Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Radio Gu Gu

Winter 2009


It's winter fall. Skies acquire deeper hues and the atmosphere seems to be more rarefied.
Walking down the street, everyone huddles up in their woolen clothes, hands tucked in their coat pockets and letting nothing in, neither the cold nor other people's glances.
You can try and walk to Times Square, but it feels even lonelier, no matter how packed it is.
Back home at sunset, you take a pan out of the upper cabinet and start cooking, for which you have no stomach whatever.
Winter 2009
It's human contact you need, you need to feel you're part of a warmer universe.

When I feel this way, I turn to my pal of old: the radio.
Not any station will do; it has to be talk radio. Magically, the world is now spinning around me and I'm its pivoting point.
Suddenly, from the solitude of home, it brings bits of world inside: headlines, cultural, literal, and musical novelties (two weeks ago I discovered the vibrant voice of Irish singer-songwriter Adrian Crowley), weather forecast, facts, songs, telephone calls, questions, answers, interviews, readings, dialogues, and acting.

Not any talk radio will do.
My radios are BBC Radio from Great Britain and Radio3 from Italy. BBC has two of the best stations ever, BBC Radio1 (I'm particularly fond of Scott Mills' prank calls, among the other things) and BBC Radio4, one of the best cultural radio stations in Europe. The Italian Radio3 is instead, to me, the best cultural radio station I ever listened to. I also listen to 77WABC (New York City), but just very rarely.

Live talk radio is what helps me fight loneliness, although not the only thing (I have one or two persons in mind too).
It is where, to me, inspiration and ideas gather, and where we can find some of the finest improvisers.

How do you fight loneliness?
Which are your favorite radio stations? 


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Birthday Suits

Showing himself or herself in the nude is not really what an actor will do so easily.
Of all the big Hollywood stars, think of those who actually disclosed their integral nudity in film: extremely few! And, if you examine the context, they only did so when their once bright career was at a desperate stall.

I can think of Sylvester Stallone in Demolition Man, Maria Bello in A History of Violence, Jamie Lee Curtis in Trading Places, Kate Winslet in Titanic, Halle Barry in Swordfish, Eva Green in The Dreamers, do I need to mention Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct? The most daring scene of integral nudity and sex together, however, was to me Charlotte Gainsbourg's in The Antichrist, where one of her nude scenes reached pornographic heights.

There are, I think, two main reasons why actors might decide to do nude scenes: they either need to boost their career or they need to climb out of a ditch of oblivion. In my opinion, the latter is a dirty trick but it sometimes works.
The former is absolute insanity.

Yet, actors actually do give the impression they are totally undressed during sex scenes. Are they?
Most of the time, no.
Keep in mind that actors can be shy too. If they felt so comfortable being in genital contact with each other on camera, they would probably do porn.
What they do is they might ask the make-up artist to help them protect certain areas of the body with skin-like and similar types of protective layers.
Remember, they're just acting! For very revealing and hard-core scenes, instead, they are usually replaced by actual porn actors.

They might not show themselves naked in film, but are they really naked on the film set?
Keep in mind that, nowadays, everybody has a cell phone, with the added possibility of taking digital pictures very quickly and at anytime, film crew members included. No serious actor would want to expose themselves that way, especially in the intimacy of about 70-80 people moving like ants around them during filming.

I hope to have briefly satisfied someone's curiosity over such delicate and highly choreographed scenes.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Genre Favorites Blogfest

 Exceptionally for this week, I'm posting on Monday (but my Wednesday post this week will be up as usual on Wednesday evening).
Participating in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Genre Favorites Blogfest, I was asked to list my favorite genre of Movie, Music, Books.

So, let's see: 

Movie: Psychological Drama - I could very well say that Fight Club rocks.
Music: Rock/Pop - What can I say? Queen.
Books: Quite flexible on this, although I alternate fiction and non-fiction - I'd say, Swann's Way and The Name of the Rose for fiction, Memories, Dreams, Reflections for non-fiction.

And hey, I forgot about the Guilty Pleasure
Ah, a movie, book, or music?
Ok then: Chocolat!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Typewriter Monologue

Watching an acting student doing a monologue during voice class at the Lee Strasberg, months ago, I came to a few technical conclusions.

In the monologue, he's ranting against a literary agent who refused to promote his book to publication. His loud raving becomes the content of a letter the writer is typewriting to his agent.
The actor didn't find a typewriter for the scene, so he just pretended to have one simply typing the air.

I'm grateful for the many mistakes he made during his performance because I learned an important lesson.

From the beginning it was clear he didn't know how to type.
He typed on the typewriter the way he would type on a laptop, which just can't be. If you ever used a typewriter, you know very well that you have to crush down on those keys if you want to see some ink on the paper. So, the movement should have been much slower, heavier, with each of the ten fingers beating down on the the proper keys. If he had focused on that the way a real writer does, his lines would have come out just naturally, and he would have been too preoccupied with what is known as behavior to instead pull useless faces for the entire duration of his monologue because he had nothing better to do. Typing was the most important thing he was doing, but he turned it into a frill, an imprecise acting whim. 

This is not a criticism but a critique and, hopefully, it comes out as a constructive observation rather than an arrogant remark.
The acting student's mistakes gave me the confirmation of how important finding the proper behavior for the character is; then, it made me understand how crucial it is to perform it as correctly and precisely as possible. Only through behavior can truthfulness be achieved. Only through a fastidious search for precision can perfection be obtained.

Who still prefers to type on a typewriter rather than a keyboard?
Apart from me, that is.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Good to Drink

Sample of an Italian woman filling bottles at a water fountain in Tarcento, Italy

According to Wikipedia, each person consumes an average of 370 liters of water per day in the United States, with peaks up to 720 liters; each Canadian consumes around 343 liters, with peaks at 1,287 liters in the city of Montreal.
I know, we all enjoy making love in the shower, sometimes, with water running hot down our body for over 1 hour. We need to tend our garden, our bonsai needs to be watered everyday.
Other than that, you've got to be kidding me!

Traveling to the small town of Tarcento, in the north of Italy, I discovered how the Italians - and the Europeans in general - are so much more water-conscious.
Many cities and towns in Italy are involved in a project called "Casa dell'Acqua", "Water House". In the little town of Tarcento, in particular, the project takes the name of "Buine di Bevi", which in the local dialect means "good to drink".
A water fountain is located in the town center. Two taps provide still and naturally sparkling water through a line of pipes directly from the spring, which is in the Musi mountain chain, north of Tarcento. And - listen up - the water is free (well, 5c a liter for the sparkling water).

What are the advantages?
Taste New York City's tap water, or Montreal's for that matter, after you've tasted Tarcento's and you'll figure it out by yourself.

1- The people in there drink pure water from the mountain spring that has been filtered, disinfected, declorized, kept at spring temperature, and whose pipes are constantly kept under control, cleaned and changed if needed.
If this is not healthy, I don't know what is, then.

2- This idea reduces the water costs per family, but not the quality of the water they drink which, with all due respect, here in North America is less than a dream.

3- People are becoming aware of the importance of water in times when unlimited consumption is neither a good nor an ethical choice. 

4- Bottles usage is drastically reduced. People gather at this nice billabong with bottles, mostly of glass, they've been re-using for months.

They gather. With their bags swollen with bottles they seat on some wooden benches, waiting for their turn at the tap. As they wait, they talk with each other, asking how's the wife, and the kids, in the meanwhile, are playing a few yards away on the sidewalk, just outside of a small bar. Yes, it is downright beautiful.
They slow down their rhythm by introducing a priceless habit, the ritual of manually getting their own water, transporting it, and enjoying every single moment of the act. And retirees won't pack the post office. God knows how much Xanax, Citalopram, or Inderal this would save us!

Let's keep laughing at the Italians then, those poor son of a bitches, with their Berlusconis, their failing warfare, and their ridiculous politics. But you should consider that, sometimes, they come up with something as precious as you will never find here in America. Never.