Let’s do something a bit different and focus on characters. With any piece of media there is always someone that is going to tickle your fancy. They may be funny, adorable, somewhat questionable or downright despicable. I’ve never really bothered to talk about this before but when a character is done right, I could easily envision them as my best bud or as if we were trapped in a toxic love hate relationship. (I’m clearly a guy with too much time on his hands!)
Anyway, in no strict ranking order, these are characters I grew to admire from pieces of media I have discovered or revisited in the last 12 months.
Characters of Mystery
Starting with the character that inspired this list, Maude. To keep this brief because of my previous post, I really liked Maude because you don’t know much about either her past or her current circumstances, unlike Harold who is almost like an open book. It’s also Ruth Gordon’s portrayal which makes her super fascinating.
This is similar to how I feel about Malcolm McDowell’s performance of Alex DeLarge, except he’s more screwed up in the head and of course evil, but that’s okay, karma hits him hard. Still there was something endearing about Alex, that grew on me as he has the ability to really surprise you. A smooth talker with a twisted view on the world, who you kind of end up sympathising with for his bad upbringing and the previously stated karma!
Returning to the world of good, meet Clarice Starling. A character with good morals, who is of course overshadowed by the evil psychopaths of the movie. Hannibal Lecter and Buffalo Bill are great and all, but I always preferred Clarice. She’s a bit inexperienced, but still impressive as she also doesn’t take anyone else’s crap and she is really good at keeping her cool in front of the ingeniously terrifying Lecter. I know Jodie Foster won an Oscar for this role, but I just felt like she needs a bit more love.
Born to Play
About a month or two a go I revisited Kung Fu Panda and damn, does it hold up way better than I remember. Part of that praise goes to Jack Black who was made to play Po, the food loving, nerdy, panda. Dreamworks made Po into more than just the fat joke dispenser. He’s insecure about himself with the impossible role he’s been given and also feeling out of place compared to the other badass ninja animals. So Po resorts to what he does best, eating, which he eventually uses to his advantage and which I just think is genius!
I shared this movie and Sandler’s praises in a review I made back in January, but I can elaborate on my thoughts again if you don’t feel like checking out that link. Howard Ratner is a man who is constantly pushing his luck with deals he can’t keep or gambling with money he should be giving back. Uncut Gems is an adrenaline induced movie thanks to the bad decisions of our main character and if it wasn’t for Adam Sandler’s performance then I probably wouldn’t strangely root for Howard to get out of it like I do.
Better Call Saul is the best prequel I have ever seen and one of the reasons is because the new characters are just as good, or even better, than the ones from Breaking Bad. Like the show itself Kim slowly grew on me, to the point where she became my favourite part of the show. A great lawyer and awfully loyal to Jimmy to the point where it may potentially be the reason she’s completely absent in BB. Either way, Kim is fascinating and you never know what she might do next. Give this woman an Emmy!
Most Underrated Bad Guy
Continuing on with TV, I briefly mentioned in my Artemis Fowl review that I kind of liked the main character of Prison Break. That’s until I saw Season 2 and my focus changed to the main antagonist, Alexander Mahone. A man who proves to be a worthy rival for Michael, but later reveals to be more of a constant threat as there is no line Mahone won’t cross to find the escapees. He also later becomes quite a tragic character and that’s why I consider him so underrated.
Tarantino has quite the catalogue of interesting characters, but going off recent memory, Hans Landa really sticks out. Landa was easily the best part of Inglorious Basterds for not only being an intimidating villain, but also weirdly funny. He’s very smart like Mahone, but unlike him he owns every room he’s in as he seems to always be able to whittle out whatever his opponents are hiding and always find a way to work it in his favour.
Hans Landa is a better written character, but Dr Herbert West is another show stealer for being absolutely absurd. West is just really fun as he’s completely obsessed with bringing back naked corpses, without a single regard for actual human life. A crazy mad scientist who is only elevated thanks to Jeffrey Combs’ performance and some of his hysterical dialogue.
The oldest character on this list because I have only recently been introduced to the Dollars Trilogy and by far Tuco was the biggest standout. A greedy self indulged character who can be quite fun and also kind of hateful at multiple points throughout the film. Tuco is a worm and backstabber, but being forced to team up with Clint Eastwood redeems him as a character that is just really fun to watch.
I re-watched The Green Mile again and it’s pretty good, but when the movie decides to include John Coffey then it’s pretty much a great one! Even though he’s been convicted of a horrible crime, you quickly get the feeling that the shoe doesn’t really fit as Coffey is such an innocent gentle character. Also, like Kim, he really grew on me, even if his supernatural powers don’t make much sense. Oh well, at least there’s that ending.
This last one I mentioned briefly in my 2nd Anniversary post for my praises of Michael Corleone. A character who starts off as a pretty decent guy, loyal to his family, who slowly but surely becomes a more cold distant mob boss that drives everyone away, especially his loved ones. Michael’s downfall makes the first Godfather as great as it is and I appreciate how it’s continued into the sequel.
That’s my list. If you’ve got any favourites I forgot let me know. If you disagree with my picks let me know. Stay safe everyone and we’ll meet-up again at some point. Blog Complainer, Signing Out.