Thursday, 16 August 2012

Essential Performances of the 90s: Showdowns 19 and 20

Have you decided to help me out next week by writing about one of your favourite performance which has made it through to round 2 on your blog (information on how to HERE)? The bracket is being updated every day HERE.

f you're not catching up on the project information on the rules and preliminaries are HERE
If you haven't voted as yet (and why not) all open games are HERE.
And, if you're interested in spreading the word the banner is HERE.

These two polls close on Sunday morning.

GAME 19: Robert Forster in Jackie Brown VS Anna Paquin in The Piano
Moderator: Courtney of Big Thoughts from a Small Mind

Seed 5: Robert Forster in Jackie Brown (1997) as Max Cherry
In a film that featured strong performances from Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robert DeNiro it caught some off guard that Robert Forster was the only one to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Acting. However, when looking at Forster’s work in the film, it is clear why he received the nomination. Max is the heart and soul of the film, Foster plays the character with such humbly subtly that he serves as the perfect compliment to Grier’s Jackie Brown. The scene in which Max and Jackie are having coffee in her apartment the morning after her release is a perfect example of this. Max and Jackie talk about everything from Jackie’s predicament with Ordell to what it is like being middle aged and realizing that their life is nowhere near where they thought it would be. In the scene Forster convincingly switches back and forth between a love struck flirt and a concerned bails bondsman with ease. While not the showiest role in the film, Forster relies heavily on small facial jesters to really sell the character. Forster’s face conveys both the hardships of his 19 years as a bails bondsman, as well as the youthful optimism that love brings. In the final moments of the film, Tarantino closes in on Max and lets Forster’s face say everything that is left unsaid. Forster skilfully conveys Max’s immense conflict at that moment...does he follow his heart and go after Jackie? Or does he continue with the daily grind? Only Tarantino and Forster know the answer, but thanks to Forster’s sterling performance, it is clear that whatever Max’s decision was it was a difficult one.

Seed 12: Anna Paquin in The Piano (1993) as Flora
Performances by child actors can be hit or miss at the best of times, which is why Paquin’s performance in The Piano is so special. It is easy to forget that she was only nine years-old in the film. Paquin plays Flora with the bravado of someone much older. She literally serves as the voice of Ada and takes great pride in doing so. In one scene Flora playfully tells some local women a tale about the great love affair between her mother and her decease father. She talks to the women with such assured confidence that the women are unable to tell what is real and what is false. The fascinating thing about Paquin’s role in the film is that she constantly reminds the viewer that Flora is still a naive girl at heart. She has no real understanding of the complexities of her mother’s relationship with Baines (Harvey Keitel), which makes her betrayal of Ada’s trust so damaging. Flora thinks that she is being a good daughter to her new stepfather Alistair, but she does not anticipate his violent response to the news she provides. While strong throughout the film, Paquin is especially good in the latter half when she realizes the full ramification of her actions. It is hard not to watch The Piano and not get a tad choked up when Flora screams hysterically to Baines “You’re not to see her or he’ll chop her up.” Though only nine at the time, Paquin gave a performance that many actresses three times her age wished they could one day achieve.

GAME TWENTY: Kate Winslet in Sense and Sensibility VS Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing Las Vegas
Moderator: Andreas from Pussy Goes Grr

Seed 4: Kate Winslet in Sense and Sensibility (1995) as Marianne Dashwood
As Marianne, the younger Dashwood sister, Kate Winslet puts the "sensibility" into Ang Lee's epic romance. She's flighty and fragile, pursuing her entanglements with absolute devotion but shattered when they fall apart. Her appetite for love is whetted by poetry she reads and she's too demonstrative for Victorian England, a place where passions must be submerged in decorum. Winslet plays her as a hormonal, short-sighted teenage girl required to hide the fire that drives her. During balls and formal dinners, she wrestles to keep fake smiles on her face, but can't help curling her lip in mild disgust. And once she detects a hint of betrayal, she becomes an emotional volcano primed to erupt: first through withering looks and accusations, then through extreme, even life-threatening gestures. Late in the film, she makes a rain-pelted pilgrimage to her treacherous beau's house, reciting Shakespeare into the howling wind before falling unconscious. As she stands there, face matted with wet hair, Winslet's expression is pure devastation. She's a girl overwhelmed by her own angst, a self-styled tragic lover.

Seed 13: Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) as Raoul Duke
Who better to guide you through Terry Gilliam's swirling, shifting vision of 1970s Vegas than Johnny Depp? Especially Depp in full-on cartoon mode as Hunter S. Thompson surrogate "Raoul Duke": histrionic enough to match Gilliam's mise-en-scène, garbed in Thompson's own trademark hat, aviator sunglasses, and cigarette holder. The performance is huge—a faux-naïve parody of American masculinity, like General Patton by way of Monty Python, an impression left especially by Depp's stern, staccato voiceover. That voice, arch and obtrusive, leads the audience through a war zone of kitsch, sweat, and neon lights, bouncing from one acid-soaked vignette to another with mounting paranoia. Depp's performance throbs with such intense, omnidirectional aggression that Fear and Loathing is less a movie than a garish endurance test. But how better to satirize such a bloated, hallucinatory city (or country, or era)? Raoul Duke via Johnny Depp is narrator, court jester, and commanding officer, a hellish figure for a hellish time and place.

Are you having a hard time picking a favourite?

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