Guest host Liam Maguren sits in for Kailey and tells us about the goings on at flicks.co.nz and fliks.com.au plus he and Dan review David Fincher’s Gone Girl, which opens this weekend all over the world, and The Equalizer starring Denzel Washington as a genial old dude who you really don’t want to mess with.
Near the end of 1979, the new hardline rulers of Iran – incensed by the US government’s support for the previous despot – stormed the embassy in Teheran and held the occupants hostage for over a year, long enough to wreck President Jimmy Carter’s attempt at re-election and to define American relations with the Persian Gulf for another thirty years. That side of the story is relatively well-known. The secret story of the six embassy staff who escaped, hid in the Canadian ambassador’s house, and were then spirited out of the country disguised as a Hollywood film crew? Not so much.
Thanks to the recent declassification of the CIA and State Department files, the weird and wonderful story of Argo can be told, and – this being a Hollywood story about a Hollywood story – it gets a bit of a punch-up to make sure none of the entertainment potential is wasted. So now, Argo is “inspired by a true story” rather than “based on a true story” and it is also the smartest and most entertaining Hollywood picture for grown-ups this year.
Ben Affleck’s tense and funny Argo, Academy Award front-runner The Intouchables, Brad Pitt is a philosophical mob enforcer in Killing Them Softly plus Dean Hewison from the Kiwi peeping tom-romcom How to Meet Girls From a Distance.
Oliver Stone directed his first feature film in 1974 (Seizure) so I’m going to be charitable and assume that the clunky construction of the scenes in his new film, Savages, is deliberate. I imagine that with all his experience, it would be easier to make shots match than to be as sloppy as they appear here. Perhaps it’s a heavy-handed reference to being stoned, seeing as the film is about big time California cannabis growers being targeted for takeover by a Mexican cartel. Or perhaps not.
Bright young things Aaron Johnson (John Lennon in Nowhere Boy) and Taylor Kitsch play the partners in a medical marijuana business that makes its real money by illegally exporting the high grade product across state lines. Johnson is the brains and Kitsch is Iraq and Afghanistan veteran muscle. As an aside, Kitsch must be wondering what he has to do to get a hit. Three big films this year and they have all been duds – John Carter, Battleship and this. It’s not his fault – he’s been decent in all of them, particularly so in this – but I’m sure he’s running out of Friday Night Lights credit with the studios. Johnson, on the other hand, once again fails to mine much depth from his character.
After two days of “phony war” with evening teaser screenings in the Ralph Lauren-funded Elks Park Abel Gance Cinema, Telluride got under way formally yesterday with a full slate of screenings at all nine venues.
The “unofficial” programme – a 90 page newsprint guide featuring a mostly-there draft of the schedule – was made available on Thursday and a press release had announced the names of the three honourees and the main features, but there were still a large number of slots marked “TBA” including almost all of Monday. Even then, we were told not to put too much faith in the unofficial guide and to wait for the glossy DLE programme which would be available at Noon on Friday – the first day of the festival!