God’s Pocket and Directorial Debuts

God's Pocket

This week sees the release of John Slattery’s directorial debut God’s Pocket. Slattery is better known for his on-screen skills, notably in television’s Mad Men, as well as roles in The Adjustment Bureau and Iron Man 2. John Slattery’s debut is the latest in a long line of actors who have stepped behind the camera following an already successful on-screen career. Here I take a look at previous directorial debuts…

Robert De Niro

After two decades and numerous acolades for his acting skills, Robert De Niro turned director in 1993 with A Bronx Tale. Critically successful if not a commercial smash, A Bronx Tale saw De Niro taking cues from his long-time collaborator Martin Scorsese in terms of themes and style. De Niro’s only other directing credit is The Good Shepherd (2006).

Ben Affleck

After starring in numerous high-profile movies and winning an Oscar for his writing, Ben Affleck’s directorial debut arrived in 2007 with Gone Baby Gone. The film was well-received, although Affleck’s directing skills may have flown under the radar in the UK at that time as the film was not released due to similarities to a high profile case. However if anyone was in doubt of Ben Affleck’s directing abilities, he displayed them ably in 2010’s The Town and 2012’s Argo, for which he was awarded the Best Director Oscar.

Drew Barrymore

Whip It

Former child star and Hollywood stalwart Drew Barrymore directed a documentary for television in 2004. However it was her feature debut Whip It in 2009 which brought her to the attention of critics and audiences as a director. Since then, Barrymore has only stretched her directing muscles with a Best Coast music video, featuring an array of young Hollywood talent.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Another former child actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt had reinvigorated his acting career with roles in 500 Days of Summer and Inception before turning his attention to directing. With a number of shorts under his belt, Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut came in 2013 with Don Jon, which he also wrote. Starring in the title role, Gordon-Levitt displayed a promising talent as filmmaker.

God’s Pocket is out in UK cinemas on 8th August 2014.

To The Wonder Competition

To The WonderWin a DVD bundle to celebrate the release of Terence Malick’s To The Wonder in cinemas this Friday, 22nd February 2013.

To The Wonder is the latest acclaimed film from Terrence Malick, the legendary director of The Tree of Life, Badlands and Days Of Heaven. The film is centred on Neil (Ben Affleck, Argo), a man who is torn between two loves: Marina (Olga Kurylenko, Quantum of Solace), the European woman who comes to United States to be with him, and Jane (Rachel McAdams, Midnight in Paris), the old flame he reconnects with from his hometown. Neil’s doubts about his life and loves are reflected in the crisis of faith experienced by Father Quintana (Javier Bardem, Skyfall), who only sees pain and the loss of hope in the world.

In To The Wonder, Malick explores how love and its many phases and seasons – passion, sympathy, obligation, sorrow, indecision – can transform, destroy, and reinvent lives.

To win a DVD goodie bag courtesy of Studio Canal including Take This Waltz, Searching for Sugar Man and Blue Valentine answer the following question:

Which film did To The Wonder star Ben Affleck recently direct?

1) Fargo

2) Argo

3) Cargo

To enter, send an email to contact@iheartthetalkies.com with the answer, your name and full postal address by 12th March 2013. Please put ‘To The Wonder’ as the subject title.

Terms and Conditions

1. Open to UK residents only.

2. Competition closes at 23.59 on 12th March 2013. Entries received after this time will not be counted.

3. Winners will be selected at random. Successful entrants will be contacted via email by 22nd March 2013. If you do not here from I Heart The Talkies by this time, please assume you have not been successful.

Film Review: Argo

Argo is a fantastically well executed thriller from director and star Ben Affleck. The film is a masterclass in gripping filmmaking.

When protesters storm the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979, six workers are able to escape amidst the chaos. They take refuge in the Canadian Ambassador’s house, hoping for to remain undetected. CIA agent and exfiltration specialist Tony Mendez concocts an usual plan to rescue them…

Based on a real declassified case, Argo is certainly a case of truth being stranger than fiction. The idea used to attempt to rescue the embassy workers seems absurd, but the film paints a clear picture of why alternatives were not viable.

Ben Affleck’s direction is superb; he excels in setting the mood and pace. Tension grows gradually, and swells to a scintillating finale. The climax is extremely tense, and a great pay off for a film that maintains the attention throughout. Argo gets the balance right between giving motivation to the characters and keeping the focus on the mission.

Production design in Argo is excellent. There seems to be a genuine attention to detail to ensure everything is historically and geographically accurate. Casting is also flawless; the end credits indicate the resemblance of the cast to the real figures. Performances are strong throughout, particularly Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and lead Ben Affleck.

Ben Affleck appears to be going from strength to strength, as testified by this third directorial feature. If his behind-the-camera career continues on this incline, he may be entirely absolved of past on-screen discretions. Argo is must-see viewing.

Argo is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2012.

London Film Festival 2012 Launch

The BFI London Film Festival’s full programme was announced on Wednesday 5th September. This year, the festival is slightly shorter (twelve days instead of fourteen), but screenings will take place at more venues around London. Prior to the launch, it was announced that Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie would open the festival, and the new adaptation of Great Expectations would close it.

There are not many surprises in the programme. One change to this years proceedings is the dividing of films into new categories such as ‘Love’ and ‘Thrill’. I’m not sure exactly how this will pan out for films more difficult to define. The gala screenings offer some anticipated films, such as Ben Affleck’s Argo and Hyde Park on Hudson, starring Bill Murray. Documentaries that look interesting include The Central Park Five, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, and Love, Marilyn. Also to look out for are Seven Psychopaths, Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time, Antiviral and The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

The BFI London Film Festival runs from 10 – 21 October 2012.