Yep. It was good. Actually it was great, brilliant even. I’d wanted to see it for a while and never gotten round to it. But after it did well at the BAFTAs and then the Oscars, I watched it as soon as possible. And it was as good as its awards suggest.
First up, I’ll just say that I’m probably in the minority in that I never really disliked Ben Affleck. He never seemed like a bad actor to me, just that he picked bad roles. Then again, I’ve never seen Gigli. What Ben Affleck defiantly is, is a great director. I loved his previous film The Town.
Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez but he’s surrounded by a great cast with some big names; Alan Arkin, John Goodman and some perhaps lesser known talent; Kyle Chandler (Super 8) and Scoot McNairy (Monsters). But the star attraction is, of course, BRYAN CRANSTON!!! What, just me? Oh ok. Well Bryan Cranston is possibly my favourite working actor at the moment.
Anyway, back to the review.
Argo is a dramatization of a hostage extraction in Tehran in 17979. It’s based on real events, but it’s still funny. It could have been played straight like many other historical films (*AHEM* LINCOLN) but it’s remains consistently entertaining. The style of the film is distinctly 70’s. Everything has a great, funky 1970’s feel, from the music to the costume and even the grainy-ish film quality. Any film with Dire Strait’s Sultans of Swing in it defiantly deserves all of your attention.
Affleck’s Tony Mendez suggests that the hostages should pose as a film crew, the reason being that a film production is one of the few options left that will still work. They come up with a fake movie called Argo, which also becomes a running gag (“Argo fuck yourself!”) Tony getting to Iran happens surprisingly late on in the movie, the majority of the film is the set up. Tony must become part of Hollywood with the help of John Chambers (John Goodman) and Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin). The tension goes through the roof as soon as Tony gets to Iran though, with the final 20 minutes or so being some of the tensest I’ve ever seen in a film even though we know full well that the hostages live. It’s a testament to Ben Affleck that he accomplishes this, creating two great intense scenes that bookend the movie. The white knuckle thriller elements and comedy elements blend extraordinarily well.
Now comes the difficult question. I have the special opportunity of reviewing Argo post-Oscars so, did it deserve to win? I’d say yes. It certainly did. If someone asked me to pick between Django Unchained and Argo I wouldn’t be able to but both make Les Misérables seem EVEN more like the stagnant puddle of urine that it truly is. Argo treats its audience like adults, but it remembers that adults still want to have a great time at the cinema.
Argo is a triumph. It’s a film that sends up the film industry but at the same time shows a love for it. It’s awesome to see a Best Picture winner that isn’t a slightly pretentious french movie (anyone remember The Artist?) It’s fun from the get-go, and is fully deserving of the praise that has been shoveled upon it. Go see it. Go see it now, and not just for Bryan Cranston.