Pitch Perfect and Argo… liked them both.
Pitch Perfect wasn’t perfect, but it was fun. It’s a comedy set in the world of college a capella… not, it seems, a particularly accurate depiction, but it doesn’t pretend to be the sort of film where you can take such things seriously. This is more in the tradition of films like Revenge of the Nerds than in some more serious format. There’s a couple things I find interesting. One is how hard the film feels the need to explain to you that performance A is good and B bad, because they’re all slick enough that you may not agree with what they’re saying. The other is… well, have you seen the ads for this film? So you know what it’s about, right, this brassy overweight girl who sings, right? Only that’s not true. She’s only a supporting character; the central character is a conspicuously attractive, svelte movie. That’s right, they’re pitching it as a film about an unattractive outsider rather than a sexy gal. I think that really says something interesting about the cultural moment we’re in.
Argo was good, quite good, but not perfect. My little hope for good treatment of Jack Kirby as a character in this film was dashed; the Kirby character appears in one scene, seems unlikely Kirby, and doesn’t match quite the truth of Kirby’s involvement in the true story. I understand that he wasn’t that important to the story they were telling… but hey, if you’re trying to show how wild a scene you’re involved in is, wouldn’t the inclusion of the co-creator of the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Captain America, Hulk, and so forth be worth a mention?
One thing that hit me was one of the difficulties in doing a “based on true events” stories. There were a couple times… one in particular (folks who have seen the film will know what I mean when I say “trying to get to the phone”) where an attempt to build conflict which would seem merely a little silly in a fiction film seems like a stupid bit of desperation to add drama where none existed.
But overall, it’s well worthwhile. All the actors do a good job. And while John Goodman may not inherently be able to rescue a film (see The Babe, Blues Brothers 2000, or Born Yesterday for proof), there is no film that is not improved by his presence.
I may have to rent some of Mr. Affleck’s other films as a director.