Archives for posts with tag: Acting

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21st Century Man
by Brianna Pike

Do I like being famous?
It’s sort of inconsequential.
I fear I’m initially quite private.
To be honest about my boundaries
encourages intimacy and intimacy
is really where it’s at. You don’t
get there if you’re pretending to be
anyone else. Why would you do that?

To answer the question: Is it enough?

SOURCE: “Tom Hiddleston: A god Among men?” Elle UK (March 2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A particular area of interest for me as a poet is the push and pull of the private vs. the public self. I think this is especially interesting when it comes to actors because they are constantly stepping into different lives as the characters they inhabit and then they must take those lives into the public sphere. To me, the underlying current in this interview with Tom Hiddleston is the tension of finding balance while living in the public eye.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brianna Pike earned her MFA from Murray State University’s Low Residency program. Her poems have appeared in Rust + Moth, Mojave River Review, New Plains Review, and Hamilton Stone Review among other publications. She currently lives in Indianapolis, where she is teaches creative writing at Ivy Tech Community College.

ruby_sparks
I’ve been looking forward to seeing Ruby Sparks (2012) and finally got my hands on a copy. Starring and written by Zoe Kazan, the movie is smart, entertaining, and thought-provoking — especially for writers.

In the story, Calvin Weir-Fields, played by Kazan’s real-life love, the always fascinating and appealing Paul Dano, is approaching 30 and 10 years past his breakthrough novel written when he was a teenage wunderkind. Now he’s afraid of failure and can’t write. His analyst, Dr. Rosenthal — in a charming cameo by Elliott Gould — tells Calvin to write about someone who will love him unconditionally. Calvin asks whether it’s okay if he writes “badly” — and Rosenthal gives him permission to write “very badly.”

Freed from his inhibitions, Calvin creates his dream woman — Ruby Sparks (Kazan) — and a novel begins to flow out of him. He falls in love with his creation to the point that she becomes real — appearing one morning in his kitchen. At first, he thinks he’s lost his mind — but when other people can see Ruby, he realizes he has dreamed her into existence.

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After the first blush of romance, problems crop up — until Calvin figures out he can get Ruby to do anything he desires, just by writing a new page in the novel, which he types on a vintage Olympia typewriter (nice touch!). The movie is at its best in the darker passages when exploring relationship dynamics — and how couples engage in power struggles and negotiate truces.

I enjoyed the film’s literary references and antecedents — Pygmalion, Frankenstein, Pinocchio, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland — but Ruby Sparks has an original point of view with new things to say. I also enjoyed the L.A. locations — especially Calvin’s minimalist home near Griffith Park and several scenes at Skylight Books.

Writers are always faced with philosophical, moral, emotional, and intellectual dilemmas related to their creations. As we write, our characters take on lives of their own, and when finished the book takes on a life of its own. What is the writer’s part in the equation? Ruby Sparks helps us explore this question and many more.

Hats off to Zoe Kazan for a terrific screenplay and winning performance!

Find Ruby Sparks at Amazon.com.

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While shooting Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Dennis Hopper and James Dean became good friends. (Hopper was 19 and Dean was 24 when they shot the movie during the spring of 1955.)  Dean served as an artistic mentor to his friend — and gave Hopper his first camera, encouraging him to take it everywhere and shoot everything. Rebel was released in October 1955 —  a month after James Dean’s death in a car crash. Hopper was devastated by Dean’s passing — but paid tribute to his memory by applying himself to the art of photography. And a fine photographer he was, as evidenced by the above 1965 self-portrait. Hopper passed away in 2010 at age 74.

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MIRROR TALK

Memoir by Barbara Alfaro

I don’t have as much time for reading as I’d like – if it were up to me, I’d read as a full-time occupation, eight hours a day. Most of my reading these days is work related – material I’m editing, manuscripts I’m evaluating, or reference materials for writing projects. But once in a while I’m able to spend time with a book that’s so enjoyable the pages just breeze by – and, I’ll admit, books like these aren’t easy to find. I’m happy to report I recently encountered a book that succeeded on all fronts – beautiful prose, laugh-out-loud humor, as well as depth and introspection. The book is Mirror Talk, a memoir by Barbara Alfaro – winner of the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award.

In the approximately 30,000-word book, available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle versions, Alfaro covers a lot of territory – from her Catholic girlhood in New York during the 1950s, her career as an actor and director during the 1960s and 1970s, and her eventual development as a poet, playwright, and writer.

The Mirror Talk chapter entitled “Make Mine Cognac” about an experimental play Alfaro appeared in was the funniest story I’ve read in years – and had me laughing, and laughing, and laughing out loud. Alfaro’s sharp, witty writing style is reminiscent of the wisecracking reporter Hildy Johnson in the Ben Hecht comedy His Girl Friday or even the ultimate wit – Dorothy Parker herself.

About the experimental play “smuggled from behind the Iron Curtain,” Alfaro writes: “After weeks of rehearsal, it became depressingly clear that no one in the cast had the slightest idea of what the play was about…the director said something about ‘symbolic juxtaposition.’ Finally, one of the symbols clanged. ‘What the hell is this play about?’ The director smiled that knowing, smug smile only directors and successful orthodontists seem able to accomplish…”

If you’re looking for a quick, fun read with a lot of heart and soul, check out Mirror Talk by Barbara Alfaro, available at Amazon.com. The Kindle version, available, here is just $1.99!

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I held the copper subway token up close and examined it. The outer part of the circular slug had a complex crisscross pattern imprinted on it and in its center there was an aluminum plug…The token read Good for One Fare on one side, and on the other side, New York City Transit Authority. As I held the token, I realized just how much it meant to me. When I had first pulled it out of Mrs. Romero’s sinkhole on that Saturday morning so long ago, along with the autographed picture of Carmen Miranda and a pair of sunglasses, it had, in an instant, crystallized my decision to leave Arroyo Grande. I had dreamed of New York and an acting career for years, but always felt it was a hopeless goal, a silly dream. But the moment I picked the token out of the sinkhole, my life changed. Suddenly, New York didn’t seem so far away. It was as if the token was urging me on, saying, “Yes, Julia, you can become that actress. Just go to New York! Look, here’s your first subway ride!” 

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From “Subway to the Future,” a short story in by Jesús Salvador Treviño (Found in The Skyscraper that Flew and Other Stories available at Amazon.com)

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While shooting Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Dennis Hopper and James Dean became good friends. (Hopper was 19 and Dean was 24 when they shot the movie during the spring of 1955.)  Dean served as something of an artistic mentor to his friend — and gave Hopper his first camera, encouraging him to take it with him everywhere and shoot everything. Rebel was released in October 1955 —  a month after James Dean’s death in a car crash. Hopper was devastated by Dean’s passing — but paid tribute to his memory by applying himself to the art of photography. And a fine photographer he was, as evidenced by the above 1965 self-portrait.