Friday, November 9, 2012

Argo see this movie now!

Director: Ben Affleck
Cast: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Victor Garber, John Goodman, Alan Alda
Released: October 12, 2012
Viewed in theaters: November 5, 2012

Ben Affleck, I forgive you. I forgive you for Pearl Harbor, for Gigli, for Daredevil. (I would forgive you for Armageddon, but, uh, I kinda like that movie). I forgive you for your relationships with, ugh, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez. Even during your not so great moments, I have always liked you...perhaps even a little more than your BFF, Matt. How can you not like somebody who was in the music video for After 7's "Can't Stop" and who settled down with Jennifer Garner, an actress I like (and how nice of you to give a role in your new movie to her television father!) Plus with each movie you direct, I like it better than the last one!

I know Ben Affleck isn't reading this, but perhaps I have the attention of you, dear reader, and if you have not seen this movie, then I very much urge you to (Ar)go see it now! It's based on a true story, that, to be honest with you, I had never heard of until recently when I was listening to a few podcasts that were talking about this film and that's how I became aware of the movie and the events that happened on which it's based.

It's a small, but remarkable story within the Iran hostage crisis which started on November 4, 1979 when militants storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran because the U.S. supported the recently overthrown Shah. There's a brief history lesson as a prologue to the movie which makes things very helpful and easier to understand. It's a scary scene because there's a mob of militants and when you see they have broken the gates and are coming into the building, you feel their fear. Classified documents are being destroyed and shredded as fast as they can, tear gas canisters are being thrown at the militants, the Embassy staff are concerned about the Iranians who are already there to apply for U.S. Visas.

Since there's no place to escape, most of the Embassy are taken as hostages, but six manage to escape before the mob makes it in the building and find refugee in the home of the Canadian ambassador (played by (real life Canadian!) Victor Garber, Affleck's TV father-in-law, haha!) and his wife and Iranian housekeeper, who suspects that his house guests are hiding out since they have been there two months and never go out.

Affleck plays CIA specialist Tony Mendez who is in charge of getting the six of them out of the country safely. A couple of ideas are thrown out on the table but none of them seem plausible. When Tony is watching Planet of the Apes with his son, he gets the idea to pose as a Hollywood associate producer and create fake names and Hollywood professions for the six hostages for them to be a Hollywood production team scouting out different areas for a sci-fi movie they are making, Argo. Tony believes this is the best bad idea they have.

With the help of a big shot Hollywood producer (Alan Arkin) and John Chambers, the makeup artist for Planet of the Apes who has worked with the CIA before (John Goodman), Tony picks out a script and gives each hostage a name and profession - scriptwriter, location scout, director, etc. Even though the movie is fake (well, the script was real!), and will never be made (let's face it - this movie is way more interesting than what the actual Argo would have been!), they still want everything to look as authentic as possible. While the producer is more concerned about choosing a script that would be a hit ("If I'm making a fake movie, I want a fake hit!"), Mendez chooses a script that calls for a location that could be set in the Middle East and Argo, a sci-fi fantasy movie that calls for a desert location is their best bet for that. They also set up a casting party and an ad and article in Variety.

Also with the help from the CIA and Canadian government, Tony gets six fake passports. Their biggest obstacle will be getting past airport security. When a person enters the country they are given a white copy of their documented flight while the airport keeps the yellow copy so they can check when the person flew in. The six Americans are given (fake) white documents, but Tony instructs them to play dumb and tell the airport employees they don't know why they don't have them.

Even though I already knew the outcome of the story, they still did a great job of keeping you in suspense and on the edge of your seat. I haven't felt my heart pound that fast since I watched an episode of Breaking Bad! (Speaking of which, Walter White himself is in this movie!) In an odd way, I was reminded of United 93 in that both movies are based on true events and even though one movie has a successful ending and the other has a tragic ending, both movies made you worried (or hopeful in the case of United 93) that the opposite of what really happened would be the outcome.

I predict a Best Picture nod come Oscar season!

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