Oscar buzz for a based-on-true-events drama
SINCE ITS DEBUT AT THE Toronto Film Festival, Argo, directed by and starring Ben Affleck, a drama based on the true events surrounding six hostages who escaped during the Iranian-American Embassy hostage crisis of 1980-81, has received a ton of Oscar buzz.
Therefore this writer is in the minority in calling the film a reasonably entertaining, but not all-that-exciting, recreation of this joint Canadian-CIA operation that wasn’t declassified until 1997.
When the six diplomats were able to escape the American Embassy, they eventually found asylum with the Canadian Ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor (played by Victor Garber) at his residence. A CIA operative, Tony Mendez (played by Affleck), came up with the idea of getting the six out of the country by pretending they were in Iran working as location scouts for a fake Canadian science-fiction movie titled Argo.
In order to pull off the fake movie cover, Mendez worked with two Hollywood veterans, John Chambers (John Goodman) and Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin), who explained that even a fake movie needed a real screenplay. When the Hollywood element is in play, Argo becomes a mash-up of Wag the Dog-style satire anchored by Goodman and Arkin in the Hollywood sequences, and the ongoing hostage crisis in Iran.
The former gives the movie its biggest jolt of fun — and at one point real tension — when the answering of a phone at an empty office is crucial in the escape plans. The problem is that the overall story is bland and lacks suspense except for the final 15 minutes when the actual escape takes place.
Goodman and Arkin make the Hollywood side of the movie fabulous, but Argo spends too much time in waiting-around mode to be fully successful as a thriller.
‘Glee’ful homage ‘Pitch Perfect’
One of the great pleasures of going to the Toronto International Film Festival, beyond getting a sneak peak at the next big movies of the fall, is hearing filmmakers and actors talk about their process.
If you want to see real ghost hunters in action, join the Ghost-One Paranormal Research Group on the night of Saturday, Oct. 13, from 7-10pm, to investigate the most supernaturally active buildings at Historic Cold Spring Village.
Here is a list of my 10 favorite films from the Toronto Film Fest...
After five days and 18 movies viewed at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, I’ve got a few favorites and a little Oscar buzz. David O. Russell, writer-director of Three Kings and more recently, The Fighter, introduced his latest, Silver Linings Playbook.
As the summer movie season winds down, the focus switches to the fall and the beginning of the cinematic frenzy known as the Oscar race. The traditional start of the search for Oscar worthy filmmaking begins at the Toronto International Film Festival, which I will be attending for the 25th time.
Back in 1987 Oliver Stone took us to Wall Street for a humdinger of a tale about greed and moral corruption that earned Michael Douglas an Academy Award for his performance as Gordon Gekko. Gekko was the corporate raider who delivered the “Greed is good” mantra.
No matter how much film critics bitch and moan about the state of the movies — and we’ve been doing a lot of bitching and moaning this past summer — we always remain hopeful that the next great movie is right around the corner. With that philosophy in mind, here are a baker’s dozen flicks that I’m looking forward to seeing soon.
This is exactly why I spend my working vacation every year at the Toronto International Film Festival. The 35th TIFF takes place this year from Sept. 9-19. This will be my 23rd trip to cover the global cinematic feast. The festival has grown from an understated, unpretentious celebration of emerging filmmakers, to a film festival that officially launches the Oscar buzz season
Cloud Atlas, a nearly three hour sci-fi epic based on the book of the same title, has an an amazing, trippy science-fiction epic vibe, and stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant. The actors play multiple characters in elaborate makeup in six different story lines that travel back and forth in time.