Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Devil's Island Lovers. Jess Franco. Great cinema - strange & absorbing - what we see is not what we're watching.


The Great Acting Blog: "Why We Make Art"


What happens if he doesn’t get it?

I always taught that this was a key question when analyzing a script for action, as in: What does the protagonist want? What happens if he doesn’t get it? In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus wants to raise the plague on Thebes, in Bob Le Flambeur, Bob wants to rob 800 million bucks from acasino, and in The Wizard Of Oz, Dorothy wants to go home. The stakes are high in each, the characters have a lot to lose.

My theory on why some people become artists is that the tension of not creating work is so tremendous that they cannot bear it, and so the artist will rush off, often against all reason, like some kind of junkie, and make work. People are not driven to become artists because of politics or out of some intellectual predilection or even by the desire to do good works, but because of some unbearable tension which may only be relieved while the artist is at work. This tension exists in all people, but for the vast majority it can be satiated by consuming some form of art (reading a novel, listening to music, watching a movie etc), and for some others the tension may be a little stronger and so they take up some form of art as a gentle hobby, but it is only a small minority for whom the tension is so fierce that they must immerse their lives in work, giving up the comforts of a regular life. This also explains why the drop-out rate is so high (certainly it is in acting); when the young hopeful sees that  regular work (let alone fame) is not forthcoming, they quit and pursue something less arduous and more routine. For an actual artist, quitting is not an option, their work is their life. For the artist, creative rythmn is everything, as is the sense of a repression being lifted at the close of a piece of work, these are the moments an artist lives for, along with his new, thrilling discoveries.

So what happens if you don’t get it? The “it” here meaning work. Well, the true artist will find a way to work, he’s driven to do so, otherwise he’ll go mad. The ones who sit around moaning will soon fade away, and perhaps that is for the best.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Great Acting Blog: As The Blog Reaches It's 2nd Birthday, Here's A List Of All Movies Mentioned In The Last Year"

August 25th marks the 2nd birthday of The Great Acting Blog, and for the final post of year 2, I've created a list of all films which have been referenced in the blog over the last 12 months. 

It has been another wonderful year of blogging, again I have made many wonderful friends through doing it, and I've taken great delight that so many readers have identified with and responded strongly to what I have written, and I've enjoyed arguing with those who haven't agreed with my point of view. I'm very proud to have introduced guestsposts this year too, they have been of very high quality, and added richly to our conversation about acting. I offer a big thank-you to all those who have supported the blog through the year, and to all those who've contacted me with positive comments - it really means a lot. I hope you keep reading, and I look forward to another 12 months of blogging.

I do hope you are able to sample some of the films below, there are some real masterpieces in there, and I've added a link to the blogposts in which each film was mentioned.



1. Will It Stop Raining In Summer (James Devereaux) - The Joy Of Acting, Stills For Will It Stop Raining In Summer, 22 Principles For Better Acting, Acting Weird, Will It Stop Raining In Summer.

2. Piccadilly (EA Dupont) - Actors Need To Reclaim Acting

3. Audition (Milos Forman) - Authenticity

4. Phone Box Gun (James Devereaux) - Phone Box Gun

5. Deconstructing Harry (Woody Allen) - Actor As Auteur - Woody Allen

6. Manhatten (Woody Allen) - Actor As Auteur - Woody Allen

7. Chimes At Midnight (Orson Welles) - Why Actors Quit

8. Les Choses Sa La Vie (Claude Sautet) - Life Through The Dramatic Prison

9. I Hried A Contract Killer (Aki Kaurismaki) - The Acting Style Of Phone Box Gun

10. Colour Me Kubrick (Brian W Cook) - Make Choices You Enjoy - John Malkovich In Colour Me Kubrick

11. Moborosi (Hirokazu Koreeda) - Actor As Artist - Makiko Esumi In Maborosi

12. Farewell Home Sweet Home (Otar Ioselliani) - On Actors' Aura

13. The Double Life Of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski) - The Shy Poetry Of Irene Jacob

14. Trois Couleurs: Rouge (Krzysztof Kieslowski) - The Shy Poetry Of Irene Jacob

15. The Dust Of Time (Theo Angelopoulos) - The Shy Poetry Of Irene Jacob

16. The Unbelievable Truth (Hal Hartley) - A Beautiful Object

17. Le Samourai (Jean-Pierre Melville) - Artist As Movie Star

18. Boredom Of The Disgust And Monotony Of The Tediousness (Rouzbeh Rashidi) - Boredom Of The Disgust And Monotony Of The Tediousness

19. HE (Rouzbeh Rashidi) - With And Without Object

20. The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (William Dieterle) - A True Actor-Director Collaborator

21. I Do Adore (Mario Mentrup) - I Think I Let Him Play A F**ky Vampire

22. L'Histoire De Marie Et Julien (Jacques Rivette) - There's No Such Thing As A Transformational Actor

23. La Belle Noiseuse (Rivette) - There's No Such Thing As A Transformational Actor

24. L'Enfer (Claude Chabrol) - There's No Such Thing As A Transformational Actor

25. Nelly & Monsieur Anaud (Claude Sautet) - There's No Such Thing As A Transformational Actor

26. Un Coeur En Hiver (Claude Sautet) - There's No Such Thing As A Transformational Actor

27. The Audition (James Devereaux) - The Audition Lowdown

28. Tales Of Ordinary Madness (Marco Ferreri) - Acting, Ambivalence & The Creative Urge

29. Under The Sun Of Satan (Maurice Pialat) - Gerard Depardieu In Under The Sun Of Satan

30. We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay) - 5 Best Performances In Films I Happened To See In 2011

31. Archiepelago (Joanna Hogg) - 5 Best Performances In Films I Happened To See In 2011

32. The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almodovar) - 5 Best Performances In Films I Happened To See In 2011

33. A Matter Of Life And Death (Powell & Pressburger) - 5 Best Performances In Films I Happened To See In 2011

34. The Shop On Main Street (Jan Kadar/Elmar Klos) - 5 Best Performances In Films I Happened To See In 2011

35. Harakiri (Masaki Kobayashi) - A Tragic View

36. Somewhere (Sophia Coppola) - Create Precisely The Body Of Work You Want

37. Mr Smith Goes To Washington (Frank Capra) - Why James Stewart Quit

38. Closure Of Catharsis (Rouzbeh Rashidi) - Closure Of Catharsis Q and A

39. Jeanne Dielman (Chantal Akerman) - Delphine Seyrig in Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman

40. The Homo Sapiens Project (Rouzbeh Rashidi) - Reality & Illusion

41. Repast (Mikio Naruse) -  The Narusian Setsuko Hara

42. Ladybird Ladybird (Ken Loach) - Crissy Rock In Ladybird Ladybird

43. My Name Is Joe (Ken Loach (Ken Loach) - Crissy Rock In Ladybird Ladybird

Monday, 20 August 2012

Drifting Clouds Cinema Blog: "Nuts4R2's 500th Blog Post - Celluloid Mistress"

We at Driftingng Clouds congratulate Nuts4R2 on his 500th post. A wonderful achievement by a dedicated cinephile and film writer, who delights us with the diverse range of films he selects for review. We urge all film lovers to check out the Nuts4R2 site here




My 500th Blog Post


Celluloid Mistress

Been doing this blog for just under two and a half years. Thought I'd give you all a quick peak into my brain for my 500th Blog Post. It's a pen and ink drawing done on a layout pad and then scanned into photoshop for colouring. Click the image to "embiggen." ;-)

Hope you like and thanks to all and any readers who stop by... I really appreciate it.


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"Roger" In "Will It Stop Raining In Summer"

We've finished editing the film, and hopefully the sound will be finished over the next few weeks, and then .... voila!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Great Acting Blog: "The Insecure Actor"

I was stunned recently when a colleague of mine, whom I had had a very good relationship with until this point, casually slighted me in public. At first, I was in disbelief because the slight apparently came out of nowhere, and then my survival instinct kicked in as I undertsood the slight to be an attack, and so defended myself. Why did my colleague jeopardise the well being of a hitherto frutiful professional relationship in this way? Because he is insecure about the value of himself and his own work, and his spontaneous insult was merely a symptom of this deeper, underlying fear. The insult itself, the slight, was merely an attempt to bring this value deficit to balance (if only for a fleeting moment). Moreover, it implies a lack of seriousness on their part: a lack of seriouness about themselves, their career, and about our relationship, for what else can this casual sabotage of a professional connection mean? Personally, I would never jeopardise a personal or professional relationship for such a meagre, transient reward.

There can be healthy competition between actors, the sort which innvigorates and inspires, which drives you on to ever greater heights of excellence, and then there is the other sort as described above, which masquerades as the competitive spirit, but is infact the opposite – it is anti-competitive, an attempt to scag everybody, dragging everyone down into misery, sapping the true creative spirit, and in the process excusing oneself from the need to be better.

Stick to the healthy competition and get rid of the unhealthy.

If the actor does infact want to get rid of the unhealthy, then he needs to take responsibility for his work and life – get to grips with the technical aspects of acting, and develop sound philosophy, this in turn creates independence, which means understanding the value of you and your work. It all stems from having a proper grip on the fundamentals of acting. Once this is in place, the actor may become more generous toward his colleagues, seeing that everyone tries to do the best they can, enjoying and being inspired by the success of others' rather than being threatened by it. Understand that your own personal well being is linked to the well being of the production as a whole, understand that the art and craft of acting is far, far greater than any single individual and that you are there to serve it and not for it to serve you. Treat people in the way you yourself wish to be treated. You do not have to be best friends with the rest of the cast, but an environment of trust, mutual respect, and co-operation, is a happily creative environment, which, co-incidentally, leads to stronger work.


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Friday, 10 August 2012

Drifting Clouds Cinema Blog: "Nuts4R2 Reviews Jean Rollin's The Nude Vampire"




The Nude Vampire (La Vampire Nue)

Nude For Thought

 The Nude Vampire (La Vampire Nue)
France 1970
Directed by Jean Rollin
Redemption Region 1

Given that he’s a director I have quite a lot of time for, I can’t quite believe I’ve been writing this blog almost two and a half years and not got around to reviewing any of Rollin’s films on here before. This probably stems from the fact that any UK editions of his movies are rarely worth buying because of censorship issues (at least that’s been the case in the past). Also because of the annoying issue that whenever a country releases any of his titles, and it’s usually Redemption Films releasing them in some incarnation or other, they usually always choose their releases from the same pot of about 10 or so of his movies, and leave most of the rest unseen.

Probably the best DVD treatments I’ve seen are the Dutch Region 2 boxed editions from Encore (which I think is Redemption again) which were mostly 2 or 3 disc editions with absolutely beautiful transfers and stunning packaging. If you’ve not seen any Rollin before then the seven titles they released are the ones to get. Saying that though, there were two new batches of DVD (and BluRay if that’s your kind o’ thing) releases from the US arm of Redemption just recently and, finally, there were two in this lot that I hadn’t seen before... this one, The Nude Vampire, andThe Iron Rose (which I’ll be watching sometime soon.

How to describe the movies of Jean Rollin to anyone who hasn’t seen one before?

Well... he’s always seemed to have had trouble funding his more personal films, like these, which usually deal with vampires, blood and lesbianism with a little bit of sado-masochism thrown in for good measure every now and again. The rest of the time he was usually making porn movies or softcore erotica for other people. I believe Emmanuelle 6 is one of his and “erotic star” Brigitte Lahaie is often found playing in these, plus playing various unclothed vampires in his regular movies... as an aside here, I’d like to say her performance as the title character in Rollin’s The Living Dead Girl is absolutely brilliant at the end of the movie and raises the acting in a Rollin movie past anything else I’ve seen from his filmography.

He also writes books of his obsession with nymph vampires, often involving the characters of a pair of sexy twins, living or undead, who often turn up in some form or another in quite a few of his movies. They’re in this one and at least one of the twins is one of the two introduced in the outrageous shooting clowns car chase scene which opens one of Rollin’s more well known films,Requiem For A Vampire (Vierges et vampires).

It would be true, I think, to say that the acting in most of Rollin's films is quite poor, to be honest. Usually, even though I don’t understand the French, the delivery often seems lacking and the scripts, although languishing perhaps within the realm of something that Michael Moorcock might write when he’s feeling particularly inscrutable, are usually quite dull too... not that there’s usually much pretence of a story in Rollin’s films.

All this is of absolutely no consequence if you’re watching a Rollin film, however, because it’s all about the sheer beauty and surrealism of the shots. You may be put off by a bad special effect (the guns being fired in this one are less technically competent, and their victims less believable, than the average three year old, for example) but you will at many points be startled by the sheer visual poetry and purity of some of the imagery... whether it be two lady vampires dancing to a phonograph, a vampire woman emerging from a grandfather clock to stab you through the chest with her spiky, augmented nipples or two young ladies making use of the whips and chains in an old castle. The imagery in a Rollin film is everything and you will, if you are a lover of the way images are designed in film, find yourself regularly gobsmacked by the richness of his creative and sometimes provocative palette when watching his films. I think his first film, the black and white Rape Of The Vampire (Le Viol Du Vampire) even caused a bit of a riot on its preview, although I can’t now find any evidence of that when I looked for it. I can never quite figure out if the Jason Schwartsman character in CQ is modelled after Rollin or Polanski (or possibly a mixture of the two).

Now I’d read somewhere that The Nude Vampire is not one of Rollin’s best films and, after having seen the thing for myself... I’d have to say that, actually, it is another Rollin classic which I’m sure I will watch as often as I have his other works. If only because of the first twenty minutes which is absolutely loaded with devastatingly gorgeous imagery such as naked blood transfusions and people wearing either colourful hoods or animal masks and also, and this is kind of unusual for Rollin, a fairly accessible storyline in the making which is, yeah okay, quite simple, but which is a lot more than you might get in many of Rollin’s other movies... his films tend to have great portions of their running times without any dialogue in them as a rule.

Seriously, the colours and lighting in this film,especially at the start, looks like Mario Bava has been let loose with a box of crayons and then Rollin has copied them but filtered them through the eyes of Max Ernst... there’s a visual opulence that almost defies description filling the frames and, to be honest, the story is the last thing on your mind as you watch the mystery of a captive vampire, a curious son and a suicide cult unfold.

As the film progresses, some of the story, what there is of it, drags a little and we are faced with the dilemma of a fair amount of nudity on display (true to form) but not by the title character. In fact, as the clash between the main male protagonist’s father, who is seeking the secret of eternal life through study and experimentation on the female vampire he has captive, and the clan of vampires who seek to rescue her from his (and his scientist friends) clutches reaches its zenith, you are then hit with the concept that really, they are not vampires at all and only appear so because of the way the human characters have viewed them.

So, yeah, there’s no way of getting around this but... for a film called The Nude Vampire... there really aren't any nude vampires actually in it, if truth be told. It has to be said, I think. Although you could obviously stretch a point and say that fang bearing, blood drinking creatures are, by definition, automatically vampires and the nudity in question is their naked soul at odds with the primitive superstitions and prejudices of mankind. You could say that, yeah... but someone might punch you in the mouth so you’re probably best keeping quiet on the metaphorical front on this one maybe.

Nevertheless... vampires or no, The Nude Vampire is one heck of a good Jean Rollin art piece, as you might expect from him, and if Rollin is your thing then I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed by this one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the most accessible in tone (although certainly in the pretence of a linear storyline, it is) and there are other Rollin movies I’d point you in the direction of first if you’ve never seen one before.. but this movie doesn’t seem to deserve the reputation it’s been left with in recent decades, it seems to me. Also, for fans of this artists cinema, it bridges the gap contextually for you between his first feature length production, the aforementioned Rape Of The Vampire (Le Viol Du Vampire) and his next one after this,The Shiver Of The Vampires (Le Frisson Des Vampires),being as it’s his second feature and his first shot in colour.

If you’re not familiar with the work of this French auteur then go watch something else like Le Viol Du Vampire or Fascination first. If, however, you’re already a Jean Rollin devotee, you really can’t go wrong in picking this one up.


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Will It Stop Raining In Summer (short film, 2012)


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Great Acting Blog: "The Joy Of Acting"



The characters in my latest short film, Will It Stop Raining In Summer (currently in post-production), are all written “in the style of”, or at least the male characters, Maurice and Roger, are. Roger is having an affair with Maurice's wife, and the syle of the character is that of “The Lover” - impetuous, selfish, passionate, and a little bit dashing. While Maurice is “The Cuckold”; amiable, eager to please, uncool, slightly bumbling. There is no attempt to pretend that the characters aren't their roles. Of course, one of the reasons this is done, is because it is fun to play archetypes – the actor certainly plays the actions in the script, but the pronounced layer of characterization in this situation enables the actor to be larger than life, not simply living the role, but commenting on the role, commenting on acting from the past, and commenting of life itself. The actor enters into a playful discourse with the audience who revel in recognising the archetypal traits of the characters and seeing them at work. It's similar to that experience the audience feels when they see a moment on screen which is true to life, but this time it's true to other films and stories they have seen.

However, for this approach to have an effect, the context within which the artist works needs to be considered – we in the UK have certain expectations about what content films contain, we have those shared cultural experiences from the past which enables certain characters to be archetypal in the first place, and therefore, creative choices can be made with that expectation in mind (and subverted, as the case may be). Creating characters “in the style of”, also acknowledges the artificial nature of proceedings, it acknowledges that what is unfolding before us is a performance, as oppose to entering into a phoney contract with the audience, pretending that the content of the film is “real”. Once that layer of guff has been removed, then whatever artistic richness lays within the material, can be mined and expressed freely, without shame or embarassment. In some way then, employing archetypal traits in a character is an expression of joy about acting itself, and about cinema itself.


Monday, 6 August 2012

Check-out These For Will It Stop Raining In Summer





So we finished shooting the film over the last couple of days, and I have to say it was one of the most creative and pleasurable experiences I've ever had as an actor. 

We will edit the film over the next week, and Jay will work on the sound effects, so  we hope to complete post-production within the next month or so.


Rouzbeh Rashidi's "HE" will play in the Official Selection at flEXiff 2012

"HE" has been selected to screen at the main competition feature film programme of 2012 "The First and the Last Experimental International Film Festival (flEXiff)" Cinewest, September 21 – 23 Sydney, Australia.


More info: here

Friday, 3 August 2012

Drifting Clouds Cinema Blog: "Nuts4R2 Reviews Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris"


Midnight In Paris


We’ll Always Have Paris!

Midnight In Paris 2011 Spain/USA
Directed by Woody Allen
Screening at UK cinemas.

Warning: Spoilers abound in this review.

I don’t often get to see Woody Allen films these days but, when I was a kid and then a teen, he was one of my heroes.Stardust Memories was one of my favourite of his movies, although I loved the majority of his work (including his “early funny ones”) and I also liked to listen to his stand up material.

These days I don’t get to see his work much because, frankly, it usually only appears on local cinema screens for one week over here in the UK if you’re lucky, if at all. ForMidnight In Paris, I’d missed the week it did at my local cinema but travelled into the heart of London to catch it down there while it was still around.

Midnight In Paris belongs in Woody’s slightly more outrageous “fantasy” work if I had to try to place it or position it with any of his other movies. It’s like the plays he was writing in the 60s and 70s which had a certain fantasy element which the audience really needs to buy into and suspend disbelief with. These movies are now more prominent within his body of work but I guess he started this kind of fantasy cinema with his movie The Purple Rose Of Cairoand it’s very much a signature of his more wilder flights of fancy that he tends not to be at all interested in the mechanics which make his fantasies work on screen (or whatever venue they are in - stage play at the theatre, script in a book) and some younger audiences these days, who seem to be obsessed with the intricate plot devices to make their fantasy worlds more “believable”, may have trouble with this fact.

For me though, it’s always a breath of fresh air that Allen doesn’t bother to explain his worlds... you just have to accept them or not and move on. Midnight In Paris is a case in point.

The film stars Owen Wilson as Gil, a struggling writer who is about to marry his sweetheart but, as you will probably guess from the earliest stages of this film, he’s going to be left seriously questioning that relationship before long. While on holiday in Paris he finds a portal to the past, whereby if he waits at midnight in a certain spot, a car will arrive for him and whisk him away for a few hours back in time to 1920s Paris where he falls in with the likes of Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter etc. Hanging out with the literary set gives him the confidence he needs as a writer and, when he falls in love with Pablo Picasso’s latest lover, played by Marion Cotillard, he realises that he can’t continue on with his headlong rush into marriage (especially after Hemingway clues him up that his fiance is having an affair). After he and his new 1920’s sweetheart travel back in time to meet Toulouse-Lautrec, and he sees the effect this has on her, he also finally sees that he can’t live his life in the past and that the present is always somebody else’s golden age and that he needs to live in it while it’s here.

As usual with a Woody Allen film, the direction, cinematography, script, performances and general execution of this production are all top notch and I wouldn’t expect anything less from this genius of contemporary American cinema. Woody Allen is one of the true artists of film and, while it’s easy to forget his genius due to the lack of exposure his films tend to get these days, it’s still a basic truth that the brush strokes he paints his celluloid canvass with are as relevant today as they always have been. And the strength and truth of his work is not something which can be brushed off lightly, even though his films usually have an intrinsic lightness or fluffiness in their demeanour (if not their subtext).

And frankly, you’ve got to love any film where the main protagonist hangs out in a bar with young Man Ray, Bunuel and a rhinoceros obsessed Salvador Dali (in a great little cameo by Adrien Brody) and then, when he later meets up with Bunuel again, gives him the idea for The Exterminating Angel. What a great little film this latest slice of Woody Allen’s brain turned out to be. I’m so glad I made the trip into London to see it... and I’ll definitely be picking this one up on DVD and giving it another watch next year. Great movie. Nice idea. Treat yourself to an hour or two in the company of the smart set of 1920’s Paris. A definite recommendation from this reviewer on this one!

"HE" will play in the Official Selection at flEXiff 2012

"HE" has been selected to screen at the main competition feature film programme of 2012 "The First and the Last Experimental International Film Festival (flEXiff)" Cinewest, September 21 – 23 Sydney, Australia.

Full details: here

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Great Acting Blog: "21 Principles For Better Acting"

"Learn your lines, find your mark, look `em in the eye and tell `em the truth." - James Cagney


As I come to produce my next short film, my mind is a-clutter with dozens of small details which can pre-occupy to the exent that my own performance in the film may suffer. So, in a bid to ensure the standard of my performance doesn't drop, I've decided to renew, refresh and re-state my acting principles, and in so doing, ensure clarity, simplicity and a laser-like focus. The list is not exhaustive, but contains those issues which are uppermost in my mind at the moment.



(in no particular order)


  1. Everyone tries to do the best they can.

  2. Total commitment to my action.

  3. Total commitment to my acion requires will, disicipline, and courage.

  4. Tell the truth.

  5. Be simple.

  6. Practice my action til it's habitual.

  7. Have the strength of mind to analyse the script correctly.

  8. Ensure every line of dialogue is encompassed by my action.

  9. Only concern myself with action.

  10. Be generous.

  11. Trust my preparation.

  12. Preparation is a point of departure, not the destination.

  13. Don' try and force the moment to conform to my preparation, improvise in the moment in response to what is actually happening in the moment.

  14. Memorize the lines until they are habitual.

  15. Your performance is a presentation before an audience.

  16. Character is created in the mind of the viewer by the juxtaposition of the actions of the actor with the fiction of the script.

  17. Relax.

  18. Give everything.

  19. Use your imagination.

  20. Any emotion which is not organically created by my attempts to do my action, is a lie.

  21. The outcome is no concern of mine.