Paul Thomas Anderson movies have this feeling of a carefully crafted world and characters that feel singular to his artistic vision. Because Anderson's voice is so singular, it's easy to forget that like us, he's a fan of cinema, drawing inspiration from his contemporaries and film history alike. In his new hang-out movie, Licorice Pizza, Anderson is channeling influences across many decades of films and a variety of filmmakers.
Right off the bat, I think it's really interesting to see comparisons to American Graffiti.
While Graffiti is not as sprawling of a film, I think both capture that coming-of-age drama and comedy so well. There are plenty of fun age gaps in that movie as well as pining, yearning, and deciding what kind of adult you're going to be when you're a kid.
One thing I didn't see coming was the homages or really pastiche of Jonathan Demme films like Melvin and Howard. There's so much to see in common between Gary's showmanship and Melvin's adventures and failures. The idea that the central theme of "keep hustling" is also prescient.
Where I think the comparisons really take off are on the toxic side characters that had a little bit of Fellini's Amarcord in it. Much has been made about the people Gary meets, the men in particular. Anderson carefully crafts these role models to warn Gary about the kind of adult he could become. It also juxtaposes his still innocence with a world that is getting more corrupt the more he sees of it.
In the long line of PTA's misfits in love, Gary and Alana fit perfectly into that weird sector of two people trying to break out of a funk to achieve something, without ever really understanding the direction they should be going. The movie gives them room to explore, and while the lack of structure might have frustrated some people, I think that's what makes this part of the genre. We're hanging out like Linklater lets his characters do in Dazed and Confused, though this movie obviously spans years and builds into something that has a lot to say about the flowing river that is life.
Movies and TV shows have the incredible power to transport us to different worlds, evoke emotions, and connect us with characters who feel remarkably real.
But if the acting is bad, then that's all shot.
Whether it's an intense drama, a lighthearted comedy, or an action-packed thriller, the quality of acting plays a pivotal role in determining the success of a film or television series.
But how can you tell if the acting in a movie or TV show is truly good? What separates a memorable, convincing performance from a forgettable one?
Let's find out.
How Can You Tell If the Acting in a Movie or TV Show Is Good?
Evaluating the quality of acting in a movie or TV show is a subjective process that can vary based on tastes and experiences, but there are several key factors and criteria that many consider when assessing acting performances:
Good actors can convey a wide range of emotions convincingly.
Effective acting often hinges on how genuine the performance feels. Actors should make you believe in the characters they're portraying.
The chemistry between actors is important. Believable chemistry can enhance the overall quality of the acting and make the relationships between characters more convincing.
Sometimes, the physicality of an actor's performance is crucial. This includes body language, gestures, and movements that are appropriate for the character they're playing.
How actors deliver their lines is a significant factor. Good acting involves delivering lines with the appropriate tone, timing, and emphasis, so the dialogue feels natural and fits the character.
Subtlety vs. Overacting
Effective actors often strike a balance between subtlety and emotional intensity. Overacting can come across as melodramatic, while too much subtlety can make a performance seem lifeless.
Strong acting can contribute to the development of a character over the course of a movie or TV series. Characters should evolve and change in response to their experiences, and this evolution should be reflected in the acting.
Characters should maintain their established personalities and traits throughout the story unless there is a deliberate character arc.
Talented actors can excel in a variety of roles and genres. The ability to adapt to different characters and situations demonstrates their skill and range.
Ultimately, good acting should have an emotional impact on the audience. It should make you feel connected to the characters and the story.
Why Recognizing Good Acting Is Important to Filmmakers
As filmmakers, the ability to recognize good acting is crucial to our success. Not only can it help us cast our own projects, but we can also help pull these kinds of performances out of the people we know how to direct and write for a while on set.
There are lots of other reasons this is important as well.
Storytelling: Good acting enhances the storytelling process. When actors effectively convey the emotions, motivations, and nuances of their characters, it enriches the narrative and helps the audience connect with the story on a deeper level. This emotional engagement is often what makes a film or TV show memorable.
Audience Engagement: High-quality acting holds the audience's attention and draws them into the world of the film or show. When viewers believe in the characters and their experiences, they become more emotionally invested in the outcome, leading to a more satisfying and impactful viewing experience.
Character Development: Well-acted characters can undergo significant development throughout the course of a story. Filmmakers rely on actors to bring these characters to life, allowing them to evolve and grow in a way that resonates with the audience. This character depth contributes to the overall richness of the narrative.
Credibility: Good acting can elevate the credibility of a production. It can make even the most implausible scenes or beats believable. This credibility is crucial for genres like science fiction, fantasy, and historical dramas, where the audience must suspend disbelief.
Longevity: Films and TV shows with exceptional acting tend to stand the test of time. They continue to resonate with audiences and may become classics, ensuring a lasting legacy for the filmmaker and the project.
Artistic Vision: For many filmmakers, creating a work of art is a primary goal. Good acting is integral to realizing their artistic vision and bringing their creative ideas to fruition.
Recognizing good acting isn't just about knowing the technicalities; it's about the emotional impact it leaves on us as viewers. When the actors disappear into their roles, when we laugh, cry, or hold our breath in suspense, when we forget that we're watching a performance—then, we can be certain that the acting in a movie or TV show is truly good.
Let me know what you think in the comments.
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