Posts from 4th September 2005

Sep 05

what is acting?

Do You SeePost a comment • 279 views

I spent much of Saturday with my brilliant friend Sharon, and one of the subjects we covered at length was different ways of looking at art forms. One of the interesting areas, for me, was an idea of regarding the physical skills of many screen performers as part of what we call ‘acting’. It’s what actors do on screen as part of playing the role, so how is it not part of what we call acting?

Obviously people have been appreciated and loved by filmmakers and audiences for such abilities since the very early days of movies (I am writing this with Buster Keaton on my TV screen, albeit in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum), but when do people ever include such aspects in considerations of awards? Why shouldn’t a good acting (conventional sense) performance by Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly*, plus fantastic dancing, be worth an Oscar? Or to take a recent example, what about combining Jet Li’s rich and already badly underrated performance in Hero with his peerless martial arts skills, and how is that not then the performance of the year? I’m not trying to argue that we should stop looking at portrayals of emotion and the like in favour of noting physical or athletic qualities only (“And the winner of the best actor Oscar is…The Rock!”), but I can’t think of a single reason not to include those qualities at all.

* I’m not 100% certain I could cite such a performance with great confidence (not my territory), but you take my meaning, I hope.

Food Science Day 7: b-b-but is it SOPORIFIC*?

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 719 views

AIM: To examine whether Beatrix Potter named Ginger and Pickles, her least-known children’s book, after her favourite condiment.

APPARATUS: Chopping board, sharp knife, small bowl

INGREDIENTS: fresh ginger, gherkins.

METHOD: Obviously gherkins are not the only pickle possible, but we had to start our exploration somewhere. Different brands of gherkin have widely varying flavours, also (so I carefully wrote the specific brand-name in my notes, only I left these at Tim’s house at the end of the FSD, and he cannot read apparently)**. Anyway, peel ginger and chop into tiny cubes; chop pickles (=gherkins) tiny also. Mix and serve.


RESULTS: The above is all very easily done: as a POTENTIAL condiment, Ginger and Pickles is off to a flying start. The Taste Test then revealed something quite unexpected: the flavours of fresh ginger and [insert name here] brand gherkins TOTALLY CANCEL OUT, leaving only the sensations (ie ginger’s pepperiness is still present, but you can’t TASTE it any more). However, one respondent, Mr T.Ewing – who apparently dislikes both ginger and pickle separately – hotly denied this observation: he could taste both, and hence disliked the combo doubly. However people with normal opinions may consider this an outlier response of small consequence and less sense.

CONCLUSION: Ginger and Pickles imparts sensation to eating, so can clearly operate as a condiment. Was it B.Potter’s favourite? Some context is certainly necessary here: the story of Ginger and Picklesis set in her own village, only slightly disguised – the cat Ginger and the dog Pickles run a little shop together, where everyone buys on credit (at Tabitha Twitchet’s rival outlet, which is less popular, you have to pay at point of purchase). Soon the shop is forced to close. The End. On the closing page, Potter writes, “Ginger and Pickles have moved away from the village. Some people think they have not moved far enough away” (my emphasis). Which suggests it might NOT have been a condiment she favoured, at that.

*(old-skool Peter Rabbit gag)
**(Let alone buy salt)

On The Island

Do You SeePost a comment • 395 views
  • Though it’s always nice to see Steve Buscemi again, the real surprise is the reappearance, in the film’s best and biggest joke, of an indie character actor (verging on leading man) who’s not been seen for some time now. My respect for the fellow involved has gone up considerably.
  • Scarlet Johansen basically plays the point of view of someone who’s picked up the film at random in a video store in five years time, while Ewan is the stand-in for someone who’s seen the trailer. Theres a good half-hour where most of the dialogue between them is “C’mon!” as he drags her on towards another cool thing that he knows is coming.
  • All the complaints about murder porn that were thrown at Michael Bay’s last film, Bad Boys 2 are appropriate here as well. In fact, the main culprit is another highspeed chase along a motorway with stuff been thrown off cars.
  • If the Chief Scientist in charge of Science (as opposed to in charge of being Eeeevil) looks familiar, then you’ve probably seen Constantine. Max Baker hasn’t been in much else, he’s just got one of those instantly noticable character actor faces. Which is why he’s in Pirates of the Caribbean 2, hooray!
  • In fact, it was only when the Chief Scientist in charge of being Eeeevil went down to face our hero, by himself, with a gun, that I realised the film which had been flickering in and out of memory: Paycheck. This is a better film in nearly every way, but probably not enough to make it a really good one.
  • More uncredited work for Mary Castro, a living testament to the viability of niche work in big screen cinema.
  • Despite what certain other reviews on this site say, there is indeed an Island in the Island. It just doesn’t matter at all.