Sunday, October 14, 2012

Argo Fantastico (Movie Review: Argo)

I don't know why I was a little hesitant in seeing "Argo" but I shouldn't have been: it's one of the best films, so far, of 2012, and I won't be surprised if it wins at least one thing - Ben Affleck for Best Director - on Oscar night. The movie tells the story of six American hostage who escaped through a back door during the infamous attack at the United States Iranian Embassy in 1979. They were taken in by Ken Taylor, Canadian Ambassador at the Canadian embassy. The US Government, running out of options, took the best of the bad ideas: to have the six hostages pretend to be filmmakers location scouting in Iran. Led by CIA operative, Antonio Mendes (Affleck), he leads the six to safety. The movie is a great mix of serious, and ridiculous, and Chris Terrio's script does the almost impossible: balance both of them seamlessly. You have not even finished laughing yet when you are being faced with something serious and dangerous. The finale is so action packed and suspenseful it can rival any summer blockbuster. And this movie has, in its core, a genuine hart as well. You have a specific sense of who to root for, yet the culprits are human enough not to be total cartoon characters. Affleck directs with a master's hands - the performances are flawless, and everyone gives extraordinary performances without any excess. It would have been so easy to make his character over-the-top but he goes for the opposite. Affleck gives a quiet, reflective performance that I hope won't be ignored for not being too subtle. Even the flashiest character, the producer (played by Alan Arkin) is just right, maybe because it is a composite character instead of a real one. (Truth is stranger than fiction, after all) I must give special mention to the production design: the movie looks and feels so much from that era. This film garnered raves at the Toronto Film Festival. it deserves them all.

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