Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Before Sunrise & Before Sunset & Nina Simone's song

My friends and I used to have this movie night - once in a month we gather to watch films and talk all night long, even though we pretty much talk & ignore the film most of the time. lol. But last year we've seen these two films - Before Sunrise & Before Sunset, both starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. I loved them. I may be a helpless romantic (and I don't consider myself one), but I loved these two films. If you're not familiar with the story, it's pretty much about two strangers - a French chick (Celine) and an American fella (Jesse), who meet on a train in Europe. They develop a strange bond over the course of a conversation and once they arrive in Vienna, Jesse has this weird idea that they could spend the day (and the night) together in Vienna, until he takes his flight back to the US in the morning. All they do all night long is talking and sharing some intimate things and at the end of the film, they decide that they'd meet in six months in Vienna to see if the emotion is still there. They don't exchange phone numbers, addresses, nothing. Just the promise to meet in six months. And it's where the film ends. For some people and for most of my friends, who're studying all possible things - from psychology to arts - it was a nice forgettable film. I loved it. It's possibly the most romantic thing I've ever seen, because it just felt honest and unpretencious. The acting was natural and very down-to-Earth. And I loved the chemistry between the two leads. But anyway, it was this open ending, which I loved the most. Will they meet in six months? What happens? I really wanted to know, even though I didn't like the idea of a sequel.... Anyway. I was the sole person who wanted to watch the sequel right away, so I just waited for everybody to fall asleep to watch it. In Before Sunset - the sequel, Jesse and Celina meet again (ten or eleven years later). Their lives are totally different from what they were the first time they met. Nothing's the same except for the emotion. Which is still there. And this time they kind try to repress it, even though they share intimate things and talk and talk and talk. About everything. It's pretty much a talkie. But then there are these two or three really silent scenes at the end of the movie, which are really my favorites. And then there's this song Celina sings (her own) for Jesse (who still gotta go catch a flight and is terribly late; he's in Paris this time to promote the book he wrote about their one night affair). And this song is really catchy.
But then Celina talks about a singer- Nina Simone.
In the film Celine shares some memories about a concert of Nina Simone she attended, while she and Jesse listen to a song of Nina. Yesterday I finally found the CD of Nina Simone & bought it, so I can't stop listening to her songs. Just get a copy yourself! Really jazzy. And she has this amazing voice! Very characteristic. And every song makes me think of Jesse & Celine. Don't know why. ;-) I may really be romantic. Just love these films!



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This here is a video of Celine performing her own song. Cute video.

I couldn't find a video of the Nina Simone song. There was one terrible video with Italian dubbing. But anyway, check her songs out!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Meryl's SAG Award

Last night the Screen Actors Guild presented its awards in both film & TV. And the best actress in a leading role SAG went to ... my favorite, my girl - Meryl! I was so happy and it definitely boosts her Oscar chances! I think she's the one to get the Oscar on Feb. 22nd. Come on, Meryl got a standing ovation from fellow actors and there were cheers and lots of love for her. Kate Winslet got only a mere applause. So, Meryl! Congratulations! Love ya!

(And I must point out I'm really happy that the SAG nominated Mellisa Leo in the best actress category. She's no star, but she's a real, real actor. Her performance in Frozen River was painfully realistic and she deserves to finally break into the Oscar line-up. Leo is an actor I've admired for some years now and her performance in Frozen River may be too naturalistic for awards' bodies, but still, she deserves people to be aware of her great performance. The same about Richard Jenkins. And no matter what I think about Milk being a solid film with some really good acting, I can't say I think Sean Penn deserved this award. To me Frank Langella did.)

But anyway! Once again - actors LOVE Meryl! (Somebody pointed out that when Life Achievement Award recipient James Earl Jones compared actors to gods, the camera focused on Meryl! Of course! :-) That's like a cliche already. Once again: Meryl, love ya! And of course, congrats on your 15th Oscar nod!


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Thursday, 22 January 2009

Dustin Lance Black's WGA article


This is just a short entry.

Go to the Writers Guild of America website & take a look at this short article by screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. Black's the screenwriter behind the HBO series Big Love (about the world of a Mormon man, I've seen only parts of it, so I can't recommend it) & Gus Van Sant's latest film Milk (starring Sean Penn & Josh Brolin), which I can recommend. It's a film, which showcases some really good acting, even though I find it a bit conventional in terms of storytelling & it could have been far more experimental and moody. My point. It's just me. Anyway, great performances.

Mr. Black is an openly gay writer and this article focuses on him growing up as a gay Mormon & is related to the political situation in the USA.

http://wga.org/writtenby/writtenbysub.aspx?id=3354

Read it! It's an interesting piece of journalism, in which he invests some real emotion.

And his point is so true: we need more gay characters which make sense. Real sense. Gay characters shouldn't be a ghetto in films and on TV & a gay kiss shouldn't be the big news. Good luck, Mr. Black!

* Having read the article, I just feel kind of happy that a film like Brokeback Mountain was filmed (I read somewhere it has been in production since 1997 and got made in 2005, which is a really sad story, given how much emotional potential the story has). I've read Annie Proulx's short story the film is based on and I was impressed. And I'm happy that the film & the story itself got that huge attention.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Just some news

My professor at the Academy will direct A Doll's House this semester and I'm playing Torvald, which - I think - is a huge challenge to me and I hope I'll manage to do it. I'm working on my portfolio for the UCD theatre directing programme. I'm going to direct fragments from Miss Julie (by Strindberg) with a very close friend of mine, who's already a working actress and a few days ago got a nomination for the Theatre Guild's award (for best supporting actress, congrats!) & I'm looking forward the chance to work with her and I'm hoping it'll be a rewarding experience. I'm going to a ski vacation in the beginning of February - for just a couple of days, because after that our semester starts. :-) But I'm glad my friends came up with this idea, so I'll have the shot to visit Bansko (which is a winter resort in Bulgaria) & have some fun.

I've been thinking about working on a Harold Pinter play as well, so it could be a really busy semester with lots of things to do. I just started researching A Doll's House on my own (you know, there's always a way to impress the people you're working with! no, i'm no go-getter!, I simply wanna give my best, lol) and that's all. Just yesterday I watched a very interesting film from Israel called Walk on Water. I recommend it highly to everyone. It's just about a subject, which is typically German, but I think the film is very human and entertaining as well.

And Oscar nominations are tba in 48 hours. You know, everybody interested in making a career in film and theatre is obsessed with things like that. I know the Oscars usually go the wrong way, but the excitement is a big part of the whole experience, so I'll enjoy myself.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

All these books

You know all these books people are telling you about - there are so many articles like The 100 books you have to read before you die (yeah, I really successful attempt to make somebody excited about something, lol), there are the books the folks at the Academy are talking 'bout all the time & of course, there are the books your friends have read & the books your Ma thinks you should read. And right now there is a campaign in Bulgaria (with a show on TV) - Bulgaria's favorite book. And I've been thinking these days - fuck, I've never read David Copperfield. And I even felt kind of ashamed because of it, because it's the way things are supposed to be. You have to read some books no matter if you care about them or not, which I think is the main reason for young people to not enjoy reading that much. I enjoy reading actually and I've read some books - I'm a big Salinger freak, I told ya already! - but I have no interest in reading some books, no matter how great they may be. I started Master and Margarita at least twice and I lost the interest after the first fifty pages. It just doesn't speak to me. (And I'm the guy who couldn't stop reading The Catcher in the Rye!) My point is that if society wants people to read, it shouldn't actually make people feel stupid because they haven't read a certain novel or if they happen to dislike it. There was a film I've seen last year - The Squid and the Whale (a great film by the way!) - in which the father (a writer, a total snob and a pain in the ass as well) said to his son: "Don't read that novel! It's minor Dickens!" It just felt stupid. But it reminded me of the way some people speak. I'm usually surprised that people I used to admire are such blind followers. One of my professors would say anything is great just because it's written by a writer who's a big name and must read. He pretends it without having read the book at all. He just pretends that on name recognition alone. And he wouldn't read a young immigrant writer just because he ruins the language. He has never read something he's written, not even a page, but he pretends that with such confidence, that it's simply impossible to not get angry at him. Unlike him, I don't pretend The Master and Margarita is something unworthy. I'm just saying it doesn't appeal to me. It's not my kind of a read. But he rejects even the idea of reading something & then pretends that he cares a lot about reading and about the young people not reading at all. And of course, his tirade ends with something like: "It's sad that a society of illiterates is coming to rule this country in some twenty years." That's absurd. No - not absurd. Absurds are at least charming. That's hypocrisy, which scares me even more. It's just sad that reading became something snobbish and people who accuse other people of not reading don't care.

Anyway, we could be doing some Harold Pinter the coming semester, so I'll check some of his plays tonight. I really loved a play I read some years ago. Old Times. Now I'm checking and I finally, finally got a copy of The French Lieutenant's Woman - a film Pinter penned and I've been recommended to watch. It's Meryl Streep, of course! I'll watch it tonight and could write something about it tomorrow. Another insomniac night of films! Great! Love it!

Anyway, just about my Tina Fey! I loved her speech at the Globes. She was the highlight of an incredibly dull night (for me). Anyway, she said something like that:

But I want you to know that I really know how very lucky I am to have the year I had this year and if you ever start to feel too good about yourself, they have this thing called the Internet. And you can find a lot of people there who don't like you. I like to address some of them now. Diane Fan, you can suck it! C.Letter, you can really suck it! All year you've been after me!

That got me really laughing! Well, now I'm going to watch The French Lieutenant's Woman.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Writing


Learning the craft of acting & directing is so much different than most people could even imagine. Above all, it's hard work, because the so called inspiration thing actually happens, but most of the time it just happens in the wrong moment & disappears as quicky and unexpectedly as it came to you. Anyway, acting to me has always been like a tool to express emotions, but it just made me aware of some other impulses inside of me. Without the acting, I wouldn't have been able to start writing & directing and these two are so much more a way to express myself than the acting. And there you can really feel the inspiration and you're really dependent on it. And I've been happy enough to have lots of people who are supportive and believe in me - not only friends, but some people, whose work I respect as well. And I've learned my lesson - don't give up. Not easily! Because it's what I used to do until recently - I just started a story and at the beginning I just felt passionate about it & confident about that I was writing, really mattered somehow, but then I just lost the interest & this emotion & I gave up on this story & started another one. I finished only a few. Anyway, now I have these weeks off (we have a break) and I'm home, far away from friends and coffee calls (I hate them, because I just can't say No, even when I want to!) & I have some time just sit down & write. I'm working on a story I happen to live & to believe in and that's something. The images & the characters just happen & I enjoy it. And what's even more satisfying is that I have a clear idea of what it's going to be. What the story is going to be about. So I'm not afraid of it taking shape. And having the instincts of an actor is just helpful here. It helps me find the character within the story. Maybe some people really start from acting and then really have careers as writers & directors - like Emma Thompson and George Clooney (whom I respect as a director much more than I do as an actor), Romen Polanski & even Clint Eastwood (I happen to love Unforgiven & Mystic River). The new story just starts to take shape, but I feel I'm in full command of it. I hope I don't give up! Please, don't let me!

The interesting shot

I'm into film (very much!) and I'm into photography. So here are a few film shots, which I happen to love. Over at Incontention.com, Kris Tapley selects his ten favorite shots of the year and even though this year's list looks quite disappointing, last year's selection is impressive. The There Will Be Blood shot alone (the hand shot) is amazing. And Atonement reality vs. celluloid (film) shot is amazing. Here are some of my favorite shots.


This one is from Quiet City and is the story of two strangers who meet & spend some time together (in the park, at parties, at art shows etc etc). It's a very poetic shot & I love that about it. The two charactrs running against the sun just feels so fresh and hot and kind of liberating, but at the same time it just feels surreal and like a part from some action packed sci-fi film. The composition is pretty simple, but working. It just feels like somebody captured this happy accident on film. I'm not really familiar with lenses and stuff like that, but I have some friends, who's DP (director of photography) undergraduates & we had a long talk about this one. Anyway, it's really poetic.


The Atonement shot. It's from a scene at the end of the movie. Robbie (James McAvoy's character - I still feel obligated to point out that James's performance was to the cast standout & he gave such an honest and beautifully nuanced performance, that it's a shame he didn't get enough attention from his peers, but he's not yet 30, so I believe he'll have enough shots at being recognized in the future). In this scene his character Robbie - who's a soldier in WWII enters a deserted theater and in his depression & weak physical condition he just walks around & when he gets in front of the screen, he just gets overwhelmed by emotion. It's actually a scene, which is open to interpretation & James delivers a performance which happens to be both haunting & ambivalent enough to raise these questions. I love it. And the composition is pretty amazing. These days I'm reading a lot about compositon (with all the Susan Sontag photography stuff & reading about acting & the physical presence on stage and on screen) and I have to say that this shot delivers, because it's a shot, which points out contrasts - color & b/w, the big & small figures & the excitement of the lovers onscreen & the pain of the man off screen / in front of the screen. And it's beautiful, ain't it? I read somewhere that its director Joe Wright uses classic paintings as influence for many of his shots and I think it's a good idea. Stealing from the masters isn't stealing, right? ;-)


My favorite shot - from There Will Be Blood. Anyone who has not seen this film, go and see it! It's amazing! It's so much unlike other films, that after it, I felt like I've read a big epic novel. And Daniel Day-Lewis is an actors' actor & even though I think he went over-the-top, I think it just worked in this particular film. There was the need for a performance, which is strong and commanding enough to get the film working as a metaphor. But I loved it. And this shot - among many others - is amazing. It's this hand - covered with oil - against the light. There's the greedy nuance in there, there's the feeling of a human being becoming powerful & feeling superior. It's like a quest for a victory and at the same time it feels pretty empty. I love it.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

A Love Letter to Tina Fey - the Comedian

Tina Fey, I love you! I do! You rock!


I just love you on 30 Rock and your Liz Lemon is my absolute alter ego. haha. I make the very same mistakes in my life & have some of her phobias, so I find it pretty enjoyable to watch things happen & the way she's reacting. It rocks!

You're funny, spontaneous & generous. I'm a fan!

30 Rock is just what TV should be all about - great, clever writing, witty comedy and complex characters. Once people think of a sitcom, they forget about the logics of character, which I myself really don't like. Okay, Friends was fun. But as much as I enjoyed it, sometimes its characters just didn't make sense, because the writers wanted them to react in a situation in a way, which would make the scene work as a comedy, but not in terms of characters. And I think the show suffered a lot from that. You see - there are scenes, in which Joye just reacts as if he's somebody, who's really good at analyzing people's actions (and even manipulating them), but in others (and it's what the writers wanted us to believe at first) he's just a goofy fella with a big heart. But 30 Rock rocks big time.

The characters are just hilarous, the comedy is always there and there's always a small detail I've failed to notice on the first viewing. Yeah, you got. I watched most episodes more than just once. Watching once is for starters, you know.

Right now, I have to think of a great moment in the episode Rosemary's Baby (with a guest star appereance by Princess Lea from Star Wars - I really forgot her name!). Anyway, Fisher! Fisher! Yeah. Carrie Fisher.

But anyway, Carrie is playing an older writer, who's been something of a huge influence for Liz in her childhood and inspired her to want to be a writer & in the first scene of the episode, Liz is attending an autograph signing session & just can't stop talking to her idol.

Here's the dialogue (with some pics).


Pic 1: Liz gets the chance to talk to her idol.


Liz: Hi, I don't want to sound like a weirdo fan, but I am obsessed with everything you've ever done. And I used to make my friends act out your sketches the next day. Oh! When I say my friends, I mean my Fisher price..my friends - dolls, because I didn't have a lot of (she can't believe she just talks and talks) friends. Oh, boy! Am I still talking?


The writer: You're gonna kill me, aren't you?








Come on. That's real comedy. That's real character within a few lines. And there's the cultural reference as well. I love that. No, I loaff it. I loaaffffff it. (Got my Woody Allen Annie Hall reference.) Haha. It's sad the series has such low ratings, really. It's a proof that people just wanna get a laugh and not think about it. And as Tina points out in a flashback in this episode: "It's so funny, because it's true." It's actually very true of great comedy, I think.

And that's why I love Tina Fey! Everything this woman has ever done is hilarous! And I love the fact that she doesn't have the confidence as an actress. It's quite cute how humble & at the same time hilarously funny and biting she can be. At the Globes she did dedicate half her speech to her bashers on in the Internet. It was fun. It didn't felt offensive or anything. It just felt like a sketch she's written & is performing to entertain people.

I wanna see more of Tina & actually I uploaded a video (she's done on Saturday Night Live, which I've never seen, but checked her Sarah Pallin impersonations, haha) and she made me laugh again. Enjoy! It's real fun!

I just love the Bush doctrine moment. ;-) (Anyway, I must say that I just don't get Amy Poehler as Hilary Clinton. It just doesn't work and seriously diminishes the joy of watching Tina stealing the show. Wow, now I sound like a fanboy! Terrible! I stop! It will be the last fanboy entry I write. So, sorry to Ellen De Generes & Jon Stewart & Billy Crystal & Steve Martin & Diane Keaton and all these other comedians I won't pay tribute to. :-)


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Happy-Go-Lucky

I'm in a rather bad mood today & I wanna cheer up a little bit. Anyway, no matter how many cops of coffee I take, my mood is still bad. Maybe I miss some of my friends in Sofia. Maybe I'm going through some winter depression (very trendy, huh?), but today I just thought of Sally Hawkins in Happy-Go-Lucky & about how much I love her character Poppy & the way she handles things - rejection, people's obvious hatred & irritation. She's just happy-go-lucky. She doesn't care about stuff. If she wants to talk to somebody, she talks & doesn't wait for this somebody to take the initiative. If she wants to go out and do stuff, she just does it. And it's kind of her life philosophy - she just wants to enjoy herself. So, no worries. And as she says: "Stay happy!"

I just wanna be like her. And I am - to a certain degree. But I care most of the time, which is a bad thing. :-)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Helen Levitt's picture

Hey fellas!

I usually have these insomnia periods when I don't get a lot of sleep, really. And I'm watching films then. But last night I slept really well and long, so today I feel like I could conquer the world. It's a good feeling. Nothing violent about it actually, just fresh and in the mood for lots of things.

This entry isn't about anything special. I justed wanted to share a picture I found on the Internet. I enjoy photography and even though it's very different from the medium of film, there are some moments, in which their similarities become obvious. But anyway, I found information about a photographer called Helen Levitt, I've never heard of before. She's amazing and maybe her work could be considered a little bit typical today (though I wouldn't say it), but she's a master. She does street photography & I uploaded a picture, which I think is really kind of haunting. I just checked it today and even though it's very simple, it just doesn't get out of my head. Maybe because it makes me think of the NY I've read about in Salinger's books. (And I'm a real Salinger freak, you know.) But come on, she just controls the space & I like the enigmatic nature of the picture's protagonist. And then - there is the space between the person in the front & everyone behind her (I think it's her despite of the clothes! Just feels this way!), but they're all on a long distance. And the POV. I love this picture.

Anyway, I just got a copy of Susan Sontag's essays on photography and I'm going to check them later today. One of filmmaking students at the Academy who's very supportive of my dreams of being a director, just told me about the book & I read a lot about Sontag recently. And of course, I'll be fulfilling my NY resolution - to work on myself intellectually ;-)

So, here's the picture. Doesn't it work for you?

Alfred Hitchcock & economical style & actors


Thanks to Vladimir I got some recordings of Francois Truffaut's series of interviews with Alfred Hitchcock (which I had read in a book form a few months ago and enjoyed immensely). There's a lot to like about these interviews: it rarely happens that filmmaker discusses his own career step by step, film by film, pointing out things, which were a real challenge to him at the time and actually considering other possibilities to make it (at the point the interview is taken). And it's even more interesting because of Truffaut being a critic turned filmmaker himself. I still vividly remember a line from the book's preface (or possibly it was something he said during the interviews, I don't remember exactly! must check it!). He said that he considered film differently as a critic as he did as a filmmaker. And that's true, because critics way too often focus on the story itself - the development of story, of character, of how the director works with these tools within the frame he's given. And when I talk to Bulgarian directors (like Ludmil Staykov, who's a very impressive person, I have to admit and a filmmaker who had his roots in acting & theatre; he's already in his 70's and though he doesn't make films anymore, he's devoted to teaching at the National Academy), he works like this. He doesn't focus as much on the visual side of things, but works within the character's development. Because (at least in the theatre) that's the crucial thing. That's what everybody is looking for. The visual side is actually managing. It's like finding the most effective (and at the same time the most economical & simple) way of telling the story within the frame. And I think it's really what European filmmaking is all about. Filmmakers in Europe aren't the flashy visualists American filmmakers are. (And I don't have anything against visualist filmmakers and I think that unlike critics, other filmmaker could value the visual style, but no way style over substance.) Because somebody like Steven Spielberg and Marty Scorsese work with many cuts. They cut often, they love to change the POV (point of view, if you don't know what that is) and that's maybe even necessary for the films they're doing. I don't blame them. It's the way they experience the power of the medium they're working within. But I just don't think I would work like that. I don't believe I'll by any good & don't think it's the way I see things. To me filming is always finding the best possible shot & doing a transition or a cut only when necessary - for the rhythm. And I think Hitchcock works like that. He's a very economical director and I love that about him. Woody Allen works like that and I think it works. He's actually one of the few filmmakers who really find new ways of pushing the envelope, of changing the nature of the mise-en-scene. I was kind of perplexed when I first watched Annie Hall & characters kept to leave the screen and even left the space I (as a viewer) was observing, empty. And the camera didn't follow them, didn't change the POV every five seconds and it was kind of liberating for the actors, because they just work on their characters and they work as stage actors. On the other hand, there is Robert Altman who works like that with his actors (I really regret I didn't have the chance to work with him. Ambition, you know ;-)!), who just puts a few camera on the set (they work simultaneously) and just wants to capture everything which is happening between the actors on film. And that's why I love the motion in his films, because he finds other ways than the obvious editing to make his films work in terms of rhythm. The rhythm is set by the actors, who through improvising find ways to make the story work on different levels.

And talking about actors, I love this economical acting style as well. Altman's actors have it. They don't push, they don't try to get all the spotlight. They don't overdo things. Watching Helen Mirren in Gosford Park is feeling she just isn't acting, but kind of living this life & I couldn't even think of her as an actor. No, I ever imagined that she kept living in this estate house, cleaning and being the cold woman on the surface (with a tragedy in her life) & she came to life because of that. Because her performance was about feeling as a whole & not about giving as much information as possible & stealing the spotlight. She doesn't have lots of scenes actually, but when she's on the screen, she really delivers something barely noticable, but important to keep her character arc moving. I often regret that non-professionals rarely understand and value these performances. I have lots of friends, who are interesting and intelligent people and I really hate it when they say about a performance like Helen Mirren's performance: "It was okay, but nothing special." Come on, it was special. It was more than just special. And just because Russell Crowe played a mad mathematician who fights against a mental illness in A Beautiful Mind, doesn't make his performance special. Actors call performances like that baity, but not interesting. I used to think like my friends, actually. When I wasn't really doing it myself. But now - as I deeper I get into acting & directing & theatre & watching and analyzing films and being a wanna be as a filmmaker & theatre director - I understand how little they mean in general.

Monday, 12 January 2009

To S.

I have been talking about this song. It's Sondheim - a composer I adore. Just check his Broadway credits. But it's kind of lightweight really. But you know what I mean. It's so obvious. And I told you. ;-)


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Gus Van Sant's Le Marais

I discovered this film about Paris - Paris, je t'aime - on the Sofia Film Festival a year or two ago. I just caught up with it without any expectations, but I kind of loved this little piece of film. The film is compiled of short films, each one of which takes place in Paris. And Gus Van Sant's is my absolute favorite.

Gus Van Sant's film is a love story, though a very unusual one. It's about connection on a certain level, which includes a sexual desire, but is so much about emotional connection as well. OK, have it happened to you that you just know that somebody is the right for you, that you could connect with this person (somehow) and that if you pass by the opportunity, you'll regret it? Just take a look at the film!


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A cop of coffee after a long night without any sleep


I have not slept at all last night (because of the Golden Globes, which disappointed me!) & even though it's 1:10 p.m., I still don't feel the urge to go to bed. I just grabbed some coffee (without sugar or milk - I actually hate milk in my coffee, but I used to love sugar in it!) & decided to write something on the blog.

I don't want to write about the Globes, because the awards were really disappointing this year, especially given the breath of fresh air last year was (with films like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly winning major awards). I really don't get the overblown love for Slumdog Millionaire, which to me was a well executed, but fairly predictable film (even though it had some energy, which I loved about it). And what the heck were they thinking giving Kate Winslet two Globes?! She wasn't even the most deserving one in either one of the categories. I would have been fine with her winning best supporting actress, but best actress in a drama over Meryl Streep & Kristin Scott Thomas & even Anne Hathaway is just a joke. Not that I don't like Kate Winslet, don't get me wrong! But to me she's a mannered actor ,which is what I really dislike about acting. Mannered acting just remains acting & never allows the viewer to fully identify & experience something. While I was watching Kate's performance in Revolutionary Road, I was thinking all the time: Yeah, technically she's perfect & she does all the right moves, all the right gestures & she doesn't overact, but it remains just a lame pretending game. She never goes beyond the dry manual type of acting & doesn't achieve a moment, in which you care about her character. No, quite the opposite. I didn't get it. April just remained a character, an enigmatic character. The performance was simply empty. It felt empty. And I cannot forgiver her that. (Now, I really think I should write something more about my attitudes toward acting and what I think acting is about & what I consider good (or as I would say) interesting acting. You just cannot believe how much doing it actually helps you understand it. I just started realizing that the showy, flashy acting (which usually gets awards & nominations at the big awards' shows like the Oscars) just isn't the acting that I think is appealing and truthful. That's why I just forget about awards and I try to focus on the performance itself & I'm not even perplexed by the fact that these pure, truthful performances don't get much recognition. Because, as I already pointed out in a previous entry (about Meryl Streep), these performances aren't about the actor, but about the character. I just cannot believe I'm telling this (since I really never considered Leo much of an actor - until recently), but he totally blew me away in Revolutionary Road. His performance just depitcs bit by bit how a human being changes & the frustration, which these changes & the lost dreams (and above all, ideals) could cause. I liked the quiet intensity in his performance, because - unlike Winslet - he just doesn't push too much. He relies on the nature of things. I mean, he gets into the part like a human being, not like an actor. Winslet is too theatrical for me (in the bad sense!), while DiCaprio remains very down-to-earth and just uses the minimum of characterizations to make his character work. Come on, I maybe bored you to death with my musings. To me it's really interesting, since theatre & film & acting & directing is pretty much a passion, but I really didn't want to write about that right now. I'll write about acting soon & it'll be a long entry, believe me! Anyway, the Globes weren't even fun! There were some surprises & actually, Collin Farrell's speech was fun. The guy is crazy, huh? I love his disrespect as I do love Ricky Gervais and his quirky British humour & Sacha Baron Cohen's jokes before presenting an award. But about Farrell - this guy is really Irish. Every Irish guy I've known (a few, really!) has this crazy look in the eyes. They do. They really do. (Now I remember that Leo was playing an Irish guy in The Departed, but he really lacked this crazy look. Bad.)

Anyway, I just decided to upload a song from a Bulgarian film (from the 70's) called "Козият рог". It's a really wonderfully lyrical film, which is one of my favorite Bulgarian films & even though some people find it too slow or just too rural, I think it's just a wonderful film, which works on many, many levels - not just as a romantic story or a revenge story or a historical film (though this it obviously isn't), but as a metaphor about repression & how it gets back to you. Anyway, the film has a wonderful song, performed by the late Maria Neikova, which is a song absolutely every Bulgarian from 10 to 99 knows by heart. It's called "Two" and it's about love of course, but about the way two people fall in love & take the road (a long road) & since they're together, nothing is able to stop them...


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Here's the text of the song in Bulgarian:

Вървят ли двама на дълъг път
и път да няма не ще се спрат.
Ще бродят близки по таз земя,
ах, как не искам да съм сама.

Решат ли двама да дирят брод
в тях грейва пламък за цял живот.
Той пръска искри в скръб и тъма,
ах, как не искам да съм сама.

Делят ли двама една съдба,
допрат ли рамо в една борба,
ще легнат чисти във таз земя,
ах, как не искам да съм сама,
ах, как не искам да съм сама.

Here's my translation of the text. It's actually a really free one, but I'll keep it here so you get an idea of what the song is about. (Anyway, I hate putting such an early draft of my translation here, but anyway. I'll correct things later.)

When two people walk together on a long road,
even if the road disappears,
they just won't stop.
They'll wander with pure hearts on this Earth.
I really don't want to be alone.

When two people decide to see the wide world,
a flame in their hearts now burns.
He's spreading sparkles in sorrow & in pain.
I really don't want to be alone.

When two people share a destiny,
when two people are a whole in a fight.
They'll lay down pure in the cold Earth.
I really don't want to be alone.


That's it pretty much. It's a really mediocre translation, but I'll work it out later or when I'm in the mood. Anyway, if somebody is reading, please comment. Comment on the song & the blog or anything. I hate doing that, but I may really be an attention seeker. Haha.

Enjoy the song! It's worth while!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Heya, fellas!


You know it's Jan. 11th? And what's going on tonight? It's Golden Globes night - the second most exciting event of the year (next to the Oscars, of course!). And for somebody who's not just a film buff, but wants to do films & theatre his whole life, it's quite a thing.

Anyway, you know what can ruin the night?

For me these are three things:Курсив

(1) If Meryl Streep doesn't win best actress in a drama (for Doubt). You may have noticed already that I'm a huge fan (fanboy is a funny word, huh?) & soon I could change the name of my blog to Meryl Streep appreciation society, but come on, this woman deserves the award, hands down. She kept me thinking about this character, about her character's motives, about what's driving her. And so on. But I think she wins, so let's focus on the other two things which could ruin the night for me.

(2) No surprises. I doubt it could be the case, since they love throwing curveballs every year. And some of the races are pretty open. So it could very well be a night full of surprises. Last year the had some really out of the blue winners. So I'd enjoy it, even though I possibly won't agree with them on some of the awards. But come on, we all know awards are not about who delivered a really impressive performance or who made a great film. It's business much more than art, so don't care too much! (The sad things is that these awards set trends in the films, which will be produced in the next couple of years. And it's really sad they rarely go for the Europen auteur filmmakers, like Almodovar, Fatih Akin, Abdel Kechiche, or even for the American outsiders - like Todd Haynes or PT Anderson, but enough about that.)

(3) Boring acceptance speeches: Yeah, this is what makes me really sick. Come on, don't just read a few names! And believe me - nobody wants to hear you thanking your agent, who's done so much for you (lol) or you hubby or your psychoanalyst or your house cleaner who helped you learn the lines or your mother-in-law who's like a real mother to you (I believe you!, haha). Just surprise people! Entertain people! I actually don't think Meryl Streep needs awards. Everybody knows that she's a great actor & some say she's the greatest living actor. But once she takes the stage, she just knows how to give an acceptance speech. What I really like is that the last three times she won, she didn't thank her hubby & they're married in over 30 years (I think) and are rumored to have a very strong bond. But come on, who wants see an actress thanking her hubby, especially if nobody knows who he is. (He's a painter, actually. I love painters. I respect people who've got this talent. My sister is into painting, by the way. Once I get back to Sofia, I could scan some of her works and show them, if she accepts.) Meryl just finds the right way into the people's hearts - she's funny, she's witty, she's generous. I love that about her. Anyway, the arrogant guy I am, I love the self-absorbed speeches as well. When they deliver the laughs. Just take a look at Geena Davis accepting the drama series lead actress Globe in 2005. She rocks.

Here's Meryl Streep's Golden Globe speech. It's sad that I couldn't find Geena Davis's speech or Steve Carell's speech, but I have Elaine Stritch (a Broadway legend) at the Emmy's in 2004. She rocks. The woman just says what's on her mind, but you can't get angry. "And I'm so glad none of them. I won!"... Just look at the audience. Some enjoy it. Some don't feel comfortable with it. Come on, everybody is thinking about that! Everybody wants to win!


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Sorry for the subtitles, but I couldn't find a better copy.


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Once I get around these awards shows (if I ever make it to them! I'm so lazy!), I'm going to give the perfect speech! You don't have any idea what I'm going to say, really. LOL. Anyway, enjoy the clips and comment (if you feel like doing it).

Saturday, 10 January 2009

My New Year resolution & Meryl Streep

I just had some spare time these days and I watched a lot of films, including some favorites like Before Sunset (1995) and Before Sunrise (2004). These are the two most romantic and lyrical films I've seen in a long time and I love them. I just want to go to Vienna and hang around all night or possibly all day long with somebody I don't know anything about -- and start these conversations about every possible topic in the universe - from communism to dreams to art. That would be absolutely amazing.

Anyway, I have my two weeks off, so it's time for a New Year resolution. I'm no Bridget Jones, so I won't be talking about not dating workoholics, maniacs, phobiacs and jerks, though they're absolutely no option, but about the year I wanna have - I wanna meet lots of friends this year, I wanna travel a lot, I wanna get accepted into the theatre program, I wanna end procrastinating, I want to be bolder than I am and I want to work on myself - intellectually ;-)

Now to Meryl Streep. She has nothing to do with my New Year resolution. I just think a lot about her, since she's my acting god (or goddess, but I'm pretty much against these different synonyms for women & men!), so I really thought a lot about what's so special about her, which speaks so personally to people. It's some kind of an emotional connection, which she's able to develop onscreen (in a role, which is written and planned and not something which can be called life - in the common sense). Anyway, what I love most about Meryl Streep is that she kind of sinks into the role and breaths life into it. She just changes instantly within a character and never allows me at least to see her as a type. And there's the sense of life in her parts, which I love. That's why it's always the best to see her performance as a whole. She just builds this emotion - step by step - and in the most unexpected moment it just grabs you and doesn't let you go. I've been thinking how this woman works? She's a technical actor, of course. But in every role she finds a way to go beyond that. And I haven't seen a performance of her's, which is kind of over the top. She always finds the way to keep things real and simple and truthful. She's not the actor who seeks only the big drama to show off. And this generosity about her shows some kind of confidence in her own abilities. I love that.

And it's kind of scary when people start critisizing her for her choices as an actor in a part. I'm talking about the screen adaptation of DOUBT. I'm glad she didn't go the Cherry Jones route, which would have been a total turn-off. This is what a great actor does. She found her own way into the character and gave it life on her own. I love that about her.

For Meryl starters, just watch her in Sophie's Choice, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Adaptation, The Bridges of Madison County, Silkwood and so many other films.

Introducing myself

Heya!

I'm Yoan. I'm a young Bulgarian guy, still in college and this is my blog.
I just wrote two sentences and I'm in a kind of a writer's block. I don't even know if anybody is going to read this blog, but even if nobody does, I'll enjoy sharing intimate thoughs (not always!) with ... myself.

I suppose I should tell you a little bit about myself.
I'm studying theatre acting at the National Theatre and Film Academy in Sofia, BG, but my real dream is to become a stage director and therefore I'm preparing my portfolio and want to apply for a program at the UCD, Dublin, Irland. So, fingers crossed!

I'm actually very much into art - I love reading and writing myself. Mostly texts to be performed on stage & sometimes some poetry. I've written some short stories and essays and have been published once (which I'm very proud of!) and though I've never tried my hand at writing a novel (or even a novella), I think that one sunny morning (I hate sunny mornings by the way, since I'm pretty much in love with the cold & gloomy winter mornings!) I'll get get up & start writing. I've often work on something for a while, but then get tired, get another idea and simply dump the old one. So, writing is always an option for me. I enjoy it, people seem to enjoy my writings, so it's required love. haha.

But anyway, my love is the theatre & cinema. I enjoy directing, because directing is so much about building up a story. You start by a text (not even some finished text!) and you just find the structure, the character in the story you have, the emotion and you stick with your guts and then find a way to make the story interesting and appealing. That's once you have the construction and work on the "flesh" of the story. Gus Van Sant said something interesting about theatre direction (not revolutionary, but it's a very precise depiction of the working methods) and it's that "there are film directors who might be visualists, but they're not like theatre directors who are used to breaking it down and then building it up with actors on stage." So, to me theatre directing is all about finding character, motives, emotion in characters and not just making them move on stage or making some aesthetic decisions. But I'll write about directing later. After all, it's pretty much my life dream and I'm determined to devote myself to it. (I just can't stop thinking about the link between directing for the stage and writing fiction. It's pretty much working within the same pattern. Using the very same instincts. I love it.)


My other passion are languages. I speak English, German, Danish, Swedish and my mother tongue is Bulgarian, so according to linguists it counts as well. I don't want to show off, I simply love languages and what I love most about them is that once you start learning a new language, you get into a reality, which is much different than your own and it's easy to understand and develop a connection. I'm in the mood to write tonight. The starting was really hard, but now I can't stop writing.

I love healthy food (not a freak, but I don't like junk food, though I sometimes can enjoy a Coke!). I love ice cream, I love the sea (though I get sunburn very fast and it hurts ;-) ) and I love the mountains. I love travelling and I do it when I have enough money. I love clubbing, I love nice music and I'm a total film freak. I cited a Gus Van Sant interview and I must say, his film My Own Private Idaho is a huge favorite of mine. It's one of the most poetic films about longing and finding yourself. I love Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull (Scorsese's films), because they have a sort of visual energy and complex, almost frightening performances. I love Woody Allen's films - Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters, Manhattan (mostly old films, but we watch them at the Academy) and I love Kieslowski's Three Colors: Red. And I just recently watched a really beautiful gay-themed film about two guys in working class England coming to terms with their own sexuality, which was pretty moving. I love reading as well and I enjoy F. Scott Fitzgerald & Salinger & Capote & some other writers. If you're interested about finding out more about that, go ahead and ask! I hate writing e-mails, but I enjoy instant messaging. That's because I love having an instant reaction. (Yeah, sometimes I actually can say or do something just to see the reaction. It's something my friends always accuse me of.) I'm no TV fan and the only series I really watch is 30 Rock. It's just hilarous. It has comedy, it has wit, it's quicky and nerdy and kind of geeky! Love t. And Tina Fey - love this woman! I don't like to use the word genius, because people shouldn't be so obsessed with labels nowadays. I just hate it. But she's close to being perfect. A perfect writer. Comedy writer. She finds character in comedy and comedy in character, which only a few can do (at the same time!). Haha!

I love having friends and I love making lots of friends. I can be very aggressive sometimes (not physically!), but most of the time I'm shy. And especially nervous around people I like.

So, I'm visiting my parents and I'm going to stay in two weeks, so I'll have plenty of time to write. Happy New Year everybody and come back! ;-) And if you have any questions, please write to me! My e-mail is otko@live.co.uk.