Friday, April 19, 2024

John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck in “Argo,”

Ben Affleck: There’s been a lot of media attention with the critical and box office success of “Argo,” a dramatized tale of how the CIA used a fake Hollywood movie to extract six U.S. hostages during the 1979 revolution in Iran. Here are some of the most interesting takes on the film:

The Indo-Asian News Service did an interview with Affleck in which he explains his intentions (or lack of intentions) for the film: “I didn’t want it to be politicized internationally or domestically in a partisan way. I just wanted to tell a story that was about the facts as I understood them. And what that meant was probably two people with different political perspectives would walk away with two different interpretations.” (And in The Harvard Crimson: “You can write me off as a liberal or whatever, even though I hold more complicated positions than that, but I don’t want you to write the movie off.”)

You can’t really control that, though, as proven by The Christian Science Monitor’s take on how it has irritated many in Iran, with the result that the semi-official Fars News Agency claimed the film is actually a flop that “only managed to reach second place in the U.S. and Canada because the filmmakers artificially boosted sales by purchasing tickets ‘en masse’ and giving them away for free to random people.”

The New Zealand Herald has an item correcting the film’s suggestion that the Americans wound up at the Canadian embassy because the New Zealand embassy turned them away, even quoting Affleck with a sort-of apology:” “I struggled with this long and hard because it casts Britain and New Zealand in a way that is not totally fair.” British diplomats are also upset, The Telegraph said.

More real-life players in the drama are emerging, with hostage Mark Lijek’s writing in Slate an item called “I Was Rescued From Iran” that includes nuggets such as Tony Mendez (portrayed by Affleck in the film) actually bringing three scenarios to pitch to the hostages, with the fake movie being his obvious favorite, and that hearing Jimmy Carter saying their chance of escape was about 50 percent. Lijek calls it “The film’s biggest shock … I thought it was much higher.” Also, makeup artist Robert Sidell, 75, who had posed as the fake film’s producer, was flown into an “Argo” premiere when Affleck learned he wasn’t dead, The Hollywood Report said.

Finally, in a trio of weirdities, the Indiewire blog quotes Mendez as writing that “by the time [the fake] Studio Six folded several weeks after the rescue, we had received 26 scripts, including some potential moneymakers. One was from Steven Spielberg”; The Hollywood Reporter has astonishingly extensive coverage on how the film recreated so authentically the eyewear of the 1970s; and reveals that actors including Blake Lively and Jeremy Renner are put off by Affleck’s tendency to mouth actors’ lines while he directs them from behind the camera.

Matt Damon in “Elysium.”

Matt Damon: “Elysium,” the science fiction film by Neill Blomkamp and starring Damon, was to be released March 1. No longer. Its new release date is Aug. 9 — bumping a “Robocop” reboot — according to The Inqisitr so the studio can replicate the success of Blomkamp’s “District 9,” which was also released in August back in 2009.

Mindy Kaling: Kaling’s sitcom “The Mindy Project” was told in early October to fill a full 22-episode season. Deadline Hollywood said Friday that Fox is now asking for another two episodes, for a 24-episode season. Kaling was doing her own press at the time, explaining to Slate and other sites that her character’s behavior (which is described as very different from her own) was inspired by the way men behave in sitcoms. “There are things that male sitcom leads have always gotten away with — like be a jackass and date a different hot woman every week — that women have been denied,” Kaling said, specifically citing “Curb Your Enthusiasm” as a model for letting her character be obnoxious and get into uncomfortable situations. (This is pretty much as Cambridge Day called it Sept. 4, yes?) She also told that her show would be hosting more alums from “The Office” and that Bill Hader, seen as an ex-boyfriend in the pilot, would be returning for an episode as well.

Meanwhile, there’s been plenty of ink in the past week about how Kaling, Lena Dunham of “Girls” and Rebel Wilson of “Bachelorette” and “Pitch Perfect” were changing how women stars felt they had to look. As The New York Times put it,

Self-acceptance has become a new form of defiance on television, especially among younger female comedians. Partly that’s because it’s refreshingly unusual. There’s little comic shock value left in profanity, obscenity or intolerance, but it’s still quite rare and surprising to see a woman not obsess about her waistline.

John Malkovich’s career continues to mix the high- and lowbrow.

John Malkovich: Reviews of “A Celebration of Harold Pinter,” a one-man show starring Julian Sands and directed by Malkovich, is getting good reviews in New York. Will Malkovich bring it back to Boston, maybe near where he lives in Harvard Square?

As an actor, anyway, he’ll help keep interest in the zombie genre alive (so to speak). The first poster for “Warm Bodies” has been released showing Malkovich starring alongside Nicholas Hoult, Rob Corddry, John Malkovich and Analeigh Tipton in a film pitched as being about “an existentially tormented zombie who begins an unlikely friendship with the girlfriend of one of his victims and starts a chain reaction that will transform him and his fellow zombies.”

Passion Pit: The Phoenix notes that Ayad Al Adhamy, the band’s keyboardist, quietly left the band before its sophomore album “Gossamer” was released. He’s now lead for Team Spirit, which has been signed by a Warner Bros. label. “Team Spirit has already played Boston a bunch — most recently a sweatbox show with Pretty & Nice and Miniature Tigers at T.T. The Bear’s Place,” the Phoenix blog said. Drummer Nate Donmoyer is stepping out from behind his drums, too, but only to talk to about what it’s like being in Passion Pit.

The band has booked Madison Square Garden in February, says the Grateful Web: “With a capacity of more than 13,000, the Madison Square Garden show will be the band’s largest headlining show to date.” It played a smaller gig Thursday — before 500 people at North Carolina State University, according to that school’s newspaper, a free show meant to boost enthusiasm among students for voting to reelect President Barack Obama.