Friday, February 19, 2010

he's at it again: Leonardo DiCaprio's scrunched-up face acting

I don't talk a lot of smack on this blog. But Leo's a big boy. He can take it.

Leo's perpetually scrunched up forehead is supposed to register concern, consternation, irritation, something. But sadly, it doesn't. It's just a tic, and not one that anyone should be getting the kind of attention and kudos that he gets for it. I can't say that I am surprised that he's at it again in Shutter Island. It's probably become a permanent feature of his physiognomy. It's hard to think of Leo without thinking of his scrunched up forehead.

But people do scrunch up their foreheads in real life, so why shouldn't an actor? It's true, they do. The thing is that for Leo, it is an affectation, a crutch. An actor's face is a delicate thing. We want the face to be expressive, but don't want it to be used consciously to indicate inner states. I like to liken the actor's face to the surface of a pond: generally placid, but when someone throws a rock through that surface ripples are created, which eventually subside. As impulses are sent and received with the actor's partners, the face will respond accordingly, as part of the response of the whole organism, and then return to some type of neutral. But habitual facial tension is a very bad thing, for it actually makes that surface-of-the-pond rigid and inflexible, unresponsive to happenings without and within. If the pond freezes, you'll have to find something very heavy to throw at it to make any sort of impression at all.

At this point, I feel compelled to recall the great Samuel Beckett's words about habit:

Habit is a compromise effected between the individual and his environment, or between the individual and his own organic eccentricities, the guarantee of a dull inviolability, the lightning-conductor of his existence. Habit is the ballast that chains the dog to his vomit.

By the way, Martin Scorsese disagrees with me.

Says Scorsese in the article, "There’s no doubt that working with Leo—he’s been an inspiration for me."

Things are tough all over, even in Hollywood, I guess.

BTW I do wanna see the movie, I think it will be good, Leo notwithstanding. Also? Mark Ruffalo is DREAMMMMY.

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