Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Essential Performances of the 90s: Showdowns 15 and 16

Despite initial surprises, there have been no official upsets in the performances advancing to the 2nd round of the 90s Performances Tournament as yet. Thus far, six performances are through (bracket HERE). Get your votes in for the other rounds to ensure that your favourite is around for the next round and start writing your submissions on them (information HERE).

In case you're only joining me now, information on the tournament is HERE.
All open games are HERE.
And, if you're interested in spreading the word the banner is HERE

The two forthcoming polls will close on mid-morning Saturday.

GAME FIFTEEN: Brad Pitt in Fight Club VS Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny
Moderator: Nick of Cinema Romantico

Seed 7: Brad Pitt in Fight Club (1999) as Tyler Durden
(Spoiler Alert!) Tyler Durden, Founder and CEO of Fight Club (please refrain from discussing it in a public forum), is a manifestation within the mind of Edward Norton’s nameless narrator and, hey, this makes a whole lotta sense because if anyone ever wanted to be someone else wouldn’t they want to be Brad Pitt with snazzy jackets, whacked-out hair and bad-ass shades? And as Durden, Pitt, always a charmer, takes that charm and skewers it to become a fast-talking, self-promoting, ideal-spouting militant basket case. He charismatically goes off the deep end as a Gen X Mr. Hyde with a taste for mayhem and soap, functioning as a relentlessly gonzo wakeup call for our protagonist. At first, the Narrator wants to be him. Then he wants nothing to do with him. So, he has to step up and do away with him. Pitt, to the end, scarily, demonstrates the spell cast by dictators and how they seem more and more deranged the deeper in the follower wades and how hard it is to let them go even when we know it's the right thing to do.

Seed 10: Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny (1992) as Mona Lisa Vito
Mona Lisa Vito knows who she is. She explains who she is in a line reading that should be wrapped up with diamond-encrusted ribbons and sent to the line reading hall of fame immediately – “I’m an out of work hairdresser.” Okay, she’s actually much more. She's the incomparable Marisa Tomei as a Brooklyn-nite who dresses as garishly as Tyler Durden and speaks in a thick accent that could have easily gone over the top but instead illustrates the character's delightful forcefuleness. She is dragged to the deep south by her fiancĂ© Vinny (Joe Pesci), who doesn't appreciate her like he should, when he is summoned to defend his cousin at trial. Vinny wins the case, sure, but Mona Lisa does as much to win it for him, particularly in the film's high-point, a courtroom scene that makes you stand up and cheer not because it manipulates you to do so but because SHE makes you want to. Alabama is not a place Mona Lisa Vito belongs but then belonging is not so much a matter of fitting in as it is being yourself, and no one is going to prevent Mona Lisa from being herself. She's the most sassy, street smart, enchanting out of work hairdresser in cinematic history.

GAME SIXTEEN: Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth VS John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich
Moderator: Michael of Serious Film

Seed 2: Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth (1998) as Queen Elizabeth I
Do I really need to elaborate on this one? It’s Cate Blanchett in Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth. For those few who did not immediately skip to the voting when they saw the performance at hand I’ll say simply that Blanchett’s work as Queen Elizabeth I is essential in the same way Hepurn in Roman Holiday or Hoffman in The Graduate are essential: to mark the arrival of major talent who will be important and influential for decades to come. I could go on about how this Elizabeth perfectly suits its time period because Blanchett and Kapur deconstruct palace intrigue dramas the same way Unforgiven took apart the western or Scorsese shredded the myth of the American mob movie. Or I could point to how Blanchett’s Elizabeth was a feminist hero perfectly of her time, (“I am no man’s Elizabeth!”) But really, great performances argue for the essentialness regardless of their time period. If you want a reason why this one is essential to the 90’s it is to prove that the last decade of the century produced performances as grand as any from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Seed 15: John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich (1999) as John Malkovich
Malkovich’s odd, unclassifiable performance as himself (sort of) in Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich certainly has its work cut out for it going against the epic sweep of Blanchett’s Elizabeth. The only thing that might make this a surprise spoiler – besides Malkovich’s brilliance in all the role’s various incarnations - is the fact that as a representation of the time period, I’d say this is just about most quintessentially 90’s performance in the whole competition. The 90's were the decade where culture drowned in irony. Where the word “meta” entered everyday vocabulary. Wes Craven’s Scream was probably the turning point where the self-reflexive movie hit the mainstream but with Being John Malkovich Jonze and Kaufman raised the meta movie to high art, and Malkovich was their vessel, so to speak. Here Malkovich demonstrates that the only way to play such material is with complete sincerity, and he commits entirely. There is zero winking to let us know he is on the joke. On top of which he delivers a wicked takedown of our celebrity worshipping culture, where being famous is the highest aspiration anyone could hope for, even if it’s being this pompous bore as he orders towels for 15 minutes. “Malkovich!”

Keep on voting and spread the word. Are you going to launch any upset results or do Pitt and Blanchett (the higher seeded performances) sail through? You decide.


Lasso The Movies said...

These were more difficult today, but I think things are heading in the right direction.

Nick Prigge said...

Oh, woah is Marisa.

That is my favorite performance of Cate's, though. Hard.Core.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

lasso thanks much for keeping up the interest. and they ARE getting difficult.

nick i can't believe marisa is losing by such a wide margin. i mean hellllloo *taps feet* her biological clock is TICKING!!!

Squasher88 said...

I know!! Come on people, save Marisa!

Yojimbo_5 said...

Well, MY vote was for Marisa.