October 15th, 2012

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Argo

Sat down to write these up yesterday. But then Mom called, and then I started otherwise procrastinating, and then by the time I was actually gonna start writing LJ went down. Okay, universe, I get it.

Really quick, before we get into the adventure that was Argo, a quick recap of the adventure that was my NYC trip on Saturday. I went to see Grace and If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet. The former's cast included Paul Rudd and Michael Shannon. The latter, Jake Gyllenhaal. Oh yeah. That all happened. Dawnie Darko and Donnie Darko, together if only for ten seconds at the stage door. !!!!

I ended up oversleeping the next day, waking up 15 minutes after the time I said I'd need to jump in the shower in order to catch my double at the Common. Scrambled frantically to get there in time. This being opening weekend for a Ben Affleck movie in Boston, I was especially concerned about getting a seat. But you know what's cool about seeing a Ben Affleck movie opening weekend? The crowd response. Unless it's a special screening, its rare that there's applause at the end of the film. There was at Argo. And it was very much deserved.

The two sentance review I texted someone afterwards was "Argo was kinda brilliant. Unique premise and an interesting mix of suspense and levity". I stand by that statement. The first half hour or so, I was tense. The kinda tense you get from suspense or horror films. Granted, all the Eli Roth-esque stuff I've been watching may have had a hand in that, but still the premise of the film is kinda nerve wracking. The hostage crisis was a scary situation and there's a very in-your-face depiction of it. Then you throw in the whole fake sci-fi movie thing, and the tone completely changes. You can thank John Goodman and Alan Arkin for that. That unlikely duo had what seemed like a lifelong bromance of chewing scenery. I definitely lit up everytime they were on the screen.

Now a story. Once upon a time, there was an actor. His name was Ben Affleck. He was a good old Boston boy, who had plenty of Hollywood success with his bestest buddy Matt Damon. But soon the time came when the two friends had to build their own careers separately. Matt had a string of successes and franchises. As for Ben, well lets just say he made some questionable choices. Before he became a permanent punchline, Ben switched gears a little bit. Along with stepping away from the spotlight for a bit, he decided to step behind the camera. He started with something he knew well, and directed his brother in a Boston movie. Rave reviews. He then pulled double duty in front of and behind the camera, but stayed close to home, both figuratively with the subject matter and literally with the location. More rave reviews. Now he really knows what he's doing. So he gets more ambitious. Spends even more time in front of the camera and pulls the subject even farther from home. Cue the rave reviews.

The aforementioned balance of suspense and levity is just phenomenal. Such a strange balance, but masterfully acheived. Affleck really pays attention to detail. IMDB trivia explained some of the techniques he used to get the 70s feel on the actual film, and I read some soundbites from John Goodman who praised his method. Goodman's been around. He knows what he's talking about. So if he says Affleck is the man, he's the \m/ man. If you don't agree, then Argo \m/ Yourself.

Argo - \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/
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Seven Psycopaths

Quick mini review first. Since I was already behind, I skipped the #Rothtober film today and ended up watching something outta my queue. The film was Red Lights. Cillian Murphy, Robert DeNiro, Signourney Weaver, Elizabeth Olsen. I take back what I'd said about DeNiro not being able to pick a good movie in this century. My kinda weird and really absorbing. Normally when I watch something at home, I'm tooling on the internet, but I dropped the laptop (not literally dropped). So yeah, check this out. I need to watch it again.

Anyways, I'm really here to write up yesterday's second feature, Seven Psycopaths. I didnt know a whole lot about it going in, but I didnt really need to. Sam Rockwell is on my list of actors who I will see in anything. No questions asked. Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, and Christopher Walken are all icing. Hell, in all honesty, I think the title was really enough to make me wanna see this.

But besides the amazing cast, and all of the fun promos they're doing (no really, click that link if you're reading this directly off ExpDel), the buzz is building around writer/director Martin McDonagh. McDonagh hasn't done much quantity wise, but quality wise, oh man. He won himself an Oscar for his short, Six Shooter. Then another Oscar nod and a lot more widespread notice for his first feature, In Bruges, which also won Farrell a Globe. Yeah, remember that one? You certainly would if you saw it. Dark gangster comedy. Hilarious until it pulls the rug out from under ya. Psycopaths was a lot like that too.

I've commented/complained about how often dark comedies don't quite get the right mix of dark and comedy. Too much of one, not enough of the other. Seven Psycopaths nailed it. You're laughing thru the whole thing, but something just feels dirty, and it's a dirty that feels oh so \m/ good. I have not heard such clever dialogue (my make or break aspect of a film) in a long time. I'm talking Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, Diablo Cody level dialogue. But it wouldnt have been anything without the cast delivering it. I dont mean to play favorites, but OMG Sam Rockwell. I love watching an actor let loose and have fun, and that's exactly what was happening here. Big doofy grin and he just took a bite outta all those words.

Rockwell wasn't the only star. Christopher Walken was another joy to watch. In my mind, there's this idea of Christopher Walken, as a kind of a charicature. The funny pauses, the weird pronunciations. But it seems you never actually see that from him on screen. Yet, here we did. It was Walken just as I'd always pictured him, and totally having a blast throughout. Woody Harrelson was the unhinged bad guy psycopath. The role was originally supposed to go to Mickey Rourke, but I dont see how that could have worked. Rourke has a more quiet and controlled badassery to him. Harrelson is more out of control, which is what this movie benefit from. If you're gonna be the baddest of the bad psycopaths, you gotta make me believe that you could snap at any moment, and that's exactly what was going on here.

As much fun as this was, I do gotta deduct half a point sadly. I was confused through a good deal of the movie. I blame the marketing for a lot of that. The posters and such indicated that certain people are the seven psycopaths. That's not necessarily the case. There were some other plot points that had me scratching my head, especialy around character motive, but most stems from the marketing. I'm sure it'd regain that half point on a subesquent view.

Seven Psycopaths - \m/ \m/ \m/ \n