6 - Tuesday, October 5, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
TV actors are no joke
"Man, Coolio sure let himself go."v
Jack's boat barely floats
Hoffman shows promise
behind the camera
By JENNIFER XU
Daily Arts Writer
Phillip Seymour Hoffman's direc-
torial debut seems a little late in the
coming. After all, a
man with three Oscar
nominations and a long
history of stellar per- Jack Goes
formances should hold
a pretty firm grasp on Boatng
the human condition. At the State
So while "Jack Goes Overture
Boating" - an allegory
of two innocent people
holding onto each other while the rest of
New York silently crumbles around them
- feels a bit anticlimactic on first reflec-
tion, maybe it's just overdue to the point
of being stale.
Really, everything about "Jack" is
a little wound down. Adapted from a
play by Robert Glaudini, the film tells
the story of Jack, a simple-minded limo
driver who just wants to find a serious
relationship. As the protagonist, Hoff-
man, who's hell-bent on making himself
look as repulsive as possible, resem-
bles nothing so much as a large, fleshy
baby. When his married friends Clyde
(John Ortiz, "Public Enemies") and
Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega, "Flawless")
set him up with the slightly odd, sexu-
ally paranoid Connie (Amy Ryan, "Gone
Baby Gone"), Jack's newborn demeanor
cracks a little to show his general inex-
If Jack were a girl, he'd probably get
a makeover and go shopping. Instead, he
just learns how to swim and cook a meal.
And slowly, as Jack's limited awareness
of the world increases in scope, he real-
izes that with his limo driver job and
three friends, he might not have it so bad
At its worst, "Jack Goes Boating" can
be excruciatingly dull. At best, it's relax-
ing. As a film with very little ambition in
regards to story content, "Jack" needs to
rely on characterization in order to pull
a viewer through. And though the four
actors do an admirable job of inhabiting
their respective characters, there isn't
enough fat in the screenplay to cushion
what essentially is a straightforward
parable about surviving in New York
To Hoffman's credit, though, the film
never feels much like a play - there
is nary a strand of turgid, exhaus-
tive dialogue so typical in stage-based
adaptations. In fact, it might be that its
screenplay is too linear and clear-cut in
its plot progression that brings about its
However, the film does seem to hit its
stride somewhere in the middle third.
Jack and Connie, slightly off-kilter from
the rest of the world, do a lot of hugging
and kissing to make up for the melan-
cholic devastation leaking out of their
friends. But the best scenes happen in
the swimming pool, as Clyde patiently
teaches Jack how to hold his breath by
visualizing the little chlorine bubbles
gurgling around him. Later on, imag-
es of Jack lucidly slicing through the
water are intercut with a center shot of
him standing on a bridge practicing his
strokes while Fleet Foxes blasts in the
With his debut, Hoffman has proven
his prowess behind the camera, though
his story development still needs a little
fine-tuning. But it's the little moments
in between that make the short, imper-
fect "Jack Goes Boating" a worthwhile
watch, which really speaks to the over-
lying themes of the film. As Clyde would
say, "Life is fucked up, but we get by."
"Hello. We're TV actors."
Those words, spoken by Rainn Wil-
son as he stood alongside Blake
Lively at the
2009 Golden Globes,1
were enough to incite
several seconds of
hearty laughter from
the Hollywood crowd.
And while it may seem
harmless, the remark _
and the reaction dem- CAROLYN
onstrate one important KLARECKI
stigma in the acting -
industry - some people
think TV actors are a joke.
Peter Krause? Bradley Whitford? Janu-
ary Jones? Oh, they're just TV actors. No
big deal. They're not special like Chris-
tian Bale or Natalie Portman. Those are
the real actors. They're in movies. Those
actors on the small-screen are only there
because they're not good/famous/pretty
enough for the cutthroat competition of
Hollywood movies. No, they just have to
be content wallowing in their 30-60 min-
ute time-slot, making considerably less
money and enjoying less fame.
Maybe no one states it quite so explic-
itly, but there tends to be this attitude
pervading the world of media-junkies that
TV actors are of a lesser caliber than movie
stars. TV is viewed as a stepping stone to
better gigs. And there's some truth to that.
TV actors aren't paid as much as those who
appear.in films and they generally don't
grace the "Star Watch" section of People
magazine. But that doesn't make them
inferior - just different.
Actors working on a movie usually have a
few months to film their scenes. "Pirates of
the Caribbean" was filmed in five months.
Five months spenton one project where
the actors probably weren't called to set for
half of the scheduled film days. Most TV
actors stay on for an entire season, appear-
ing in every episode, and each episode takes
a week or more to film. The first season of
"Lost" also took five months to film, but
in the end there was 1068 minutes of aired
footage. "Pirates" had a run time of 143 min-
utes. TV acting is hard. It's time-consuming
and the pay-off isn't always great.
According to TV Guide, Jon Hamm
of "Mad Men" makes $75,000 per epi-
sode, making his season's earnings about
$975,000. Forbes reports Leonardo
DiCaprio's paycheck for "Inception" was
more than $50 million. Both "Inception"
and "Mad Men" are critically acclaimed
works of art and both salaries are beyond
anything I could ever hope to earn, but
there is a huge discrepancy between them.
Hamm has filmed 49 episodes and still
hasn't reached a quarter of DiCaprio's
"Inception" money. So it's reasonable to
think that actors would only take TV gigs
if they had to.
But think of all the incredibly talented
TV actors out there. Hamm, Nathan Fil-
lion, Tina Fey and Terry O'Quinn are
all amazing actors who could make the
jump to movies any time they wanted to.
And some have. Some actors do use TV
as a stepping stone to movies, buta lot of
actors come back to it too. TV acting has
its advantages and provides challenges not
normally available in the world of film.
The beauty of the television serial is
that the characters can be much more
complex and developed than those in
movies. This gives actors a chance to get
to know a character and portray them
more dynamically than they ever would
depth, less respect.
be able to in a film. There is time to under-
stand who you're playing, to explore your
character's ups and downs, to guide them
through the dark moments and to cel-
ebrate the victories.
As viewers, we have a whole season to
get to know and care about the characters
on TV. Moviegoers only spend a few hours
with the big-screen characters, and come
to forget many. We establish relationships
with the TV characters, inviting them
into our living rooms each week. We see
them regularly, and because of that, they
become a little more accessible to us. TV
actors aren't presented for us to worship
on a 30-foot screen. They don't grace us
with their talent only once each year. Peo-
ple on TV just seem much more real.
So while the stigma of TV acting may
not be totally unfounded, I beg the film
snobs to lay off. It's arguably harder to
act for the small-screen and clearly the
gig doesn't pay as well. TV actors are the
unsung heroes of the acting biz. They do it
out of love for the medium, the story and
the character, and that's something worth
Klarecki is a method actress playing
a columnist on an upcoming TV show.
E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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RELEASE DATE- Tuesday, October 5, 2010
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