Despite my intense hatred for idiots, I continue to go to the movies on a regular basis. I just never got into watching films on television, so if something comes out that catches my eye, I go -- and I go quickly. (Used to be you could wait six months and "Heaven Can Wait" would still be showing at the Abbey, but those days are over.) So in recent days, Michael and I saw "Argo," "The Paperboy" and "Butter." Instead of telling you about the asshole who was texting for 30 minutes during "Argo" -- until Michael physically walked over to him across the aisle and ripped him a new one -- or how a few minutes later someone's dog came running down the aisle toward us -- I will give you a few impressions of the movies at hand.
I haven't gone through my complete list to date, but I think it's safe to say "Argo" is the best film I've seen in 2012. The best director Oscar buzz for Ben Affleck is spot-on, even if it's his body that deserves the highest award of all. (What the ...?) By now you know the plot, but let me add that Alan Arkin is a repeat-offender scene-stealer as the Hollywood producer and John Goodman is a delight as the make-up artist who both who help bring the escape plan to life. What a trip back in time, too! During the Iran Hostage Crisis, I can remember taking turns in home room at Rhodes Junior High being the kid who would go up to the blackboard and adding one to the number of days the Americans had been in captivity. The Iranians were so clearly the "bad" guys then, but as this picture reminds us, that wasn't so black and white. (Bonus points for casting Kyle Chandler as Hamilton Jordan!) This one so obviously deserves to clean up at the Academy Awards that I can almost see the backlash coming!
People say you either love or hate "The Paperboy," but that's not how I saw it at all. I don't think it's either a brilliant or horrible film -- but one thing's for sure: It's never boring. It takes a lot to surprise most moviegoers these days, but I can honestly say I did not see a number of things coming in this one -- and I'm not referring to the much-publicized Nicole Kidman peeing on Zac Efron scene. (That's one of the more vanilla moments!) "The Paperboy" is a less-talented cousin of "Wild Things," but a fun relative that doesn't mind getting dirty in the swamp nonetheless. (Kudos to Lee Daniels for shamelessly "exploiting" Zac Efron. Straight directors have been doing that with pretty girls since the beginning of cinema, why the hell should he not?)
Have you heard of "Butter"? I only found out about it because Jennifer Garner was on "Chelsea Lately" to promote it, and I thought it looked kinda fun. It's one of those "indie" films that still has a lot of semi-famous people in it -- a la "Ten Years" -- so you figure there's some passion behind it to get everyone to work for peanuts. Besides Mrs. Ben Affleck there's Rob Corddry, Alicia Silverstone, Olivia Wilde, Phyllis from "The Office," Kristen Schaal from "The Daily Show," Ty Burrell from "Modern Family" and a memorable bit part by Hugh Jackman, as Garner's high school ex. I try not to read too much about movies before going to see them, so despite the fact that it's called "Butter," I was surprised to realize the plot centered around a butter-carving contest in Iowa. (Garner's JFK limousine assassination scene is a sight to behold!) The film is kind of the offspring of "Election" (brilliant) and "The Perfect Family" (so-so), with the end result somewhere in between, but closer to the latter. Garner's character is a highly strung perfectionist, with a hint of Sarah Palin, who becomes obsessed with keeping the butter-carving title in the family when her husband (the "Modern Family" guy) is asked to step down after dominating the competition for more than a decade. When a black foster child who has bounced around from home to home suddenly becomes the biggest hurdle standing in the way of Garner's goal, you can start to see where this is going. But with strong performances and a quirky script, I kind of enjoyed it just the same.