Weekend Roundup and ARGO review

It’s been quite a hectic start to October for me, but it’s definitely going to be an exciting month with Twin Cities Film Fest just around the corner!

I skipped the cinema this weekend, but it looks like people just can’t get enough of bad ass Liam Neeson with his special set of skills. Taken 2 took in an astounding $50 million (apparently it’s not the third best October opening ever), which is sensational considering the dismal review. Now, even though I heard reports that Neeson won’t be back for Taken 3, the studio is likely to give him an offer he can’t refuse. I do hope he’s got the integrity to say no to that.

I saw a total of three films this week: ARGO (thanks to my buddy Ted for the advance screening tickets), and two great films from the early 90s: The Hunt for Red October and Point Break. Red October is the one Jack Ryan movie that has eluded me for some reason but it’s a fantastic political thriller, and despite being set mostly on a submarine, it’s not at all dull. From the comments on the Five for the Fifth post, seems like a lot of people like Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan and now I could see why.

I saw Point Break years ago and I’ve been wanting to rewatch it for some time. I finally bought the Blu-ray this weekend and I certainly have a new appreciation for the Kathryn Bigelow’s action thriller. The story is not ground-breaking but it’s more multi-layered than meets the eye. Full of high-octane action and the surfing and sky-diving scenes are quite spectacular, bummer that Hollywood is reportedly set to remake this cult classic! Anyway, I’m sort of crushing on Keanu Reeves all over again now, ahah.

Now on to the review of…

ARGO (2012)

At first glance you might think this has something to do with Jason and the Argonauts, but no, this one has nothing to do with Greek Mythology though there is a reference to that in the film. This Ben Affleck-directed political drama is loosely based on a true story, that is former CIA technical operations officer Tony Mendez’ account of the Iran hostage crisis of the late 70s.

The opening of the film starts out like a documentary, providing a pretty detailed background of why supporters of the Iranian Revolution are protesting outside of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Basically, the anti-Shah Iranians under Ayatollah Khomeini demanded for his return to Iran (he was undergoing cancer treatment in the US) for trial and execution.

For a film where the outcome is already known, Affleck did a great job in building up the suspense right from the get go. The whole sequence where the Iranians took over the embassy is quite gripping, and how the six of the consular employees were able to escape just in the nick of time and ended up taking refuge at the Canadian embassy.

Enter CIA officer Tony Mendez (Affleck) who’s tasked to get those six men out of the country. According to Wiki, Mendez’s work in the agency frequently dealt with forging foreign documents, creating disguises and handling other graphical work related to espionage. After exploring all the options that the agency considered — one of which includes a bike trek across 3000 miles of treacherous mountain conditions! — it’s clear that the utterly bizarre idea of smuggling them as a fake film crew was the only option!

ARGO is full of edge-of-your-seat scenes from start to finish. It doesn’t take long for the audience to realize just how high the stake is and how those escapees’ lives are in great danger, as they could be discovered at any moment. If found, they would suffer a much worse fate than the hostages, and Mendez saw that firsthand when he arrived in Iran and saw men being hung from cranes in public view!

Thankfully, Affleck peppered the taut suspense with dry humor and lighthearted moments, courtesy of the delightfully zany pairing of John Goodman and Alan Arkin as Oscar-winning make-up artist John Chambers and Hollywood producer Lester Siegel, respectively. The scenes in Hollywood as they’re working on coming up with the fake movie is such a much-needed relief from the tense situation happening in Iran. It’s a hoot to see both Chambers and Siegel working on a movie that doesn’t even exist, there’s even a fake reading and launch party to get the press to ‘sell’ the movie! In the CIA camp, there’s also Bryan Cranston as Mendez’s CIA boss in D.C. who’s always fun to watch.

This is Affleck’s third outing as director and now I can say he’s one of my favorite directors. I’d rate this as high as Gone, Baby, Gone and once again the 40-year-old Bostonian displayed his keen ability to not only cast excellent actors but drew the best performance from them in his films. Though his own acting here is good, I still think Affleck is much more skillful behind the camera. The lesser-known actors playing the hostages also did a good job in their roles, as well as Victor Garber as the Canadian ambassador.

Final Thoughts: In a year chock full of movie superheroes, it’s nice to see a real-life story about a group of quiet heroes who took great risk to save others. Kudos for Affleck for creating an authentic and atmospheric film. ARGO is a thrilling and entertaining adventure that shifts brilliantly between three different locations—Washington D.C., Tehran and Hollywood—until it culminates in a nail-biting finale. Stay on during the credits as they show the photos of the real-life individuals depicted in the film, the casting manager did a good job in finding actors that resemble them. This is easily one of the best films of the year and surely will end up as my top 5 of 2012. At this point, it could even be a shoo-in for Best Picture Oscar nomination.

4.5 out of 5 reels


What did you see this weekend? Anybody else seen ARGO? If so, do let me know what you think.

52 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup and ARGO review

  1. Was this your first time seeing The Hunt for Red October? Yeah it’s a great thriller, John McTiernan was on the role at that time, first Die Hard, Predator and then this film. I thought the film was way better than the book and yes Baldwin’s a perfect Jack Ryan.

    I assume you picked up Point Break for cheap at Best Buy? It’s definitely one of Reeves’ best movies. I also thought it sort of ruined Patrick Swayze’s career, it was the first time he played the bad guy and his leading man status was never the same after Point Break.

    Glad you enjoyed Argo, I might go see it later this month. I still haven’t seen Looper yet. I watched Tomorrow Never Dies, haven’t seen it in a long time, still very entertaining but it definitely didn’t age well. Just like most of the Bond films, it stuck in its era.

    • I think I saw ‘Red October’ years ago but couldn’t remember much of it. The story is just really good, that Tom Clancy is a genius!

      Yep, I got it for $8 bucks at BB, I couldn’t resist. Well that’ll get a lot of play in my house I think, he..he.. I’ve always loved Keanu but I’m sort of crushing on him all over again now, so I might catch up on his older movies I’ve missed :)

      Thanks again for ARGO, boy that was excellent! Oh I wanted to watch OHMSS as I said on Twitter, but I’ll wait until the 15th when iTunes finally has it for rental.

      • Yeah I used to read every Clancy’s novels but sort of loss interest in his work after 9/11, most of his novels always dealt with what if scenarios, well when planes clashed into buildings back in 2001, I was like it happened! At the end of one of Jack Ryan’s novels, a bad guy clashed an airplane into the white house and killed everyone, so Clancy got some heat for writing that sequence when 9/11 happened. It wasn’t his fault of course.

        I thought the book version of Hunt for Red October has too many subplots and it’s hard to keep up, while in the film they just focus on hunting the submarine and it kept the film exciting even though it hardly have any action scenes in it.

        I can’t wait to see OHMSS again when it’s available on BD later this month at BB.

        • Wow, I could see how he took some heat for that plane crashing thing in his novel, of course it’s not his fault but man that is eerie.

          Glad that McTiernan kept the focus of the movie on just the ‘hunt’ for the submarine. Yeah it’s quite suspenseful even with minimal action scenes. I like the fact that Ryan is depicted as a realistic CIA analyst, not an action hero.

  2. I actually think Point Break was one of Swayze’s best films. I was never impressed with him as an actor but I really liked him here.

    Nice review of Argo. Really anxious to see it. Unfortunately I’ll have to wait until next Tuesday.

    I heard Neeson say he wouldn’t be interested in another Taken. Good! I caught Taken 2 and Frankenweenie this weekend. Frankenweenie was fantastic! Taken 2… Not as much (review on Tuesday).

    • Yeah both Keanu and Patrick are both very good in PB, I quite like the complicated relationship between the two.

      ARGO is well-worth checking out on the big screen Keith. As for Taken 2, I might rent it on a slow night, but it’s just sooo unnecessary! Hope he’s done with this rubbish.

  3. Nice to see you saw The Hunt for Red October, which is such a great movie, especially love the soundtrack.

    Looking forward to seeing Argo myself!

    • It is indeed Nostra, I’m glad I gave that a shot after hearing all the praise for Baldwin as Jack Ryan.

      Do see ARGO. I know you like documentaries so I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

  4. I can’t wait to catch Argo. Was hoping to see it at the London Film Festival, but failed to get tickets :( So, will have to wait until the end of November. The cast alone has me so damn eager to see this film!

    Not seen Point Break in years. Great to hear it still holds up, perhaps better, than it did back when. Think I should hunt out a blu-ray…

    • Bummer that you didn’t get tickets, ah well November is not that far away :) The cast is great all around, but Goodman and Arkin stole the show IMO, they’re both such comic relief in an otherwise pretty tense movie.

      I think PB is worth owning, especially if can get it on sale. The surfing scenes are awesome to watch, pure adrenaline rush.

  5. That’s the very first review I’ve read of Argo Ruth. Kudos and it’s a great one. I really want to see it as I too have really warmed to Affleck behind the camera.

    Aaah! Point Break! It takes me back to my teenage years. I love it and probably stands as my favourite action movie. So you’re developing a crush on our man “Chuck” then are you? ;-)

    • Hello Mark! Oooh nice to be the first review you read, I’m flattered :) I have a newfound respect for Affleck since Gone Baby Gone, I think he’s a talented director.

      He..he.. I’ve always been a fan of ‘Chuck’ but somehow after watching his movies of late, this one and Side by Side, I just find him so mesmerizing. Funny that he doesn’t really change even in 2 decades, even his voice sounds exactly the same!

  6. Whoa Point Breaks!! I haven’t seen that in ages. I like the story but I don’t like Keanu’s hair style :(
    Have you seen Hot Fuzz? because of that movie, I have different way of looking at Point Break now ;)

    Argo sounds interesting…well not my kind of cinema movies, but I will definitely watch it in DVD. Seeing Affleck in beard is weird, he is almost unrecognizable.

    Btw, your Timothy Dalton’s part in Doctor Who is on my blog now ;)

    • You don’t like his hair in Point Break? I thought it looks great, I didn’t like the long hair at the end but it was only like 10 minutes long. Yes I’ve seen Hot Fuzz, how does it change your view on Point Break?

      ARGO is very good, Affleck’s beard doesn’t bother me, though he doesn’t resemble the real Tony Mendez, ahah.

      I’ll be sure to check out your Dr Who review! :)

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  8. Glad you liked The Hunt for Red October. I must see Point Break someday.

    Oh, I bought The Living Daylights, so I should be watching that and rewatching License to Kill soon. :)

    Great review, Ruth! Hope I like Argo as much as you do. Though I haven’t seen it, it still looks like the next Best Picture winner, but buzz on Les Miserables is starting heat up…

    Did you get my tweet? If you didn’t, you asked me about Duffy in regards to her singing the next Bond theme song. Here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0YKwL2Q5n4

    • Oh you should check out Point Break. It’s got a good story and cinematography, Bigelow sure knows how to shoot an action movie!

      I’m thrilled that you bought TLD, I only have the DVD but I’m holding off on buying the BD as I might get the Bond 50 Blu-ray set :)

      I have a feeling it might nab Best Picture nom, it’s really well-done.

      Ah I see, I do know who Duffy is, I just never heard her sing before. Interesting pick Josh :)

  9. Most get a bit sick of where they live but I wouldn’t choose anywhere else Ruth. I’ve probably mentioned it before but I actually seen them filming World War Z. It was exciting stuff. They had the town centre of Glasgow made up to look like Philadelphia with all the amerian street lights and signs. I was in my element.

    By way Ruth, I’m going to be working on a little trilogy of Scottish films as soon as I can. Two you have already seen and the third is Ken Loach’s The Angels’ Share. You should check it out if you can. It’s a good little film.

    • Sick of living in Scotland?? I find that hard to believe! That is sooo cool that you got to see them film major movies right in your hometown!

      Oh I’ll definitely check that out, Mark. I hope those aren’t too violent, y’know how I can’t handle those. Btw, I’m gonna try to see The Guard somehow, even if I have to ask my friend to rent it from Netflix as it’s not available to rent on iTunes.

      • Oh I forgot that you’ve been having a problem getting hold of The Guard. You might find it difficult getting “The Angels’ Share” as well. Try though. And also look out for another Loach film set in Glasgow called “Ae Fond Kiss”. The Angels’ Share has some brief scenes of fighting but overall it’s quite lighthearted.

    • When I read the stellar TIFF reviews I was intrigued, but I did like Affleck’s previous two films so I figure this one would be good too. Fortunately I wasn’t disappointed!

  10. I will try to see Argo when i can. And i saw Horrible Bosses, Sound of my Voice, and 2 horror films.I liked Horrible Bosses(Although i did get the feeling when it started it was supposed to be about the populist feeling that came after the economic crash, but got watered down in the final product) and Sound of my Voice

    I’ve also been watching a bunch of horror on netflix instant for my October horror feature, but so far only 1 film struck me as good enough to recommend. Hope my luck starts to change in that regard

    • I see that a lot of bloggers are watching lots of horror films this month, but as you know you won’t find those here :) A lot of the horror movies I saw even years ago still haunt me sometimes, that’s why I choose not to watch ‘em anymore for my own sanity, ahah.

  11. I have got to see an Affleck-directed film one of these days… I still haven’t seen any, and they’re all getting such high praise. Argo looks great, so I’m glad to see you say it is.

  12. Nice post. Really looking forward to Argo. It’s already garnering Oscar buzz. Hope Affleck finally gets the recognition he deserves as a writer/director. This weekend I watched Cabin in the Woods and the original Frankenweenie.

    • Yeah I wouldn’t be surprised if it got an Oscar nom for Affleck and maybe Alan Arkin. The original Frankenweenie? I didn’t even know this one is a remake.

      • More of an adaptation. Tim Burton’s first film was a live-action, b&w, 30-minute short called Frankenweenie. This is full-length and stop-motion animated, but it’s the same story.

  13. Great review! I must say I’m not that interested in seeing this movie, but it’s good to know it has some humourous moments, I hate completely serious political movies. I’m probably going to see it since it’s getting so much Oscar buzz, I just hope Bryan Cranston wasn’t completely underused again.

    • Thanks Sati. Yeah, there are some dry humor in it but the movie is quite intense overall. I don’t think Cranston was underused like in Total Recall, but his part is pretty small.

  14. Gotta love advance screenings! I saw the trailer for Argo over the weekend and I’m starting to get pretty excited about it. I’m not a huge Affleck fan, but he hasn’t failed yet behind the lens. Glad to hear you enjoyed it so much, Ruth!

  15. Even more excited for Argo now! Got to wait quite a while to see it over here I think! Point Break is so cool… one of my favourite action movies! Surprised that you go for Keanu over Swayze though!

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