Actors in films

So many different ways of making a film. I’ve just seen 360, the most recent project of Fernando Mereillas, whose City of God and Constant Gardener were both terrific. This is wide-ranging and tricksy, a thread of interconnecting stories which range from Bratislava to Vienna to Paris to London to Denver to Phoenix and back againt. Star-studded cast, who each fly in for a week’s filming and then fly out again. On the background documentary they rave about how pleasant and easy this is, such a change from the long-term immersion of normal filming. And they all love Fernando, who is supportive, encouraging and very flexible.

Peter Bogdanovich, by all accounts, was much less endearing. Making The Last Picture Show, which I watched again last month, he deliberately segregated his actors from the crew, kept them together as a tight, intimate bunch, and stopped other people trying to talk to them about their roles. It was a young, largely inexperienced cast, spending a long time in a small Texas town that was suspicious of the way it would be presented in the film. But it worked. The actors gelled, held together as a loyal committed group, and helped make a powerful, moving film that is deeper, stronger, better than the slick but rootless 360, which has clever tricks and a few smart lines, but very little heart.