Sketchley's Translations Main Index
By AARON SKETCHLEY (aaronsketch@HOTdelete_thisMAIL.com) Ver 1.6 2021.03.24

Other Film Reviews


Argo

Being John Malkovich
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Entrapment

Fight Club

Flags of Our Fathers

Gladiator

Inglourious Basterds

Kill Bill: Volume 1

Kill Bill: Volume 2

Kingdom of Heaven

Letters from Iwo Jima

Outbreak

Argo

4 stars

Release date: 2012
Written by: Chris Terrio
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Review by: Aaron Sketchley
Reviewed on: 2020.08.15
This movie is loaded with tension from the opening sequence, where we are introduced to the context of the Iranian revolution in 1979. It gives us a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of an embassy, and the emergency procedures the staff must perform when an embassy is overrun. Tension is piled on with a room full of innocent visa applicants who will most likely by lynched by the Islamists who are storming the embassy—the applicants also provide the cover for 6 embassy staff to make their escape and find shelter in the Canadian ambassador's home.

From here the movie adeptly cuts between three interlinked stories: the plight of the embassy staff and their hosts, the story of CIA exfiltration specialist Tony Mendez's actions in the daring rescue attempt and how his job affects his family life, and the Hollywood support needed to create a faux sci-fi film as part of the rescue effort. Throughout that, we are given a glimpse of the inner workings of Hollywood, the CIA and the US government, and the torturous experiences of the embassy staff.

All of the film's tension is well earned, and even though we know the outcome—just like in Titanic—the craftsmanship of the film keeps us on the edge of our seats until the final shot. And even then, the film isn't over, with an important voice-over coming during the credits to sum it all up.

While the film is arguably an accurate depiction of real events, it is a film adaptation. Perhaps it's best said that the film loses some of it's lustre the more one knows about what really happened. Nevertheless, the genius of the film is what it has to say about the Hollywood system. On one level, it is a satire of Hollywood. It shows us the dirtier side of the industry, and how similar people in that system are to the spies and specialists in the world of the CIA. Perhaps the single most telling conversation is the one between Alan Arkin's Lester Siegel and Ben Affleck's Mendez when they non-judgmentally discuss how similarly their professions affect their home lives.

One also wonders if part of the reason why Argo won the Best Film Oscar is because of the way the film also celebrates Hollywood as a force for good that brings divergent people together.

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Being John Malkovich

stars

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

stars

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Entrapment

2 stars

Release date: 1999
Written by: Ronald Bass, William Broyles, Jr.
Directed by: Jon Amiel
Review by: Aaron Sketchley
Reviewed on: 2021.03.24
The film opens with a skilled cat burglar stealing a Rembrandt from a New York office building—and then smartly dropping the painting in the mail to ease their escape. The insurance company dispatches their top investigator, Virginia Baker, to examine the crime scene. She suspects Robert MacDougal is behind the robbery, and is sent undercover to entrap him by enticing him to steal a priceless Chinese mask from an English castle. However, all is not what it seems, and both Virginia and Robert have their own secret designs on working together.

This film is a cross between Mission Impossible and James Bond. However, unlike the films in those series, the uneven pacing in Entrapment prevents it from ever really getting going. It probably doesn't help that both Sean Connery's Robert and Catherine Zeta-Jones's Virginia aren't presented honestly to the viewer from the get go, and we don't know who to trust. While the mystery, unclear alliances, and murky ulterior motives have the potential to make a great film, they are a detriment in this film.

The highlight of the film is the action on the skybridge on the Petronas Twin Towers. However, the scenes just before it only serve to highlight the panache that greater films have when depicting a heist, such as the first Mission: Impossible film, Ocean's Eleven, or even Charlie's Angels (2000). Nevertheless, it's great seeing Sean Connery in a pseudo-James Bond-ish role—even though his character is significantly more shackled and constrained by the authorities than Bond ever was. Finally, despite the films flaws, it is memorable.

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Fight Club

3.5 stars

Release date: 1999
Written by: Jim Uhls
Directed by: David Fincher
Review by: Aaron Sketchley
Reviewed on: 2016.09.19
This film is through and through David Fincher—it takes you to dark places with plenty of things to say in well shot and composed scenes, and leaves you pondering the questions it asks. About us.

The film is basically a rejection of consumerism and the search for a much more fulfilling value system. But that tells you nothing about the film nor the journey it takes you on. Almost 20 years on, the film is still quite topical, and it has a certain timelessness that gives the impression that it could have been released yesterday (only the scene with the magnet in the video rental shop isn't instantly understandable anymore). Even though the protagonists' solutions aren't the best ones to the topics it raises, the film still deserves praise for exploring them and, at the very least, bringing them back to public conciousness.

The film is, simply put, enthralling. I've seen it multiple times, and each time I've noticed something new or interpret things differently. It remains fresh, and the cynicism and parodying of consumerism is still as biting as it was when the film was released.

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Flags of Our Fathers

stars

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Gladiator

stars

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Inglourious Basterds

stars

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Kill Bill: Volume 1

stars

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Kill Bill: Volume 2

stars

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Kingdom of Heaven

stars

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Letters From Iwo Jima

stars

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Outbreak

stars

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