Best TV Performances of the 2010s

Leave a comment

CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots

The extra-special-bonus Best of the 2010s lists keep arriving all this week! Yesterday, it was the Best Film Performances, now we’re moving to the small screen with the top TV Performances. And while the screens were smaller, the roles were arguably bigger, at least in terms of running time.

Regarding eligibility: all Lead and Supporting (but not Guest) performances from any show that aired at least one full season between 2010 and 2019 was eligible. Actors who played multiple characters in the same show were considered one performance. Actors who played the same character across multiple shows were also considered one performance.

More

Movie Review: Laika Puts Its Own Lovely Spin on the Bigfoot Myth with ‘Missing Link’

2 Comments

CREDIT: Laika Studios/Annapurna Pictures

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis, Zoe Saldana, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Timothy Olyphant, David Walliams, Matt Lucas, Amrita Acharia, Ching Valdez-Aran

Director: Chris Butler

Running Time: 95 Minutes

Rating: PG for Wild West-Style Gunfire and Icy Heights

Release Date: April 12, 2019

The Bigfoot-based Missing Link features enough bullets flying around and enough characters falling to their (presumed) deaths to make me wonder if it is really appropriate for children. Its PG rating is justified in that we do not see the bloodiest ends of these lethal situations, and as a stop-motion animated feature, the whole aesthetic is too charming to ever be gruesome. But I still wonder about how well young kids are equipped to handle such unmistakable peril. Honestly, though, my preference is that we give children some psychological credit and let them be exposed to these frights. So thank you for not holding back, Laika (the production company behind this and other stop-motion flicks like Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings).

The innovation I love about Missing Link is that its humanoid ape creature is perfectly willing to expose himself to society, or at least to Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman), the bon vivant searching for him. Furthermore, Mr. Link (Zach Galifianakis) speaks perfectly fluent English, which could make the gags based on his inability to grasp sarcasm and metaphor illogical except for the fact that there are plenty of real human people who are similarly not so fast on the uptake themselves in such lingual matters.

Anyway, Mr. Link is tired of living by himself in the Pacific Northwest, and he’s heard that his cousins the Yeti are cool up in the mountains of Asia, so he asks Lionel to lead him there. What follows is a buddy road trip movie in which everyone is gratifyingly on the same side as each other and making a deal that benefits them all fairly. We the audience get to witness some genuine, hopefully lifelong friendships blooming over the course of this high-stakes adventure. If a predictable message of “what you’ve been looking for has been right in front of you all along” pops up by the end, it’s safe to say that Missing Link has earned that indulgence.

Missing Link is Recommended If You Like: Previous Laika features, Kid-friendly Wild West adventures, Smallfoot

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Yeti Elders

This Is a Movie Review: A Wrinkle in Time

Leave a comment

CREDIT: Disney

I certainly enjoyed Ava DuVernay’s spin on A Wrinkle in Time, though I am a little disappointed it does not reach the level of blockbuster classic that I hoped it would. I think much of that has to do with its too-low-calorie mix of epic and low-key. Sure, Meg travels a great interdimensional distance to save her father from a dark entity threatening the entire universe, but she does so over just the course of an afternoon. That relative speed is part of the hook, sure, but it should not feel so speedy. It really would have been beneficial to more deeply explore the effects of tessering on Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace.

There are a lot of wonderful design elements and sufficiently creepy moments, but much of those do not feel terribly specific to what this particular film is trying to say. Perhaps the scariest sequence is the disturbingly harmonious cul-de-sac on Camazotz, but that is not really preying on any unique Murry family fears; the fight at hand is not really one against suburban conformity. As for the supposedly weightless bromides of inspiration and self-confidence, I do not find them terribly off-putting, but they certainly could have benefited from the offbeat verve that Zach Galifianakis naturally taps into as the Happy Medium.

I give A Wrinkle in Time 3 Happy’s out of 5 IT’s.

This Is a Movie Review: Tulip Fever

1 Comment

At the end of Tulip Fever, I thought, “Oh, that’s what that was all about.” It ultimately becomes clear that there is an incredible amount of kindness inherent to the main characters. They struggle because they find themselves in situations that are far from ideal and beyond their control, but they ultimately find a way out. That is a fine bit of satisfaction. But for the first 95%, the floral mania is totally confounding and there is little in the way of enjoyability beyond the (not-that-out-of-place) comedic relief from Zach Galifianakis and Christoph Waltz’s nicknames for his penis.

I give Tulip Fever 1 Bulb Just Barely in Bloom.

This Is a Movie Review: Keeping Up with the Joneses

Leave a comment

DF-13591_R2 - It’s been a rough day for suburban couple Jeff and Karen Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher) and their neighbors, the covert spies Mr. and Mrs. Jones (Gal Gadot, Jon Hamm). Photo Credit: Bob Mahoney.

There is a deep well of kindness to all the characters that Zach Galifianakis plays. As an HR manager in the suburbanites-caught-up-in-spy-intrigue action comedy Keeping Up with the Joneses, this quality is more relevant than usual. He listens and keeps an open mind, which new neighbor Jon Hamm appreciates even as he is pressing him to divulge information that is sensitive to national security. The film utilizes that empathetic quality, but it feels accidental or noncommittal about it. The climax features the cartoonishly high stakes typical of mediocre action comedies, but with a game cast adept at offbeat line readings, it could have aimed for something more eccentric.

I give Keeping Up with the Joneses 11 Moments of Genuine Connection out of 20 Subterfuges.

This Is a Movie Review: Masterminds

1 Comment

masterminds-zach-galifianakis-kristen-wiig

The end credits of Masterminds reveal the real David Ghantt (portrayed by Zach Galifianakis) as a consultant on the film. This of course leads to the question, “What did Ghantt, one of the perpetrators of one of the biggest heists in history, mean to get out of consulting?” The final product hardly papers over his guilt, though it does make him out to be a fairly nice guy. In a way, this is emblematic of the work of director Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite, Gentlemen Broncos): oddballs are treated with matter-of-fact respect and only receive true comeuppance if they are cruel to other oddballs.

Masterminds is basically a collection of lunacy in search of a moral, or defiantly devoid of one. Or maybe it just never occurred to anybody that a lesson might be a good idea. Weirdly, the armored car robbery is more or less a victimless crime, as most of the heisted cash belongs to the banks. But this is not a Bonnie and Clyde or Robin Hood situation where capitalism is the enemy. Instead, it is more like the opening of Pandora’s Box, in which a surplus of surprises explodes in everyone’s faces. Quite literally, in fact: there are multiple scenes with explosions, and the m.o. of Masterminds is such that the most notable damage is clothes getting ruined. It’s a weird movie about the endurance of weirdness in moral degradation.

I give Masterminds my approval of its existence.