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Virtuoso - Film Performance and the Actor’s Magic

Murray Pomerance Price: $34.95

Elizabeth Taylor's electrifying performance in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

The milkshake scene in There Will be Blood

Leonardo DiCaprio's turn as Arnie in What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

What makes these performances so special?

Eloquently written and engagingly laid out, Murray Pomerance answers the tough question as to what makes an exceptional, or virtuosic performance

Pomerance intensively explores virtuosic performance in film, ranging from classical works through to contemporary production, and gives serious consideration to structural problems of dramatization and production, actorial methods and tricks, and contingencies that befall performers giving stand-out moments

Looking at more than 40 aspects of the virtuosic act, and using an approach based in careful meditation and discursion, Virtuoso moves through such themes as showing off, effacement, self-consciousness, performative collapse, spontaneity, acting as dream, acting and femininity, virtuosity and torture, secrecy, improvisation, virtuosic silence, and others

It gives special attention to the labors of such figures as Fred Astaire, Johnny Depp, Marlene Dietrich, Basil Rathbone, Christopher Plummer, Leonardo DiCaprio, Alice Brady, Ethel Waters, James Mason, and dozens more

Numerous scenic virtuosities are examined in depth, from films as far-ranging asSingin' in the Rain and The Bridge on the River Kwai, and My Man Godfrey

As the first book about virtuosity in film performance, Virtuoso offers exciting new angles from which to view film both classical and contemporary

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Overture

Chapter 1: A Brief History of the Virtuosic Moment
Chapter 2: Showing Off
Chapter 3: Effacement and Allure
Chapter 4: Money
Chapter 5: “I Am Acting”
Chapter 6: “I Am On Show”
Chapter 7: Charisma as Commodity
Chapter 8: Outstanding
Chapter 9: Virtuosity Superimposed
Chapter 10: Spontaneity
Chapter 11: In Dreams Awake
Chapter 12: A Feminine Mystique
Chapter 13: Tortures
Chapter 14: Secret Virtuosity
Chapter 15: (In)Credible Belief
Chapter 16: Touched by the Camera
Chapter 17: Improvise
Chapter 18: Breathe
Chapter 19: Director/Virtuoso
Chapter 20: Heimlichkeit
Chapter 21: Collapse
Chapter 22: Bigger Than Life
Chapter 23: The Spectacle of Things Falling Apart
Chapter 24: Limping On
Chapter 25: The Eternal Return
Chapter 26: Borders
Chapter 27: Facing
Chapter 28: Louder Louder, Softer Softer
Chapter 29: Virtuosity Classical
Chapter 30: Near Misses
Chapter 31: Discounts
Chapter 32: Virtuosic Silence
Chapter 33: Virtuosic Support
Chapter 34: Control
Chapter 35: Virtuosic Play-Within-Play
Chapter 36: Upstairs Downstairs
Chapter 37: Lost in the Stars
Chapter 38: Virtuosity Pianissimo Virtuosity Forte
Chapter 39: Virtuosity as Event
Chapter 40: Indelibles
Chapter 41: Virtuosity and “The Virtuoso”
Chapter 42: Negative Virtuosity
Chapter 43: Virtuosic Slippage
Chapter 44: The End or “End” of Virtuosic Performance

Coda: A Thought of Conclusion

Bibliography

REVIEWS

“In this extraordinary volume, Murray Pomerance acts as something like a spirit guide to the mysteries of cinematic performance. The text conjures a pageant of gestures, voices, faces and moments that exemplify virtuosity, accompanied by critical reflection that is never less than compelling. Pomerance's prose is itself virtuosic: lucid, penetrating, brilliant. It asks questions we didn't know could be asked, and never resorts to easy answers. This makes the book essential reading, not just for scholars and students of film performance, but for anyone interested in the art and magic of the cinema” ~ Dr. Alex Clayton, Senior Lecturer in Film and Television, University of Bristol

“From detailed examinations of such singular talents like James Dean and Cary Grant, to the subtler, fleeting, performative moments by virtuosos as varied as John Barrymore and Kristen Stewart, Murray Pomerance offers a new way of approaching, as well as a language for addressing, the riddling qualities of great film acting. What magic the actors explored in this book do with gesture, expression and inflexion, Pomerance does here with incisive description, analysis, and an often delightful turn of phrase” ~ Dr. Daniel Varndell, Senior Lecturer in English Literature, University of Winchester

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