Lights, Camera, Action - A post-Oscars reflection on the state of American acting. By Lee?Siegelvery interesting, IMO - A post-Oscars reflection on the state of American acting. By Lee Siegel
When critics do touch on acting, their discussion usually consists of a superficial comparison of an actor's portrayal of a fictional character to how that character would behave in real life if "he" or "she" were an actual person—and stops right there. The analogy would be a critic reviewing a Rembrandt retrospective and praising the paintings as having "figures that seem to have stepped right out of 17th-century Holland," while ignoring just what it is that makes them work in aesthetic terms: the balance of colors, the deftness of the brush, the technical and symbolic nature of Rembrandt's use of light and darkness. Writing in the New York Times two weeks ago, A.O. Scott, one of the most astute critics around, made the same omission when he asserted that we are now in a "golden age of screen acting." His evidence was that many of today's films are distinguished by "the dense, believable humanity of the people who inhabit the stories." What he didn't do was define what it is that makes a character on screen believable.
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