Did Argo Deserve Best Picture?


Argo is a Ben Affleck directed film from 2012 based on the Iran hostage crises in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but not about the hostages at the embassy, but the six that escaped.  The film won best picture in 2012, but did it deserve it?  Probably.

The film starts off explaining the political situation in Iran (crappy), and then moves to the Iranian militants invading the US embassy.  During the turmoil six people escape and hold up at the Canadian ambassador’s house.  Soon US officials learn of the escaped six and start to come up with plans to get them out of the country, but the best bad plan they can come up with is to create a fake movie, and scout Iran as possible location and use the six embassy workers as the scouting crew.

The way Affleck blends the movie with old stock footage makes this movie seem like real life, and since it is based of true events it kind of is.  There have been outcries from Canada, and the escapees themselves because the movie minimizes Canada’s role in the rescue, and the last pulse pounding scenes of the movie are exaggerated to say the least.

The acting in this movie is excellent, with the best parts going to John Goodman and Alan Alkin as the Hollywood producers as of this fake film.  I am sure that since they have been in the industry so long it was fun for them to play old industry insiders playing Hollywood for suckers by planning a film that was never going to happen, and they add a sense of fun to an otherwise tense picture.

This movie was exciting to watch, and I think everyone involved did a great job.  I would love to see an actual documentary of what really happened with these six people stuck in a hostile land.

Investigate the ParaNorman


ParaNorman is one of three major stop motion animated films from 2012.  Made by Laika Animation Studio it was nominated for best animated film, and my buddy Daniel thought it should have won.  I think he was right.

Norman is a boy who can see ghosts, and unlike most people this doesn’t freak him out, but it does cause him to get bullied quite a bit, and makes him a loaner.  Things get worse for Norman as he starts having strange premonitions about zombies, and a crazy uncle that tells him he is the only one that can stop a witches curse.  This causes him to get bullied even more.  Thankfully a boy name Neil befriends him, and helps him with his troubles. It is not often a movie about zombies is so moving, but considering all the trouble our culture has with bullies, you really feel bad for the way Norman gets treated, and you are very happy for him when he comes in to his own and saves the day.

The stop motion is great, and Laika has improved since their last stop motion movie Coraline.  There are so few stop motion studio’s left it is good to see a new one doing so well.

If you are looking for a quirky film, with more charm and heart then most movies could dream of, then you should give ParaNorman a try.  I am sure you will be glad you did.

Duck its Skyfall!


Skyfall is the 23rd James Bond film in 50 years, and the third staring Daniel Craig, and somehow they still made a good and engaging film.  They got to take their time with this film and it showed.

The premise is that MI6 is under attack by a cyber-terrorist (Javier Bardem), and James Bond has to stop him before he uncovers, and releases, all MI6’s secrets.  This movie also asks the question to whether Bond is necessary in these modern time when we can just snoop on people over the internet.

Sam Mendes takes Bond back to his roots while modernizing the franchise.  He only gives bond a couple of tech toys to play with, but it really forces the movie to be on whether Bond is up to the challenge or not, not whether he has the right tools for the job, and he shows the effect of the technology on the spy game, with the tracking and hacking, and all the information we have at our fingers now.  He also knows what is important: he makes sure the action and fight sequences hard hitting and exciting.

The actors all do their jobs well too. Daniel Craig has become Bond, and he is starting rival Sean Connery with his identifiability with the character.  Javier Bardem knows how to play a bad guy, and his ability to make you hate him is great, and Dame Judi Dench is wonderful in this movie as the keeper of the old guard at MI6.  A person who always puts the job first no matter what the sacrifice, and showing the wear and tear that has on a person.

It obvious why it this was the most successful Bond of all time.  It hits all the right notes and it has a story that is relevant to our time.  Sam Mendes is in talks to do the next Bond movie as well, here is hoping!

Watch out for The Pirates!


The Pirates! Band of Misfits (yes the exclamation point is part of the title) is a stop motion animation feature length film from Aardman Animations.  Aardman is known for their charming British humor, and they continue the trend with this film.

The movie starts as The Captain (Hugh Grant) tries and fails to be Pirate of the Year, but as luck would have it while plundering they capture Charles Darwin who informs The Captain that his parrot is in fact a dodo and that they could use it to win the Scientist of the Year award.  So they venture to pirate hating England to try and win the booty.

This movie isn’t especially deep it is mainly an exscuse to be silly, and silly it is.  It also does its best to charm you with its British wit.  I am a sucker for British wit, so I liked this movie quite a bit.  It is not a classic like Wallace and Gromit, but they do a good job, and with the short 88 minute run time there is no time to get bored.

I love stop motion animation, and Aardman is one of the last few companies still keeping this style going.  I hope they continue to make these movies so I can continue to go to them. When I was a kid it was one of my favorite “When I grow up” job choices, so any movie with stop motion gets bonus points.

This movie is a good silly time waster, being stop motion and British kind of makes me like it just because it exists.  But despite all that I think you should watch it too, because we all need somthing fun and light hearted once and a while.

Be Brave!


Brave is Pixar Animation Studio’s 13th full length movie, its first to feature a girl in the lead, and its first “Princess movie”.  Does this movie live up to the standards of previous Pixar movies?  Almost, but not quite.

Brave is about a young Scottish Princess, Merida, who is about to be betrothed to the winner of a skills competition, and she does not find any of the men to her liking, so she wins the competition herself, and runs away to try and change her fate.

Merida is a good character and I liked Pixar’s design of her, and I like the way they made her a free spirit, and not wanting her greatest asset to be that she is marriageable like some of the other Disney Princesses, but sadly the writing of the movie just wasn’t quit up to the usual Pixar standard.

The story doesn’t resonate like WALL-E, UP, or Toy Story 3, all of which are classics that make you laugh and cry regardless of your age.  Brave is just merely good, which for other animation houses is probably fine, but for Pixar is kind of a shame and a letdown.

The movie does look great and advances the things they can do with computer animation, and I am sure they are going to continue push the limits of their field.  I just hope they get back to doing what made their movies classics in the first place.

I used to get very excided for Pixar movies, and I hope they get back to their winning ways, but with their current focus on sequels, I am not sure that is going to happen.  I had high hopes for Brave, and it just didn’t live up to expectations.