Thursday, 23 August 2012

Essential Performances of the ‘90s Tournament: Round Two, Showdown 4

Three polls from round two have been opened so far, so get your votes in (all open polls HERE) to decide which sixteen performances move on to round two of the Essential 90s Performances Tournament (full bracket HERE). If you love any of the upcoming performances, feel free to defend them on your own blogs and I’ll include your write-ups in the upcoming polls (schedule HERE).

My seeding proved to be wrong in a few occasions and upsets happened with the voting. Homoyan Ershadi’s win meant this second round match-up would pit two men against each other.

This poll closes on Sunday night.

Homayon Ershadi in Taste of Cherry (1997) as Mr Badii 
Ershadi has limited means at his disposal but he transcends the words in the script.” – Amir

Even as Kiaorstami's scripts are rarely expressly improvisational I always feel the actors in his films are given particularly difficult mountains to climb in making especially subtle human inclinations work on screen. And like Pesci below there's a feeling that some amount of the effect here depends on Ershadi"s natural cadence - his mournful eyes, for example. So much time is spent looking at his face and Ershadi is so, so very effective with that that penetrating, sad visage of his. I’m not even thinking about what vocal inflections I might miss, lost in translation, his face is a kaleidoscope of emotion. Randomness: Ershadi’s performance is one of the two foreign language performances that made it to the second round.

Joe Pesci in Goodfellas (1999) as Tommy Devito
His entire performance in GoodFellas operates like that: not so much "scene-stealing" as it is scene-driving” – Andreas
I think most agree that versatility is, foremost, what makes a good actor And Pesci is not someone I'd say is specifically versatile - all of his performances seem to contain that very Pesci-ish quality. Still, I'd argue that his turn in Goodfellas (and elsewhere, even) is excellent because of the ways he uses the general tics we come to think of with Pesci to makes the specific characters so effective. Consider Tommy. We might see the strands of similarity between him and Pesci’s Harry (from that same year in Home Alone) but it makes the performance that much more visceral and terrifying when he moves from familiar Joe Pesci-ness to Scorsese levels of scary. Random: Andreas mentions in his writeup that great line-reading "Funny, how?" - one of those movie quotes I like to use in real life.

One is homicidal one is suicidal? Who gets your vote?

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