Archive

Monthly Archives: February 2013

Argo, is the third directorial feature from Oscar winner and former half of “Beniffer”, Ben Affleck.

Argo 01

“This is the best bad plan we have, sir”

The film is set in 1979 Tehran, in a post revolution Iran. It tells the story of the attempted rescue of six escapee US embassy staff, hiding out in the Canadian Embassy. Affleck, who looks neither Italian or Mexican, puts in an understated performance as Tony Mendez, the CIA agent tasked with the rescue effort. Mendez, inspired by watching the Battle For The Planet Of The Apes film, creates a cover story that the escapees are Canadian film makers scouting locations for a new sci-fi film.

Support to Mendez in the rescue effort is given by an excellent support team and cast. His CIA colleague Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston), Hollywood make up genius John Chambers (John Goodman), and fictitious film producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) making up the team.

Argo 02

“We’re gonna need a script”

The film is an excellent if flawed thriller, with it Affleck distances himself from his Gigli past. In spite of an underlying sense of “everything will work out in the end”, I found myself enthralled with the events as they unfolded on screen.

Despite being a finely tuned thriller, Argo left me feeling short-changed. The characters, all of whom are real, Siegel a composite, are vague and unconvincing. They are about as plausible as the sci-fi characters in the “Argo” screenplay Mendez and co. are pretending to shoot.

I felt no sympathy for the characters on screen, their plight, and I did not find myself routing for them. At one stage Siegel proclaimed “we’re gonna need a script”…Arkin appeared to break the fourth wall with this utterance. Having watched Argo I did wonder how Chris Terrio’s screenplay was nominated for, and won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay! Perhaps the reasons were more politically motivated than artistic?

There is one a pivotal scene in the film that lacks credibility and purpose of intent. The “Argo” screenplay is having a public table read for the Hollywood press in a bid to engender authenticity as a project. At the same time real world events occur in parallel. The scene is muddled, the obvious intent of the scene falling short in execution, hampering the film’s middle-section.

Without wanting to politicise the review; I feel I have no choice! I find it hard to route for American agents attempting to rescue American escapees, in a country and region that the US has had a hand in destabilising for many years.

The underdeveloped and cardboard escapees bare a striking resemblance to their namesake only in look-a-like terms, relinquishing

any feelings of sympathy, politics aside.

Argo 03

“If we wanted applause, we would have joined the circus”

Argo is a superb, if flawed thriller. Affleck deserves the plaudits for his work, and with an Oscar for Best Picture under his belt, he can easily lay claim the title of; the new Clint Eastwood.

Rating: 4 / 5*

* This is borderline 4/5. It works superbly as a thriller, but the characters are anoxic.Technically     perfect it should be a 5/5 but the poor characterisation drops it to 3/5.

words by david rushe

Advertisements

Django Unchained (Django), is the ninth feature film from everyone’s favourite eccentric uncle, Quentin Tarantino. The master of dialogue and fake blood connoisseur returns with his most ambitious film to date. With Django, Tarantino aims to deliver a contemporary spaghetti western that addresses America’s slavery past.

DU01

“Django. The D is silent”

Our hero Django (Jamie Foxx), is purchased from the slave trading Speck Brothers in the film’s opening scene by the eccentric Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Schultz, a bounty hunter, purchases Django and with his help aims to track down the illusive Brittle Brothers. As they travel, Django reveals to Schultz he is married to Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the two have been separated after the nefarious Brittle Brothers traded them to different slavers.

Schultz agrees to give Django his freedom and help him track down Broomhildan, upon successful completion and collection of the Brittle Brothers bounty. Schultz and Django travel to the sugary named Candyland, the home of the brutal plantation owner and “Mandingo” fighting patron Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Our heroes must negotiate their way past not-so-sweet Calvin, and his trustworthy senior house slave Stephen (Samuel L Jackson), in order to save Broomhilda. It is inevitable that bullets will fly and blood will be shed, as Django, Schultz and Broomhilda try to survive Candyland.

Django Unchained

“You silver tongued devil, you

The cast, as with most Tarantino films is impressive. His weight in Hollywood is such that he can get seasoned pros like Bruce Dern, Michael Parks and Jonah Hill, to take cameo roles in this ensemble piece. The principal cast of Foxx, Waltz, DiCaprio and Jackson revel in their roles, making the wonderfully colourful script come to life on screen. The lead’s provide the audience with fully rounded and believable performances. One shouldn’t forget the talented Kerry Washington, who excels in wide variety of screaming styles that would make Kate Capshaw (Temple of Doom) jealous.

DJANGO UNCHAINED

“Our mutual friend has a flair for the dramatic”

Django is easily Tarantino’s best film in many years, his best since 1997’s Jackie Browne to be precise. His skill in directing is not only complimented by his wonderful skill in character and dialogue, but also his choice of music. The soundtrack is the usual Tarantio fair, the sounds of Luis Bacalov, Ennio Morricone, James Brown and Tupac Shakur compliment what is already a palpable film experience.

Django is separated from Tarantino’s other ambitious, if at times indulgent work, by his effort to tackle the dark subject of slavery. Tarantino tackles this taboo subject as only he can; with a cocktail of humour, snappy visuals, explosive dialogue and buckets full of fake blood. That said, it is Christoph Waltz who makes Django what it is; an unmissable unforgettable movie experience. Waltz’s presence made the 153 minute run time of Inglourious Basterds tolerable as the utterly dipicable Hans Landa. The lengthier Django, 165 minutes, is safe in the hands of Waltz and his effortless portrayal of Dr King Schultz.

DU06

“I like the way you die, boy”

From the first moments Django Unchained will grab your attention and never let go, as Calvin Candie puts it “Gentlemen, you had my curiosity. But now you have my attention”. Django is a triumph for Tarantino. He gives not only Black audiences, but all audiences a protagonist in Djano Freeman we route for and empathise with. The only negative I have against Django is its length. The film cries out for an editor with the cojones to cut the final third of the film.

Whether Mr Tarantino has an idea in mind for his tenth feature film remains to be seen, one thing he should  ensure is Christoph Waltz’s name being the first name on the cast sheet.

Rating: 4.75 / 5

words by david rushe