terça-feira, 15 de janeiro de 2013

Gangster Squad

Based on the book by Paul Lieberman, the plot follows a group of cops in 1949 L.A. who are brought together by leader of the pack Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) to take down the ruthless Micky Cohen (Sean Penn), an Eastern gangster hell bent on claiming the city for his own. Unashamedly violent but in a video game-esque way that leaves it sitting somewhere just off reality, the film’s glossy action can sometimes threaten to damage the believability or danger that the team of cops-turned-vigilantes find themselves in. Its unique and playful style makes otherwise pedestrian shootouts beautiful, but it never achieves any sort of realism. However, that’s part of the fun of the film; I don’t think it’s aiming for gritty realism but rather to envelope you in the fantasy, dream-promising land of 1940s Los Angeles. 
 The biggest pleasure cast-wise is Sean Penn, who is clearly having a ball playing ultra-gangster Micky Cohen. He’s cartoonish and ridiculous but provides many of the film’s most electrifying scenes, helping to give the occasionally clunky dialogue a gravitas it wouldn’t otherwise have. While the film strongly reminds you of better gangster tales of years past – The Untouchables and L.A. Confidential chief among them – Gangster Squad nonetheless survives on the strengths of its graceful action, enjoyable performances and elegant visuals. It’s undoubtedly silly and over-the-top but ultimately a good bit of fun


In 1979, Iranians participated in the first televised revolution. They overthrew a leader who wasn’t initially chosen to be their Shah, but was appointed to this position by US/UK who backed coup d’état in the early 50’s. Months after he was overthrown, the former dictator was granted permission to receive medical treatment in the US. The population, now as an angered mass demanded the return of their former dictator so he could receive a proper trial and probably hang. The protests took place outside the American embassy in Tehran and, on a particular day, they stormed into the embassy. Six Americans working in the embassy managed to escape, and the rest were taken hostage. Argo tells the story of the rescue operation planned for the six Americans who took refuge at the Canadian ambassador’s home. What followed was one of the most unusual rescue operations in CIA history. Argo is one of the most suspenseful films of the year and even though the subject matter is quite serious, it doesn’t shy away from humour. Alan Arkin and John Goodman in particular stand out amongst the strong supporting cast. Goodman plays a Hollywood make-up artist who brings in film producer Lester Siegel when the CIA decides that the best rescue mission is to fool the Iranian government into thinking they’re filming a Canadian science fiction film. 
 Ben Affleck, this is the actor’s third directional effort and it’s a magnificent achievement. His first debut as a director was the excellent mystery thriller Gone Baby Gone, his second was the marvelous crime caper The Town. With “Argo” he fully establishes himself as one of the best working directors today.

domingo, 6 de janeiro de 2013

The Last Picture Show | 1971

A group of 50's high schoolers come of age in a bleak, isolated,
atrophied West Texas town that is slowly dying, both economically and culturally.