REVIEW: Argo

Argo
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Written by: Chris Terrio (screenplay), Joshuah Bearman (article)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman

I think Argo is going to win Best Picture, if the studios play their marketing cards smartly and don’t push too hard before the end of the year.  This isn’t because it’s the best movie of the year, but it’s the kind of movie that Academy voters can agree on.  It’s very suspenseful, it has a good ensemble cast decked out in ’70s hair and it’s in part about Hollywood helping rescue hostages in Iran.

Ben Affleck has been steadily building up his directing chops in his previous features Gone Baby Gone and The Town, and in leaving contemporary Boston behind here he has created his most assured movie yet.  Argo is consistently engaging, from its washed out ’70s look to its fluid, precisely orchestrated camera movements.  The first 20 minutes, where the U.S. embassy in Iran is stormed by protesters, are brilliantly conceived.

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The Best Movies of 2010

Communication and identity were big themes in 2010 (and every other year), right alongside isolationism on top and kids (and their toys) growing up to mounting uncertainty.  The films, as they always do, reflect that.  The best ones had none of the problems that their characters often face, and though there are thousands of tireless idiosyncrasies among this year’s releases, it’s the bigger connections that are important, and we’ve left one out.  All of the films on this list are wonderful, if each in their own way.  So here’s a toast to the great, the weird, the insightful, the funny, and the heartbreaking, and here’s hoping Transformers 3 doesn’t prevent 2011 from being just as good if not better.

1. Black Swan- Taking lessons from classics like The Red Shoes and Repulsion and then adding in more frantic body horror, Darren Aronofsky has us follow Nina the ballerina on her nightmarish journey toward perfection in her preparation for the leads in Swan Lake. In this unlikely companion piece to 2008’s The Wrestler, we dive deeper into the depths of an athlete’s mind and body at war with itself while Nina tries to find her inner dark side to play the Black Swan.  The battle is projected onto the environment with hallucinations and onto Nina’s weary body in the form of scratches, bruises, and emerging feathers.  Aronofsky himself wages a successful battle between perfect technique and dark, brooding instinct.  He, along with a never-better Natalie Portman, creates a new masterpiece full of feverish dance sequences, controlling mothers, and fierce competition for his catalog.  Like his protagonist, he flies past the competition and lands atop the pile of 2010’s best films.  Read Full Review Continue reading

REVIEW: The Town

The Town
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Written by: Ben Affleck, Peter Craig, Aaron Stockard (screenplay) Chuck Hogan (novel)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Chris Cooper

The Town might just be another cops and robbers tale honing Boston accents and boys with their big toy guns and cars; but then again, it might be something different, something with a little less Irish blood and brawn and a little more Ben Affleck brains.

Before Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck would have seemed like the most unlikely director. As an actor with little few roles worth remembering and as a celebrity who could have romanced a whole lot better than Jenifer Lopez, Affleck had relatively little for anyone to talk about. But as soon as his directorial debut was released in 2007, the film gained attention and respect as one of the best movies of the year, making Affleck the talk of tinsel town. Continue reading