Sunday, June 24, 2012

Odd Couple: Dinner Party Part 1

*note:  I use this kind of material for my own growth and use it to help others (if I can). I try to constantly look at good acting, staging, and life around me to be a better animator/performer.

-This clip from the Odd Couple starring Jack Lemmon(Felix) and Walter Matthau(Oscar) is a great example of contrasting characters, clear staging, and great acting off of one another.  I like this first scene because it shows basic principles of characters done in a fun manner.  I think it should be used in a lot of schools for Acting in Animation 101..kind of class. Basics of timing, staging, and posing are all here.  Felix (Jack Lemmon) body shows a still aggravated patience.  It is very easy to go towards a clich√© state of what we thing aggravation means in acting when we work out a scene.  Obviously if the show dictates you do that kind of acting where the aggravation and anger is explosive than that’s what must take place in your work.  I like showing these clips in a class because this first part gives you a great sense of how we can keep a character almost still, use minimal gestures, and still convey the right emotion.  Movements like adjusting the ladle over and over again in his hand as he waits for the right to moment speak These things don’t feel planned….it feels right because that is something we all probably can relate to.
-Jack Lemmon shows anger in a subtle way at the beginning of the sequence. The audience can feel the tension because of Felix’s eyes, small mouth movements, and minimal body motion compared to Oscars slightly broader gestures.  There are also physical and visual attributes that help with the overall feeling.  If you notice the opposing postures you will see that Felix slouched down with his head pushing forward in some shots(image A).


 It feels like he is trying to push himself down in the chair before he pops out of the chair and explodes. Felix is also clean, shirt tucked, tie done and everything pressed.  If you look at Oscar it’s totally opposite.  He is straight up and down, a complete mess (not really a complete mess but in contrast to Felix..yes), and at ease with himself (image B).

 (Of course Jamaal, that’s why the film is called the Odd Couple)

-Another thing about how Felix is staged we get some nice expressions based on the directions he has to look.  Being that he has to sit, his gaze up gives us this great feeling of anger without pushing the eyebrows into what we know as “angry brows” (image C).


 His brows are completely straight as he looks up Oscar (Walter Matthau). These are hard but not difficult things to achieve in animation and that is one of the reasons I love the level of detail we can get with CG now.  There is a great turning point in the acting once Felix states that Oscar should have called him.  The abrupt pause by Oscar is a slight comedic beat because we are cued into Felix acting like a wife even more than we were expecting me to be.  We read that Oscar is thrown by this just by him stopping an action (putting a tie on) that we would normally never pause in.  This stop creates a fantastic abstract pose that really draws our attention (image D).

-I won’t over analyze the sequence because it is pretty self explanatory.   Subtle contrasting against Broad… we see this all the time in our everyday lives as well.  It makes for interesting characters, but it has to be executed correctly and with a certain appeal that can carry through many shots; long or short form.