Transcript of a Dry Run Voice Memo Recorded at 3:49 in the Afternoon (not actually, but may as well be) – Sage Strusser
November 3, 2021
**Written by Jeremy Bender in the middle of night 5, unable to sleep, or rather, conform to such a schedule… took him 22 minutes to write this… Above is the title he actually came up with…
It makes me somewhat sad, though not at all really, when I recognize once-respectable actors in the trailers of dog shit commercial films. I used to think they were just being sellouts, and that could very well be the case for a majority of them no doubt, being older, less ballsy and all, however, lately I’ve been more so leaning towards the idea that a specific batch of actors are taking on these roles, more precisely, having to settle for them, not only to maintain a living, keep busy, stay (or feel, rather) relevant to the masses, genuinely try to keep their raison d’être from dying, or whatever the fuck else, but because nothing really that good is being made anymore, and what I mean by good, I mean of or near the caliber of films that bolstered their stardom 2-3 decades ago. It’s obvious….. Even though there’s I’m sure gonna be a few others that I’ll forget at this time, there’s only maybe like 3 or 4 actors today I can think of off the top of my head that have maintained, if not enhanced, their careers from half their current age ago, actors that are able to star in non-commercial, relatively inventive films, while still remaining in the public psyche, make some money, etc.: Joaquin, Nic Cage, Leo, Pitt, Tilda possibly? and that’s all I can really do for right now, and I’m already unconvinced about sticking Tilda in that mix… I know I’m probably missing a few others that I knew I would forget, and it’s sorta fucked that they’re escaping me right now, but I guess that’s just how it goes… Yet, this is not the main point… stick with me… I don’t want to assert that American filmmaking is at the most uninspiring it’s ever been, but it definitely feels that way, like all the real innovative cinematic minds, besides a few, naturally, are foreign. And, naturally, with a language barrier and other restrictions and downsides I’m sure, the great young actors of the late80s, 90s, early2000s, will not take the leap overseas (and who’s to say these foreign directors even want their has-been asses anyway?), and will instead more or less twiddle their thumbs until one of the remaining good American filmmakers emerges with something that doesn’t even have to be that good at this point, or to hope that some young, perky, sophisticated filmmaker comes around with a fine role in their kickass debut or sophomore feature… or the actors could just fuck around and start writing and directing their own shit, but realistically, what are the odds of that? Unless you’re Ethan Hawke, best of luck, call on a higher power… And I’m also not trying to imply that America, America analyzing America that is, doesn’t have any real actors anymore. America just doesn’t care for them like they used to anymore, at all, and perhaps that’s due to the fact that there hasn’t been an American film iconic enough, or even worth mentioning since 2009, or 2013 come to think of it. Like of course people (mostly referring to the average American here) can still place an image to Ed Norton or Uma or Willem or Naomi Watts or Nic Kidman, actors that have been in one or two celebrated, actually superb films over the last decade, and I’m certain Phil Hoffman would be a part of this group too if he were still around, but when those unexceptional Americans do try to picture them, or recount where they know them from, and are able to, they will always, always, without fail, refer to the films the actors played a part in when they were in their 20s-30s, the iconic shit, as opposed to anything they were in in the last 5-8 years, regardless of whether the person saw the more recent films or not… which sorta is unfortunate, because those actors that are still going after, or awaiting rather, those solid, original roles in the few appreciable films a year that probably only pay like 1/10th of what they’d make if they just accepted anything from the grand cesspit of content being shit out by nameless, get-rich-quick directors and the almighty streaming companies that seem to put together at least 5 painfully substance-less, yet highly addictive TV series a week, content (if you wish to call it that) that I’m convinced isn’t even really conceived by real people, but rather generated by some kind of super technology, I don’t know, but anyways, it’s sort of a shame because those films that those actors take on are pretty good fuckin films, and their performances usually deliver, though that’s not really the point. They just don’t make jack shit, and they hardly receive any decent recognition at all, besides a few, needless to say, which is only dwindling as the years elapse… And if you want to counter my argument by saying that some of those few special films receive not only Oscar nominations, but actually end up winning, what about that for recognition? I’m not denying that… they do, sometimes. The Oscars just haven’t meant shit for like a decade and a half now. The shit’s corny as hell. It’s gross. No one watches that shit anymore, and if you are judging respected praise today off whether an Oscar is won or not, you have absolutely zero say here, you don’t belong. So shut the fuck up. I know what I’m talking about here…. And still, I haven’t even gotten to the main point here… Patience you morons……… With things being what they are, I just get a sense that that generation of actors I’m mostly referring to are in a weird, sort of vulnerable state in this day and age… You can see it in their eyes, in how they talk during interviews, speeches, like they’re severely discombobulated, insensate, soulless. And even if some actor does appear on a talk show and is acting all happy-go-lucky or fake, on their social media or whatever, he or she either is not part of the specific batch of actors I’m referring to here, or they’re acting that way in order to avoid any sort of controversy that could transpire with everything and everyone they come across and have to deal with… while deep down, the whole time, they’re just suffering bad, real bad. It’s obvious… And it’s not cowardly, it’s smart, forward-thinking really, whether they’re doing it consciously or not, they’re thinking of their careers, most would do the same shit too, or worse, if they were in their position. Though maybe I’m just giving most of these actors more credit than they actually deserve….. And for the generation that preceded them, when actors used to be real actors, they’ve had their time, they’re old now, out of place, I feel nothing for them, for many reasons, and whenever I see one of those older actors trying to take themselves seriously in a role today, trying to stay relevant, for a passion project, or whatever the fuck else (they already have all the money they could ask for), even if they’re just rolling with the same guys they did it with back when they were in their youths, it’s consistently ultra-depressing for me anytime I see it, to where it almost takes on an element of disgust, borderline nausea-inducing, if that makes any sense……. Why do you think Daniel Day-Lewis retired prematurely? You don’t think he had a feeling that things were about to become how they are now, and perhaps only get worse? Or why V Gallo has dipped entirely from the scene? who left film way earlier than DDL, however, it’s his sustained disappearance that matters here….. Escapism in film is no more, frowned upon, and even if it actually isn’t, and I’m just wrong, I can attest that it could never be emulated and appreciated in the same light that it was in times gone by. It’s a different species today, a spineless, clichéd, talentless (or perhaps just lazy and/or mindless) human race… And the chances of film only getting worse is sky fuckin high, especially with this new generation of actors, I guess the ones a part-ish of my generation. I mean sure they can maintain in those shitty little coming-of-age pieces, and maybe find some luck in something down the road, but they’re mostly god fuckin awful… They’re the polar opposite of what actors should be, should represent. They’re too soft and strait-laced, fucking boring, they’re not impulsive or reckless enough. Escapism!! No untimely deaths, no public freakouts. What’s the whole point of even being famous at that point? It’s a bunch of these feminized guys that are essentially already tailored to take on these shitty lead roles in these shitty contemporary films. It’s all the same kind of character, which, really, is just themselves in real life, off camera… Over the last 7-8 years, not one of these new actors has delivered anything close to a remarkable performance. Paul Dano, yea sure, but I’m not even sure if he belongs to that generation, though it just always appears like he should. Rob Pattinson, yea, he’s sick, he’s an anomaly, he’s one of the best around today, and will undoubtedly be one of the greatest ever to live when his time is done, but it’s ridiculous to think one guy’s gonna make all the difference, even if it is an actor of his competence. Just let him be Rob Pattinson and nothing else, you know? No need in pushing the guy….. Gosling’s sick too, but again, he’s not really a part of that generation….. Sure, those actors like Timothee Chalamet attract a lot of young girls, good for him, but no guy, no one actually wants to be him. And sure, it’s evident that the guy cares a lot about acting, he’s probably a cool guy to kick it with, yea sure, a lot of younger guys willfully or unwillfully dress like him, but there’s no young kid or adult out there who is seriously saying that they want to be Timothee Chalamet when they grow up, maybe be like Timothee, his celebrity, I don’t know, I need to move past this….. And goddamn, it’s fuckin tortuous considering what the generation that follows will be like, just a thousand times worse, filled to the brim with feebleness. Maybe cinema will be long dead by then, or perhaps this or that generation will be the ones that cause the death of it, which is a concept that makes me more sad than any news I could ever get, despite knowing that it’d most likely be for the best, for me and for everyone else……… Anyways, regarding that specific batch of actors I’m regarding here, whether I’ve made it clear enough who they are or not (maybe it doesn’t matter at all), their love for cinema has not decreased nor dissipated, nor will it ever be gone. They’re desperate for the quality of filmmaking that got them inspired in the first place to get into acting, which, unfortunately, is pretty much nonexistent nowadays….. So what am I doing? Am I gonna try to revive film? Be the spearhead of a fresh cinematic revolution, a newfangled golden age? What’s greater than gold? The platinum years? This is the main point right here. All that stuff earlier had to be said in order to arrive here……. Maybe reviving the novel is the most sensible move, and then film will naturally follow, because we need to become better storytellers again, that’s where the urgency needs to be placed. Perhaps this hiatus of quality films is an essential, long-delayed hiatus. Perhaps films are exhausted, debilitated by the cliches, the banalities, or just in general, sentimental of the past, in need of a decade or two before a medley of better, perhaps higher-quality films can come forth…… Plus, the novel is the superior art form anyways, the true, best way of expression, discovery……….. Perhaps fuck cinema entirely? or rather the future of cinema, survive off the old shit I’ve already watched a bunch of times, and pursue the novel instead? If you come up with an idea for a storyline, and only if that idea is seeping with escapism, adapt it to the big screen. But if the sense of escapism is wavering, either save the idea, or use it for a or thee main part in a work of fiction, novel or short story, though a novel is most preferred. Escapism is king here. I could be the one to re-energize the novel. I could be the face of it. And by then, it will only be a matter of time until film is saved. But it starts with the novel, I’m almost certain of it…… And it starts right now, what I do from here on out…… But, then again, what the fuck do I know, you know?