Argo (2012)

Directed By: Ben Affleck

Written By: Chris Terrio (screenplay), Joshuah Bearman (article)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman

Synopsis:

You can bullshit your way through anything.

Musings:

I saw this movie as an ode to Movember. The centerpieces of Argo are the fantastical mustaches that adorn the faces of several characters. These weren’t little ratty prepubescent fuzz balls; these were the manliest of face muffs you can imagine. This made it for me, the rest is just icing.

I am not sure if I can forgive Ben Affleck for Gigli, but times have changed. Here, he made a very tolerable film that has an engaging story. He also cast some Hollywood heavy hitters like Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman. These guys put on a good show and kept me entertained. The back and forth between Arkin and Goodman was classic.

I think Affleck did a great job of creating a suspenseful atmosphere that put you in the crux between mob and hostage. The details that were put into recreating 1980s Iran were flawless and the mobs were down right frightening. He also used real found footage and mixed it into his dramatization in a seamless barrage of historical embellishment.

That being said, there were story lines that were left to the audiences imagination in lieu of more interesting characters and the sap hung heavy on the the tree if you know what I mean? It’s all about the mustache.

Problem: It all seemed way too easy

Mood for watching: Canadian

What to eat and drink: Beans and maple syrup

If I made it: I would have used maple syrup instead of Hollywood sap

Why watch: Because it is your Movember duty and you can also donate to my amigo Fredy http://mobro.co/fredy514

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Detachment (2011)

Directed By: Tony Kaye

Written By: Carl Lund

Starring: Adrien Brody, Christina Hendricks, James Caan, Lucy Lui and Marcia Gay Harden

Synopsis:

Being an educator is some tough ass shit, yo.

Musings:

Who remembers American History X? That crazy skinhead movie? Anyone? That movie was a powerful artistic expression of violence that I had not seen before. Remember the curbing scene? Tony Kaye pretty much put Ed Norton’s name on the map with that. So, when I came across this film I was expecting big things. Adrien Brody is no slouch and neither is the rest of the start-studded cast. In the end they got was a halfway decent film that had a rather unconventional method of story telling.  Who needs convention anyway? Some people, but not this guy.

There were moments where I felt like Kaye was on his pulpit preaching at me like a southern evangelist hell-bent on debunking evolution. Teaching delinquents is unrewarding! Amen! Teenagers have it tough! Halleluiah! So much sadness in the world! Praise the mighty lord! I guess the message is way better that the gentle stroking of Dangerous Minds that answered its entire question by throwing in a catchy Coolio song.

This isn’t for everyone but what is? If you keep your mind open and want to see some great acting then throw caution to the wind. If you’d rather hear the sweet sounds of Coolio then re-watch that ‘classic’.

Problem: Tim Blake Nelson needs to say more

Mood for watching: Flaky

What to eat and drink: Lentil Soup

If I made it: I’d chop a few of the characters like they were suey

Why watch: Because Coolio isn’t in it

On The Road (2012)

Directed By: Walter Salles

Written By: Jose Rivera (Screenplay) & Jack Kerouac (novel)

Starring: Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley and Kristen Stewart

Synopsis:

If your best friend takes advantage of you, write a book about them and get wealthy off their misery.

Musings:

Finally, the great fable of travel and youthful exuberance hits the screen. This poetic journey leaps off the pages and fits quite nicely into a period piece wrought with old cars and young adults rebelling against the old guard with their loud music and Jazz cigarettes, their juke joints and alcohol soaked nights and their irresponsible lascivious behavior. What a group to keep company with, the beat poets, speaking in elongated prose and large hand gestures. The hangers-on could only observe but not penetrate the wall of the gentleman who sought truth in being wanderers, bound only by their imagination and ability to steal the occasional automobile.

Who were these young actors that walked a mile in shoes so big only an elephant could wear? Garret Hedlund? Sam Riley? (Actually, he is amazing and also played Ian Curtis in Control). The acting was an immaculate attempt at reeling in personalities that live in legendary status, but who aren’t alive to confirm the reality of their being. Because of the beauty of the book, every audience member will indeed scrutinize their performance as the images jump off the screen and are processed through firing synaptic transmissions. I give all the actors a V for valiant.

I was instantly transported to my early 20s when I read this tale and took my own journeys through uncharted waters and for this I am happy to have seen this film. The director Walter Salles seems to have a decent grip on the biographical road trip. An interesting niche to have, that seems to lend itself to immaculate cinematography, although in this go-round he seemed to focus more on the cities as points of interest rather than the enchanting American landscape.

Maybe this film will get the book into the hands of another generation although somehow it landed into mine 43 years after it was written?

Problem: Not enough of the rails

Mood for watching: Nostalgic

What to eat and drink: Salt Peanuts and rye

If I made it: There would be more landscape

Why watch: The Bee and the Bop

Lawless (2012)

Directed By: John Hillcoat

Written By: Nick Cave (screenplay) and Matt Bondurant (novel)

Starring: Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Shia LaBeouf and Guy Pearce

Synopsis:

If you make inebriating substances illegal, people will die.

Musings:

This film comes at time where the public seems to be interested in the bootlegging of 1920s USA. Is there some kind of comparison that can be made between the organized crime of that time and the modern day drug cartels? Just make it all legal or tax the hell out of it and people will sort themselves out. Good solution? I have no idea, but it seems to work with the devil’s brew.

What this film does differently is cover the life of bootleggers not in the big city but rather in the depths of the country. This gives the film an interesting angle on the roaring ‘20s and different than the one we’re used to (think Boardwalk Empire).

What surprised me most about this film was that I didn’t hate Shia LaBeouf or Shia The Beef, as I like to call him. He was okay and that is good enough for me. He couldn’t touch Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain or Guy Pearce who we all amazing.

I give John Hillcoat a nod because I think he’s a great director. I don’t think Lawless is nearly as good as his film The Proposition, but I could see why he’s going in this direction and I like him and Nick Cave working together. They will do some damage in the future.

I’ve managed to say absolutely nothing. Enjoy!

Problem: The Beef was in a few too many scenes

Mood for watching: Drunk

What to eat and drink: Kale and Moonshine

If I made it: More Gary Oldman and cowbell

Why watch: Because liquor is quicker

The Master (2012)

Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

Written By: Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams

Synopsis:

If you wake up in a place you don’t recognize, get the shit out of there.

Musings:

P.T. Anderson is the Michael Jackson of the film industry, save for the weird kid stuff. He manages to release hit after hit while increasing the complexity of his work. Maybe this time it’ll be his Oscar?

I always talk about acting since it is the center of the art. This movie is chock-full of talent popping off the screen and burrowing a hole into your brain. Philip Seymour Hoffman is gripping. He is such an amazing actor but it’s hard to put your finger on what it is that makes him amazing. He’s not a Daniel Day-Lewis whose face almost morphs with the character. PSH almost always looks the same (except for Capote and Flawless), he just sells his commitment to the role. Joaquin Phoenix has redeemed himself with an amazing physical performance from his hunch to the way his lips hang. This is his gift to his audience after that debacle, I’m Still Here. Finally, hats off to Amy Adams who can convey so much anger and frustration through a single facial expression – she lets you read her mind.

Sure there are moments that drag you down, but they just give you a chance to explore the subtext. The Cinematography is beautiful; Mr. Mihai Malaimare Jr. who is a relative newcomer handled PT’s film quite well in the absence of Robert Elswitt.

This film left me feeling like I need to watch it again, which is a great sign. The many layers of the movie are incredible – every move in the movie seems to tell you something (e.g., like the way a character picks up a hat) – there is no way to fully wrap the brainsicle around it. The end result is a movie that makes you think.

Go see this piece of genius and prepare to be taken back to a Post WWII landscape. Finally, great music courtesy of Johnny Greenwood, shpanks!

Problem: Difficult story to wrap up

Mood for watching: Cray cray

What to eat and drink: Spotted dick and an Old Fashion

If I made it: I would have added a few more scenes

Why watch: Because you enjoy all things good

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

Directed By: George Lucas

Written By: George Lucas

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness and Carrie Fisher

Synopsis:

The hardships of moisture farming amidst a complicated political galactic landscape.

Musings:

This is a very difficult movie to review. It is a beloved favourite of many, but also has a strong cultish opposition to those who prefer a more complicated style of Science Fiction. So, right off the bat I’m going to say that I am in the “Star Wars is rad” category.

In the 70s, there emerged a new style of American cinema, the Hollywood Blockbuster. Although Star Wars is not the first, I think it exemplifies a grandeur that had not been seen at that point. That is why everyone lost their shit when it came out and why many continue to watch it and loose their shit.

This film really has it all. Strong acting, amazing special FX for the time, a larger than life soundtrack, crazy sets, a palatable story and beautiful cinematography.

What struck me this time around was how great the soundscape was. I recommend watching it with good speakers blasting in surround sound.

I’m not saying that George Lucas was at all original with anything in this movie. The Jedi philosophy is all too similar to Buddhism and John Williams definitely ripped a lot of his famous score from Gustav Holst’s planets. That being said, he took all of these unoriginal ideas, including the story line and mashed them together to create something so amazing and creative.

Problem: The newer episodes couldn’t live up to the old

Mood for watching: Forceful

What to eat and drink: Wamp Rat and Yoda Soda

If I made it: There would be a few more Vader scenes

Why watch: To connect with your inner child

Savages (2012)

Directed By: Oliver Stone

Written By: Shane Salerno, Don Winslow & Oliver Stone (screenplay)

Starring: Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Benicio Del Toro and Blake Lively

Synopsis:

Stoners vs. Mexican drug cartel. A new take on “The Tortoise and the Hare”.

Musings:

*&#*$%!

I keep going to Oliver Stone movies hoping that I’ll get to see another Natural Born Killers or Platoon. Is the Oliver Stone that directed Savages the same guy who directed those beauties or is this Oliver Stone, the used car salesman with the same name and mistakenly was asked to direct a piece of schlock, filled with attractive Hollywood B-listers and only a sprinkle of actual talent (Benicio Del Toro) to try to legitimize this piece of shit movie? I’m not even exaggerating, it‘s excrement.

The script is filled with dialogue that is fit for an imbecile. The 3 main actors that deliver the script stink of imbecility. Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch (forever Tim Riggins) and Blake Lively are a disgrace to the craft acting, but not to the eyes, that’s for sure.

The cinematography is pretty damn good and has all the polished elements of Hollywood. The violence in the film keeps the audience’s attention because we all like to see gunfights and asses being kicked. This is the Hollywood machine at its finest – lacking substance but looking pretty. Thanks for nothing, Ollie.

I will patiently await his next biopic, “Obama! Don’t Get Any On Ya”.

Problem: Tim Riggins

Mood for watching: Asleep

What to eat and drink: Carne asado and Tecate

If I made it: I would have written a protagonist that could actually fight a Mexican cartel

Why watch: Don’t