Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Ugly Truth...

Originally posted September 15, 2010...

Hello Friends.

I can’t imagine being a film star.  My lack of opportunity and wooden acting style aside, I just can’t imagine what seeing myself on a movie would be like.  Particularly in a theatre, where a close-up shot makes your face twenty feet high (though I have a really long face, so perhaps better to shoot my face closeups when I’m lying on my side so the wide screen captures my entire droopy visage).

And in fact, I could have been on the big screen at some festivals this year, were I not so hideously awful at appearing on screen.  About a year and a half ago, I shot a tiny part as a waiter (for FREE, let me emphasize, out of the goodness of my charred, blackened heart) for an indie movie on a shoestring budget shooting in and around Saskatchewan.  I had a few lines, poured some wine, reacted to some inappropriate conversation, done.  We did a couple of takes, I spoke, poured, and reacted, then took off the waiter costume and went home.  And let me again stress that this was volunteerism on my part, and not for some fancy Hollywood director, but just some schmoe I used to work with who had a neckbeard and asked me to do it.  So Neckbeard finishes shooting this movie, edits it, and submits it to festivals.  Remarkably, it gets picked up and played a few times.  When I heard Necky was bringing his opus to this big city, I got pretty excited.  Sure, it was a small part, I thought, but I could see myself on the big screen!  Maybe the hilarious way I rush out of the scene after the girl at the table says, “Just leave the bottle” will lead to my Academy Award, or the far less prestigious Golden Globe.  Well I can keep my gown in storage another year because I come to find out that I’ve been cut out of the film.  Not just cut out for expediency of the story, mind you.  My part was re-cast and my scene re-shot!  I can imagine the cost of re-shoots is high, particularly when you need to bring the actors back in, cook up some food for them to eat and, oh yeah, book shooting time in a fucking restaurant!

I can only imagine the circumstances that lead to this re-shoot.  Perhaps Beardo submitted the film to a distribution company who said, “Well, we liked it, but why does the young couple encounter a gargoyle when they’re on that date?” Or, “We love that ‘Just leave the bottle’ joke she does, but why does it upset that wildebeest so much?”  But this is just speculation on my part.  I’m pretty sure the way I acted in the scene was okay.  I mean, I’m no Jim Belushi, but I can play a waiter for thirty seconds.  So the ego-bruising truth must be the same thing I’ve heard at auditions, on dates, and in my every day life.  That I just don’t look… right.

Dream: Embrace my growing ugliness.

Goal: Achievable.  Maybe ugliness is a strong word, but I can definitely live with being James Plain and Tall.  I’d relax with the little outfits and studied poses and come hither stares.  Have you ever caught yourself doing what you think is a sexy face?  Like not a studied one in a mirror, but one you think makes you look super hot when you’re out and about but then you catch your reflection in a storefront window or something and it looks like you’re having a stroke?  That’s crushing.

Plan: Stop working to preserve a youthful beauty that didn’t exist in the first place.  I have to let myself age (and expand) as time demands, and just let it happen.

I don’t put this Dream out there to fish for compliments, really and truly.  I know I’m not a hideous sea cow and there are certain times when I look pretty sharp, but most of the time, I’m somewhere in the middle.  A sharp-looking sea cow.

Two TIFF-related examples.  Today I was thrilled beyond measure to catch up with Jonelle, a dear friend who has moved to the Big City, much to my total delight.  We braved the long lines and smelly patrons to watch a screening of Rabbit Hole starring Nicole Kidman.  The movie was great, her performance was particularly strong, and she even showed up after the movie to take questions from the audience.  She is obviously a striking and beautiful woman.  I remember a spread of her in Vanity Fair a couple of years ago where she looked honestly angelic; ethereal.  Her curly red hair framed her porcelain face and piercing eyes and she looked amazing.  Now, though, in the movie and in person she just didn’t look… right.  She is, as I’m sure all film actresses are, rail-fucking-thin.  Like no ass, no breasts skinny.  In the film they kept putting her in shapeless dresses and worn cardigans I guess in an attempt to make her look like a normal housewife, but instead, there were moments where she looked like a prisoner of war.  In the film she plays a broken woman, dealing with the loss of her son, so maybe it helped that she looked so tired and defeated, but even when she’s supposed to be improving and healthful, one is distracted by her insanely protruding clavicle and bony, stringy arms.  And her poor face.  Her forehead is a Botox-ed desert of calm, so the lines around her mouth, brow and temples appear all the more emphasized.  She has also clearly had her lips to the point where they are in a permanent pouty purse.  I say all this not to dump all over Nicole Kidman, but just to point out the paradox.  In attempt to artificially preserve her youthful beauty, she’s aging more rapidly, and growing less attractive.

Compare this to my Sunday evening spent with Woody Allen.  After waiting in line for hours and spending forty-five bucks, I got one ticket to the premiere of his movie, for which he was in attendance.  He spoke very briefly before the film, tossed out a few classic Woody lines, (“Just try to sit through the film.  If you don’t like it, it doesn’t matter to me, I’ll be on a plane back to New York before it’s over.  I know how it ends.  But thank you for coming”) and left.  Now comparing Woody Allen favourably to Nicole Kidman when it comes to standards of beauty is patently unfair but it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want.  He didn’t look nearly as frail as I thought he would, and he looked…right.  Not handsome, mind you, but he never, ever has been.  The old man is Woody’s best role yet.  He’s always looked fidgety and near-sighted, and old people are all about that.  And there’s a kind of dignity in Woody’s surrender to his remarkable lack of looks.  He had on a natty suit and his trademark glasses and big tufts of very light hair, but he looked fine.  In fact, when he stood next to Anthony Hopkins (who acted in the film), the contrast was pretty great.  Hopkins was super tanned and just a little oily, which never looks good on an old person, or any person.

I hear you, Readers.  Standards of beauty are different for a man, men are allowed to age and not be subject to the same scrutiny as women.  Totally with you, totally unfair for the ladies.  But you know who else comes up short when it comes to standards of beauty?  Unattractive people.  But that only bothers us if we let it, right?  When we notice the zit on the bridge of our nose, or how our stomach sticks out when we haven’t placed something in front of it.  Plus, the only people I really care about looking good for are the people who love me, and they already love me, so what does it matter?  I’m not saying to let yourself go.  I’m just saying, when it comes to the artifice of beauty, let yourself stop.

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