Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
4Music's Size Does Matter
Introducing your new favourite app
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 (440)

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

Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game Preview
By Ali Plumb

The Return Of Max Payne
By Ali Plumb

Empire's Modern Warfare 3 Multiplayer Survival Guide
By Ali Plumb

In Search Of The Ultimate Xbox Controller
By James Dyer

Hands on with El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
By Ali Plumb

Japanese gaming hero Suda 51 on his latest, Shadows Of The Damned
By Ali Plumb

Hands On: Razer Onza
By James Dyer

Empire Sits Down With The Portal 2 Writers, Gets Worryingly Excited
By Ali Plumb

Movie Karaoke, Anyone? Yoostar 2 Can Turn You Into Arnold Schwarzenegger... Kind Of
By Ali Plumb

Have You Seen The Awe-Inspiring Dead Island Trailer Yet?
By Ali Plumb


RECENT COMMENTS

Would it Work: A Legend of Zelda Movie?
"It would be hard to make the movie to what fans, such as myself, would expect, which means expectati"  Alixis93
Read comment

E3 2013: David Cage On Beyond: Two Souls
"Very excited about this game. played their previous PS3 game "Heavy Rain" which was unique"  Okester
Read comment

E3 2013: Electronic Arts
""As the event began properly, a bombastic war-themed trailer proved to be a genius parody of th"  Film2012
Read comment

Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game Preview
"I am ridiculously excited by the hope that I may have this game wrapped and with my name on it under"  MD3
Read comment

Would it Work: A Legend of Zelda Movie?
"hay look at this these guys are making a Legend of Zelda movie!!! https://www.fac"  link2point0
Read comment

Would it Work: A Legend of Zelda Movie?
"My god, I've been planning this of so long. YES it will work. And I plan to get my ideas where they "  Thinking_fanatic
Read comment

Would it Work: A Legend of Zelda Movie?
"im 50/50 on it because it has a good storyline but it depends on the game its going to copy or if th"  No_1ups
Read comment

The Return Of Max Payne
"I absolutely love the first two Max Payne games (and recently downloaded the first one - for free - "  Draven Cage
Read comment

Would it Work: A Legend of Zelda Movie?
"Maybe write a book first of a really good screen play and see how that goes."  welshcelt
Read comment

Would it Work: A Legend of Zelda Movie?
"...possibly. I think you would have to split one game up though in to 2 maybe 3 movies to get the fu"  welshcelt
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Have You Seen The Awe-Inspiring Dead Island Trailer Yet?
21 comments

The New Xbox: Slim, Sleek And Silent
7 comments

Red Dead Redemption Goes To The Movies
7 comments

Empire at E3: The Return of Goldeneye
3 comments

Empire Sits Down With The Portal 2 Writers, Gets Worryingly Excited
2 comments

Empire at E3: The Nintendo Round-up
2 comments

In Search Of The Ultimate Xbox Controller
1 comments

Empire's Modern Warfare 3 Multiplayer Survival Guide
1 comments

The Return Of Max Payne
1 comments

Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game Preview
1 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
Classic Feature: Gods Among Us - Paul Newman
A cat so cool he makes Steve McQueen look geeky.

The Future Of Film: There’ll Be An Oscar For Performance Capture
And the Academy Award goes to...

The Boxtrolls Interviews: The Cast And Crew On Laika's Latest
Sir Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning and more talk stop-motion

How We Made The Boxtrolls
Directors Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable talk us through the challenges of bringing Laika’s latest to life

The Future Of Film: The War On Piracy Will End
Where Hollywood goes from here

Pride: Matthew Warchus & Stephen Beresford Interview
We talk to the director and writer of this year's Brit film breakout

Movie Poster Mashups: The Guardians Of The Galaxy Edition
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be appalled at the punning...

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

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)