Ben Affleck

the-canadian-caper-1980

If you’ve ever put your complete trust in a documentary, you might want to — no, you need to — take a look at Escape from Iran: The Inside Story. This 1980 film, produced by Les Harris for the CBC, was made shortly after the real incident known as the Canadian Caper took place. The same incident is the foundation for Ben Affleck‘s Argo, which is expected to win Best Picture at the Oscars tonight, and yet aside from involving some of the same people they barely appear to be about the same hostage situation. As I’ve written previously, Argo leaves out a few significant details, but so does Escape from Iran. For the latter, though, it was a matter of the real true story being classified. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that the world learned of the fake movie aspect of the Canadian Caper, which is the main appeal of Affleck’s version (also previously told in a 2005 TVdocumentary titled Escape from Iran: The Hollywood Option, which appears on the Argo DVD/Blu-ray). So, in this immediate documentary, the rescued hostages lie to the cameras about how they achieved the escape, claiming they had to pose as members of a Canadian business venture (and start saying “eh” a lot). Looking at the interviews today, there does appear to be some suspicious smiling going on during the cover-up explanation of the mission. Watch the nearly hour-long documentary after the jump to get a laugh at how unknowingly inaccurate the documentary […]

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commentary-argo

Ben Affleck‘s Argo is probably going to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards this coming Sunday, but even if it somehow loses out to Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty the film remains a tremendous success. All three of Affleck’s directorial efforts have received critical praise, and the acclaim and the box office have increased with each release, leading to this film’s seven Oscar nominations and $200+ million gross. He may still be a young filmmaker, but it’s clear he has much knowledge and respect for film history and his contemporaries. His commentary for Argo is sprinkled with references and mentions of homage to past films, performers and directors, and along with the movie itself show him to be a director worth watching… and listening to. Keep reading to see what I heard with this week’s Argo Commentary Commentary…

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I Killed My Lesbian Wife

Short Starts presents a weekly short film from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career.  For some filmmakers, an early short film can be a memorable calling card. For others, it may be an embarrassment from one’s past, something the now-revered artist wishes was erased both physically and historically. The latter is the case for Ben Affleck, who has admitted to being ashamed of his 20-year-old directorial debut, I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney. It’s got a great title (aside from the Oxford comma), but the film itself is indeed something worth regretting. It’s the sort of work someone like Affleck should worry has been seen by enough Academy members to keep him being snubbed for the Best Director Oscar forever. “It’s horrible,” he told Entertainment Weekly a few years ago. “It’s atrocious. I knew I wanted to be a director, and I did a couple of short films, and this is the only one that haunts me. I’m not proud of it…It looks like it was made by someone who has no prospects, no promise.”

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argo_29

One of the big surprises of the 2013 Golden Globe Awards involved a sort of “Argo-f**kyourself” to the Academy Awards, as Oscar-snubbed Ben Affleck was named Best Director of the year. His film, Argo, also ended up winning Best Picture in the drama category. Early in the night, in a brilliantly hilarious monologue by co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the ceremony offered some foreshadowing with subtle jabs at the Oscars with immediate shout outs to Affleck and fellow Academy snubs in the director category, Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino. They even fit in a joke directed at Anne Hathaway about her 2011 Academy Awards ceremony co-hosting gig with James Franco. Hathaway expectantly wound up winning for Best Supporting Actress, though, and her film, Les Miserables won Best Picture – Comedy or Musical. Co-star Hugh Jackman was a bit of s surprise as Best Actor – Comedy or Musical. More than who won and what didn’t, people will be talking about the somewhat cryptic speech by Cecil B. DeMille Award winner Jodie Foster and the appearance by Bill Clinton to present Best Picture nominee Lincoln. Speaking of Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis surprised nobody by winning Best Actor – Drama. But at least I ended up surprised that he did a comedy 25 years ago called Stars and Bars, which I need to see immediately. My Golden Globes live-blog co-host, Daniel Walber, alerted me to that. And if you didn’t follow us during the ceremony, which we found far more enjoyable than […]

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JENNIFER LAWRENCE and BRADLEY COOPER star in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

The 70th Golden Globe Awards will be held tomorrow night, and I invite you to join myself and FSR’s awards guru, Daniel Walber, for live-blog commentary during the ceremony. We’ll try to keep it smart, avoid too much snark and will likely be obeying the rules of the drinking game that co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have devised. It will also hopefully be more conversational than remarks we could have just tweeted, in order that I can turn the discussion around as a more readable post-event recap of the night. In case you’re too busy paying attention to your TV to also read our words simultaneously. Anyway, you can’t head into a big awards telecast viewing without predictions for what you think will win. Daniel and I seem to agree on exactly half of the movie categories. So, maybe it won’t be such a predicable night. Check out our choices after the break and give us your own predictions in the comments. If you do better than either of us, we commend you in advance (and maybe at the end of our GG coverage too).

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Ben Affleck

Hot off of his Oscar non-nomination for directing Argo, increasingly beloved on Twitter Hollywood personality Ben Affleck has confirmed that his next project as a director is going to be an adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel, “Live by Night.” It’s long been thought that this material was one of the things that Affleck planned on working on, but given his now in-demand status as a director, his ongoing acting career, and the time he spends being the center of ridiculous political rumors, it was never quite clear when or if he was going to get around to it. In a recent interview with MTV [via Coming Soon], however, Matt Damon’s possible best friend revealed that the Lehane adaptation is officially going to be the next thing he works on. In fact, the exact words he used were, “Basically, I’m doing this movie called Live by Night, and I’m trying to meet this schedule in order to do it and meet the back end so I can have it released at the right time.” This tightness in scheduling, it turns out, is the reason he had to drop out of acting opposite Kristen Stewart in Focus. So what’s Live by Night going to be all about? For the scoop, let’s turn to the novel’s trusty Amazon description, which describes it by saying:

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A Look Back at the Cinematic Facial Hair of 2012

The movies released in 2012 have been notable for many reasons, impacting or reflecting news events both positively and negatively. It’s also seen new innovations, the most notable being the first release of a film in 48 frames per second. However, cinematic historians will also look back on 2012 as being a banner year for facial hair. The entire crew of Film School Rejects relishes glorious facial hair (and yes, that also includes the ladies on staff). We all wish we could have half the style that characters in the movies this year displayed on their lips, chins and cheeks. Now, as the year draws to a close, we reminisce on the many styles we’ve seen on movie screens in 2012, and maybe give some tips on how to grow your own face so glorious.

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Ben Affleck

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news roundup that finally gets to stop talking about Walk of Shame, which was really being something of an attention hog lately. Some real bad news hit today for everyone looking forward to seeing what a trainwreck Ben Affleck and Kristen Stewart starring opposite of each other as romantic interests would have been. Affleck announced that, due to his busy schedule of being a busy person, he’s not going to be able to act in Focus after all. This means that the Glenn Ficarra- and John Requa-helmed pic will have to find someone else to vibe with Stewart as its in-the-mood-for-romance con artist, and Affleck is going to have to stick to directing movies, a place everyone seems to feel way more comfortable with him being in anyway. [Variety]

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To The Wonder

The theme of the first trailer for Terrence Malick‘s To the Wonder might be the inevitability and unpredictability of love. This sweeping emotion that takes hold of us even when we’re not looking for it, even as we fight against it. Back at Toronto, Andrew said the film — which stars Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams — was a more focused movie from the auteur, which should give some skeptics a bit of hope even as the faithful are won over wholly by this first look. Check it out for yourself:

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Kevin Hart

What is Casting Couch? It’s a handy one-stop source for all the casting news that broke while you were sleeping in over the weekend. Not only are Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart two of the most hilarious comic actors working today, they’re also two of the most famous funny people on the planet. So the fact that they’re going to be teaming up for a new comedy from Key & Peele showrunners Ian Roberts and Jay Martel is potentially big news. The pitch they’ll be working from, which Deadline says Warner Bros. is currently negotiating to acquire, is for a film called Get Hard, which will cast Ferrell as a yuppie investment banker who gets sentenced to a maximum security prison, and Hart as the streetwise guy he hires to teach him how to handle life on the inside before he has to report in 30 days. Montage fans should take note, because it sounds like this is the sort of movie that’s going to have a lot of them.

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Ben Affleck

We’re entering Awards Season, folks. For most of you, that usually means seeing your favorite films of the year lose to what you’d consider the “lesser” Weinstein picture. It’s always very frustrating, but one of those movies you may be cheering on — and has Oscar nominations written all over it — is Ben Affleck‘s Argo. The movie is a shoe-in for both the heavy hitter nods and countless spots on year-end top 10 lists. To GQ, this makes Affleck the director of the year, considering how he went from “loathed, frat boy Ben Affleck” to “esteemed filmmaker Ben Affleck.” It’s a transformation, for sure, and one to be proud of, but does continuing an epic comeback we all knew about really make him filmmaker of the year for 2012? Affleck proved himself as the director of the year in 2010 with The Town. That doesn’t mean he made the best movie of that year — and he certainly didn’t — but it was a big statement for Affleck the filmmaker. He proved Gone Baby Gone was no fluke — that he was the real deal. Although Argo is the best of these three films, it doesn’t say as much about his directorial career as his first two features do.

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Nicolas Cage

What is Casting Couch? It’s your Monday look at all of the great work casting agents and PR people did over the weekend to keep those Hollywood gears turning. UPDATED: We dreamed too soon, kids. It seems like Sylvester Stallone is fully committed to his experiment of figuring out how many big name celebrities have to be packed into an Expendables movie before one of them actually becomes interesting. The latest news regarding his quest (found on Stallone’s Facebook page by JoBlo) is that Nicolas Cage has been confirmed for a role in The Expendables 3, and that Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, and Mickey Rourke are the names he intends on recruiting next. You keep on trucking there, Mr. Stallone. With the addition of just five or ten more celebrities, The Expendables 3 is bound to be the one that finally gets out of first gear and actually becomes a decent action movie. We have faith!

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Cloud Atlas

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the thing that will comfort you during the storm. In this case the storm is Hurricane Sandy, who is currently laying down a ravaging to our beloved readers on the East Coast. And the comforting is in the form of the eight best links of the day, all of which will lead you to great reads, listens, watches and otherwise marvelous, nerdy things to look at. 1. We begin this evening with a calculated takedown of the weekend’s biggest new movie, Cloud Atlas. For well over a week, I’ve been struggling to come to terms with my own feelings on the latest from Wachowski Starship. It’s complex, grande and full of moments that are worthy of awe. But it’s also a big mess. And Zach Baron at Grantland’s Cloud Atlas is an overscrambled mess article is perhaps the most adept explanation of the balance between the great and the not-so-great.

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Culture Warrior

Warning: This post contains spoilers about the ending of Argo. As George Carlin once said, America’s greatest export is the “manufacture, packaging, distribution, and marketing of bullshit.” Whether it be campaign promises, the work of advertising firms, or Hollywood movies, America is deeply invested – economically, culturally, and emotionally – in the bullshit industry. Ben Affleck’s Argo is, in various ways, a demonstration of the prominence and even vital importance of bullshit throughout several facets of transnational experience. Argo evidences the incredible extent to which the fantasies that accompany bullshit create meaning within our daily lives. Argo is, as you no doubt already know, a staging of the extraordinary true story about a carefully orchestrated rouse executed by the CIA in tandem with the Canadian government in order to rescue six refugees from the Iranian takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979. And what more effective way to execute such a complex rouse than to use as its cover an industry fluent in the perpetuation of lies: the Hollywood studio system. Affleck’s Tony Mendez utilizes an industry known for creating and promoting suspense of disbelief in order to navigate a life-or-death scenario that requires outside individuals to believe the façade that covers what they are actually witnessing.

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Movies based on true stories are rarely — if even ever — 100% accurate. To make it an engaging story for an audience, obviously some dramatic license must be used. And for the time constraints of a feature, there has to be a good deal of condensing and abridging and in many cases exclusion. For the full accounts of real life, we may have nonfiction books or magazine articles or the Internet, and these more extensive and comprehensive tools are easily accessed after seeing the film in order to get at the greater truth. Movies based on true stories are more like teasers of true stories. And like most advertisements they have to stretch reality to pique our interest. Argo is certainly that kind of teaser. But are people giving Ben Affleck‘s latest too much credit in the accuracy department? I keep reading stuff about how the actor/director aimed for realism (see the post from yesterday about the film’s sound design), which may be the case in terms of tone and technical accomplishments such as period costumes and production design. There is quality to the recreation of time and place, if not all facts. Meanwhile, many critics are calling this film “stranger than fiction,” which is very misleading given just how much fictionalizing went into the script in order for it to have themes and a whole lot of suspense (too much, in my opinion, near the point of feeling like self-parody).

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Ben Affleck‘s Argo is a good movie, very well-made and well-acted but not really a stand-out picture on any level. It may not seem like it, but that’s a positive response. This is a story that should be told without extraordinary elements, like powerful performances and flashy scenes. Appropriately, it’s a film that doesn’t draw too much attention to itself and just does a job as expertly as it takes to carry us through successfully. While not exactly a piece of neorealism, there is a certain amount of realism required for a true account like this, and among the understated yet accomplished displays of craftsmanship with Argo (including the production design, costumes and especially the editing) is the sound recording and design work. In an interview illustrated with behind-the-scenes footage, the film’s sound designer and supervising sound editor, Erik Aadahl (an Oscar nominee this year for Transformers: Dark of the Moon) tells SoundWorks Collection about the strategy of recording crowds, cars and other relevant street noise directly from their on-location (or on-set) sources in order to achieve as realistic a sound design as possible. It’s a short but interesting video for those of you who’ve seen and were impressed with the technical quality of the movie. Watch it after the break.

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Science Fiction Land

Anyone who’s seen the trailers for Ben Affleck’s new thriller, Argo, knows that it’s about a real life mission wherein the C.I.A. created a fake science fiction film as a cover for sneaking operatives into Iran and sneaking American hostages out. What not many people know, and what our own Christopher Campbell has brought to our attention over at the Documentary Channel blog, is that the fake movie from Affleck’s film wasn’t fake at all. As a matter of fact, it was, at one time, going to be a pretty big production, and the story of how it fell apart might be just as interesting as the story of how it was used as a tool for the C.I.A.

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It’s a real surprise how apolitical Argo is. There are parallels one could make from today’s headlines, but as director Ben Affleck sees it, the movie comes down to one key theme: the power of storytelling. Whether it’s from his own industry or the United States intelligence service, stories can make for a powerful weapon. In Argo‘s case, it’s to entertain. In the events the film chronicles, it was to save lives. To make sure Argo the movie did its intended job, Affleck copied some of the all time great filmmakers of the 1970s and went through history’s finest classics to make the era come alive. The inspiration he got didn’t only come from Martin Scorsese or Sidney Lumet, but also from unexpected places, such as John Carpenter’s The Thing and Matt Reeves’s Let Me In. In many ways, Argo is a love letter to 70s filmmaking, and Ben Affleck clearly wore that love on his sleeve during a recent roundtable interview, along with his co-stars John Goodman and Bryan Cranston.

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Argo John Goodman Alan Arkin Ben Affleck

The November 4th, 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Iran by students and other revolutionaries was front page news around the world as 52 American hostages were held captive. Negotiations were attempted and military strikes were considered, but the crisis didn’t end until well over a year later when they were all finally released. Lesser known, and in fact unknown to the public until 1997 when it was declassified, is the story of six Americans who escaped the embassy that November day to risk capture and possible execution as they awaited an unlikely rescue. It turned out to be a very unlikely rescue indeed. Argo is Ben Affleck‘s third film as director, and while it lacks the darkly emotional impact of Gone Baby Gone and the kinetic shoot ‘em up action of The Town it stands tall as his best and most entertaining film yet. Brilliant character actors swirl through the constantly surprising true story alongside wonderful period details, humor, humanity and the most suspenseful thirty minutes of the year.

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Ben Affleck

It sounds like Warner Bros. knows a good thing when they have it, as Deadline Hollywood reports that the studio, which is prepping to open Ben Affleck‘s Argo this week, is in “early talks” with the multi-hyphenate to star in their Focus. Dear WB: yes, this is a good idea, stay in the Affleck business for as long as you can. You might remember Focus as the Glenn Ficarra- and John Requa-penned script that we mentioned in April, back when the con man romance was potentially set to reunite Ficarra and Requa’s Crazy, Stupid, Love. stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. However, Gosling and Stone have reportedly fallen away from the project (and some time ago, at that), leaving the studio in need of both a male and a female lead. Affleck seems poised to take on (duh) the male portion of that order.

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