When a major piece of information has just been revealed in a film or a play, directors always tell their characters to give each other “looks.” You know what I mean — their eyes signalling that something heavy has just happened or an “uh-oh” moment has just occured, and their expressions saying “are you thinking what I’m thinking?” In my entire life on this planet a friend has given me a “look” exactly once. People might quickly glance at a friend or colleague when a shoe drops, but for the most part they don’t. Why? Because looks aren’t necessary and they’re too dramatic anyway. Only actors give each other “looks.” If I was directing a film I would outlaw fucking “looks” so fast your head would spin.

Example: In that 9/11 documentary by James Hanlon, Gedeon Naudet and Jules Naudet, there’s footage of firemen trying to direct the stairwell rescue effort from the main lobby of the South Tower. As things progress you can hear the terrible crash of bodies hitting a nearby roof. In a movie the firemen would give each other “looks” after they hear the first impact sound. Their expressions would say “is that what I think it is?” In the Hanlon-Naudet doc everyone knows and they kind of suppress the emotional current they’re all feeling. They sure as shit don’t stop what they’re doing to share their forebodings.

Another thing you can always count on in films is actors avoiding speaking about what they may or may not be thinking or feeling, and just exhibiting their feelings with actorish facial expressions so the audience can “read” them. Directors place a high premium on scenes in which actors say as little as possible and are generally under-verbalizing the situation. They love it when actors can look stunned or shocked or confused. If a young actor is being attacked, let’s say, 90% of film directors will tell them to just look aghast and appalled and say as little as possible. In real-life situations, of course, people are constantly voicing their perceptions about what may or may not be going on or what they’re feeling or fearing. The “show it, don’t say it” aesthetic is strictly a movie-realm thing, and is phony and irritating as hell.