NYTimes Presents 'Fourteen Actors Acting'

Dec 9, 2010 at 5:42 pm

The New York Times Magazine's annual Hollywood Issue comes out Sunday. In advance of the print edition, the Times Web site yesterday unveiled an inspired take on the issue's typical photo spread that features the "actors who defined cinema in 2010." Dubbed “Fourteen Actors Acting,” the interactive multimedia supplement is a “video gallery of classic screen types” that features 14 separate shorts directed by fashion photographer Solve Sundsbo, each a minute in length with its own musical score by adventurous, classically inclined Indie artist Owen Pallet (formerly known as Final Fantasy).—-

The videos, shot simply in black and white, feature James Franco (127 Hours, Howl) in what seems a quasi-reenactment of Robert DeNiro's “You talkin' to me” Taxi Driver sequence by way of James Dean (or is it supposed to be Jean-Paul Belmondo in Breathless?; in any event, Franco eventually kisses his own visage in a mirror, and in the text that accompanies each actor's separate photo gallery says the scene he'd most like to remake is — get this — the butter sequence in The Last Tango in Paris); Jesse Eisenberg (Solitary Man, The Social Network) as a suave James Bond-esque gunslinger; promising newcomer Jennifer Lawrence (who was the glue that held Winter's Bone together) as Janet Leigh in Psycho; and a typically striking vision of Tilda Swinton (I Am Love) as Maria Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Less obvious homages feature Javier Bardem (Biutiful); a blonde-wigged Natalie Portman (Black Swan); Lesley Manville (Another Year), who's made up as a classic 1950s starlet; Chloe Moretz (the young badass in Kick-Ass and Let Me In); a gaunt, spooky-eyed Michael Douglas (Solitary Man, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps; an angry Matt Damon (Hereafter, Green Zone, True Grit); Anthony Mackie (Night Catches Us); a goth-free Naomi Rapace (the Millenium trilogy); a lighthearted and dancing Vincent Cassel (Black Swan, Mesrine double feature); and a clean-shaven Robert Duvall (Get Low).

Each short is compelling in its own way, and as a whole the project is more than enough to encourage the Times to go into moviemaking full time. Of course, it's hard to go wrong when you have the likes of the aforementioned actors at your disposal.