Sunday, 21 October 2012


Argo, 2012
Directed by Ben Affleck

Argo is a fake movie. No, the movie I went and watched in the theatres wasn't fake, but it was what was used to get 6 Americans out of Iran without being killed, in a time where Americans were being held hostage.

In 1979, the American embassy in Tehran, Iran was stormed by Iranian revolutionaries, and everyone inside was taken hostage by the country. 6 managed to escape and found refuge in the Canadian ambassadors house. While the world watches, the American government and CIA realize they need to find a way to get these 6 Americans out before the Iranians discover they have 6 missing people. Enter Tony Mendez. With only bad ideas floating around, Tony comes up with something crazy. He and the 6 Americans will pose as a Canadian film crew looking to film a sci-fi movie in Iran, visiting on a location scout. But it's not as easy as it sounds. Tony needs to make sure this is legit. He needs a script, he needs producers, a budget, actors, posters, anything to show that this is real. He needs press. But when he arrives in Iran to get the 6 out, he has to ask himself the age old question, "is this so crazy it just might work?" because the answer to that is life or death.

Ben Affleck has been in the business a long time. His only Academy Award nomination, was also his only win, for his writing on Good Will Hunting, with Matt Damon, back in 1997. For the most part though, Affleck was just a mediocre actor, picking several awful movies, and from time to time choosing very good ones. However, when Affleck released his directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone in 2007, it received instant acclaim. His follow up in 2010, The Town, was equally acclaimed and just missed out on a Best Picture nod that year. His third effort, the film I'm now here to review, is said to be his best picture to date.

Affleck both directs and stars in this movie. What I really enjoyed about this movie was the balance between humour, and tension. This film felt very real. The humor didn't feel out of place or forced. And while some of the tense moments were a little dramatized, it wasn't an overt amount. For a serious film, it was really quite witty and funny. The scenes with Tony in Hollywood with his 2 producers (both in on his ploy), were really quite fun and funny, but switching back to scenes in Iran, it's very serious, and tense. And this was a really nice balance between the two. It was very human, and so many of the situations and reactions of all the characters didn't feel overly scripted.

Additionally, I felt Affleck and his crew did the look of the movie quite well. It was the cheesy 70's, with the massive glasses, horrible hair and mustaches, and most people looked like they fit right in, without it being more cheesy than the 70s already were. The mix of real footage from this time, and the modern footage was good, especially the beginning. And it was also pretty fun having the vintage Time-Warner logo at the very beginning.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this film. I was able to go with my boyfriend, and 3 other friends, and was happy that all of them really enjoyed it too.

Oscar chances? I'd say it's a definite lock for a Best Picture nod, and most likely a Directing and Screenplay nods as well. It has its best chance in acting for Alan Arkin, though he's nowhere near a lock right now. Going into this movie, it was my predicted winner for Best Picture, mostly based on the buzz from TIFF, and from me being a little disappointed by the Lincoln trailer (my previous, extra early, winner pick). Coming out of the movie, I'd say I'd be very happy if this film took the top prize. It's always nice when a film that the general audience has heard of and seen is picked. It was a really enjoyable film, a great and interesting true story, and was really well made. I'm definitely going to be rooting for this movie this season, thus far!

Acting- 7.5/10 
Directing- 8/10 
Screenplay- 8.5/10 
Visuals- 8/10 

Music- 7.5/10 Emotional Connection- 7.5/10 
Entertainment- 8/10 
Rewatchability- 8/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 8.5/10 

Overall Package- 7.5/10     

Total: 79/100

Friday, 19 October 2012


Ben-Hur (1959)
Directed by William Wyler
Nominated for 12 Oscars, Won 11
Up Against: Anatomy of a Murder, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Nun's Story, and Room at the Top

Wow, I can't believe it's been almost two months since I've reviewed a film! I'm so sorry for the delay in everything! But I've been pretty busy. I took a trip out to Los Angeles right after I wrote my last review, and from there I've been working funny hours that lets me only watch movies on Saturday and Sundays, and those days I'm usually busy being with friends (ok, my boyfriend), and just relaxing, not feeling like watching a 3 hour epic. But I thought I'd hunker down and get this movie done! That, and it finally, finally arrived for me at the library and I couldn't renew it since it's so popular. But I promise I'll be more solid on my reviews. My review for Argo (which I'm seeing tomorrow) will be up over the weekend sometime, and I'll get around the Sound of Music soon!

But for now,

Judah Ben-Hur is a Jewish prince living in Jerusalem during the time of Christ. His old friend Messala, an officer in the Roman legions, returns home, they find their varying views on religion and politics seperate them. After a disagreement, the Roman legion rides through town, with their new governor. Judah and his sister watch from a balconey above, and stones get loose and fall upon the parade. Messala and the rest of the legion barracade the house, and Messala, still angered by their disagreement, has no mercy upon Judah, his sister, and his mother, throwing them into jail. After Judah escapes and confronts Messala, he is sent to be rower in the galleys of a war ship, while his sister and mother stay in jail. Judah swears he will come back for his family, and for revenge on Messala. And he comes back in a way no one imagined.

Ben-Hur is that movie that's always on TV around Easter time, and seems to be on the entire day. Sitting at 222 minutes (or 3 hours and 43 minutes for those of you counting), it's considered a great historical epic. At the time, it was the most expensive film ever made, costing somewhere around $15 million.

A remake of a silent film, based off the 1880 book by Lew Wallace, it took several years until it finally went into production. With several legends turning down the role of Judah (including Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, and Kirk Douglas, after finally settling on Charlton Heston.)

Honestly, before I started watching the film, I expected it to be another Lawrence of Arabia. Overrated, but mostly long, boring, and slow-moving. But I was pleasantly surprised by how fast-paced the movie was. No overlong scenes of scenery, or of someone walking (or riding a camel).

In all honesty, I really really enjoyed this movie! The cinematography was beautiful, the costumes were great, and Charlton Heston was really, really great. But most of all, it was fast moving, it was a "rags-to-riches" story. (Or actually, more of a riches-to-rags-to-riches revenge movie..). Being a Christian, I really have an appreciation for Biblical epics (even if this wasn't necessarily Biblical). Most people, I would assume, just dismiss this movie, and it's whole storyline with Jesus and the Crucifixion.

But, obviously, the winning prize, the crown jewel, of the film was the chariot race. Not only was it exciting to watch, but it was impeccably filmed. The parade with all the chariots, around the ring, was honestly so spectacular, how trained the horses were, the cinematography, the music, etc. But seriously, it was really the best part of the movie, and is well deserved as being thought of as a influential and iconic moment in cinema.

Overall, I don't have all that many complaints about the film really. Well-acted, looked amazing, etc. It truly did deserve every Oscar it won, and deserves to be remembered as one of the 3 films that won the most Oscars. And it deserves to be remembered as a classic film.

Acting- 19/20
Directing- 19/20
Writing- 18.5/20
Personal Enjoyment- 18.5/20

Overall Package -19/20

Total: 94/100