Sidibe's reticence -- her recognition that Precious may never feel comfortable with all-out happiness -- is part of what makes the performance so touching. Monologues are often the thing that net awards for actors, even though they're never the best test of an actor's skill, chiefly because they involve talking rather than listening. And in "Precious," Mo'Nique is the one who gets the movie's big, show-stopping monologue. But Sidibe, who is far less experienced as a performer, holds her own in "Precious." She's a receptive presence but not a passive one, playing a character who can't hide from the horrors swirling around her, but who also has to fight to keep from getting swept away by them. The cautious hope that steals across Sidibe's face is the best thing about "Precious." Her performance is more about listening than it is about talking, a part of the job that more experienced actors often forget.(Stephanie Zacharek, “Gabourey Sidibe: Playing the victim,” Salon, 23 Feb. 2010)
Listening vs. talking
We should draw attention to good listeners, to the virtue in being a good listener -- especially if what it is to be a good actor, an impressive personage, has been made to seem all about crowding projection/dominance rather than empathic allowance/entrance. Since we've gone from Bush-dumb to Obama-aware, I'm betting most people are now in mind to agree with you, and appreciate your efforts to highlight actors/performances who/that are less "forced," in your face, and more generous to and appreciative of the full weight of the environment an actor/person is involved in. Has me thinking of a recent debate here at Salon on the virtues of Cdns and Americans, where one respondent suggested that what Americans need to appreciate about Cdns is they are better listeners, and therefore -- I believe he was arguing -- the better people.
But he was responding to my claim that what Cdns need to learn from AMERICANS is that they actually SAY THINGS, that sensitivity/awareness/attendance to others' sensitivities doesn't work as well as it does on Cdns to keep them from saying something controversial, potentially upsetting -- or just plain new. Your sense of a good listener may be a Spock, and your sense of a self-absorbed talker, a Kirk, but so many of the good listeners I have known are good listeners because they learned early on that their primary role was to attend to and satisfy someone else's needs. It is the result, not of having been well-supplied, and therefore not in need to constantly demand "gimme!," but of having been bullied, of having been deprived -- of NEEDING to know how to placate, for reprieve, to survive. And what these people primarily need is not to learn how to better listen to other people, but how to listen and become better acquainted with their own needs -- to speak up more, louder, and less (in a way) respectfully. Being present and less pliable, is just a necessary step towards learning to impress themselves more on the environment they are in.
John Dewey once criticized stimulus-response theory by saying it essentially lied in setting up animals/humans as primarily response-driven. The environment acts; the animal/human attends/listens, and then reacts. He argued that, instead, they are primarily ACTIVE, PURPOSEFUL -- that THEIR actions determine the particular response of the world around them. Whatever the truth of it, the empathy and love, in this instance, was clearly in Dewey's quintessentially American declaration/understanding of human beings.
I would prefer we be careful to not create an environment where Chris Matthews'/Joan Walsh's/Barbara Kingsolver's/Piers Anthony's/Ralph Nader's confident and loud sort of self-expression, and sometimes Other-obliviousness, could end up seeming fundamentally ungenerous ego rather than well-fueled soul.
Richard Brody shared a link.Moderator · November 20 at 3:38pm I'm obsessed with Bringing Up Baby, which is on TCM at 6 PM (ET). It's the first film by Howard Hawks that I ever saw, and it opened up several universes to me, cinematic and otherwise. Here's the story. I was seventeen or eighteen; I had never heard of Hawks until I read Godard's enthusiastic mention of him in one of the early critical pieces in "Godard on Godard"—he called Hawks "the greatest American artist," and this piqued my curiosity. So, the next time I was in town (I… I was out of town at college for the most part), I went to see the first Hawks film playing in a revival house, which turned out to be "Bringing Up Baby." I certainly laughed a lot (and, at a few bits, uncontrollably), but that's not all there was to it. I had never read Freud, but I had heard of Freud, and when I saw "Bringing Up Baby," its realm of symbolism made instant sense; it was obviou…
A Polish zoologist and his wife maintain a zoo which is utopia, realized. The people who work there are blissfully satisfied and happy. The caged animals aren't distraught but rather, very satisfied. These animals have been very well attended to, and have developed so healthily for it that they almost seem proud to display what is distinctively excellent about them for viewers to enjoy. But there is a shadow coming--Nazis! The Nazis literally blow apart much of this happy configuration. Many of the animals die. But the zookeeper's wife is a prize any Nazi officer would covet, and the Nazi's chief zoologist is interested in claiming her for his own. So if there can be some pretence that would allow for her and her husband to keep their zoo in piece rather than be destroyed for war supplies, he's willing to concede it.
The zookeeper and his wife want to try and use their zoo to house as many Jews as they can. They approach the stately quarters of Hitler's zoologist …