Too much working, not enough blogging. Time to get back to what’s really important, both important to me…and to…um…
…so anyways, I went to the movies again! Yay! Since I’m trying to save up a bit of money at the moment my trips to the cinema are unfortunately far fewer than they used to be, but I managed to catch a showing of Argo at the local (and only) neighbourhood cinema. For those of you who haven’t heard of Argo, it’s…
“A dramatization of the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran.”
In order to do this, the CIA decided to give the diplomats a seemingly dodgy backstory; that they’re a filmcrew on a location scout for a science fiction movie. Argo is not only the name of this film, but also the name of the fake film they pretended to be making. Ergo Argo (hah!) is about a film within a film…except it’s not…because it’s about a film that was never made…but it was planned…but only as a cover story. Did I overcomplicate that? My head’s spinning…and my nose is bleeding…is that normal?
Granted, the movie-making dimensions of Argo are secondary to the political ones.
Still, the core theme of it is the meeting of these two apparently antithetical worlds. The director, Ben Affleck (Yes, the one from Gigli), clearly understands this. That’s why the film is infused with 70’s and 80’s filmmaking techniques. The opening Warner Brothers logo is lifted from that period, and the cinematography mimics it as well. The movie starts with a narrator explaining the political and economic situation in Iran leading up to the revolution. What’s interesting about it is not only the way it’s illustrated for us, which you’ll see when you watch the movie, but also the way it’s described; like it’s the setup to a science fiction adventure. It unravels almost like a fairy tale, with purity and atrocity translated to us in a way that could easily be transplanted into the plot of Star Wars. Let’s face it, science fiction is political, it always has been. As the movie continues – the line between those worlds disintegrates. We, the audience, start to see that movies and reality affect one another, and on a deeper level; that art, entertainment, and history are intricately woven together. Nowhere is this clearer than in the final shot, a perfect one that I would never dream of spoiling for you.
Argo also reminds us of what an extraordinary privilege it is to live in a country where we have the freedom to partake in creative endeavours like science fiction filmmaking and enjoy the fruit it bears.
As for the makeup of the movie itself, there’s a lot to enjoy. Ben Affleck not only directs, but also plays the main character; Tony Mendez. John Goodman and Alan Arkin portray a great cynical Hollywood duo who provide much of the stress-relieving comedy, balancing the entire piece beautifully. What could possibly be better than that? We also get a good dose of Bryan Cranston! Being a huge fan of Breaking Bad and an even bigger fan of Malcolm in the Middle before that, I’m very happy to see how well his career is going right now.
Was there anything I didn’t like? Sure, the amount of time allocated to the setup and execution of the operation seemed…wrong. There’s so much talking about how dangerous the mission is, and then when it actually takes place it’s over fairly quickly. I have no doubt that this reflected the schedule of events accurately, but cinematically it felt a little disproportionate. That’s the price you pay for adapting a real-life event, the movie still has to work as a movie.
There’s been a little Oscar buzz surrounding Argo, and I have to say that I wouldn’t be surprised if a golden statue eventually found its way into Mr. Affleck’s hands. Argo is a tremendous achievement, well worth everyone’s time.
– Rant Over!