View Full Version : Film night with JB. Argo.

11th January 2013, 06:46 PM
everyone loves a great comeback. That's what made 'rocky' so popular. We wanted to see him triumph when he gets one more shot at the big time. And there are real-life comebacks too. Who can forget john travolta in pulp fiction? after years of making tripe he suddenly gets noticed again with a life-changing performance, guaranteeing his chance of another 10 years of making more tripe. Or mickey rourke in 'Sin City' [after his attempt to relaunch himself as a professional boxer], leading to his oscar winning role in 'the wrestler'.

But is there a more satisfying and unexpected comeback than that of Ben affleck ? One-time matinee idol and other half of tabloid couple 'bennifer' [ben and jennifer lopez]. A poor mans matt damon, all looks [in a jock kind of way], but no brains. So low did Affleck fall that the south park team wrote a song about him, and how much his performance 'sucked' in the movie pearl harbour. he single handedly turned a well made super hero flick, Daredevil', into a camp nightmare. The very public relationship of affleck and lopez seemed to drag them both down in the eyes of the media and the public. Nobody turned up to see their movie 'gigli'.

Affleck dissapeared from the pages of the enquirer and later turned up as director of a low budget movie called 'gone baby gone', sterring his brother casey. This was followed by an even better recieved and more ambitious movie called 'the town'.

And now we have his latest movie as director, Argo. Talented ben not only directs but stars in it. AND it's been nominated for several oscars. The comeback is complete.

The film starts with a potted history of american interference in iran. The imposition of the shah by the CIA, the brutal use of secret police to control the iranians, and the overthrow of the shah and the subsequent rise of the ayatollahs are all covered in this pre-title sequence. Ben, a scholar of the middle-east, is keen to show his liberal credentials. It's a surprise just how accurate and honest this assessment of american foriegn policy is, it gives the impression that we are going to get some incisive politics, maybe even a streak of subversion. And the first 20 minutes seem to confirm this as we watch a meticulous recreation of the anarchy of the streets of iran during the toppling of the shah. The style recalls the paranoid political thrillers from the 70's made by Alan J Pakula.

Then we focus on the real story. Which is about a handful of US embassy workers, who managed to sneak out of the back door of the embassy when it is stormed by very angry iranians, and are now hiding in the private residence of the australian ambassador. The americans need a plan to get them out.

There is a farcical element to the scenes where the CIA meetings try to formulate a plan. When the idea seems to include cycling through the mountains in winter [the hostages are office workers, not navy SEALS], a young man ventures an idea that gets everyones attention. ben affleck himself plays the CIA agent with the bonkers idea of pretending that the hostages are part of a film crew scouting for a new sci-fi movie [argo], and flying them straight out on a commercial flight, under the noses of the iranian security services who are hot on their trail.

By a third of the way through we think we are watching a paranoid political thriller with elements of subversive farce [CIA agents playing movies] and even a hollywood insider satire.

By half way through we realize argo is none of those things.

It doesn't take long for any sympathy for the iranians to recede into nothing. The opening potted history is soon forgotten and the iranians become the usual 'bad guys' of a thousand jingoistic war movies.

The scenes involving the hollywood characters played by john goodman and alan arkin are played for cute. They are reluctant heros, not incompetent or foolish. The fate of the hostages is on their shoulders, not the CIA agents. it is the movie men who have to prove the agents wrong when they say 'it can't be done'.

So, if argo isn't a paranoid thriller, or a satire, or a farce, then what is it ??

I suppose you could say it was a mainstream, feel-good audience pleaser.

Even though affleck has used an incendiary story, politics is NOT what it is about. It's about the triumph of 'little people' in terrible circumstances. There is no tom cruise type character for comfort. In fact, affleck plays his CIA agent as a sort of anti-tom cruise. There are no fights, no violent heroics, no gadgets. Just a bunch of office workers who are pretending to be a film crew, but their life DEPENDS on how well they do it.

The second half of the movie becomes a race against time as they make their way to the airport closely followed by the iranian secret service.

Argo is post modern with it's film within a film within a film concept. It meticulously recreates the feel of the seventies and the anarchy of revolution. The final credits compare photographs of the REAL protagonists [it's based on a true story], with the actors in the film, and the casting is uncanny. It's knowing and playful with ideas of reality and fantasy. And the real-life hollywood characters who actually took part in the operation [make-up artist john chambers being one] are hero's too. No wonder hollywood loves this movie.

Despite it's modern and knowing presentation, argo is old-fashioned, feel-good entertainment. With a tense and exiting ending.

I'll give it 3/5.

12th January 2013, 10:20 AM
Go see this movie today. (with my son Argo).

steven creamer
14th January 2013, 01:11 PM
Dr Jim Argo stands for "Argo fk urself"

Did I really say that?
Stevie 2fingerz

14th January 2013, 03:04 PM
nice to see you back with your usual high-brow, intellectual contribution stevie.:bigwink:

steven creamer
14th January 2013, 05:23 PM
Im only in first gear, wait til I shift into second.

Stevie 2fingerz

15th January 2013, 07:30 PM
Im only in first gear, wait til I shift into second.

Stevie 2fingerz

Oh i can't wait.

15th January 2013, 07:32 PM
Jim good review for a none film buff