Cinepub


2012 Best Picture Round Up: Argo (Repost) by Jamie

It’s Oscar time again and the nominees have been announced so it’s time to review the ones I’m able to. Luckily, I already had one in the bag from last year. So here it is again, my review of Argo. Enjoy.

I’ve really been getting in to films based on historical events lately. I’ve watched a ton of them in the past couple of months alone including Ben Affleck’s “Gone Baby Gone”‘ which I enjoyed immensely. So I was pretty excited about the release of Affleck’s new film, “Argo”. Hell, throw in the fact that this also happens to be an historical event that has something to do with the film industry as well and it almost seems as though this damn film was made specifically to tickle my balls. Yes, it had everything that I could have asked for. So did I love it unapologetically like the movie/history geek that I am? Let’s find out.

The movie takes place during the Iran hostage crisis that stretched from late 1979 to early 1981 and deals with one specific event in particular, the so-called Canadian Caper because apparently missions where people risk their lives must have adorable nicknames. On the 4th of November, Iranian students took control of American embassy and took the staff hostage in order to protest the Americans given shelter to the former Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ad have him returned to Iran to stand trial for crimes committed during his rule. Six hostages managed to escape and took shelter at the Canadian embassy and a plan was drawn up by the CIA and the Canadian government to try and get them safely out of the country. Tony Méndez, a disguise an exfiltration expert, came up with a plot to extract them. He employed the aid of John Chamber, a Hollywood make-up artist, to create a fake film production office. The cover story was that the six trapped in Iran were actually Canadians working on a film and they were in the country scouting for locations for a Star Wars-esque Sci-fi fantasy film, Argo.

And that’s about all I’m going to describer of the movie plot/actual events because to say much more would give away the plot. So, back to the original question: Did I love this film? Well, I cewrtainly enjoyed it but I did find it to be a bit slow going at points, particularly the moments where the trapped Americans are literally waiting around trying to get rescued. I suppose that this reflects the monotony of actually being trapped in a building for days on end and so in that regard I suppose it’s quite effective. Overall, however, this film was fucking awesome. Every time Ben Affleck directs something I’m always surprised by just how good he is. The pacing during some of the more intense sequences is impeccable. I was quite literally on the edge of my seat during some moments, so tense were some of the events that were playing out on screen.

There’s also a nice counterbalance to that intensity with quite a nice deal of humour provided by John Goodman as John Chambers and Alan Arkin as producer Lester Siegel. Not only are they great comic relief during some of the earlier scenes where they are trying to drum up publicity for a film that they know will be never filmed but that same humour actually comes to just rack things up later during one of the most tense scenes during the entire film.

If I have any complaint it’s that one I made earlier about some of the scenes just slowing things down a bit too much but really that’s a minor issue and about the only one I can really think of. I suppose it could be argued that the portrayal of Iranians is a bit one note, though I feel it delves deep enough into the politics behind their outrage that, whilst not outright justifying their actions, it certainly helps to explain them. So with all said and done, I’ll give Argo four and a half pints out of five. Now Argo fuck yourself and see it. Laterz.

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Review: Argo by Jamie

I’ve really been getting in to films based on historical events lately. I’ve watched a ton of them in the past couple of months alone including Ben Affleck’s “Gone Baby Gone”‘ which I enjoyed immensely. So I was pretty excited about the release of Affleck’s new film, “Argo”. Hell, throw in the fact that this also happens to be an historical event that has something to do with the film industry as well and it almost seems as though this damn film was made specifically to tickle my balls. Yes, it had everything that I could have asked for. So did I love it unapologetically like the movie/history geek that I am? Let’s find out.

The movie takes place during the Iran hostage crisis that stretched from late 1979 to early 1981 and deals with one specific event in particular, the so-called Canadian Caper because apparently missions where people risk their lives must have adorable nicknames. On the 4th of November, Iranian students took control of American embassy and took the staff hostage in order to protest the Americans given shelter to the former Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ad have him returned to Iran to stand trial for crimes committed during his rule. Six hostages managed to escape and took shelter at the Canadian embassy and a plan was drawn up by the CIA and the Canadian government to try and get them safely out of the country. Tony Méndez, a disguise an exfiltration expert, came up with a plot to extract them. He employed the aid of John Chamber, a Hollywood make-up artist, to create a fake film production office. The cover story was that the six trapped in Iran were actually Canadians working on a film and they were in the country scouting for locations for a Star Wars-esque Sci-fi fantasy film, Argo.

And that’s about all I’m going to describer of the movie plot/actual events because to say much more would give away the plot. So, back to the original question: Did I love this film? Well, I cewrtainly enjoyed it but I did find it to be a bit slow going at points, particularly the moments where the trapped Americans are literally waiting around trying to get rescued. I suppose that this reflects the monotony of actually being trapped in a building for days on end and so in that regard I suppose it’s quite effective. Overall, however, this film was fucking awesome. Every time Ben Affleck directs something I’m always surprised by just how good he is. The pacing during some of the more intense sequences is impeccable. I was quite literally on the edge of my seat during some moments, so tense were some of the events that were playing out on screen.

There’s also a nice counterbalance to that intensity with quite a nice deal of humour provided by John Goodman as John Chambers and Alan Arkin as producer Lester Siegel. Not only are they great comic relief during some of the earlier scenes where they are trying to drum up publicity for a film that they know will be never filmed but that same humour actually comes to just rack things up later during one of the most tense scenes during the entire film.

If I have any complaint it’s that one I made earlier about some of the scenes just slowing things down a bit too much but really that’s a minor issue and about the only one I can really think of. I suppose it could be argued that the portrayal of Iranians is a bit one note, though I feel it delves deep enough into the politics behind their outrage that, whilst not outright justifying their actions, it certainly helps to explain them. So with all said and done, I’ll give Argo four and a half pints out of five. Now Argo fuck yourself and see it. Laterz.



Documental: Why Democracy?: Please Vote For Me by Jamie

Ah, democracy. It’s a funny old thing. People vote and people get elected and on and on it goes. Good times. Yeah, I don’t have that much to say about democracy. It’s pretty good, I guess. Better than a dictatorship at least. Good for democracy.

Anyway, with that pointless rambling out of the way, let’s get onto the review and it’s something a bit different today. It’s a short documentary, less than an hour long in fact, and is part of a series, ‘Why Democracy?’, which was shown worldwide on the subject of democracy. I can’t say I know much about the series having never seen or heard of it before nor seeing any of the other films within the series so I’ll just say I’m sure it’s a very good series which raises many important points about worldwide democracy though I will point out that the opening claims that it is being watched by 300,000,000 viewers. That might seem impressive but keep in mind that’s not even a quarter of the world’s population. Still, whatever.

So this film is called ‘Please Vote For Me’ and it takes place in the Evergreen Primary School in Wuhan, China. It follows the first ever election for class monitor in all of China amongst a class of 8 year olds. The first candidate is Luo Lei, a boy who has been chosen by the teacher to be class monitor for the past two years and has a reputation for being quite strict when it comes to enforcing the classes rules, even going so far as to beat other children when they step out of line. The second candidate is Cheng Cheng and I can only really describe him as a real life Chinese Eric Cartman without the foul mouth. He’s very manipulative and tries to manipulate every situation to his advantage. The third and final candidate is Xu Xiaofei, a girl who is perceived as being quite shy and not particularly adept at coping with stressful situations.

The first thing you notice is just how quickly one of the candidates, Cheng, turns to dirty tactics in order to try and make the election go his way. Each of the three has to perform in a talent show and Cheng decides to tell his helpers to encourage people to boo and hiss during Xu’s performance, leading to her breaking down in a flood of tears. Whilst Xu is outside being comforted by her mother and teacher, Cheng heads outside and apologies for Luo, claiming that the entire plan was thought up by him. Devious little bastard.

Also interesting is the ways in which the parents try and help their children during the election. Luo Lei’s father is the head of the local police force and as such he organises a trip for the class on the monorail, the most up to date form of transport in the area. It also seems as though this is where Luo get’s his inspiration for his strict enforcement of the rules. Cheng’s parents help him by writing his speeches and telling him exactly how to catch put his opponents and make it seem as though they are liars. Xu’s mother is divorced and is the head of the school. She doesn’t seem to provide much of the way in tactics but helps by boosting her daughters confidence as much as she can.

I don’t want to give away the ending of the film as it’s a really interesting piece that you should probably watch it for yourself and it can probably be found fairly easily on the internet. Ah yes, here it is on YouTube. What I will say is that the film is a fascinating look at the way that the voting process works. You might think that all the mudslinging, underhanded tactics and bribing of the electorate is exaggerated because the election is being held amongst children but really, is it that different from what happens in real elections? Think about it. Yeah, deep.

All in all, I’ll say that despite it’s short length, ‘Please Vote For Me’ is a really enjoyable film and is really quite comedic in it’s look at the democratic process. I highly recommend you view it. Four pints out of five. Laterz



Last Year In Film: The Visitor by Jamie

Well I managed to survive the first round of Razzie nominations and it certainly feels good to get back to films with a certain touch of class about them after the likes of ‘Disaster Movie’ and ‘The Love Guru’ and it turns out that ‘The Visitor’ is a very fine film to come back to quality cinema with.

Now I must admit that I had heard about this film some time ago but then I completely forgot about it and, when I came to seeing this I had absolutely no idea what it was. I’d kinda hoped it might have been some kind of sci-fi alien film kinda thing. Or maybe something about a time traveller from a dystopian future. That’d be cool. But as the film went on I remembered what I’d heard about it and realised what it was and I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. I haven’t seen a good sci-fi film since District 9 and that was just over a week ago now. Still I pressed on and watched the film. And wow, was my disappointment completely unfounded.

The story is that of a lonely widowed college economics professor, Walter, who travels to his old apartment in New York in order to present a co-authored paper at a conference only to discover a an immigrant couple living there. Now in the beginning of the film Walter is a, well he’s not exactly a mean man, more an indifferent man, a man who views other human beings in the same way he might view an unfamiliar dog or perhaps a shifty eyed cat. Damn unfamiliar dogs and shifty eyed cats. Unfamiliar dogs and shifty eyed cats killed my parents. True story. Except it isn’t.

Anyway Walter’s life is pretty much turned upside down for the better through the influence of these immigrants, in particular Tarek who begins to teach Walter how to play an African drum, invites him to watch him play at  a Jazz club and takes him to play in a drum circle at what I can only assume is Central Park because I don’t know the name of any other parks in New York.

Walter’s new friendship is threatened all of a sudden when Tarek is arrested at a subway station and taken to a detention centre as an illegal immigrant. Soon Mouna, Tarek’s mother, shows up at Walter’s apartment when she becomes worried that her son hasn’t contacted her in some time. Walter soon begins a friendship with her as well as he tries as hard as he can to get Tarek freed.

The film is steeped with messages regarding the changes in attitude towards illegal immigrants, particularly those of Middle Eastern descent since the events of the 11th of September, 2001. It portrays a rather aggressive Department of Immigration Control treating their detainees as little more than cattle, keeping them locked in a building with no outside area, the closest being a room with no roof. They also randomly move their prisoners to other facilities throughout the country or even have them deported seemingly on a whim without alerting their lawyers.

Despite this definitely being a message film it also has a great story which the message really serves as background for. At the end of the day the tale is about Walter and how his experience with Tarek, his girlfriend Zainab and his mother Mouna all affect his life and, in a way, teach him how to view other people as human beings again.

There are a number of times when the movie strayed dangerously close to being a feel good, mushy story and about an hour through I thought I’d pretty much figured out exactly what was going to happen only to be surprised when the story took a different route, one I certainly wasn’t expecting and that’s definitely a good thing.

The acting is superb with Richard Jenkins as Walter truly making the character and his development absolutely believable and Hiam Abbass is awesome as Mouna, portraying a strong woman who’s absolutely heartbroken at the fact that she can’t even visit her son for fear of being arrested herself and the fact that her sons situation reminds her of her husband’s own predicament as a journalist in Syria, arrested for an article he wrote.

Overall I give this film four pints out of five and I heartily, heartily recommend it. Watch it damn it! Laterz.



Review: District 9 by Jamie
I don’t think it’ll come as much of a shock that I think this has been a pretty bad year for films. Sure, there was Star Trek and I liked The Watchmen more than some internet folks seemed to but things like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Friday the 13th just can’t be overlooked and oh how I wish they could be. I held out hope, however, for one shining jewel in this sea of mediocrity and downright awfulness and that hope lay in the hands of a movie set in South Africa which was odd because, and I’m sorry to any South Africans out there, I’m just not a big fan of that accent. I don’t know what it is, it just doesn’t appeal to my ears in the same way that, say, an Australian accent does.
Still I’d have to get over my inexplicable dislike for the South African accent because 2009’s place was entirely down to District 9… For me at least. Yes Star Trek was good but it essentially was nothing more than a big budget summer action flick with thousands of nods to the original series and Watchmen was good too but it was certainly no ‘The Dark Knight’. So did District 9 disappoint or did it leave me with a vague sense that maybe this year was worth something after all?
Well I’m happy to say that District 9 did not disappoint at all but it also certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. The film manages to blend several different genres which can be a little disconcerting at first but ultimately works to the films benefit. So what is District 9 about exactly, I hear you ask quickly followed up by a question concerning whether or not I can finish the next paragraph without the obvious crutch of posing myself a question.
Well the film begins with a documentary style segment which espouses some of the back story of the world of District 9. It seems that some twenty odd years ago a giant space ship appeared over the city of Johannesburg. Wow. If Lethal Weapon 2 has taught me anything it’s that South Africa in the 1980s is not a place that you want to accidentally end up in. Apparently it was full of racism and evil diplomats. So it is in this politically volatile landscape that mankind first finds that he is not alone in the universe. For months the spaceship hovers there doing absolutely nothing. Soon the South African government, feeling the eyes of the world bearing down upon them decide to investigate the strange craft. They fly some helicopters up to it, blow torch there way inside only to find a ship covered in a putrid decaying mess and a room filled with thousands of terrified insect-like aliens.
It seems as though these aliens work on some kind of caste system, much like ants on Earth, and all the members of the higher castes have died leaving a massive worker population with absolutely no direction. The South African government ferries the aliens down to the surface where they join the population of Johannesburg much to the chagrin of the general populace. Soon the Multi National United corporation or MNU offers to help South Africa with it’s alien problem and puts the creatures, labelled with the derogatory term ‘prawns’, into a special area known as District 9. Conflicts between the human and alien populations still arise however and plans are made to move the prawns into a new concentration campesque area known as District 10 many miles away from the human citizens of Johannesburg. This operation is over seen by new promoted Wikus Van De Merwe, a man with a fairly rich home life and a comfortable position as son-in-law of the company’s boss.
It’s not long after this that the film begins to intercut the documentary style with a more traditional summer blockbuster feel as well as borrowing and paying homage to a few other genres of film as well. It manages to incorporate action, adventure, socio-political themes, sci-fi, horror (with a very Fly-esque scene which had me looking away from the screen.) and even manages to throw in a little bit of a throwback to the old buddy cop films of the 80s… like Lethal Weapon 2. Everything eventually comes back to Lethal Weapon 2.
The film does have a message about apartheid, segregation and refugees but it isn’t particularly heavy handed about getting that message across. In fact I’d imagine it would be entirely possible to view this film without even thinking about it on any level deeper than seeing it as a plot point that helps further the story along. Admittedly you’d probably have to be kinda slow to take it that way but I’m just suggesting it’s possible. I’d also say that the message is fairly balanced addressing both the plight of the refugee prawns and the human population affected by their sudden appearance.
The film isn’t as serious as I thought it would be either with plenty of pieces of humour sprinkled liberally throughout including a picture suggesting that Wikus engages in some rather sexually rich activities with some of the prawns. Don’t get me wrong though, when the film wants to it can deliver some truly heart wrenching scenes particularly when making you feel sorry for some of the prawns, including what can only be described as an horrific abortion scene, and in particular one called Christopher Johnson and his offspring.
Well I don’t want to give too much away so I’m going to pretty much leave it there. I’ll wind up by just addressing one point of criticism I’ve heard levelled against this film and that’s that it’s full of plot holes. Now I’ll admit there a few things that, upon first viewing, might not seem to add up but I can say that watching the film more than once definitely helped. I would classify these apparent plot holes more as mysteries that you’re supposed to think about for yourself and besides since this film did so well I’m sure some of them will be addressed in the inevitable sequel.
Well that’s my review of District 9. Sorry for not doing it earlier but festival don’t attend themselves. Laterz.

I don’t think it’ll come as much of a shock that I think this has been a pretty bad year for films. Sure, there was ‘Star Trek’ and I liked ‘Watchmen’ more than some internet folks seemed to but things like ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ and ‘Friday the 13th’ just can’t be overlooked and oh how I wish they could be. I held out hope, however, for one shining jewel in this sea of mediocrity and downright awfulness and that hope lay in the hands of a movie set in South Africa which was odd because, and I’m sorry to any South Africans out there, I’m just not a big fan of that accent. I don’t know what it is, it just doesn’t appeal to my ears in the same way that, say, an Australian accent does.

Still I’d have to get over my inexplicable dislike for the South African accent because 2009’s place was entirely down to ‘District 9’… For me at least. Yes Star Trek was good but it essentially was nothing more than a big budget summer action flick with thousands of nods to the original series and Watchmen was good too but it was certainly no ‘The Dark Knight’. So did District 9 disappoint or did it leave me with a vague sense that maybe this year was worth something after all?

Well I’m happy to say that District 9 did not disappoint at all but it also certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. The film manages to blend several different genres which can be a little disconcerting at first but ultimately works to the films benefit. So what is District 9 about exactly, I hear you ask quickly followed up by a question concerning whether or not I can finish the next paragraph without the obvious crutch of posing myself a question.

Well the film begins with a documentary style segment which espouses some of the back story of the world of District 9. It seems that some twenty odd years ago a giant space ship appeared over the city of Johannesburg. Wow. If Lethal Weapon 2 has taught me anything it’s that South Africa in the 1980s is not a place that you want to accidentally end up in. Apparently it was full of racism and evil diplomats. So it is in this politically volatile landscape that mankind first finds that he is not alone in the universe. For months the spaceship hovers there doing absolutely nothing. Soon the South African government, feeling the eyes of the world bearing down upon them decide to investigate the strange craft. They fly some helicopters up to it, blow torch there way inside only to find a ship covered in a putrid decaying mess and a room filled with thousands of terrified insect-like aliens.

It seems as though these aliens work on some kind of caste system, much like ants on Earth, and all the members of the higher castes have died leaving a massive worker population with absolutely no direction. The South African government ferries the aliens down to the surface where they join the population of Johannesburg much to the chagrin of the general populace. Soon the Multi National United corporation or MNU offers to help South Africa with it’s alien problem and puts the creatures, labelled with the derogatory term ‘prawns’, into a special area known as District 9. Conflicts between the human and alien populations still arise however and plans are made to move the prawns into a new concentration campesque area known as District 10 many miles away from the human citizens of Johannesburg. This operation is over seen by new promoted Wikus Van De Merwe, a man with a fairly rich home life and a comfortable position as son-in-law of the company’s boss.

It’s not long after this that the film begins to intercut the documentary style with a more traditional summer blockbuster feel as well as borrowing and paying homage to a few other genres of film as well. It manages to incorporate action, adventure, socio-political themes, sci-fi, horror (with a very Fly-esque scene which had me looking away from the screen.) and even manages to throw in a little bit of a throwback to the old buddy cop films of the 80s… like Lethal Weapon 2. Everything eventually comes back to Lethal Weapon 2.

The film does have a message about apartheid, segregation and refugees but it isn’t particularly heavy handed about getting that message across. In fact I’d imagine it would be entirely possible to view this film without even thinking about it on any level deeper than seeing it as a plot point that helps further the story along. Admittedly you’d probably have to be kinda slow to take it that way but I’m just suggesting it’s possible. I’d also say that the message is fairly balanced addressing both the plight of the refugee prawns and the human population affected by their sudden appearance.

The film isn’t as serious as I thought it would be either with plenty of pieces of humour sprinkled liberally throughout including a picture suggesting that Wikus engages in some rather sexually rich activities with some of the prawns. Don’t get me wrong though, when the film wants to it can deliver some truly heart wrenching scenes particularly when making you feel sorry for some of the prawns, including what can only be described as an horrific abortion scene, and in particular one called Christopher Johnson and his offspring.

Well I don’t want to give too much away so I’m going to pretty much leave it there. I’ll wind up by just addressing one point of criticism I’ve heard levelled against this film and that’s that it’s full of plot holes. Now I’ll admit there a few things that, upon first viewing, might not seem to add up but I can say that watching the film more than once definitely helped. I would classify these apparent plot holes more as mysteries that you’re supposed to think about for yourself and besides since this film did so well I’m sure some of them will be addressed in the inevitable sequel.

Well that’s my review of District 9. Sorry for not doing it earlier but festivals don’t attend themselves. Laterz.




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