Thursday, November 22, 2012
Finally got around to see Argo the day after the election with my husband at the Regal Ballston Common Stadium 12 in Arlington, Virginia. The Ben Affleck-directed film has been getting rave reviews (it has a 95% rating from critics and audience at rottentomatoes.com) and is widely considered to be a hot contender for end-of-year award accolades, and probably an important player in the big show itself, the Oscars.
Argo stars Affleck as the lead character Tony Mendez, Bryan Cranston as his colleague at the Central Intelligence Agency, with Alan Arkin and John Goodman as Hollwyood producers who provide comic relief.
The movie is Affleck's 3rd directorial feature, following 2007's Gone Baby Gone and 2010's The Town, which were both excellent. Argo surpasses both of them and is indeed one of the best pictures of the year. Even though I didn't come up with a list of my favorite films of 2011, without question A Separation would have been my #1 pick. I bring up the winner of the Best Foreign Film Oscar because it was set in Tehran, Iran, whichis where most of the action in Argo also occurs.
However Argo is set in the late 1970s and depicts a now-declassified true story that happened during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-1980. It involves a group of six American workers at the United States embassy who managed to escape before it was overrun by Iranian students and thus escaped being taken hostage for 444 days like the other Americans. Instead, President Carter approved a stranger-than-fiction secret "exfiltration" mission by the CIA to have Affleck's character go to Tehran impersonating a Hollywood film producer who wanted to film "Argo: A Science Fantasy" in Iran and leave the country by plane with the six Americans in tow. This explains the tag line on the poster for Argo: "The movie was fake, the mission was real."
The movie is well-directed, very entertaining and is incredibly suspenseful (surprisingly so, since we pretty much know the result that the Americans get away). It is also pretty funny, with Goodman and Arkin taking insider jabs at the Hollywood film-making process, which is amusing, since Argo is at its heart a big Hollywood movie, after all.
Argo should definitely be on your list of movies to see this holiday season!
Director: Ben Affleck.
Running Time: 2 hours.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and some violent images.
Release Date: October 12, 2012.
Viewing Date: November 7, 2012.
Overall Grade: A/A- (3.917/4.0).