"What makes Alice Wu's debut so pleasurable is its easy rhythms, its sly juxtapositions, and its relaxed but funny performances. A generous straight man, Krusiec gives the film emotional heft...."---Slate
Saturday, May 21, 2011
This blog on blogger.com/blogspot.com will no longer be maintained.
All posts and comments have been migrated over to Michelle's new blog home at:
Pass the word! And byebye blogger.com!
Actor or a Commodity?
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I admit - I have a guru. He's not tattooed on my chakras, but it's worse. I practice what he preaches.
I met him in a tiny little acting studio on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade more than a decade ago. It was in this darkly lit, crammed, second story, office space/studio conversion that my love affair with acting teacher Larry Moss began. He is not a household name but his work spans televisions and film screens across the world. In Hollywood, he is lauded for bringing actors Oscar gold.
As a teacher, Larry taught me more about understanding human beings than any humanities class. In those days, we would often meet twice a week, working till 1 am breaking scenes down and ourselves. I watched in shock and awe the transformation of each actor. Our admissions about life was the stuff Greek tragedies are made of. We learned technique when actors worked on a scene, but when Larry worked on an actor, we learned about people. It was often intimate, dangerous and exhilarating.
Larry teaches all over the world now. People leave continents to work with him. I sat in on class recently. We watched, transfixed. He teaches life using the craft of acting. He directs lost artists into finding their voice and truth and he has an uncanny ability to read people. Actors need inspiration. Human beings do too when they're not busy, numbing out. It's not a class for the timid or for glamour seekers.
"Are you an actor or a commodity," prodded Larry Moss. Pen hit paper and there was an uneasy shuffle in the audience. Those of us who work in Hollywood knew exactly what he was asking. He was asking us to get off our asses and get to work.
An industry friend once likened listening to actors talk about their career as similar to listening to religious fanatics talk about how much they believed in God. I laughed, because he was right. Being an actor requires a kind of unshakeable faith in oneself. The irony though is that unless you learn from great teachers and get to work on understanding the craft, you'll always be relying on blind faith. That can be challenging in life, even more challenging in Hollywood. Larry the teacher taught me how to act, but what I learned about pursuing a life worth living, that I learned from Larry, the guru.
Race relations: Fast Five and LA Asian Pacific Film Festival
Friday, April 29, 2011
I attended the opening night film of Fast and Furious 5 last at the Los Angeles Pacific Film Festival. Hosts Danny Pudi and Parvesh Cheena give James Franco and Anne Hathaway a run for their money. In attendance were basically the who's who of Asian celebs, lots of film go-ers, fans, current and up and coming filmmakers and this one creepy white dude who is always stalking the Asian ladies at every gathering I attend. I know there are a lot of you lovers out there, but seriously we see you Asia-philes coming a mile away. There's something in the committed way you say hello, the dry glaze of your iris, the sensual handshake that says, "I know your people. I drink tea and I wear an Asian bathrobe to bed." We see you. IT'S VERY OBVIOUS. I'm not saying I don't appreciate your appreciation, I'm just sayin' simmer down with your funky chicken dance.
Anyhoo, Fast 5 was -- can we just say -- pimp daddy fun can I get a what what? I'm obviously still affected by it because I'm writing over-enthusiastically today. I sat in the audience and whooped more at this film than at Lord of the Rings because I just whooped in my head for that one. This film invites audience participation so be prepared for that because it's signature Justin Lin, the director, who I hear has been offered Terminator?! (One of my fave films is T2, see blog post Hanna is no Montana.)
Fast 5 had race and then it had race. Lots of cars, yes, but I actually heard NPR discussing the racial mix in this cast. I was gettin' down with how much brown there was onscreen. It's true this is a Hollywood franchise cast that has race without talking about race and it happens NO WHERE ELSE. The Rock is just masterful. I want him to body check me. Where's that Asia-phile, we're sitting next to each other now. For all of you actors out there, the ensemble cast is just teeming with personality so check out what happens when you give your role some swerve. Except for the ladies, they're more curve than swerve but what do you expect from a guy writer in this genre, right? It's the guys who get all the fun moments. Sung Kang who I recently worked with in the upcoming film THE COOLER reprises his role as Han from FF Tokyo Drift. The festival screened the short CAR TALK (2) starring Sung prior to the feature and let me say that someone needs to give Sung a comedy. He's being miscast! Hot and funny? That's a killer.
Check out this photo of us doin' our red carpet poses. Be sure to join in all the reindeer games and support upcoming talent in 180 films at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. You'll be inspired like I was. My next contribution can be seen at the festival in Erin Li's short LA COFFIN SCHOOL.