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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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Entries in Alison Brie (3)

Sunday
Apr262015

Tribeca: "Sleeping With Other People"

Tribeca ends tonight but we'll have a few more reviews for you as the team finishes up. Here's Joe Reid...

After the phenomenal success of Bachelorette (creatively if not commercially; I'm still fuming that it never got the promotional push it deserved), I expected Leslye Headland's follow-up film to have that same dark-heart-with-teeth approach to the tried and true "can men and women be friends" comedy. Intriguingly, a few things about that statement turned out to be not the case. The humor in Sleeping with Other People is still incredibly sharp, but where Bachelorette was as hard as nails when it came to female singlehood in a wedding-drenched world, Sleeping with Other People puts its beating heart on display.

Which isn't to say Headland has gone soft. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan032015

Tim's Toons: The Best Voice Acting in 2014

Tim here. Year-end listmaking mania tends to skip right by animation, with only a glance in the direction of a solitary film that doesn’t tend to reveal much imagination on the part of the listmakers (probably, if you are a critic in 2014, your favorite animated feature was The Lego Movie, unless it was The Lego Movie. But I hear some folks really liked The Lego Movie). The Annie Awards do what they can, but they’re weirdly over-politicized.

All of which is to say, it’s the perfect time, before 2015 has a chance to warm up, to throw a little more light on animated film in the year that was than just rubber-stamping a Best Animated Feature award and moving on. May I present to you this unranked list of

Six Great Vocal Performances from 2014

Alison Brie as “Princess Unikitty”, The Lego Movie
Yes, the exact same Lego Movie I just complained about showing up everywhere. It’s a chronological list, it had to come first. And of the many things that make this movie so delightful, Brie’s sugary embodiment of the flightiest fantasies of children’s playtime is the one that’s stuck the most for me, all through the year. Manic enthusiasm delivered at machine-gun, and outbursts of scorching anger in the same high-pitch register: it’s a straightforward comic turn, but a singularly enjoyable one.

Will Arnett as “Batman”, The Lego Movie
Okay, so I’m a hypocrite. Anyway, Arnett’s self-amused, gravelly take on the Dark Knight is as much a parody of Christian Bale’s growly Batman as anything else, which is a big part of the joke. But it’s also a pretty great performance of the iconic comic book character by itself. Mocking and sarcastic, of course (that is the primary mode of the film’s humor), but with enough puffed-up importance and overclocked drama that it’s absolutely easy to believe that this is a entitled rich guy putting on a show to fight crime.

Cate Blanchett as “Valka”, How to Train Your Dragon 2
Not every A-list award winner has what it takes to do voice acting, and history has witnessed more dreadful celebrity roles in animated features than wonderful, revelatory ones. But Blanchett brings nuance and depth by the bucketful, making a frustratingly under-written part one of the densest animated characters of the year. The social awkwardness that comes from years away from humans, and nervous romanticism while meeting her long-lost husband are all Blanchett’s contribution, not the script’s, and she carries it off while nailing a Scottish accent.

Signe Baumane as “Narrator”, Rocks in My Pockets
Stretching a definition: Baumane is also the film’s writer and director, and it’s not entirely clear that what she’s doing is “acting”. It’s more like sitting down to hear her tell us a story. But what a storyteller Baumane proves to be! Jabbing at punchlines with ebullient good humor, clucking at tragedies with mournfulness that doesn’t turn into outright misery, and pulling out a whole ensemble of affected voices to give life to her characters, Baumane’s treatement of her family history is even more involving and energetic because of her words than her images.

Ben Kingsley as “Archibald Snatcher”, The Boxtrolls
A gutter-born Cockney accent is enough to make Kingsley’s crisp voice almost totally unrecognizable, which is impressive enough to begin with. What elevates this beyond mere success as a bit of celebrity casting gone right is the pathos with which Kingsley invests the character: villains in children’s movies aren’t known for their ambiguous shading, but Snatcher, as performed by Kingsley, has just enough self-deluding desire to fit in with a world that doesn’t want him to come across as deserving our pity as much as our scorn. If I were going to rank these performances, there’s an excellent chance Kingsley would be my #1. (With a shout-out to Sean Patrick Doyle as well who did his singing, too.) 

Takeo Chii as “The bamboo cutter”, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
The late Chii’s final performance in a career stretching longer than 40 years is a nimble execution of a stock character rather than an attempt to seriously expand the limitations of that character. He’s a blustering, overbearing dad who bullies the world in attempt to get his daughter all the things she doesn’t actually want. But even through the language barrier, the sweetness of Chii’s performance, and the desperation as he tries to impress and bluff his way into social respectability, come through with touching sincerity and simplicity, the adjectives that best describe Princess Kaguya as a whole.

Who did I miss? What were your favorite vocal performances this year? For the record the Annies nominated these four for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature:  Cyndi Lauper as the voice of Nurse Cyndi - Henry & Me; Andy Garcia as the voice of Eduardo - Rio 2 ; Sir Ben Kingsley as the voice of Archibald Snatcher and Dee Bradley Baker as the voice of Fish in The Boxtrolls

 

Saturday
Jul072012

The ½ Way Mark Finale. Best Supporting Actress

Previously: Actress, Actor , Supporting Actor and Picture.

As per usual even with only six months of film releases, not even of the prestige variety, there's more than enough to choose from for a solid Supporting Actress list. Though I'll always be most tied to Best Actress on account of movie star fascination, it's easy to understand why this is year in, year out, many readers favorite category.  

SUPPORTING ACTRESS  January through June Releases
For Your Consideration... my ballot as of July 7th. 

  • Eva Green, Dark Shadows (discussed in the review)
  • Frances McDormand, Moonrise Kingdom
    Magic. Don't you feel like you know exactly what it's like to be her child, her husband, or her middle aged lover while you're , to be her husband and her lover while watching this? 
  • Olivia Munn, Magic Mike
    A textbook example of seizing an opportunity and making the most of a character. Her slumming grad student with an open body, adventurous spirit, but compartmentalized heart is a key foil to reveal Magic Mike's own self-awakening.
  • Michelle Pfeiffer, People Like Us (previously discussed)
  • Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
    Could she do this in her sleep? Probably. But that shouldn't negate the joy of watching her work or the affecting reveal of a kind heart buried under a nasty exterior and a lot of ignorance.

With apologies to Charlize Theron who made good on that Young Adult comeback twice over by ruling over Snow White and the Hunstman like a Queen, the royal kind, in Snow White and the Huntsman (maybe she went too big ... maybe... but someone had to keep that film from flatlining!) and an intriguingly robotic ice queen, the figurative kind, in Prometheus. 

Team Experience Votes?


Alexandra says: since I am at a loss, I have to give it to Anne Hathaway for Les Misérablespurely on the strength of the trailer ;)

Michael says: The Five-Year Engagement may have been a minor entry in the Apatow pantheon, but his technique of loading the supporting cast with comedy ringers continues to pay dividends. This time its Alison Brie, sporting an impressive English accent as Emily Blunt's sister, who ends up supplying the film with its most consistent source of laughs. It makes one wish the movie was changed to Five Week Engagement and rewritten to follow her and Chris Pratt's couple. 

Beau says: Eva Green in Dark Shadows. For (finally!) delivering on that promise she showed nearly a decade ago in Bertolucci's The Dreamers. For circumventing the limitations of the script and strutting off with the film in tow. For stealing a picture away from incredible name actors, looking quizzically at you when you mention that and denying it; you can't steal something when it was always yours.

Nicely said, Beau. Green would be my winner if I was forced to vote right now, too. On to the second half of the year! (After we get your ballots in the comments that is.)

And if you haven't seen them... my Current Supporting Actress Predictions