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Quint thinks Argo is the best new film out this weekend!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. There are a lot of good movies hitting theaters this weekend. Seven Psychopaths and Smashed are both fantastic films, but leading the pack, in my opinion, is Ben Affleck’s Argo.

On the surface Argo is a straightforward political suspense thriller, but what makes it special is the subtext which at once lampoons movies and celebrates them as an important artform.

I’m a big make up effects fan, so I did know the broad the strokes of this story going in thanks to the involvement of Planet of the Apes’ John Chambers, but I was ignorant of the details. In my brain, knowing Chambers’ involvement, I thought maybe he did some sweet make-up tricks to help sneak past the Iranian guards or something…

Speaking of, I always wondered if the government ever calls on guys like Rick Baker to totally transform operatives… I mean, I know that the make up process is long and difficult, but I’m just saying that if you can turn Benicio del Toro into a werewolf and Eddie Murphy into about 27583 different people over the course of about 4 movies you can hide a secret spy pretty damn well.

Anyway, sorry for getting sidetracked. That kind of weird shit jumbles around in my brain a lot.

Like I said, Argo is pretty straight forward. A group of American embassy employees are trapped in a hostile Iran and the CIA has to work with the Canadians who are hiding them to get ‘em out before they are discovered and publicly murdered as spies. Ben Affleck is a “Moses,” a CIA guy who specializes extracting people from hostel situations and he’s the one who comes up with the Hollywood plan to pose as a film crew on a location scout.

If this idea came about as a piece of fiction, people would have called it a stretch, but the fact that it’s a true story lets us focus on the truly incredible minds that came together to execute this operation.

John Goodman is a standout (when is he not, honestly?) as John Chambers, longtime ally to the CIA and one of the most influential make-up men in Hollywood’s history. He’s Affleck’s Yoda, guiding him through the business, helping him set up a believable fake sci-fi film that would hold up to scrutiny when the Iranian government investigates the production. And like Yoda, Goodman’s Chambers guides with a wicked sense of humor, which is crucial in a film as dire and tense as this one is.



Production design, shot selection, casting, cinematography and direction all contribute to a drama that revels in being made for adults instead of being ashamed of it. It’s also confident enough to be fun when it needs to be, which was a trait the best of the ‘70s political thrillers embraced as well. As serious a topic as the Watergate scandal was, All The President’s Men has some really funny shit in it.

Show me a drama that is comfortable toying with comedy and I’ll show you a director confident in his abilities and material. Affleck’s directorial voice is more laid back than his work in Gone Baby Gone and The Town, which are both extremely good movies and, like, Argo, harken back to a different era of filmmaking, but I get the feeling with this one that Affleck’s hit his groove.

You can feel he’s comfortable, confident and, dare I say, having a good time and that translates. As heavy as the material is, and it is treated seriously, it takes a keen hand and sharp mind to make this story move in such an engaging way.

Affleck’s choice of cast is crucial to that end. The ensemble, yes including Affleck himself, is so damn good that it gives me hope that we’re entering a new age of the character actor. Another release this weekend, Seven Psychopaths, is another example of great character actors dominating a film and that makes me smile. Let’s hope it’s a trend.

I wasn’t going to do it, but what the hell? I like roll calls. This movie has John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Kyle Chandler, Rory Cochrane, Richard Kind, Adrienne Barbeau, Michael Parks (playing Jack Kirby, no less), Clea DuVall, Tate Donovan, Philip Baker Hall and Bob Gunton. Some of them get one line, some of them are huge parts of the story, but all of them weave the fabric of an incredibly believable and intense period thriller.

Argo is proving to me to be one of those films that you really like when you leave the theater and the more you think about it, pick at it and examine it the more impressive an accomplishment it is.



So, throw another positive review on the massive stack of glowing Argo reviews. I also want to discuss Seven Psychopaths, but that’ll have to wait until tomorrow. (Preview: I like it a lot. Walken!). Stay tuned!

-Eric Vespe
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Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 12, 2012, 3:35 a.m. CST

    I too miss the fun of 70's thrillers. Not just the politicals.

    by DerLanghaarige

    Think of PELHAM 123. Gritty hostage thriller, but hilarious as fuck at times and no joke feels out of place.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 3:42 a.m. CST

    What, just the weekend? That's kinda limited, isn't it?

    by albert comin

    It's like saying you are the best kid in the playground... OF ONE CLASS ONLY, not the whole school.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 3:47 a.m. CST

    Bryan Cranston

    by Syngenor

    Not even a mention..? There's more; Victor Garber, Titus Welliver..

  • Because in real life latex masks are very obvious to spot because they don't have the rest of film artifice to make them work. Make up SFX is dependent on the cinematographer as well, who can light the scene to the SFX benefit, basically extending the illusion. In real life such trickey would not work. The Mythbuster guys had an episode about that, latex mask camouflage, and they even had an expert on the subject, one of the show's main presenters, the big guy with the berret, who was the SFX artist in such movies as "Naked Lunch", and even they couldn't make latex mask works in close profimity. They could fool people at a distance, but the illusion was broken in fairly middle range distances. So no, it doesn't happen. Real life is not like a Mission Impossible movie.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 4:02 a.m. CST

    Yes, Bryan Of The Cranston, always a good thing.

    by albert comin

    Anybody who can pull of that acting goodness in Breaking Bad has to be one of the top best american actors EVER.

  • Even if the humour was of a darker kind, there was still some of it enough to make the darker aspects stand out. There's humour in "3 Days Of The Condor", "Klute", "Don't Look Back", "The Paralax View", "Serpico", the aforementioned "All The president Men", to name a few. another great thing of Holywood 70s cinema is that they knew that there was adults in the audience as well, and that adults also like to go to the movies, so they made movies accordingly. Quint raises a very good question about this movie, which is, a film that not only aims for an adult audience, but revels in it. We should have more of this, much, much more. I'm getting dead tired of the vast majority of movies being made today kissing ass to adolescents. In case many aren't aware yet, you only spend one decade of your life as an adolescent, the vast majority of your life you will be an adult. So, please, i can have a movie for my age group already? Thank goodness Ben Affleck is here to satisfy. Thank, Ben!

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 4:40 a.m. CST

    70s Humour

    by Glenn

    It worked back then because you had actors like Beatty, Redford, Sutherland, Newman, who attached themselves to serious causes ... so the fun and humour came out of real life situations and attention to character, instead of from slapstick or punnery or cleverness for its own sake. The humour was intelligent and arose from the seriousness of the matter at hand, which not only keeps the film smart but elevates the material for the audience as well.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 4:50 a.m. CST

    @Mr rumourd

    by albert comin

    Exactly. Do you remember a movie starring Robert Redford and Peter Doyle called "The Candidate"? The movie is hilarious, it's about a populist candidate who, knowing they haven't a chance in hell in winning the elections, he decides to tell it as it is during the campaign because, what the hell, they have nothing to lose anymore. And what happens is that because of that "no-bullshit" thing, he starts to gain enourmous popularity, people think his demagogy is honesty, and in the end he wins. And the ending has this very chilling moment when the Robert Redford character says "now what do we do?". And the movie is hillarious because of how real it is, and it's quite precient of what happened later in the 80s and 90s and today when populist candidates who are clueless about the realities of government end up on the top position. I know the movie is not a thriller, but it feels one as we watch in horror this guy who has no capacity to govern will end up as the president. Fun times!

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 5:01 a.m. CST


    by Ruddy Heck

    More than just the bomb in Phantoms yo.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 5:28 a.m. CST


    by Glenn

    Of course I know The Candidate, great Michael Ritchie film, Melvyn Douglas as his dad, and one of the all-time great last lines; good choice, sir. You could do a double-feature with Bulworth for subject matter. For me, my favorite ending shot of all time is from Three Days of the Condor. Very lonely score too. But then, I'm a complete 70s film junkie. Paranoid thrillers like the ones you mentioned. What I love is that Fincher is too and he stitches little bits from those movies through his own, especially in Zodiac (shot by Harris Savides, RIP today) where he has the composer copy his own scores from back then on Parallax and Marathon Man; he also alludes to the Test Scene from Parallax View in "The Game" which also quotes dialogue from "Blade Runner". Yeah, the guy knows the right movies to tug from. He's like the Joe Dante of the 70s cinema.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 6:33 a.m. CST

    THE TOWN "harkens back to a different era of filmmaking"? WTF?

    by Spandau Belly

    Like what era was that? The era slick self-righteous heist movies known as The Christopher Nolan Era? Um, yeah, way retro. Soooooo 2010.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 6:55 a.m. CST

    " hostel situations"... reminiscing about your backpacking days, Quint? :-P

    by Hardboiled Wonderland

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 7:53 a.m. CST

    @spandau belly you must stop talking bubbles

    by DreadPirate

    If you thought The Town was like a Christopher Nolan Over-The-Top-Athon you really must stop giving an opinion right now. You do know before Nolan there were great heist movies, slow burning and character driven ? Not idea driven. Makes me laugh how little you know ;)

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 8:01 a.m. CST

    @Mr rumourd

    by albert comin

    It's great to see another 70s cinema afficionado in here. I feel foolish now for even contemplating he notion you might not know what "The Candidate" is. Sorry. Fincher says, in his "Seven" audiuo comentary, it hink, that his favorite movie is Klute, and that all his movies have some direct or indirect reference to it. And i believe him. And it's a great choice of favorite movie. That movie is a perfect 70s movie, the story is deceptively simple but it has a lot of subtext going on, the plot is relatively simple but so much happens, the characters are memorable, the actors plays them to perfection, the cinemaography is direct and to the point but it can get very stylistic when the situation demands, it's not affraid to go into ugly emotional places but it's also very funny when it needs to, it's very understanding of it's characters and revels as much in their qualities as in their flaws and loves them for it, it tells a genre story that has been done before but in a way that feels fresh and unique... man, i could go on for the rest of the say singing the praises of that movie. I have nothing but respect and awe for the cinema of the 70s. It was a time when entertaiment and art merged to make thrilling and unique looking movies. When art was entertaiment and entertaiment was art. And everytime i se a recent filmmaker of today, one of the newer guys, say they are heavily influenced by 70s cinema, and influences which are beyond just the Spielberg and George Lucas's Star Wars movies, i know i'm dealing with the real deal, i know they know their shit, and the results are always at the very least interesting and very watchable.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 8:07 a.m. CST

    @Mr spandau belly

    by albert comin

    The Town does harken back to a different era of filmmaking indeed, the 70s to be exact. Those were not hollow words but the truth.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 8:07 a.m. CST

    @bangtidy, yes I was aware Nolan did not invent the heist film

    by Spandau Belly

    And no, I don't think THE TOWN was as overthetop in its action as a Batman movie. Makes me laugh how much you assume ;)

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 8:20 a.m. CST

    I found THE TOWN to be formula garbage built entirely out of clichés

    by Spandau Belly

    If Affleck was aiming for something as nuanced or gripping as a Sam Peckinpah or Michale Mann film then he failed, if he was aiming to make something as entertaining as POINT BREAK then he also failed. All the characters were one dimensional clichés. The plot was a worn out formula. There wasn't one fresh or insightful or poetic aspect to the entire film. I mean, I saw LAWLESS and that movie at least had one memorable character and really nice cinematography and good use of music, which puts it lightyears ahead of THE TOWN.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 8:32 a.m. CST

    DRIVE, now that's a movie that showed THE TOWN how it's done!

    by Spandau Belly

    DRIVE was every bit as much a cliché-ridden heist formula as THE TOWN, but it had great tone and plenty of moments that were memorable, touching, and tense.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 8:43 a.m. CST

    @Mr spandau belly

    by albert comin

    Dude, you don't diss a good movie by naming another good movie. that's now how it's played. No, you love BOTH good movies. You love both The Town and Drive. That's how it's done.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 8:48 a.m. CST

    Affleck's hair! I want it!

    by Pat

    There are so many places on my person I could put it! That being said, Argo looks pretty decent.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 8:52 a.m. CST

    What's the world coming to?

    by DocPazuzu

    Ridley Scott makes shit movies and Ben Affleck has just churned out his third piece of awesomeness. The end times are here, folks!

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 9 a.m. CST

    Awwww but there's BEN AFFLECK in it...! You sure?

    by Ricardo


  • Oct. 12, 2012, 9:35 a.m. CST

    scirocco and rumourd...

    by Terry Powell

    ...a couple of others that I love and we just watched again this summer were Capricorn One and The Silent Partner(did a Elliot Gould double bill). I'm a big fan of 70's films. I even love the crappier films. For some reason, even the cheap films had depth to them. Compare them to today were anyone can take a HD camera and some cgi and make a film that looks a thousand times better than the 70's cheapies, yet are just so boring. I get excited everytime a new(old) was come to home video. Looking forward to oct 30 for House of Dark Shadows and Twilight's Last Gleaming.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 10 a.m. CST

    What about Sinister? Isn't that coming out this weekend?

    by Detective_Fingerling

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 10:26 a.m. CST

    Hats off to the Affleck...

    by Darkness

    The guy has completely proven to us that despite a succession of failures at the box office, you can prove your critics wrong by dedication and steel determination as an artist. "Gone Baby Gone", "The Town", and now "Argo" are testament to that fact. Hat-trick Affleck, once a tiny bleep under Matt Damon's evolutionary radar proves he is a force to be reckoned with. More of the same please, mate - and no "Justice League".

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 11:40 a.m. CST

    scirocco, RE: real-life mask work

    by The Garbage Man

    Actually, silicone masks from SPFX have fooled police, airport security, and eye-witnesses in a few notable examples: Lifelike masks have been used by CIA agents: Would they work in person, up close, under careful scrutiny by someone not under duress? Probably not most of the time, but it has been done before.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 12:12 p.m. CST

    @Mr harryreickle

    by albert comin

    - "I'm a big fan of 70's films. I even love the crappier films. For some reason, even the cheap films had depth to them." - I compeltly agree with that. I have noticed that as well, which is why i'm so in awe of the 70s cinema. Recently i saw for the first time this little known horror movie called "Messiah Of Evil". It's a very low budget horror movie, it's a bit off-beat, and i found it so smartly done, mor ethen you would usually find in the genre. Then there's other little seen gems like "Let's Scary Jessica To Dead" and others like that. Truly, digging the trunk of 70s forgotten movies is like go tresure hunting and always hitting jackpot.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 12:16 p.m. CST

    @Mr the garbage man

    by albert comin

    Then the best guys are not working in Holywood, or are moonlighting for the spy services. The mythbuster guys didn't mannaged to pull off. And i have to guess when those latex mask worked it must had been in pretty favourable circunstances. And i suspect he failure are more then the sucesses. It's because the human eye and the human brain have this thing that's called the "uncanny valley" in that we are very good in recognizing phoney faces that are not natural, as out natural reaction is to freak out, part of the reason many stoped working on realistic looking androids, or whyso many movies with realistic looking CGI characters give audiences the creeps.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 2:06 p.m. CST

    well said archiebald !

    by sherlock_junior

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 2:18 p.m. CST

    Is Affleck still directing The Stand?

    by Chris

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 3:07 p.m. CST

    Oh I agree completely, and I'm quite familiar with the uncanny valley

    by The Garbage Man

    My point was it's just not true to say it has never happened, with professionals or laypeople, because it has.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 6:06 p.m. CST

    @Mr the garbage man

    by albert comin

    Well, well! Again, reality proves to be stranger then fiction.

  • Oct. 12, 2012, 6:17 p.m. CST

    harryreickle and scirocco

    by Glenn

    Silent Partner is awesome, and vicious? Plummer is quite scary in it. Good canadian film. I got to spend some time with Bill Butler who shot Capricorn One, but we talked more about Jaws, lol... Scirocco, yeah, I know Fincher's love for Klute which is awesome. And American Graffiti (you can even hear the radio howl from the diner in that film, in the establishing shot of the drive-in diner in Zodiac). And yeah, I can always tell the types who think the 70s began with Jaws, which is a shame. And a sham.

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 4:40 a.m. CST

    @Mr rumourd

    by albert comin

    Yeah, i say, anybody who can't trace their love for cinema to at least as far as Point Blank, their opinion should not be taken too seriously. There was so much great thing in the 70s, to reduce them just to Jaws or SW is just... criminal!

  • Oct. 13, 2012, 11:54 p.m. CST

    Point Blank

    by Glenn

    I watch that film often, so great and scrambled in its narrative, and almost a ghost story if you watch it under that interpretation...