Ben Affleck

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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Cloud Atlas releases this month

This September wasn’t a bad way to get out of a summer slump. If any of you were disappointed by this past summer’s films, last month should have picked up your spirits. You were either in awe or disappointment over Paul Thomas Anderon‘s The Master, but whatever camp you fall into, at least you more than likely had thoughts about it. Rian Johnson‘s Looper completely lived up to the hype, wonky time travel logic and all. And we got Dredd 3D and End of Watch, two B-movies which exceeded expectations. Not a bad way to start a new season. There are plenty of offerings for every taste this October including one with a bug-eyed, jacked up, and horrifying Matthew Fox who apparently will be taken down by Tyler Perry. Keep reading for a glimpse at seven other movies you should run and skip to the theaters for.

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If you’ve watched a movie about love, marriage, the environment and religion all wrapped up together with only enough dialogue to fill a few minutes of a Tarantino screenplay, it was probably a Terrence Malick film. His latest, To The Wonder, uses the same voyeuristic style that the director has been working on from Days of Heaven and refuses to discard. The film uses emotion and voice over as a narrative compass which pushes the film forward in a way that almost feels documentary-like. We’re cutting into this couple’s life at distinct points to find out how they truly feel about one another and how that progresses. It’s easy to casually view Malick’s latest efforts and label it with a word like “pretentious.” The film is very demanding and requires great attention as well as an ability to consider rounded viewpoints on the topics at hand. This is where Malick’s style comes to an advantage. The film makes the core themes become points of discussion as opposed to cannons bursting with the filmmaker’s own position.

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Another day, another quick jolt of comic book news to keep us pumping. This time, however, it’s DC that’s lighting the wires up. Variety reports that Warner Bros. has “approached” Ben Affleck to direct their highly anticipated Justice League film. “Multiple sources” have told the Variety newshounds that Affleck is expected to “discuss the project with studio brass in the coming days.” The stupid reportedly considers Affleck, who has emerged as a talented and energetic director, to be high on their “list of filmmakers who can be trusted with prime properties,” thanks to his work on both The Town and the upcoming Argo. Adding beef to this story is the reveal that, of the list of possible candidates that WB is considering (and that list has not yet been revealed), Affleck is the only one who has been allowed to read Will Beall‘s script for the project.

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Kenneth Branagh wants to hurt Jack Ryan

When news first broke that Paramount would be bringing Tom Clancy‘s adventurous accountant, Jack Ryan, back to the big screen few people were all that thrilled. The character’s three previous incarnations (across four films) struck some as a series of diminishing returns creatively and a box-office flat line. But hey, even Ben Affleck‘s turn in The Sum of All Fears collected just under $200 million worldwide, and Paramount isn’t stupid enough to let go of a built-in audience. As long ago as 2008 word was that Sam Raimi would be helming Ryan’s return, but news and interest seemed to dry up shortly thereafter. A year later Chris Pine enlisted for the lead role, but the film seemed no closer to production. Earlier this year though Kenneth Branagh tossed his hat into the ring and signed on to direct. Would that finally be enough to get this thing going? Per Variety, Branagh is moving forward and has even gone so far as casting the lead villain to play against Pine’s heroic CIA analyst. Following in a long-standing Hollywood tradition he’s gone ahead and hired a British thespian to play a Russian bad guy.

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Anybody who watches Parks and Recreation already knows that Jean-Ralphio is probably the most connected, cutting edge entrepreneur/promoter/personality in Pawnee, Indiana, and maybe in all of the Midwest. This guy could find a way to get you bottle service on the moon. But what a lot of people probably don’t know is that Jean-Ralphio isn’t actually a real person. He’s just a character played by an actor named Ben Schwartz. I know, I was shocked, too. And even more mind-blowing than this news is a report that Schwartz has a new job lined up in a feature film, which will see him working with some of the biggest names in the game. According to THR, Schwartz has signed on to star alongside Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake in Brad Fuhrman’s (The Lincoln Lawyer) upcoming tale about the world of online gambling, Runner, Runner. Even though Jean-Ralphio is the real power player in this situation, Timberlake technically stars as a professional gambler who starts working under the tutelage of an offshore gaming CEO (is that a real job?) played by Affleck. Schwartz is signed on to play the friend of Timberlake’s character, which makes sense, because he’s going to need someone to help him figure out the most fabulous ways to spend all of the money he wins. First step: buy a helicopter made out of crystal.

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Oh, come on now, you didn’t think that Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake would star in a movie together and there wouldn’t be hot ladies around, did you? The pair signed on for Brad Furman‘s Runner Runner in April and, back then, we only knew that it would focus on online gambling and that Timberlake would be the right-hand man to boss guy Affleck. Now we have a fuller picture of the film, including just how Timberlake gets tossed into this particular shark tank and who might help pull him out. Gemma Arterton has been cast in the film, in a role that Variety can only divulge as being “Timberlake’s love interest.” Let’s hope that she can get him away from Affleck, who sounds like he’ll be playing a real sleaze. The outlet also reports that the Timberlake will play “a Princeton student cheated out of his tuition money playing online poker who ends up the right-hand man of the site’s corrupt boss (Affleck).” Geez, bad decisions all around on that one.

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The flames are hot here in development hell, and there’s way too much cocaine. Way, way too much. So why wouldn’t we come back? When we first examined 8 Promised Movies That Still Haven’t Been Made, it was an exploration of the complex world of filmmaking where the smallest issue can derail an entire project potentially worth millions. Nervous executives, scheduling conflicts, hangnails. Getting a movie made is a miracle, and even those that get hailed in the press as moving forward are sometimes abandoned. Considering our national grand obsession with hypotheticals, here are 8 more movies we were told would happen that haven’t (including some that won’t).

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Remember when Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Richard Kind, Scoot McNairy, Chris Messina, Michael Parks, Kerry Bishe, Kyle Chandler, Rory Cochrane, and Tate Donovan all got together to make a movie about a fake movie being made in order to rescue hostages being held in Iran? This trailer is one more slice of proof that Affleck knows what the hell he’s doing behind a camera, especially when it comes to the slightly funny world of serious issues. Instead of crime-riddled Boston, this time it’s the Iranian Hostage Crisis, a fake script called Argo and a crazy attempt at rescuing 6 people. It’s Ocean’s Eleven except the stakes are real, and they’re life-or-death. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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You know what’s hot right now? Poker. Pretend you’re reading this in 2006. You know what’s really hot right now? Asking about things that are hot right now. It’s true. That’s why all the celebrity magazines do it. At least two obvious answers to that ever-present question are Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake. According to Variety, the pair will be trying to pack a full house for Runner Runner, a movie focused on the world of illegal online gambling. Beyond the big names set to star, there’s more talent behind the typewriter and in the director’s chair. The script comes from Brian Koppelman and David Lieven (Rounders, Ocean’s Thirteen), and the production has snagged Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer) to direct. Jokes about relevancy aside, this sounds cool as hell. Rounders was sharp, and it’ll be fascinating to see Affleck follow in Matt Damon’s footsteps. Potential-wise, all the names look killer here. The subject could be straight out of the noir playbook, but making online poker seem invigorating will definitely be a challenge.

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In recent years Ben Affleck has been earning praise left and right for his skill as a director. His first two films, Gone Baby Gone and The Town, have largely been far better received by the movie media than any of the performances he’s given over the course of his career. But, it turns out, his first love is still acting. Sorry, everybody. Even as he handles the post-production of his next project as a filmmaker, Argo, he’s managed to find some time to negotiate himself into another job as an actor. Warner Bros. has been sitting on the political comedy, Nathan Decker, for a while. Written by Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love.), it’s the story of a prominent politician who gets disgraced by an affair and is forced to return to his home town in order to deal with lingering issues from his past. Originally it was thought that Tom Cruise was going to star, but his involvement in the project never materialized, and the studio is now looking at it as a starring vehicle for Affleck.

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Commentary: Armageddon

You knew it was inevitable. We here at Film School Rejects love Michael Bay’s Armageddon. Hell, we even gave the film a full day of coverage last April, sadly a day before Commentary Commentary was in existence. So here we are. The Criterion Collection of Armageddon and everything Michael Bay has to thrown down on the commentary track. Say what you will. Even outside the walls of FSR, this film has its fair share of fandom, and they aren’t backing down from their sturdy position. But be honest. It’s going to be fun to hear all the intricacies and insight Bay has to dish out even if you aren’t a fan of the film. He’s not alone, either. On this particular track, Bay is joined by Jerry Bruckheimer, Bruce Willis, and Ben Affleck. That sounds to me like all the knowledge you’d want about Armageddon wrapped into a tight, little group of Hollywood players. It’s the commentary track – and the Commentary Commentary – the size of Texas, and the less preamble we give it the better. So here’s everything we learned from listening to these fine gentlemen speak about their film, and don’t worry. I’ll acknowledge the moment when Affleck tells Willis he loves him. I’m getting misty eyed just thinking about it now.

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At one point in its recent development history, The Stand was planning on sending the Harry Potter team of Steve Kloves and David Yates to a cornfield in Colorado to write and direct the incredibly difficult source material. With that team passing on Stephen King‘s novel, Ben Affleck picked it up for a directorial project, and Vulture is reporting that Affleck has hired screenwriter David Kajganich to provide the blueprint. The only problem here is Kajganich’s track record. It’s always difficult to assign blame/credit to writers for a finished film because of the labyrinthine group effort the art demands, but so far his two biggest features have been the flat Invasion (starring Nicole Kidman) and the nasty horror flick Blood Creek. Neither inspires much in the way of optimism for an adaptation that even the most talented writer would struggle to make sense of. According to the report, Warners was impressed with Kajganich’s draft for a feature film version of It and decided that he was fit for crowing King again. What’s more, he’s also the writer of the Pet Sematary remake at Paramount, which means the studio system only knows of one guy who’s interested in writing these things for some reason. The question here is why Affleck would pass off writing duties (although the answer may be that he just doesn’t have the time to deal with a tome of that size). The silver lining, of course, is that Affleck so far has proven himself to be a […]

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Ben Affleck in Argo

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly thing that collects things about movies, television and other things. Lots of things in store for you tonight, including some more Dark Knight Rises things… We begin tonight with an image of Ben Affleck as a real life former CIA agent from the early 1980s in Argo. In a way that can only be from the 1980s, he also looks like a Die Hard villain. So much mulleted intensity.

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Fear not, fans of cinema’s favorite boys from Boston, it looks like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are reteaming for a new project (and it’s not their long-rumored true-life wife-swapping story of baseball players Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson, The Trade) that centers on one of their hometown’s most notorious residents. Affleck and Damon are looking to get their gang of two back together for a Whitey Bulger biopic; Bulger is the former leader of South Boston’s Winter Hill Gang, a cold-blooded member of the Irish Mob, responsible for both years of organized crime and reportedly (at least) 19 murders. Bulger was also a long-time FBI informant who was reportedly tipped off by his own FBI handler that was going to be arrested and indicted for federal racketeering. Bulger and his girlfriend fled Boston in 1995, and had been hiding out for sixteen years before they were caught just this June in sunny Santa Monica, California. Should Affleck and Damon’s film come together, Affleck will direct, with Damon starring as Bulger himself. Damon reports that Terence Winter, creator of Boardwalk Empire, is writing the script. The film would be produced through Warner Bros. and Affleck and Damon’s own Pearl Street Films. THR also reports that Affleck would co-star, with his own talented baby brother Casey Affleck coming on board the cast as well. Damon himself is not sure what years he’d portray the criminal or what period the project would cover, saying “If it’s a straight biopic, we’ll do it […]

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