A week of comebacks and rehabilitations at the movies this week includes a great-looking piece from Ben Affleck, who continues to atone for Daredevil and for supplying one-half of the first-ever compound celebrity sobriquet, without which supermarket tabloids could now no longer understand contemporary romance. ("Bennifer," since you've forgotten.) Mashup created by the ever-sturdy Mac Smullen.
Ever since his George Reeves in the 2006 Hollywoodland, it has been possible to forgive Ben Affleck everything. But that's not enough. Since then, he continues to earn the approval he should no longer need, first with the very fine thrillers Gone Baby Gone and The Town, and now with the quasi-historical political drama Argo. Based on the true story of American nationals rescued from Tehran by a CIA specialist during the 1979 hostage crisis, it features Affleck keeping the Ron Burgundyisms at bay while still managing to homage the crash-zoom paranoid stylings of Alan Pakula. The plot's a bit TV Movie of the Week, another '70s staple, but this feels like a real movie night out.
Ethan Hawke was always a little on the arty side. In some ways he was the James Franco of his day (he even wrote a novel, The Hottest State), so it's a pleasure to see him settled so well into this trailer for a genre horror. Because he's a star of a certain wattage, the father of Uma's children, for heaven's sake, Sinister looks like high-end scares. But other than the lush photography, it pretty much comes over like every other found-footage flick of the last few years.
If Martin McDonagh takes a crayon to a piece of toilet paper, you should probably take a look at what he leaves there. Add to that the talents of Christopher Walken, Tom Waits and Woody Harrelson all competing in scene after scene with Colin Farrell, whose career requires periodical resuscitation under McDonagh's deft supervision, and you have Seven Psychopaths, a dangerously appealing concept. Fortunately, the new trailer is terrible, with every gag milked arid, so seeing the film, as one must, with the lowest expectations may be disproportionately well rewarded.
Here Comes the Boom is on this list to make up the numbers. Having wrangled a modestly successful film career as a working-class fatso from his TV show The King of Queens, Kevin James has shed a few pounds and is apparently aiming for more traditional leading-man status. In this outing he's a teacher who becomes a mixed martial artist to raise money for something or other. He also casts Selma Hayek as his love interest, for which, now he's a chin down, he may just about be forgiven. Anyone his age who lost all that weight would. It's like a reward.
Since successful bad guys in horror flicks never stay down for long, it is apparently time for another visit to the jaw-dropping (literally) CGI gurners of Grave Encounters. The rather sweet MacGuffin that propels the found-footage thrills of Grave Encounters 2 is that the original was not a fiction, and that the jaw-droppers are really really real. Great choice of lead, very much in the spirit of flicks from the '50s through the '80s, when B movies would have actors who looked like slightly sleazier versions of major stars. This time we have a straight-to-video or (as we should probably say in this day and age) a YouTube Robert Pattinson.
Sherman's March was this great oddity form the '80s that began as a guy's historical documentary about General Sherman and ended up being an autobiographical portrait of a man's past love affairs and what it meant to talk about them. By 2007, Ross McElwee's utter original had been selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Resistry. Such a film is impossible to top, and McElwee has lived in its shadow ever since. But Photographic Memory, his new trip down memory lane, this time one that leads to France in the early 1970s, looks as good an effort as any, at least according to this trailer.