Argo

In the last days of the 70s, Iranian militants take over the US Embassy in Tehran taking everyone inside hostage. Unbeknownst to them, six Americans managed to escape, and were able to covertly make their way to the Canadian ambassador’s house (after being turned away by the New Zealanders and those pesky Brits). After hiding out their for weeks, never going outside for fear of being seen and executed on sight, it soon becomes clear that the CIA must make a move to ‘exfiltrate’ these citizens. Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), their top exfiltration specialist, comes up with a plan to pull them out, by pretending to be a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a new sci-fi B-movie called Argo, and to make the story more convincing, Hollywood needs to get involved.
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Unlisted: The Muppets

Celebrating the best film I’ve seen this week that’s not on the list, first up its The Muppets. I mentioned recently that I’ve not had a lot of dealings with the muppets in the past, and I now realise I’ve lived a previously unfulfilled life, devoid of a required amount of felt to maintain the desired level of happiness.
The cloth characters latest outing both improves upon and acknowledges those that have come before it (I’ve read that Muppets in Space and Muppet Treasure Island aren’t as good as The Muppet Movie or Muppet Christmas Carol, but I intend to find out soon) and like those other films the plot is kept nice and simple – Muppet superfan brothers Walter and Gary (co-writer and real-life Muppet super face Jason Segel) go on holiday to LA with Gary’s long term girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), where they discover that wealthy oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) plans to buy and destroy the Muppet Theatre, giving the duo a few days to round up their disbanded heroes and raise $10 million. Just like its predecessors, the film is packed with mostly recognisable cameos, including Alan Arkin, Sarah Silverman and a very game Jack Black, and the soundtrack, including a moment where Chris Cooper quite unexpectedly raps (it’s not that bad actually) and the Oscar winning Man or Muppet is amazing, written by Flight of the Conchords Bret McKenzie, and I shall be purchasing it soon.
Improving upon the first movie by never spending too much time on one character, there are still a few flaws. Most irritatingly, a detail from the finale – Walter’s talent – is not mentioned throughout the entire film, and is pulled out of a hat at the end, and the first half, whilst good, is nowhere near as entertaining as the second, once the show the gang are putting on kicks off. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another 10 years before the next Muppet film, though if we do I’m sure it will be worth it.
Choose film 9/10

 

Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross has an excellent ensemble cast that cannot be ignored, featuring Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Alan Arkin, Alec Baldwin, Jonathan Pryce and the great Jack Lemmon, all sharing the screen and delivering award-worthy performances. In particular, I was very impressed by the mesmerising cameo from Baldwin as corporate ball-breaker Blake, brought in to motivate the employees of the real estate firm (or make them feel about 2 inches tall, whatever works) and Kevin Spacey’s weasel-like manager Williamson, knowing he has no right to his job and sticking firmly to the rules and regulations to make sure he keeps it. I was reminded of 12 Angry Men whilst watching, with the confined locations, all-male cast and stage origins of the story, as well as the heightening tensions, hot and wet climates and outbursts of anger from its central cast. Harris and Arkin, as the angry Moss and deflated Aaronow respectively, seemed a little one-note, but their characters were still vital to the story, and each had their highlights.
Choose film 8/10