something to say.  Thank you to everyone who has supported this worthy endeavor.

Brother Andy

Writer, Producer, Director, Editor, Actor

Intriguism Moving Pictures

Palm Springs, California