Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman Revealed
The Inside Story Of Sideshow Collectibles
Guardians Of The Galaxy Review
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
Promotion: Destiny Awaits
Win a limited edition PS4 and a copy of Destiny
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 (439)

Under The Radar (317)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (35)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Screen To Stage: Shakespeare In Love
By Helen O'Hara

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
By Ali Plumb

Pete Docter And Jonas Rivera Talk Pixar's Inside Out
By James White

Miss Game Of Thrones Already? Here's The Solution…
By Dan Jolin

H. R. Giger: An Empire Tribute
By Ian Nathan

How Edible Cinema Finally Allows You To Eat A Movie
By Ali Plumb

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
By Helen O'Hara

Are iPads And Smartphones Changing The Face Of Filmmaking?
By Ben Kirby

Screen To Stage: Let The Right One In
By Helen O'Hara

My Encounter With Shia LaBeouf
By James White


RECENT COMMENTS

Miss Game Of Thrones Already? Here's The Solution…
"Nice to know Martin enlisted another author to help in his world-building. Time to get acquainted wi"  Imperion
Read comment

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
"@Y2Nield.com The original Hogwarts section and what was duelling dragons (has now"  Sexual Harassment Panda
Read comment

Miss Game Of Thrones Already? Here's The Solution…
"Actually i recomend The Foucault Pendulum for several reasons, in the first place it explores the es"  andresfelipeurb
Read comment

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
"A great sneak peek, Ali. Aside from your confusion as to where Diagon Alley/King's Cross and Hogsmea"  bruciebonus
Read comment

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
"im due to go in October this year and having been before, i can honestly say i cannot wait. I agree "  kopite
Read comment

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
"still think it's a shame that they didn't make this in England. imagine getting the Hogwarts Express"  RX78
Read comment

9¾ Things We Learnt At Universal Studios Florida's Diagon Alley
"Were you actually there Ali? If so, surely you know that Marvel Land is Islands of Adventure and not"  Y2Neildotcom
Read comment

Miss Game Of Thrones Already? Here's The Solution…
"I did the exact same thing with the books after season 1(even though I'd promissed myself to just re"  manufan
Read comment

H. R. Giger: An Empire Tribute
"Giger was such a major influence and I was such a major fan! I just wish I possessed more of his inc"  Courtland
Read comment

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"Avengers12, I think you're confusing the theme of this original post with the film, it's not saying "  davidleach2000
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Movies’ Most Quotable Lines
566 comments

'It's Just A Bit Of Fun': Why Defensive Fans Are Bad News For Movies
361 comments

Competitive Geek Baiting: Or, How To Start A Fanboy Fight
338 comments

The Avatar Backlash: Evaluatin' The Hater-atin'
303 comments

The Complete List Of Tired Movie Cliches
286 comments

Your Favourite Animated Film
217 comments

Note To Hollywood: How To Get People To Switch To Blu-Ray
192 comments

Food For Thought
132 comments

The Ten Moviegoing Commandments
127 comments

Just The Facts, Ma’am
127 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (297)
Helen O'Hara (167)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (19)
Owen Williams (15)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
Ian Nathan (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
David Parkinson (1)

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Everything You Need To Know About The Dragonriders Of Pern
The lowdown on Warner Bros. new fantasy sci-fi

A Pocket Guide To Game Of Thrones’ New Cast Members
Know your Doran Martell from your Nym Sand

Empire's The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Covers Are Here
Bard The Bowman or Smaug The Magnificent?

Directors Special: Peter Hyams Goes Film-By-Film
The veteran director on Timecop, Outland, 2010, Enemies Closer and more

Explore The Massive Avengers: Age Of Ultron Comic-Con Banner
Use our interactive gadget to zoom in on Hulk, Iron Man, The Vision and co. in action

The 10 Biggest Stories Of Comic-Con 2014
The shocks to emerge from this year's geek-fest. Avengers! Max! Mann!

Models Inc.: The Inside Story Of Sideshow Collectibles
How the likes of Batman, Superman and Luke Skywalker become collectible figures

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time Subscribers' Cover

Subscribe today and get the cover and 3 issues for only £10!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! 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)