Wayne's Recommendations of the Week
This one stars some heavy hitters like Tilda Swinton, George Clooney, and Tom Wilkinson. It's actually one of the rare cases I truly like George Clooney's performance (sometimes he's a little too cute for me, a little too aware of his own charm). But for those who are keeping track of Oscar Awards, Tilda Swinton won for best supporting actress.
For those who have studied Meisner, you'll recognize a classic Meisner activity set-up in her scene where she prepares for her big speech. A clear ambition, a strong preparation, emotional focus... all the elements are there.
When Harry Met Sally
This is a great one to see especially for those with backgrounds outside of acting (singing, dancing, comedy, etc). Billy Crystal is an incredibly talented comedian, writer, and host. However, there are moments in this film where you catch him landing a joke rather than having the comedic moment come out of the character's reality.
As in, Meg Ryan's funniest moments in the film come from her character--they are real internal emotions and reactions to the wild situations her character is going through. She isn't trying to be funny, she's being honest and true to her character. The funny is the byproduct of great writing and situational absurdity that the audience can enjoy. There are some very strong moments from Billy Crystal with emotional integrity, but a couple places where you can spot a target "delivery" because his comedic genius mind knows how something should land to land well. It's intelligent, but it's not true to the character.
Wuthering Heights (1939)
It may be old-fashioned, and have an ending many have accused of being corny, but somehow this movie still manages to get to me every time I watch it. In fact, the commitment and sincerity of the actors truly keep the ending heart wrenching, instead of cheesy.
Lawrence Olivier is an incredibly famous, award-winning actor but this may be his best work. And as an actor, it portrays a cornerstone theme of many great films - star-crossed lovers. There are certain themes that keep popping up in scripts and this is one of them. And if you can identify it right away, you can flesh out your characters and serve the story more efficiently. From Frida, to Brokeback Mountain, to Gone with the Wind, to Casa Blanca, to nearly all Tennessee Williams.... the presence of lovers whose romance is destined to fail is such a pivotal, archetypal, and powerful narrative. If you are lucky enough to be trusted with such a role, it will almost always have a visceral effect on an audience.
Finally, this film is a great study for production considerations outside of acting. It is shot in black-and-white which may have made the film, the same elements (gothic themes, tragic love, etc) may not have played as well without the stark lighting contrasts and dramatic plays on light and dark. The director of photography was truly a genius. Had it not been competing with "Gone with the Wind" that year, this picture may have won Best Picture at the Oscars.