Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013


This week's movie rental was Argo ....

a 2012 historical drama thriller film directed by Ben Affleck. This dramatization is adapted from the book The Master of Disguise by CIA operative Tony Mendez, and Joshuah Berman's 2007 Wired article "The Great Escape" about the "Canadian Caper", in which Mendez led the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran, during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. The film stars Affleck as Mendez with Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman ... Argo received widespread acclaim and also received seven nominations for the 85th Academy Awards and won three, for Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture. The film also earned five Golden Globe nominations, winning Best Picture – Drama and Best Director.

I liked the movie very much! The acting was good, the dialogue too, and the the locations were interesting (we even get to visit Hagia Sophia) ...

And there's a score with music of that era, like this ...

But most of all, the story, based on actual events, was riveting. Roger Ebert gave the film 4 out of 4 stars. Here's a bit of his review ...

[...] Ben Affleck not only stars in but also directs, and "Argo," the real movie about the fake movie, is both spellbinding and surprisingly funny. Many of the laughs come from the Hollywood guys played by Goodman and Arkin, although to be sure, as they set up a fake production office and hold meetings poolside at the Beverly Hills Hotel, they aren't in danger like their "crew members" in Iran.

Key supporting roles are filled by Bryan Cranston, as the CIA chief who green-lights the scheme, and Victor Garber, as the Canadian ambassador who at great risk opens his embassy's doors to the secret guests. Affleck is brilliant at choreographing the step-by-step risks that the team takes in exiting Tehran, and "Argo" has cliff-hanging moments when the whole delicate plan seems likely to split at the seams.

The craft in this film is rare. It is so easy to manufacture a thriller from chases and gunfire, and so very hard to fine-tune it out of exquisite timing and a plot that's so clear to us we wonder why it isn't obvious to the Iranians. After all, who in their right mind would believe a space opera was being filmed in Iran during the hostage crisis? Just about everyone, it turns out. Hooray for Hollywood.

And here's a trailer ...


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