My take on…Argo
Argo is a true story about a false story.
It’s about a little-known historical fact that happened in the midst of some of the most intense media coverage ever.
In 1979, the American embassy in Iran was seized, and the employees were held hostage.
I should say, starting in 1979…they were held for more than a year.
During the incursion, six embassy employees fled, and were protected in hiding at the Canadian ambassador’s house.
That much was broadly known.
What wasn’t declassified until years later was that a CIA “exfiltration” expert took them out of the country to safety.
When you hear “CIA”, you may think sophisticated gadgetry, or slinking from shadow to shadow.
Instead, these highly-sought Americans went to the airport, in plain view, and boarded a commercial flight.
I don’t really consider that a spoiler: I think pretty much everyone who goes to the movie will have heard that much.
It is a testament to Ben Affleck’s skill as a director that, although we know the story, Argo is suspenseful and involving.
In only his third feature as a director, Affleck shows an incredibly deft hand.
All of the elements come together: the pacing; the performances; the costuming; in short, the entire look and feel of the movie.
It is one of the best movies of the year. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was nominated as such at the Oscars.
Interestingly, though, I don’t know that we’ll see many acting nominations out of it. While I thought both John Goodman and Alan Arkin were great, my Significant Other (who also really liked the movie) thought that they were turning in their usual (albeit fine) performances.
I think part of that may be the nature of the movie: there isn’t much flashy going on here, which makes it more realistic, and is a strength.
I did think a stand-out performance was Sheila Vand as Sahar. It was simultaneously simple and complex, and deserves recognition. I suspect, though, the screen time is going to be too short for an Oscar nod.
While this isn’t, by definition, a geeky movie, there were a lot of things of interest to geeks. Not the least was that John Goodman was playing John Chambers, one of the truly influential make-up artists (Planet of the Apes, Spock’s ears). Chambers was also famously thought by some to have done make-up for the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film (you’ve seen it many times, where “Patty” looks back over her shoulder at the camera), something which Chambers denied.
The cover story involves a Star Wars inspired movie, and you’ll see a fairly impressive toy collection. 🙂
The one nitpick was a scene that took both of us out of the movie. It’s a brief shirtless scene of Ben Affleck. We immediately thought it was Affleck pleasing the fans, and his abs just didn’t seem in character to me. 🙂 Affleck’s character struck me as a regular guy…smart, but normal. Affleck’s washboard looks like a person who works out in the gym a lot. Again, though, that’s a tiny point: it’s certainly possible that the real Tony Mendez was in that sort of shape at that time. 🙂
Overall, it was a great movie, and it was good to see one where the story was front and center, and the execution superior.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.