A surprise success from this past weekend is the critically savaged Silent Hill : Revelation 3D which went straight in to third place on the chart. One can only assume this was thanks to a Halloween release date and the numbers will tail off sharply this week. Another movie which performed well was French romantic drama Rust and Bone which despite only receiving a limited release at around 84 cinemas, still managed to take in enough dough to claim a respectable 8th place.
The big release this week is Ben Affleck’s real-life thriller Argo. Argo is based on the surpassingly true story of an audacious CIA plan to rescue six U.S. diplomats from Tehran during the Iran Hostage Crisis by posing as a Hollywood film crew. Affleck’s first two outings as a director, Gone Baby Gone and The Town, were both accomplished movies in their own right and highlighted that Affelck was very much a directorial name to look out for. The young Bostonian also stars in the film alongside the likes of Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman and with an ensemble cast as good as this, as well as the genuinely gripping trailers, it’s no surprise that this has been on many people’s most-anticipated movies of 2012 lists. It’s unlikely to come anywhere near knocking Skyfall of its perch, but the wave of positive buzz surrounding the film since its release should see it cement itself as a comfortable second.
Also out this week is Kevin James’ UFC related comedy Here Comes The Boom, Aussie 60’s girl group comedy drama The Sapphires and werewolf comedy horror Love Bite. It’s a bit of a bumper week this week so apologies in advance for not perhaps covering all new releases in as much detail as I might have. I only hope that in time, you can forgive me.
If you want to check to see if any of these films are playing near you, you can visit Find Any Film and they’ll be able to help.
Argo *Pick of the Week*
Argo is based on one of those stories which sounds so ridiculous it couldn’t possibly be true. After religious militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran and take the occupants hostage, six people escape and take shelter at the house of the Canadian ambassador. Back at the U.S. State Department, there’s much fraught discussion about how they are going to get the six out and safely home. Ben Affleck stars as Tony Mendez, a CIA operative consulted on the rescue mission. After criticizing the initial plans that were put forward, Mendez concocts a seemingly hare-brained scheme to send in a team posing as a Canadian film-makers scouting out exotic locales for their upcoming Sci-Fi film.
The full details of this audacious rescue were classified right up until 1997 when President Clinton declassified the relevent files. Even then,it wasn’t until a 2007 piece for Wired magazine by Joshuah Bearman entitled “How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran” that the story really came to the world’s attention.
The trailers alone suggest that it will be a tense and nail-biting affair, and there’s a host of reliable actors onboard to fill you with further confidence. Reviews have been incredibly positive thus far with near universal praise for Affleck’s direction and describing it as an engrossing political thriller, dripping with suspense but also laced with a clear sense of fun. Affleck has already shown great promise with Gone Baby Gone and The Town and by all accounts he has repeated and improved upon the trick here. It’s no surprise that there’s even been Oscar talk in some circles, but even if the Academy doesn’t share the critic’s enthusiasm, there’s no doubting that Affleck has cemented his position as one of the hottest up and coming directors in Hollywood.
Tracy Ladd says:
The States got Argo a few weeks ago and I finally got to see it this past weekend. It was phenomenal! I can’t say enough good things about it. Ben Affleck has come so far and has become a really great director. I liked it so much I actually saw it twice!
Dave Sztypuljak says:
Flippin loved it! The tension in the first 20 minutes and last 20 minutes is like nothing else. Simply brilliant!
Jon Lyus adds:
Argo is up there with the most enjoyable films of the year. Affleck keeps the pace and the tension up from the first frame to the last and with John Goodman and Bryan Cranston in fine support it engages on every level.
You can watch our interview with Ben Affleck on all things Argo here.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating : 95%
Inspired by a true story, The Sapphires is set in 1968 and chronicles the exploits of a group of four Aboriginal Australian girls whose singing abilities result in them being discovered by affable talent scout Dave (Chris O’Dowd). Amidst a time of great social upheaval, it is a big step for the girls to embrace Soul music and especially for them to consider leaving their native home. Nevertheless, Dave decides to take them on a big adventure as they fly out to sing for the US army during the Vietnam war.
The Sapphires has received plenty of warm reviews and would appear to be an enjoyable feel-good comedy drama. O’Dowd has received plenty of praise for his loveable and charismatic performance and it would appear a lot of the film’s humour comes through the Irishman. He’s come a long way since the IT Crowd and strong turns in Bridesmaids and Friends With Kids have clearly helped him no end. The music and live performances in The Sapphires are reportedly full of plenty of energy and pizzazz too, and while the whole thing doesn’t exactly break any new ground, it’s a light and fluffy good-natured romp. Perfect for those bleak and dreary winter nights!
Dave Sztypuljak says:
I loved The Sapphires. Was a complete surprise and I thought it was brilliant. Laugh out loud funny with a serious message and although Chris O’Dowd is a very odd casting, he’s awesome in it.
You can read Stefan Pape’s interview with star Chris O’Dowd here.
You can also check out Dave Sztypuljak’s review here.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 94%
Here Comes the Boom
Kevin James would appear to be the stumbling blindly down Adam Sandler alley in terms of his movie output. Grown Ups, The Dilemma and Zookeeper have all received fairly toxic reviews and there’s been more than one question raised over James’ worth as a lead star. Yet, much like the aforementioned Mr Sandler, work keeps on coming his way. His latest offering is Here Comes The Boom, where he plays Scott Voss, an apathetic Biology teacher at a failing High School. When the school faces serious financial cutbacks and the kids’ futures are put at risk, Voss steps up to the plate and moonlights as an MMA cage fighter to raise extra funds.Will he rally the school? Will he prove a hit with the kids? Will he get the attractive school nurse played inexplicably by Salma Hayek? If you don’t know the answers to these questions already, you clearly haven’t watched enough American TV.
The one strange upside of having a string of relatively poorly received movies to your name is that when your next movie comes out, its met with almost universally low expectations. Should your movie be anything above total tosh, it then comes as a relatively pleasant surprise. This seems to have been a fair number of critics’ response to Here Comes The Boom. It is by no means a masterpiece, and is far from reaching the dizzy heights of….above average, but it’s got a strange goofy charm and has enough amusing moments to make it bearable.
Asim Burney says:
The success of Kevin James with US audiences will remain a mystery that keeps on eluding me, it must be his “every (American) man” charm but to me he seems like a chubbier Adam Sandler who was never really funny.
Nevertheless, Kevin is a huge Mix Martial Arts fan and allegedly even has quite a few sweet moves, on top of that “Here Comes The Boom” received a ringing endorsement from the UFC and even podcaster/ sports commentator/ cultural guru Joe Rogan.
I’d rather star in a Reality TV show with Mitt Romney and 50 Cent as flat mates than watch this movie though, which has a very generous score of 43% on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating : 41%
A British comedy horror set in a quiet English coastal town. With school out for the summer, Jamie finds himself bored senseless looking after his families’ B+B while his pot smoking mother proves no help whatsoever. Into this dreary monotony comes Juliana, a beautiful and bright American tourist who Jamie immediately takes a liking too. Around the same time as her arrival however, Jamie’s friends start going missing and word spreads around that a werewolf is praying on the flesh of virgins. This prompts all the local lads to try even harder than ever to get their end away before the next full moon.
There’s been very little press coverage of Love Bites thus far, so it’s hard to gauge how good or bad it may be, but our own Stefan Pape gave the film 2.5/5 and suggests it is fairly crude and un-remarkable, but there’s enough humour and charm to just about see it through.
You can read Stefan’s full review here.
People Like Us
This is a film that has middle-of-the-road melodrama written all over it. Even the poster just screams inoffensive blandness. But hey, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, let us continue with an open mind right? Good. Glad we got that unpleasantness out of the way. The plot focuses on Chris Pine’s Sam, a smooth-talking New York corporate salesman who has a fairly bad day when his latest big money deal collapses and he receives the terrible news that his father has died. He returns home to his estranged family and grudgingly begins to try to put his father’s estate in order. In the process he finds out he has a sister he never knew about (Elizabeth Banks). As he bonds with his new sibling he begins to reevaluate his life and look at his family in a new light. Ok, I take back what I said before, I’m closing my mind right back up again.
To each their own of course and there will be a sizeable number of people out there who like a nice sentimental drama. Reviews suggest it’s a fairly forgettable run-of-the mill stuff and while a few have praised the two central performances, there doesn’t appear to be many critics out there showing People Like Us much love. Still, if you like a nice inoffensive dramedy, it may be right up your street.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 56%
My Brother The Devil
A powerful British movie which has been receiving plenty of plaudits and won awards at both Sundance and the Berlin Film Festival. It tells the tale of two Egyptian brothers growing up on London’s mean streets. The elder of the two is heavily involved in gang life and while his younger brother idolizes him and wants to follow in his footsteps, the older sibling wants a better life for his brother and starts saving up to put him through University.
There has been near universal acclaim for My Brother The Devil with critics lining up to rave about director Sally El Hosaini’s debut feature. Gritty and brutally honest, it is a gangland drama which really rises above the pack. There’s so many urban gangster movies out there it’s easy to feel as if we don’t really need another one, but El Hosaini’s film is so energetic and suspense-filled, it only goes to show the rest how it should be done. By all accounts it’s a small indie Brit flick that is well worth seeking out.
Jon Lyus says:
My Brother the Devil played at this year’s London Film Festival and was very well received. Sally El Hosaini is well deserving of the accolades she has received as she spins the soap-opera elements inherent in the script into a tough, tight narrative with some soaring visuals and a gripping, unpredictable film.
You can read Jon’s review here.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating : 100% (my word)
A political comedy which has slipped in under the radar somewhat. Jason Biggs stars as an unemployed journalist who gets roped into helping with the political campaign of an unemployed music critic who likes to dress up as a polar bear (!) called Grant Cogswell’s (Joel David Moore). Cogswell is determined to take down City Councilman Richard McIver (Cedric the Entertainer) and build his beloved Seattle a functioning monorail. Apparently based on a true story, (even the polar bear bit?), its build as a movie about the power of the people and a David versus Goliath battle between good and evil.
Critics seem fairly evenly divided on this one . Some have been fairly impressed by the film’s charm and found it to be a fairly amusing underdog story. A slightly larger majority however have been more critical and suggested it is a fairly forgettable and un-engaging piece. It’s hard to know what to make of Grassroots really, it definitely looks like it could be one of those films with a niche appeal so could be worth a bash. Especially if you’re a big Jason Biggs fan.
Dave Sztypuljak says:
Grassroots is another surprisingly funny film. Jason Biggs does a good job showing us all he can be funny but also act in a dramatic role that you wouldn’t expect to see him in. Not sure everyone will like this… but I did!
You can see Dave’s interview with star Jason Biggs and director Stephen Gyllenhall here.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating : 50%
Not one for the faint-hearted, but this three-hour Romanian murder mystery is seemingly well worth the time if you have the necessary patience. Slowly paced and grimly realistic throughout, it is writer/director/star Cristi Puiu’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed The Death of Mr. Lazarescu from 2005. Aurora is a murder mystery with a difference. The mystery is not a case of whodunnit, but the motive behind their actions.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating : 73%
Shady Lady: The story of a B-24 liberator aircraft that flew from Darwin Australia in the Second World War and attempted the longest ever bombing mission.
Mother’s Milk: A British drama focusing on an estranged middle-class family with a caustic and cynical humour running through it.
Guns N Roses Live at the O2: Kinda self-explanatory this one.
Ray Harryhausen : Special Effects Titan: A definitive documentary looking at the life and work of the great special effects maestro.