Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Empire's New Tom Cruise Cover
The Jameson Empire Awards 2014
Vote: The Greatest 301 Movies Of All Time!
Rebecca Hall:
My Movie Life

The actress picks the movies that shaped her
Mountain Dew Green Screen
Register Now to see X-MEN First Class!
Empire Blogs
Under The Radar

Back to all blogs Comment Now

TIFF 2012: Argo, Seven Psychopaths

Posted on Saturday September 8, 2012, 19:22 by Damon Wise in Under The Radar
TIFF 2012: Argo, Seven Psychopaths

Ben Affleck makes it three for three with Argo, an extraordinary true story, set in the late 70s, about a plan by the American government to free six diplomatic workers hiding out in Iran after armed, revenge-seeking, Ayatollah-sanctioned revolutionaries stormed the embassy there. Taking another giant stride after The Town, it is a broad but still intimate story that captures an extraordinary time with a lot of credibility; the 70s fashions are unavoidably distracting, but Affleck nevertheless creates an authentic world that always feels fresh and never retro. Once again, he is the lead, this time playing CIA man Tony Mendez, who is brought in after such brilliant ideas as sending in spies with bicycles have been floated and found wanting. Mendez has an even more impractical brainstorm, but this is the best bad idea in a very, very, very bad bunch.

Mendez's plan is to arrive in Tehran with a punch of fake passports, pick up the six – who are hiding out at the Canadian ambassador's house – and convince the authorities there that these people are actually part of a Canuck film crew, scouting locations for a Middle Eastern-themed sci-fi movie called Argo. As a cover story, it is pretty thin, so Mendez goes to Hollywood, hires a producer (Alan Arkin), a make-up effects guy (John Goodman), and actually founds a production company to launch the film, complete with cocktail party, public read-through and a two-page announcement in Variety. From there, the plot becomes more serious, with Mendez flying to Tehran solo, knowing he will be disavowed if caught, with the lives of six terrified people in his hands.

Set in three locations – Washington, Tehran and Hollywood – the film makes a beautiful job of juggling laughs and real drama. Arkin and Goodman are hysterical, Arkin in particular as the flash, bullshitting Lester Siegel, whose wiseguy patter trips effortlessly from his tongue. But Affleck does a tremendous job of anchoring things, making a plausible hero and, subtly, giving a laidback charm to a film that, at its heart, is about peaceful resolution over force. There are sops to the multiplex that don't quite work, since Mendez has a “problem” with a bottle of whiskey that he barely makes a dent in, and a somewhat sentimental subplot involving his young son, whose love of fantasy movies sets the ball rolling, is a little twee. But this is good, exciting grown-up entertainment, not quite 70s in the cool Godfather/Conversation sense, but certainly in that era's definition of warm and human, with great performances, palpable thrills and an intelligent subtext to offset the often gleeful profanity. Another fine movie: let's hope there are more like this to follow.

Likewise, Martin McDonagh is now two for two with Seven Psychopaths (pictured), a funny, dirty and very, very violent comedy that tilts at serious themes (as did In Bruges, but in a different way) and does so with a messy, irreverent, gung-ho energy. Like McDonagh's debut, this is a story about taking responsibility, since it stars Colin Farrell as a struggling Irish screenwriter who wants to have it all, in terms of commercial success and artistic integrity Marty has a script called Seven Psychopaths, or rather, he has a title for a script called Seven Psychopaths, since he has never progressed beyond a series of lurid skits. Marty's best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell), who runs a dognapping racket with the amiable Hans (Christopher Walken), tries to jolly him out of his writer's block wtth a series of bizarre and very funny ruses, but when Billy steals a dog belonging to a notorious gangster (Woody Harrelson), all their outlandish, blood-soaked flights of fancy start to seem very pale indeed.

Unlike In Bruges, with its refined, baroque interiors, Seven Psychopaths takes place in the wide-open, sunlit plains of Russ Meyer's California, with a story that borders on the cartoonish and definitely has a flavour of the theatrical. Generously, Farrell plays the Brendan Gleeson character this time round, the serious(ish) foil to Rockwell's Tasmanian Devil-like Billy, his restless, artless and possibly even quite beautifully naïve best friend. Rockwell has the juiciest lines to deliver here, from a script that is laugh-out-loud hilarious, bordering on farce but always pulling itself back from the brink. Equally fantastic is Christopher Walken, whose smile alone deserves special mention, a luminescent, infectious grin that drops to a stone-cold snarl in the space of a heartbeat.

The joyous, carefree savagery may not be to all tastes, but even thrill-seeking gorehounds may be disappointed to find that McDonough's isn't simply a guilt-free pleasure. Seven Psychopaths critiques itself all the while that it delivers the goods, asking us if, really, shouldn't we be watching something better for us, something far more nutritious and edifying? The fact that it answers that question with a big fat echoing NO!!!! is both funny and food for thought, a sleight of hand that much more experienced directors have struggled with and never pulled off as effectively as this.

Login or register to comment.

Comments

1 OrganicLifeform
Posted on Thursday September 13, 2012, 08:14
Glad to read that two of my most anticipated movies of the year do not disappoint. Even more excited now!

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (432)

Under The Radar (317)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (56)

Words From The Wise (33)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Final report: The Kid With A Bike, Le Havre, Michael, Walk Away Renee, The Murder, Oslo 31 August
By Damon Wise

This Must Be The Place
By Damon Wise

The Artist
By Damon Wise

Drive
By Damon Wise

Cannes Videblogisode #9
By Amar Vijay

Cannes Videblogisode #8
By Amar Vijay

Cannes Videblogisode #7
By Amar Vijay

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 6
By Amar Vijay

Cannes Videblogisode #6
By Amar Vijay

The Skin I Live In
By Damon Wise


RECENT COMMENTS

Drive
"So it's more of an 80s homage? Judging by the title, as well as the theme, I thought this would be a"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #6
"Good 'un!"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #8
"I live my life like I'm in a Carry On film, Megan."  Chris Hewitt
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #8
"My bra just fell off LOL amazing Carry On film vibe there. Have to say though, Chris is scarier when"  megank13
Read comment

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 6
"★good★ look love--- w w w - jordansforking - c o m   qeedsss
Read comment

Melancholia
"More on this will follow in the magazine later; I met Lars after the banning and heard his views on "  Damon_Wise
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #6
"Heh hee hee hee. So, Chris, twitter profile pic now, right?"  Ethanial
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #4
"Is that the young Mike Cimino playing "Neil LaBute?"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 4
"Fair point usually but in that dress I think we should make an exception for Cheryl"  ErnestWilde
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #4
"Aha. Sam informs me that he had to cross the line as his original shooting angle would have ended up"  Chris Hewitt
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Cannes 2011: Tree Of Life: First Reaction
13 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #2
8 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #5
7 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #4
5 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #6
3 comments

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 4
3 comments

Cannes 2011: The Tree Of Life
2 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #1
2 comments

Melancholia
2 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #8
2 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (295)
Helen O'Hara (166)
James Dyer (85)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (54)
James White (28)
Phil de Semlyen (19)
Owen Williams (15)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
David Parkinson (1)


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Making Of Locke: A Filmmaker's Journey
Steven Knight takes us through six pitstops (via Heston Services)

The 10 Most Exciting Movies At Cannes 2014
Empire's pick of the Croisette's finest

Tom Hardy: A Viewer's Guide
The essential, the recommended, the one for the fans... and the one to avoid

Ten Things To Know About The Spooks Movie
Under the hood of The Greater Good

Who’s In Spider-Man’s Sinister Six?
A bluffer’s guide to the planned spin-off from the Amazing Spider-films

14 YouTube Videos Every Game Of Thrones Fan Should Have Watched By Now
From goats singing the theme tune to every death in under three minutes

Hollywood's Biggest Names On Their Favourite Films
Stars and directors like Nolan, Whedon, Wright and Ford on the films that inspire them

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get Limited Edition Collectable X-Men Art Cards

Subscribe today and get 6 issues of Empire plus a set of collectable X-Men Art Cards for only £20!

Subscribe today

Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Just £25
Receive limited edition subscribers-only covers every month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)