Thursday, August 06, 2009

Method viewing

I'm a big fan of the acting philosophy known as "method." Some of my favorite performers have embraced this strategy, from in his prime Robert De Niro to Jennifer Jason Leigh to Daniel Day Lewis. These kinds of actors try to literally inhabit the character they are portraying--from gaining/losing crazy amounts of weight or learning strange skills for the role or getting into a similar psychological frame of mind just for this specific role. I love it.

Daniel Day Lewis is hands down at the top of the method ladder. From living in the woods and using muskets, learning butchering techniques from two hundred years ago, refusing to get up from a wheel chair, hiring street thugs to harass him all night to get that certain unhinged quality--he's done these things and a lot more (way more!) just to further understand his character. If you see Day Lewis in a film one of the things he brings is 100% commitment and authenticity to the role via method.

It's time to add a fresh term to film that is completely new: method viewing! Method viewing is a way of applying the method strategy of acting to the movie watching experience. It's a way for film fanatics to take their zeal for movies to a completely new level.

I've had two method viewing experiences in the past couple of weeks. After staying up all night for Slumber Party I went home and got a few hours sleep. In the afternoon I decided to go see Moon to test out my new theory. Moon is about a astronaut on the moon who might be losing his mind (see most recent post for full review). My sleepless daze was the perfect foggy mental accompaniment for a film like Moon. Method viewing helped the film go over like gangbusters.

My second method viewing happened unexpectedly but sometimes these things need to happen organically. While at the Circle about to watch Tyson, a documentary about pugilist Mike Tyson, I dropped a twenty-five pound cast iron kettle on my foot. I broke one of my toes and damaged several others. I hobbled into the theatre with a bag of ice, removed my sock/shoe and watched Tyson with ice on my foot/toes. I was in pain as I watched Tyson talk about painful events, beat up people in the ring and even bite off a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear. Method viewing my friends.

There's a whole world of opportunity for future method viewings. It can be as simple as watching a movie where it was shot--recently Rumblefish was projected against a building in downtown Tulsa and that's method viewing. The Rolling Roadhouse by Alamo Draft House a few years ago offered up things like Close Encounters of the Third Kind at the Devil's Tower in Wyoming or The Goonies in Astoria, Oregon. Also method viewing.

Any experiences worth sharing? Any ideas for future screenings? I'm thinking of locking a couple of friends in my hot, dark, cobwebbed garage; starving them for a few days and then making them watch Rescue Dawn in the middle of the night. Any volunteers?


Chuck Foxen said...

I think Christian Bale is another that gives 100 percent. "The Machinist", cant give more than he gave for that one.

I like the idea about being a "method" viewer. Do you think if the Kettle landed on your ear you would have had more sympathy for Holyfield or just a head ache?

bb said...

Who has a 25 pound tea kettle?????

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

Greg. I was working an afternoon at the Circle and it fell off a chair and onto my foot!

Joshua Blevins Peck said...


Christian Bale is method in some of his stuff--The Machinist was crazy with all the weight he lost. Hard to watch. He did the same for Rescue Dawn plus he and Steve Zahn were eating bugs and other stuff on screen. For American Psycho he was doing 2,000 crunches a day etc to get in shape for that and hanging out with stockbrokers.

Then for Terminator: Salvation he was going off on the DP like a crazy man and the audio got out on the web like wildfire--wait, I don't think that was for the role, ha!

Under the Mooch said...

Sorry, dude, but I invented this a long time ago when I got high and watched Easy Rider. (I'm pretty sure I was the first person to ever do that.)

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

Mooch--I'm claiming credit for coming up w/ a new term, not the actual act what you do to get into or absorb or relate or whatever a person might do to soak up the film. I can't find any other references to "method viewing" so I'm claiming that I coined the phrase!