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

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

The Contender (2000)

Directed By: Rod Lurie

Written By: Rod Lurie

Starring: Joan Allen, Gary Oldman and Jeff Bridges

Synopsis:

If you plan on getting into politics, don’t participate in orgies.

Musings:

This film explores how far politicians will go to scrutinize their opponents. Shit! The political battleground is ugly. The opposition digs up dirty secrets until you are shamed and embarrassed. This film also shows the double standard faced by women in politics. It is a cruel, cruel world.

I love movies that have characters that are in powerful positions but also show a human side to them, something we don’t often see in life but is a reminder that they are just peeps like the rest of us. The only difference is how many bodyguards they have? And if Kevin Costner is one of them… Step off!

Joan Allen plays a powerful protagonist that puts up a great fight in the male dominated world of American politics, just splendid. Jeff Bridges plays a great President who likes to show off his personal chef. Gary Oldman, where do I even begin? He makes an awesome bad guy. I like him better when he’s bad, none of this Commissioner Gordon bullshit. Who remembers him as Drexl in True Romance? Also, Sam Elliott has a voice that you can butter bread with (but looks strange without his ‘stache). Even if you find this film on the boring side, the acting is top notch.

Problem: It feels dated

Mood for watching: Intrigued

What to eat and drink: Shark sandwich and a cold one

If I made it: Samuel L. Jackson would be in it

Why watch: What not to do in college