Thursday 28 February 2013

Daniel Day-Lewis ravings after the triumph

His sister Tamasin Day-Lewis said:
"I can't believe he's won again - nor can Dan, as I discovered when I finally got a text from my brother after the mayhem of Sunday's Oscars. He'd left his telephone behind on the night... Neither of us had allowed ourselves to believe it would happen. After all, when he won every award leading up to the Oscars in the year of Gangs of New York, he then didn't win. But somehow I never doubted he'd get three... Whilst everyone assumed this Oscar was a foregone conclusion, I was more circumspect... Indeed, this summer in Ireland when he was talking to me about Lincoln, it was clear that he wouldn't have put money on himself. But he has made history, and made history work for him."
"Much has been made of his character acting, the Madness and the Method that is attributed to him as though he were a rare, strange creature with an inability to be himself before, during or even directly after the playing of a character... It is odd to me that people see only Dan's high seriousness when, in fact, he is one of the funniest people I know... He may, this third time around, be cracking jokes at his own expense as he receives his awards, about being in character as himself for 55 years... but that is the real Dan."

According to this, he's going to stay away from the film industry and work as a carpenter.
Which is rather sad.
But of course, I'd rather him take a rest and work as a carpenter or a shoemaker or whatever for a couple of years and then come back with another great performance than go straight to hell like Adrien Brody has been doing since 2003.
This article has some valid points, I think. Getting an Oscar is awesome, but it can be a burden, a pressure.
Daniel perhaps also thought about "Nine", his 1st film after the 2nd Oscar. 

I don't know if these are the secret to his success, but they're certainly what make him the greatest living actor in the English speaking world- talent, serious attitude, devotion and good choices.
Robbie Collin: "There's a mystique around his craftsmanship - there are anecdotes of him being addressed as Mr President on the set of Lincoln, and he got an apprenticeship in butchery after he was cast as a butcher in Gangs of New York.
But what matters is how that intensity and preparation translates onto the big screen. He is a presence that's totally cinematic and the sheer size of his character is impressive. When you think of There Will Be Blood, there was an enormous, empty landscape, but he filled it with his personality.
He's done something similar with Lincoln - in preparing and inhabiting it, he's not just giving a performance as president, he embodies Lincoln and pushes through the iconic quality of the role."

This article says exactly what I want to say.
"Stars tend to be defined by their immutability. John Wayne was always John Wayne. Cary Grant described the secret of star acting as becoming “as familiar in people’s lives as their favourite brand of tea or coffee”. Day-Lewis, though, makes hardly any films and rarely repeats himself. When he does appear on screen, it’s always bound to be in a radical new guise."
"He is very different from the great American method actors like Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, who remain recognisably themselves however extreme the characters they are portraying."
"In recent award speeches, Day-Lewis has deftly sent up his image as the obsessive who allows himself to be taken over by the characters he plays. That, though, is what makes him special – it is also why he has three Oscars to his name in spite of making fewer than a dozen movies since My Left Foot in 1989."
Concerning the part about John Wayne and Cary Grant, I should add, it's precisely the reason I prefer today's actors than those in the pre-1960 era and also why I strongly disagree with people who say nowadays we don't have great actors any more. 1st, each of the pre-1960 actor in Hollywood had a persona and was stuck to it. Humphrey Bogart was always Humphrey Bogart. Cary Grant was always Cary Grant. James Stewart was always James Stewart. Even Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis, 2 very talented actresses, were supposed to play characters quite close to themselves, confined to a certain image. Today, actors no longer have a persona but mostly play a range of characters, and how wide the range is depends on the actor's talent. 2nd, when today's cinema has much less strict censorship and production codes, the filmmakers can push most things further, and as a result, create much more complex, multi-sided, challenging characters. Getting an Oscar today is therefore also much more difficult.

5/ Vivien Leigh, albeit recognisable in various roles, wasn't limited to a particular persona. Because she didn't belong to Hollywood.
Thinking about it, I realise that in fact Daniel Day-Lewis and Vivien Leigh have a couple of things in common:
- Both are British.
- Both have English and Irish blood.
(Daniel: English, Irish, Jewish, Vivien: English, Irish, French).
- Both have a small filmography.
Vivien: 1935- 1965= 30 years= 19 films.
Daniel: 1982- 2012= 30 years= 19 films.
The difference is, Vivien was a theatre actress, whereas Daniel was in the theatre for a while then 1 day walked away from "Hamlet" and never came back.
- Both want to be, and consider themselves, actors, not film stars.
- Vivien's the 1st British actress to win an Oscar for best leading actress.
Daniel's the 1st person to win 3 Oscars for best leading actor.
- Vivien earned 2 Oscars for portraying 2 of America's most important Southern belles: Scarlett O'Hara and Blanche DuBois.
2 of Daniel's Oscars were given for his portrayals of 2 quintessential Americans: Daniel Plainview and Abraham Lincoln.
In both cases people were doubtful at the beginning, asking why the filmmakers had to choose a British actor, and afterwards, couldn't imagine anybody else in the same roles.

"a jolly nice boy with a wild side", hmmm...

To start with, Daniel spent 1 year researching, reading books about Abraham Lincoln. It's understandable that his voice in the film sounds odd, but Lincoln didn't have a deep, strong, manly voice. Read the comments here and one can see, people have often described Lincoln's voice as thin, weedy, a bit high-pitched.
"I've always imagined Lincoln’s voice as deep and resonant to match his place in history,"
"Is it me or does Abe Lincoln sound a lot like Mr Burns?... I refuse to believe that’s how he sounded."
Ignorance goes with stubbornness. What's more to say?
"This Abraham Lincoln you’re making a movie on - please, choose someone with a stronger voice." 
This statement even has double ignorance. 1st, this person doesn't know how people have described Lincoln's voice. 2nd, this person doesn't know how Daniel sounds in real life. 

Tom Hanks is a threat, no joke.
He has 2 Oscars under his belt, 1 for "Forrest Gump", the other "Philadelphia", both incredible and deserving. Though I consider Daniel to be superior and Tom Hanks hasn't had any complicated, challenging role for years, it's possible that this will happen because these 2 projects sound very promising: Walt Disney in "Saving Mr Banks" and Richard Phillips in "Captain Phillips".
I can only hope that Tom Hanks will end up like Anthony Hopkins in "Hitchcock".

9/ In the Oscar ceremony Seth MacFarlane told a joke about Daniel's method acting:
I've also read many articles about his 'madness' (their word), most recently, a Vietnamese one that labels him as "người tù khổ sai của nghệ thuật diễn xuất" and calls his method acting "hành xác". 
I know he's weird, and very extreme- to call him a method actor is an understatement, since he pushes it further than anybody has ever done and anybody ever will. But I have to say: 1st, all he wants to do is to understand the character. 2nd, what he does doesn't matter- in the end the only thing that matters is the performance. 3rd, he's great not only because he stays in character, but also because he has a gift. On principle, it's about creating an illusion, when he believes it, people also believe it, but staying in character doesn't guarantee success. The reason he doesn't break out of character between takes is that at the moment he acts, he becomes that person instead of playing the character, so moving back and forth between the 2 completely different persons is merely exhausting. The process of transforming takes place inside him, not outside. 4th, he enjoys doing what he does because it's a discovery, whereas people have often exaggerated everything, misrepresented his way of acting as something horrible and dreadful. 
Daniel has said it himself, "Certainly in England I think they prefer to believe that I'm stone mad. That's how they account for all my eccentric behavior. But I always feel as if that has been largely misrepresented, the details that have been singled out...People are fascinated by the peripheral details. But that's not where the principal work takes place, obviously. That takes place either inside you, or it doesn't happen at all. It's your own life that breathes itself into and through the character. But people prefer to dwell on the stuff that appears on the face of it to be some form of self-flagellation. And for me, everything is part of the joy of discovering this life - that one is trying to inform as well as satisfying an irresistible curiosity. So it's the pleasure in learning that has always been the prevailing feeling for me. And yet consistently it's represented as this tortured thing." 

10/ Thinking about Daniel's joke on Oscar night, I now realise another funny thing about it: Meryl Streep an American actress got her 3rd Oscar for playing Margaret Thatcher, 1 of the most significant British prime ministers, Daniel Day-Lewis a British actor got his 3rd Oscar for playing Abraham Lincoln, 1 of the most important and beloved American presidents. 
Anyhow, they're polar opposites. Daniel stands for the best of method acting, Meryl, classical acting. Proof that both ways can work beautifully and wonderfully and it doesn't matter which way to choose but the most suitable and effective way for an individual. 
It's like that time I read a book called "20 bài học điện ảnh". 20 film directors, 20 different ways/ preferences/ techniques/ tendencies, etc. 

Sunday 24 February 2013

85th Oscar- Daniel makes history!

7.58pm in Oslo: 
My predictions: 
- Best picture: Argo 
- Best foreign language film: Amour 
- Best film director: Steven Spielberg- Lincoln 
- Best actor in a leading role: Joaquin Phoenix- The master 
- Best actress in a leading role: Emmanuelle Riva- Amour 
- Best actor in a supporting role: Christoph Waltz- Django unchained 
- Best actress in a supporting role: Anne Hathaway- Les misérables

The results: 
- Best picture: Argo 
- Best foreign language film: Amour 
- Best film director: Ang Lee- Life of Pi 
- Best actor in a leading role: Daniel Day-Lewis- Lincoln 
- Best actress in a leading role: Jennifer Lawrence- Silver linings playbook
- Best actor in a supporting role: Christoph Waltz- Django unchained 
- Best actress in a supporting role: Anne Hathaway- Les misérables

And now it's me being emotional: 

daniel daylewis oscars