Monday, 6 January 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1970: Alejandro Jodorowsky in El Topo

Alejandro Jodorowsky did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying the titular character of El Topo which would be the Mole in English.

El Topo is a strange film of first a gunfighter fighting other master gunfighters then helping disfigured people in some sort of retribution. One can either take this as a surreal masterpiece or a bunch of weird striking scenes that amount to nothing. I'll say it is certainly interesting.

Alejandro Jodorowsky, who also directed the film, plays the wandering gun man who wanders the desert shooting men, riding with his naked son, or romancing/raping a woman. El Topo is without a doubt a director's film, the fact that Jodorowsky is also the star only seems to reinforce this point. This is not a case where a single performance stands out past the vision of the director either. Every scene is dominated by the images not by anything that actors are doing who are mainly used as parts of every painting that Jodorowsky creates. This is true for every single performance of the film including Jodowsky's although his performance comes the closest to breaking away from his own direction.

The first half of Jodorowsky's performance consists of a steely gaze as he defeats his foes as he does in his own Man With No Name sort of way. Jodorowsky is a pretty effective quiet bad ass. There is a slight quirk in the method of shooting his opponents, but Jodorowsky's during the duels keeps his performance very much restrained. That is unless there is something else that happens other than him vanquishing a foe. Jodorowsky screams, makes wild eyes, and his expressions seem to become as insane as his set pieces. This all works in tandem with his direction, but again it always stays securely with this direction never really standing out on his own. Jodorowsky does use himself well and his performance properly adds to his scenes.

The second half of the film El Topo is thoroughly shaven and seems to become a monk of sorts and seems to put away his killing ways. Jodorowsky's performance becomes a bit more regulated in monk form as he is more expressive yet more restrained as well. Jodorowsky plays the reformed El Topo, who is trying to help the group of disfigured people, as a most joyous man who seems fervent in his cause with a great appreciation for his work. There of course is not really much of a transition, it is a rather instant jump due to El Topo being shot, but this again fits perfectly in with the whole style of the film that is more about the individual scenes than a precise journey. Jodorowsky though once again fits within his film well in the changed El Topo. 

The story of the character of El Topo is one of leaps rather than steps, in the end when he does return to his killing ways he is again forced to do it. Jodorowsky's performance does always work for Jodorowsky the director. His individual acting work, just like everyone else in the film, simply is part of the tapestry. Jodorowsky's work adds color, the right color in the fact through his portrayal of the different sides of El Topo, but never once does that small part of the picture seem more interesting than the whole. It is a solid performance by Alejandro Jodorowsky, which proves him capable of being both an actor and a director. In the end though it is his direction of the film that you remember after watching the film not his performance within in it. 

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Louis, Would you consider Michael Fassbender's performances for both Inglourious Basterds & Fish Tank, 2009 supporting

Louis Morgan said...

His performances certainly will be in consideration for that year.

Anonymous said...

Without spoiling, your reviews for 2013, who do you think will win lead actor

luke higham said...

What did you think of Dicaprio in Great Gatsby

Louis Morgan said...

I think Matthew McConaughey could go all the way particularly with how surprisingly well Dallas Buyers Club did with PGA and SAG. Of course I easily could be wrong and it goes to Ejiofor or Dern.

I have not watched The Great Gatsby yet, I'm waiting for the right time for the migraine that Luhrmann's films tend to give me.

luke higham said...

Dicaprio, gives a very good performance, probably a 4.

What were your thoughts on Mcconaughey & Leto.

Michael McCarthy said...

I personally don't see why people were so impressed with DiCaprio in Great Gatsby. He fit the role well and did all he needed to do, but he failed to bring anything new to the character which considering how well known Jay Gatsby is was something he really needed to do to make it a great performance. Not to mention Spaz Luhrmann's "style" distracted the film greatly from the character development.

luke higham said...

A fair Opinion, I've only seen it once, so my opinion may change on multiple viewings

luke higham said...

I do think Tobey Maguire gives one of the worst performances of the year, he was incredibly one note and seems to play the same type of character everytime

Mark said...

Yeah people were surprised when Gatsby was style over substance. It wasn't a surprise at all to me with Baz Luhrmann directing it.

luke higham said...

Lastly, has anyone seen Edgar Wright's the world's end and what are you're opinions on it

Louis Morgan said...

On McConaughey and Leto I'll just say I'm glad they seem to be locks.

On the World's End I thought it was extremely messy but enjoyable with Simon Pegg giving a rather strong performance as a very unlikable character. I would put well behind Shaun of the Dead and especially Hot Fuzz in the cornetto trilogy though.

RatedRStar said...

ye ive seen The Worlds End, it was very great, especially if ya love classic British humour.

Ive finally got a copy of Dallas Buyers Club, Finally I get to see if Jared Leto can match my favorite LGBT performance in William Hurt.

luke higham said...

My favourite scene is the bathroom fight against the five teenage robots

luke higham said...

Louis, for both categories in 2013, Could they potentially end up in the top 5 respectively

luke higham said...

Also, is there any actor/director collaborations that could come close to matching De Niro/Scorsese or Mifune/Kurosawa now or within the near future

Louis Morgan said...

I don't think any collaboration is anywhere near Mifune/Kurosawa or will likely to be there. De Niro/Scorsese have a couple weak entries, but I don't see anyone close to them either.

luke higham said...

I think within the next 10 years, if possible, I would have Fassbender/McQueen in the top ten, maybe five depending if fassbender outshines his performance in shame and have made another 3 movies together.

luke higham said...

Adding to last comment: Performances under the director on their own without the successes of the director themselves in making great movies

RatedRStar said...

Michael Fassbender has got this strange underated reputation for 12 Years A Slave, same with Daniel Bruhl for Rush, they were both 5 star in my opinion.

Michael Fassbender in my opinion is the best in the world right now, the one that I can see in 5 or 10 years time having about 6 or 7 oscar noms to his name.

RatedRStar said...

All Fassbender needs to do is just stick to what he does well which is acting and picking the best scripts which he usually does, since The terrible film The Counselor wasn't really his fault.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I agree that he is getting a similar reception to his performance for '12 years a Slave' in the same way for Gary Oldman's performance in Leon: The Professional. I too thought it was a 5 star performance even though I think Louis will give the same, I have a feeling he'll end up third behind Leto and Abdi. Fassbender alongside Oldman and Day Lewis are my three favourite actors from the British Isles.

RatedRStar said...

I am not sure Abdi will get a 5 though, I thought Daniel Bruhl was amazingly 3 dimensional and very human like, Abdi was very good but a bit underutilised and wanted more of him. I would probably rank Abdi 4th.

I dont get why everybody is ignoring Daniel Bruhl as if he isnt good enough to be nominated or somemat.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I heard mentioned before that Louis had Abdi as one of his favourites alongside fassbender

RatedRStar said...

Well lets hope me and Louis dont have any major disagreements with 2013 like Gerard Depardieu since I did enjoy Leto, Fassbender,Abdi, Cooper and Gandolfini. Its Bruhl where we might disagree.

luke higham said...

I really hope the five nominees are Fassbender,Leto,Abdi,Bruhl and Gandolfini instead of Cooper, since I thought American Hustle was an Overrated Mess and Cooper's performance was a far lesser achievement than his role in Silver Linings Playbook. If the 5 I hope are mentioned, this could be a top 5 year and possibly 3 in Louis's overall rankings

luke higham said...

What did you think of the latest Hobbit: RatedRSar

RatedRStar said...

I quite liked it =), I liked it much more than the first one, it seemed to be having a lot of fun and I happily enjoyed the ride and smaug as the villain.

luke higham said...

Although it was a bit overlong, I enjoyed the hell out of it, I thought Smaug was the best dragon i've ever saw put to film, with Dragonslayer a close second. I also thought It was the most three-dimensional CGI character since Gollum made his first visually complete appearance in the Two Towers

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I think the reason Fassbender's Performance is incredibly Underrated by many is because they seen the slave master role done last year by Dicaprio, yet I find it baffling that they say there is no honest regret in his character, since I did see a hint of sadness in his facial expressions for at most five seconds before he does change back to his cold self once more.

Also what did you think of Ejiofor, N'Yongo & Paulsen

luke higham said...

Adding to last comment:
During Patsey's Whipping Scene

Michael Patison said...

If I may chime in, I think Fassbender was the year's best male supporting performance, at least based upon who I've seen thus far.

I agree with the Patsey scene, but I also thought he was terrific bringing his whole adulterer thing into his character too and making that a reason for his maltreatment of his slaves. Overall I thought he wasn't just a cold-blooded black-hater, which is what many seem to dismiss him as.

I thought Ejiofor was terrific and a 5-star performance. Nyong'o and Paulson are both 5s for me as well, and are my #1 and #2.