Argo (2012) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Mark of Marked Movies. He also reviewed Heat for this project – you can read that review HERE. Thanks for the reviews, Mark! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on the movie Argo, IMDB rank 195 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE. See the full IMDB Top 250 list & links to all the films that have been reviewed HERE.

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Director: Ben Affleck.
Screenplay: Chris Terrio.
Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Victor Garber, Kyle Chandler, Zeljko Ivanek, Richard Kind, Kerry Bishé, Chris Messina Michael Parks, Taylor Schilling, Titus Welliver, Bob Gunton, Keith Szarabajka, Philip Baker Hall.

After a great directorial debut with “Gone Baby Gone” in 2007 and a brilliant sophomore effort with “The Town” in 2010, all eyes were on Ben Affleck in his third outing as director. Questions were asked as to whether he could do it again. And the answer? The answer is a resounding, ‘Yes’. Argo completes Affleck’s hat-trick behind the camera and confirms that he’s definitely a director that has an abundance of talent and awareness.

Based on true events in a post-revolution Iran in 1979. A mob of Ayatollah supporters storm the US Embassy and take 56 American hostages. 6 officers managed to escape, however, and take refuge in the home of a Canadian Ambassador. After two months in hiding and their sanctuary becoming increasingly risky, the CIA hatch a plan to get them home and extraction officer Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) is given that responsibility. His plan is to create a fake movie called “Argo” and pretend that the six officers in hiding are his crew, scouting for shooting locations within the country.

Before going into Argo, I admittedly expected a heavy-handed political thriller but that’s not exactly what it delivers. Apart from the first five minutes of a brief overview of the, questionable, political relations between the U.S. and Iran, it sidesteps any political agenda and gets down to capturing the thrilling, human drama at it’s core. I’m not adverse to political film’s at all. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy them but Affleck is wise not to get too bogged down in boardroom banter and bureaucracy when there’s an brilliantly exciting story to tell. It does share similarities with the great political tinged thrillers of the 1970′s like Alan J. Pakula’s “All The Presidents Men” or “The Parallax View“. The late 70′s and early 80′s style is captured to perfection by cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto and Affleck’s orchestration can sit comfortably beside any from that great decade of cinema.

Chris Terrio’s solid screenplay delivers many dialogue driven scenes but Affleck keeps things moving at a frantic pace and not for a second, does the film ever get dull or drawn out. The tension is almost unbearable at times. Why Affleck didn’t, at the very least, nab an Oscar nomination for his substantial and well-constructed direction here is beyond me. There’s no doubt that he’s in complete command of his material as he leaps from Tehran to Washington to Tinseltown and delivers completely satisfying environments and effortless shifts in tone for the whole film to gel and come to life. He has the ability to capture a politically ravaged country; the backroom jargon of the CIA and the dark humour of Hollywood (that shares more than a passing resemblance to Barry Levinson’s “Wag The Dog“). In order to capture this ludicrous, stranger-than-fiction story in it’s entirety, it demands a maestro at work and Affleck can certainly consider himself one.

This is the edge-of-your-seat tension that “Zero Dark Thirty” wishes it had. With only three film’s under his hat, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Affleck has been at this directing malarky for a very long time. The comparisons with actor, turned quality director, Clint Eastwood will rage on and if anyone thinks otherwise, then Affleck can tell them to “Argo fuck yourself“.

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Mark Walker

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Sound Of My Voice (2011) Review

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Sound Of My Voice (2011)

Directed by Zal Batmanglij

Starring:
Brit Marling
Christopher Denham
Nicole Vicius

Music by Rostam Batmanglij

Running time: 85 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Peter (Christopher Denham) and his girlfriend Lorna (Nicole Vicius) decide to join a mysterious cult being led by Maggie (Brit Marling), who claims to be from a dystopian future & has come back to select a special group of people to lead into this future. Peter & Lorna plan to do a secret documentary that will expose Maggie as a fraud but they each start to have various doubts about Maggie & how far they’re prepared to go.

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My Opinion:

I like the little bit I’ve seen of Brit Marling so far. She wrote & starred in Another Earth, which I thought was really good and had a great concept. And she wrote & starred in this which… Well, I thought it was a decent concept & she was good in it but I didn’t like the movie near as much as Another Earth. (Sorry, Eric!)

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So, anyway – a couple (Christopher Denham & Nicole Viciusare) are doing an undercover documentary on cult leader Maggie (Brit Marling), who claims to be from the future. They want to expose her as a fraud but both start to have some doubts as to how far they should go as they get more & more involved in this strange cult and even start to maybe have some doubts as to whether Maggie really IS a fraud. The actors playing the couple were both fine – they had pretty simple roles that could have been played by anyone, really, but the girl had a very interesting looking nose.

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Brit Marling is definitely the star of this film, just as she’s the “star” for those in her cult who have been persuaded to believe her crazy story. She does have a certain sort of charisma or a certain “something” that helped make her believable in this role. She has a kind of vulnerability that worked really well in Another Earth and also works well here, combined with an underlying strength that almost makes her a little scary as she plays a series of psychological mind games with her followers to test their loyalty.

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The story is okay. It’s a very short film & I thought it ended quite abruptly. I don’t know if it’s true or not but I read somewhere that there was meant to be a sequel and it does feel that way. You get a conclusion of sorts but it’s one left up to interpretation so, if you don’t like that sort of thing, you may want to skip this one. I don’t mind an ambiguous ending, though, so I was fine with that – I just didn’t like that it felt incomplete. I don’t know if the movie really explores cult mentality or anything like that – I still don’t see how anyone can get sucked into those things no matter how influential the leader may be. And, here’s a warning: There’s a puking scene I couldn’t watch. Oh man – I CANNOT handle puking scenes! There has only ever been one good puking scene in the history of film (Stand By Me). And the one in Sound Of My Voice was sick – I hate that you can’t even close your eyes during puking scenes because you still hear all the retching and… Urgh!!! Gross. I have to admit that I’m a wuss on that and it’s probably affected my overall rating for this film.

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Summary:

Sound Of My Voice is an interesting film with a good idea that I don’t think is explored very well in its 85 minute running time. It feels incomplete and the ending is abrupt. However, I still think Brit Marling is a talented writer & actress based on this film & on Another Earth. I would still recommend this film to those who like these sort of slow paced independent movies but I’d recommend Another Earth first because I think that is a much more solid film.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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I should point out that the the director’s (Zal Batmanglij) brother (Rostam Batmanglij) did the score for Sound Of My Voice. Rostam is in Vampire Weekend (Don’t ya hate talented families?). Anyway, I shouldn’t admit to this as I was a (wannabe?) metalhead in my youth but I do like a bit of Vampire Weekend even though it’s all a bit “preppy” for me. I still think this was their best song: