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Friday, December 22, 2006

The Six Most Underrated Film Performances

I’m not digging up hidden treasures and claming that I’m the first one to find these characters spectacular. These are the six best acting preformaces that are forgotten, snubbed by the academy, and in some cases appear in film no one bothered to see. My criteria for picking these six are originality, characterization, how they capitalize on big moments, a hypnotic factor (when they are on the screen all you can do is look at them), and the staying power of the character long after the credits have rolled.

Dennis Hopper (Frank Booth)-Blue Velvet, 1986

Yes, he was nominated for a golden globe for his portrayal of a pure evil with his face constantly buried under a helium mask. His performance transcends the screen and each word delivered crawls up the skin of the viewer and nests in the brain. When asked by David Lynch why he should be hired for the film, Hopper took a sip of his whisky and yelled into the phone: “I’ve got to play Frank because I am Frank!” If you want to see if someone is a good actor or not…look at their eyes. Just like lying, eyes tell everything. Frank’s eyes flinch, squirm, tighten, and show no sign of an actor behind them.

Memorable Scene:



Tom Waits (Zack aka Lee “Baby” Sims)-Down By Law, 1986

I guess 1986 was the year of amazing performances because Tom Waits delivers a spectacular minimalist portrayal in Zack, a radio DJ with a slow delivery to contrast his quick wit. Who could play a DJ better than Waits, whose music creeps a slow as this movie moves. Waits was born to be in black and white and seems to melt into each of the Louisiana settings that Jim Jarmusch puts him in. I think it all boils down to his voice. That amazing voice that adds a cavern of subtext to even the simplest line of dialogue.


Memorable Scene:



Nicole Kidman (Suzanne Stone Maretto)-To Die For, 1995

The sexiest while being completely out of their mind performances ever captured on celluloid. Nicole Kidman opens the film talking straight into the camera with her soft-spoken, lip gloss smacking voice that would make any audience member suffer the same fate as the characters who are seduced by her hypnotizing good looks. She plays a newlywed housewife who becomes obsessed with seeing herself on television. Her motto in life is, “You aren't really anybody in America if you're not on TV.” Going back to the eyes, Kidman always has her true motive hidden behind her eyes causing the viewer to buy into everything she says and does. This movie is very satirical and she delivers as the perfect evil opponent to the homely sister in law. Like all great performances, her character builds scene after scene, until the end where she has left an impression on everyone who has come in contact with her.

Memorable Scene:


Andy Griffith (Larry 'Lonesome' Rhodes)-A Face in the Crowd, 1957

Now this is a performance I would guarantee that only one out of ten people I poll would have ever seen. Yes, this is the same Andy Griffith from the Andy Griffith Show, but as a lying, cheating, cursing, loveable badass. As one of his first roles, Griffith approaches his role much as Orson Welles went about bringing Charles Foster Kane to the big screen. He creates a loveable character whose absent love always motivates each and every action. Kane thought he could buy love and Lonesome Rhodes thought he could charm the world into loving him. When he finally gets close to love, true love that is, he avoids it and then wants it back after he loses it. Griffth’s performace should be up there with Elia Kazan’s other creation, Marlon Brandon’s Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront. If any movie deserves a criterion collection release it’s A Face in the Crowd and it’s all due to an amazing performance by Griffith.

Memorable Scene: His downfall. “Rednecks, crackers, hillbillies, hausfraus, shut-ins, pea-pickers - everybody that's got to jump when somebody else blows the whistle. They don't know it yet, but they're all gonna be 'Fighters for Fuller'. They're mine! I own 'em! They think like I do. Only they're even more stupid than I am, so I gotta think for 'em. Marcia, you just wait and see. I'm gonna be the power behind the president - and you'll be the power behind me!”

Jim Carrey (Truman Burbank)-The Truman Show, 1998


Ok film snobs…I’m ready to argue this one. First off, Jim Carrey sheds his skin as goofy comedian and tries on his drama shoes only to shock the world as a serious actor. This film runs on pure heart and a lot of people interpret films with heart as sappy flicks that don’t compare to those of Schindler’s List or Forrest Gump. Carrey and Peter Weir create such a complex character in Burbank who has to redefine himself as he realizes that his whole life has been a lie. It’s the funny moments in this film that makes Burbank feel like your average Joe with a great sense of humor. The viewer can’t help but cheer for Burbank when he decides to find the truth and escape. A lot of people think this is a fluff comedy but don’t forget that Carrey won a Golden Globe for best actor…not in the comedy section, but the drama. On top of that, Peter Weir and Ed Harris were nominated for the Academy Awards, both Weir’s directing and Harris’s performance great because of the spectacular acting by Carrey himself.

Memorable Scene:




Jack Nicholson (Billy “Bad Ass” Buddusky)-The Last Detail, 1973

Bad ass is right. Jack Nicholson grins and shouts his way through this role and the end result is a lovable asshole that displays a tough exterior and a soft interior. Often noted as one of Wes Anderson’s favorite movies, it’s easy to see where he gets his knack for creating characters with multiple layers. Nicholson does the impossible, embodying a brash character that the viewer should not like but ends up loving. The great directors and actors say that acting is all about listening to the lines that are delivered to their specific character and reacting how that specific character would act. Nicholson is always listening and when you watch him in this film you can see the characters thought process ticking away, each word that hits his ears are filtered and his reactions are then genuine…not just reading off a script.

Memorable Moment:

By Zach Hart with 1 comment

Monday, December 18, 2006

FRIEND'S TOP 10 Albums of 2006
(If you would like to add a list and you have good taste...e-mail your top 10 to zachatach@yahoo.com)


PHIL MERKOW

1) Beach House – Beach House
2) Fiery Furnaces- Bitter Tea
3) Brightblack Morning Light = ST

4) Liars – Drums Not Dead
5) Espers- II
6) Hot Chip: The Warning

7) Daft Punk- Live @ Coachella
8) Nobody & the Mystic Chords of Memory- Tree Colored See
9) Midlake-The Trials of VanOccupanther
10) Citay- S/T
11) Feathers– Synchromy
12) Comets on Fire - Avatar
13) Joanna Newsome – zzz$
14) Broadcast- Future Crayon
15) Flying Lotus - 1983
16) Cut Chemist - The Audience's Listening
17) Black Moth Super Rainbow + The Octopus Project - The House Of Apples & Eyeballs
18) Daedelus-Denies the Days Demise

19) Bibio – Hand Cranked
20) Dabrye-2/3 (Instrumentals)
21) Negativland - It's All In Your Head FM - Live On Stage
22) Four tet- DJ Kicks
23) Girl Talk – Night Ripper
24) Witch - Witch
25) Growing- Color Wheel
26) James Figurine: Mistakex3
27) M. Ward- Post War
28) Matthew Friedberger- Winter Woman
29) Metallic Falcons - Desert Doughnuts
30) Secret Machines - Ten Silver Drops
31) The Album Leaf - Into The Blue Again
32) Entrance - Prayer of Death
33) The Flaming Lips- At War With The Mystics



HANK WILLENBRINK

10. Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon
9. Fire Don't Care - Be What You Are
8. Built to Spill - You in Reverse
7. Destroyer - Rubies

6. Mew - ...and the Glass Handed Kites
5. Boris - Pink

4. Sparklehorse - Dreamt of Light for Years in the Belly of the Mountain
3. Sunset Rubdown - Shut up I am Dreaming

2. Lupe Fiasco - Food & Liquor
1. (tie) The Hold Steady - Boys & Girls in America

1. Joanna Newsom - Ys





ARI ROSNER

1. Joanna Newsom - Ys
2. Marit Larsen - Under the Surface
3. Itibere Orquestra Familia - Calendario de Som
4. Destroyer - Rubies

5. Scritti Politti - White Bread, Black Beer
6. Girl Talk - Night Ripper

7. Cibelle - The Shine of Dried Electric Leaves
8. Lil Wayne & DJ Drama - Dedication 2

9. Tom Ze - Estudando o Pagode
10. Ellen Allien & Apparat - Orchestra of Bubbles



ANDREW HUANG (top 16)

jim noir - August 8, 2006 barsuk
james figurine - July 11, 2006 plug
kudu - March 14, 2006 nublu
peaches - July 11, 2006 xl
nightmares on wax - March 7, 2006 warp
spank rock - April 18, 2006 big dada
clipse - November 28, 2006 star trak
dabrye - June 13, 2006 ghostly
j dilla - August 22, 2006 bbe
subtle - October 3, 2006
astralwerks
120 days - October 10, 2006 vice

think about life - May 2, 2006 alien8
tv on the radio - September 12, 2006 interscope
the dears - October 3, 2006 arts & crafts
supersystem - August 22, 2006 touch & go
tokyo police club - October 10, 2006 paper bag


Pierce Gibson

10. Danielson- Ships
9.The Knife- Silent shout
8. Clipse- Hell Hath no Fury
7. Gothic Archies- Tragic Treasury
6. Tapes n Tapes
5. Peter Bjorn and John- Writers Block
4. Man Man- Six Demon Bag
3. Swan Lake- Beast Moans

2. Sunset Rubdown- Shutup I am Dreaming
1. Tap Tap- Lanzafame




Joel Meister

No particular order after the first 3:

1. mewithoutYou - Brother, Sister

2. Anathallo - Floating World
3. Converge - No Heroes
Mastodon - Blood Mountain
Envy – Insomniac Doze
Woven Hand- Mosaic
Johnny Cash - American V
Sleeping at Last - Keep No Score
Norma Jean - Redeemer
Deftones - Saturday Night Wrist

By Zach Hart with 4 comments

Saturday, December 16, 2006


TOP 20 ALBUMS of 2006



20.) Yo La Tango-I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass











19.) Akron/Family-Meek Warrior











18.) The Raconteurs- Broken Boy Soldiers













17.) The Gothic Archies-The Tragic Treasury












16.) The Like Young-Last Secrets













15.) +/- -Let's Build a Fire












14.) The Flaming Lips-At War with the Mystics














13.) Danielson-Ships













12.) Half-Handed Cloud-Halos + Lassos













11.) Casiotone for the Painfully Alone-Etiquette













10.) Beirut-Gulag Orkestar













9.) Tom Waits-Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards












8.) The Fiery Furnaces-Bitter Tea












7.) Tapes 'n Tapes-The Loon













6.) Peter Bjorn and John-Writer's Block













5.) Beach House-Beach House













4.) Sunset Rubdown-Shut Up I am Dreaming













3.) Clipse-Hell Hath No Fury














2.) Joanna Newsom-Ys













1.) Man Man-Six Demon Bag

By Zach Hart with No comments

Friday, December 15, 2006


APOCALYPTO-8.9

I simply can’t state how great a tragedy this film is. It is the best movie of the year. My personal favorite is Little Miss Sunshine, but the greatest achievement in filmmaking this year is Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto by leaps and bounds. So, why is it a tragedy? If Mr. Gibson had not been a complete ass this film would be getting the all so important Oscar talks it deserves. Awards aside, this film is a piece of art that I would cement as an all time classic. Not since Kurosawa has a director presented such an epic story where the smallest pieces of the narrative have been magnified to create a unique world that literally transports the audience to that time period and setting. A friend proposed that Apocalypto is a high-octane action thrill ride with the sensibility of an art house flick. Everything from the acting, camera moves (some that I’ve never seen used in film before), and Mr. Gibson’s directing is nothing short of perfection. I’ve talked to people who refuse to watch this movie because of his drunken slurs…please if you are one of these people, go see the movie in theaters, not on a small television screen off of Netflix. Do it for the sake of great cinema, you will not be disappointed.

By Zach Hart with No comments

Monday, December 11, 2006


MESTIZO Live @ Random Bar (Buenos Aires, Argentina Dec 8th, 2006 )-9.0

My cousin and I walk into a local bar to drink a few cold ones and we are struck by bad rock and roll strumming accompanied by sad lyrics. We look at the band, I turn to my cousin, laugh, and say: "That guitar player is trying hard to look like Edge from U2." We pay for the drinks and sit at the bar ignoring the band. The song ends, the small crowd claps and then like a beam of light cast through the clouds....(cymbal, strum, bass hit) THEY START PLAYING U2's a "Beautiful Day." They were a U2 cover band and it was great. They even try to save the world on the side. I give the show a -1 for the music and a 10 for the spectacle and how serious the band was about playing U2's songs note for note, and doing their moves fist pump for fist pump. They were playing at a small local bar about a twenty minute walk from our Hotel, nothing big, but after research, they sell out stadiums and parks across the world. Enjoy:

By Zach Hart with No comments