With superb performances, nail-biting tension and a commitment to recreating the world of 1979 that borders on the obsessive, Argo shows Ben Affleck truly coming into his own as a director. There are a few glaring problems that seem to plague any film attempting to dramatise a true story, but the film builds up such good will that most of the negatives can be forgiven.
Norwegian islands play host to some pretty dark events. Long before the horrors of summer 2011, Bastøy Island was the home of a now infamous prison colony for troublesome boys, where dire conditions led to an uprising so overwhelming that the Navy was called in to control it – one of only two occasions in Norway’s history when its military forces were turned on its own people. To recreate all the drama of this cataclysmic event is, you would think, enough for any movie. Not so King Of Devil’s Island, which ultimately pulls out more stops than it can handle in its attempt to not just tell the story of Bastøy, but to make you think – and think deep.
Savages is curious, in that it’s not the sort of film you might associate with the often solemn, politicised pictures of Oliver Stone. In contrast, this is a lively, breezy crime-thriller, buoyed by a sunny tone, some very dark humour, and – a few bland leads aside – some very memorable characters.
The director of this Jo Nesbø adaptation is an honours graduate from the Quentin Tarantino School of Film-Making and the plot is as riddled with holes as some of its victims; but the humour is absolutely spot-on and the acting superb, so we’re prepared to suspend our disbelief just long enough to tolerate all the severed fingers in the Cheesy Puffs and the gratuitous use of that nail gun. Plus it’s in Norwegian and subtitles make us feel smug.
With the triumphant advent of The Dark Knight Rises , it will be a very long time indeed before Christopher Nolan can no longer be described as the titan of his genre; in every respect, this work stands head and shoulders above its competitors. Rivalled solely by Marvel’s incredible Avengers Assemble, the Batman trilogy is brought to a wholly disturbing, yet graceful close in one of the strongest presentations of our generation.
Isn’t it about time they let people swear in Eastenders? Jeremy Paxman said f*ck on Newsnight, for that word’s sake – surely the green light for Dot Cotton to turn the air above Albert Square bright blue with an explicit stream of hitherto repressed profanity. Perhaps we’ll have to wait a while longer for that, but in the meantime there’s always The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan, a depressingly generic London crime caper that thinks it’s Lock Stock meets Goodfellas, but in reality more closely resembles the Sunday afternoon omnibus with added naughty words.
Willem Dafoe is on rare form with this intensely atmospheric thriller set in the trackless Tasmanian mountains. But can the rest of the film live up to his performance? An aesthetic masterpiece with a commanding central character, The Hunter is nevertheless a little too diffuse to truly captivate.