Tag Archives: Alan Arkin

Argo (2012)

15 Oct

We have had some great movies-about-movies recently.

Adding to that list is Argo, the film about 6 American diplomats who are taken as part of the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis.  In arranging for their escape, CIA specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with the idea of creating covers for the individuals by claiming that they are part of a film crew sent to Iran to look at shooting locations.

As a political thriller, Argo is just about as good as they come. There is some great screenwriting going on that mixes the drama and action in such a way that we never get bored.  I thought the cast was great; John Goodman and Alan Arkin give just the right amount of comic relief. Ben Affleck is no rookie when it comes to great acting, and he really knows when to amp up the suspense with his performance and direction.

The third act of the film is really what won me over.  Though some of the events depicted are obviously dramatized, I couldn’t help but thinking “Wow – this really happened” over and over during the film’s final 20 minutes.

Overall, Argo is a very good film and proves that you can have a blockbuster thats smart as well as entertaining.  I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on this one for some Oscar recognition.

Rating 7/10

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Thin Ice (2012)

4 Sep

I first heard about his film as it was making the festival rounds last year.  Something about this film’s crime-gone-wrong aspect felt very reminiscent of classic Coen brothers, so I was very curious about what this film would actually be like.

Thirty minutes into the film, and I could not help but thinking about how much this was like Fargo – which isn’t a bad thing at all.

The first hour of Thin Ice was extremely captivating.  The film has a great cast with Billy Crudup, Alan Arkin, Greg Kinnear and Bob Balaban giving wonderful and pure performances. Arkin and Crudup are always great, but in Thin Ice they play some particularly interesting characters.

The problem with Thin Ice is it tries to pull of a twist ending and fails.  Or it succeeds and by doing so, undermines the first 70 minutes of what would otherwise be an extraordinary film.

I have this theory that the director/writer behind the film, Jill Spreecher, would have known that people would be familiar with Fargo, and thus this film must have some sort of twist to it, in order to avoid being labeled as a copycat of a beloved classic.

There is nothing wrong with having one film remind you of another.  Especially with such a great film like Fargo.  In fact, it is what we, as audience members expect to see.

I am reminded of two other notable films. Dances With Wolves (1990) and Avatar (2009).   Are the stories basically similar?  You bet.  Does that makeAvatar any less of an entertaining film than Dances With Wolves?  No, not really.

Why is it considered a bad thing among film makers these days if a film resembles another? Is it because then the film maker would somehow have the reputation of having less creativity or intellect?  I would much rather see a film that resembles the story of Blade Runner in 2013 than I would see hollywood do an outright remake of it.

If Thin Ice would have gone the way it should have – without the twist ending – It would have been a very good film.  Better than Fargo? probably not, but still a very good film.  Instead the ending just felt rushed, senseless, illogical and out of place and it really does undermine the acting and character choices that I had loved for the previous 70 minutes of what I was watching.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Thin Ice is that other than the ending, this film is flawless. The acting is brilliant in particular and the story is extremely captivating.

Perhaps the director was afraid she would be intimating the Coens a bit too much, but in an effort to avoid traveling down that road, she ended up intimidating M. Night Shaylaman instead.  Which is a very bad thing here.

rating 6/10

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