Film Response Essay (600-800 words)


Examine two of the films in Module #5 and write an essay focused on the following question:

What are the differences in acting styles between two actors?

The films in this section offer complex plots and fine-grained characterizations by actors who have different backgrounds and training. This module introduced method acting and the success of the method actor often depends upon realism in the story, dialog, details, motivation and the arc of the character. You may base part of your essay on the method actor you covered in your M5 Discussion or you may select another method actor from a different film. Then you must compare the method actor to another actor in a different film who is not known as a method actor. You might compare a British actor and an American actor, or two actors playing the same part (e.g. John Wayne and Jeff Bridges in

True Grit

). There are so many articles comparing Jack Nicholson’s Joker in 1989’s


directed by Tim Burton with Heath Ledger’s performance in

The Dark Knight

(2008) directed by Christopher Nolan that we will limit the grade to a maximum of 89% for anyone who chooses that comparison. Please don’t dwell on summarizing the story, but you may consider the interplay of script-based character development and acting technique. You may research the actors’ respective training and preparation, examine aspects of their performance (e.g., facial expressions, physical movement, soliloquies, dialogue, two-character or ensemble scenes) but your main focus should be on your description and perception of their characterization in the film. If you just say “the actor’s facial expressions and body movements helped to create the character of the policeman,” you will not fulfill the prompt. You need to provide specific details that you have observed while watching the film. Look at specific scenes and tell us about those moments that reveal how the actor convincingly portrays a character with emotional impact, purpose, reaction and motivation.Please avoid extensively summarizing the plot at the expense of analyzing the actor’s performance. The word count (600-800 words). Give your essay a title and italicize titles throughout. Organize your essay with an introduction, topical paragraphs and conclusion.

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
After moving to a new town, troublemaking teen Jim Stark (James Dean) is supposed to
have a clean slate, although being the new kid in town brings its own problems. While
searching for some stability, Stark forms a bond with a disturbed classmate, Plato (Sal
Mineo), and falls for local girl Judy (Natalie Wood). However, Judy is the girlfriend of
neighborhood tough, Buzz (Corey Allen). When Buzz violently confronts Jim and
challenges him to a drag race, the new kid’s real troubles begin.
As Good as it Gets (1997)
Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) is an obsessive-compulsive writer of romantic fiction
who’s rude to everyone he meets, including his gay neighbor Simon (Greg Kinnear), but
when he has to look after Simon’s dog, he begins to soften and, if still not completely
over his problems, finds he can conduct a relationship with the only waitress (Helen
Hunt) at the local diner who’ll serve him
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Five high school students from different walks of life endure a Saturday detention under
a power-hungry principal (Paul Gleason). The disparate group includes rebel John
(Judd Nelson), princess Claire (Molly Ringwald), outcast Allison (Ally Sheedy), brainy
Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) and Andrew (Emilio Estevez), the jock. Each has a chance
to tell his or her story, making the others see them a little differently — and when the day
ends, they question whether school will ever be the same
A Place in the Sun (1951)
In this classic version of Theodore Dreiser’s novel “An American Tragedy,” George
Eastman (Montgomery Clift), the nephew of a wealthy industrialist, is excluded from
high society and given a blue-collar job at his uncle’s factory. While ascending the ranks
of the company, George becomes romantically involved with co-worker Alice Tripp
(Shelley Winters). However, when he is introduced to socialite Angela Vickers
(Elizabeth Taylor), he quickly falls for her, leading to a tragic love triangle. Clift was one
of the first actors to be invited to study with Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan at the Actors
Studio. He was one of the original method actors to go from the New York stage to
Hollywood. Clift kept up such intensity as George, he would find himself drenched in
sweat at the end of a scene. He told Taylor that “that’s the worst part about acting…your
body doesn’t know you’re acting. It sweats and makes adrenalin just as though your
emotions were real.”
The Wrestler (2008)
Aging wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) is long past his prime but
still ready and rarin’ to go on the pro-wrestling circuit. After a particularly brutal beating,
however, Randy hangs up his tights, pursues a serious relationship with a long-in-thetooth stripper (Marisa Tomei), and tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Evan
Rachel Wood). But he can’t resist the lure of the ring and readies himself for a
The Godfather: Part II (1974)
The compelling sequel to “The Godfather,” contrasting the life of Corleone father and
son. Traces the problems of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in 1958 and that of a young
immigrant Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) in 1917’s Hell’s Kitchen. Michael survives
many misfortunes and Vito is introduced to a life of crime.
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
When inexperienced criminal Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino) leads a bank robbery in
Brooklyn, things quickly go wrong, and a hostage situation develops. As Sonny and his
accomplice, Sal Naturile (John Cazale), try desperately to remain in control, a media
circus develops and the FBI arrives, creating even more tension. Gradually, Sonny’s
surprising motivations behind the robbery are revealed, and his standoff with law
enforcement moves toward its inevitable end

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