Thursday, 1 November 2012

Argo Commentary

Wow.  What can I say?  I knew from the previews that I was going to enjoy this.  It has a compelling story and is made by, in my mind, one of the better directors out there.  I loved The Town and this looked like it had the same feel to it.  But I wasn't expecting it to be that good.  Almost everything about this movie is fantastic.  The cinematography, writing, acting ... everything.  It has such an air of authenticity to it that even the absolutely thrilling climax seems real even though it is a bit far fetched.  With that said, there was one aspect I thought that stood out from the rest and really exemplifies the audience experience.  They used subtitles when it was needed.  If the audience needed to know what was being said, then we saw it.  But if the audience needed to feel the same sense of panic and fear that the characters did, we never got to know what they were chanting or yelling in Farsi.  This is just one example of how Ben Affleck draws the audience in and they wind up feeling like they are part of the film.  These things are done throughout.

I don't know a lot about what actually happened in the true story so I did some research (And almost immediately found myself downloading the e-version of Antonio Mendez' book).  As it turns out, the movie left a lot of things out (as movies based on actual events tend to do).  There's a really good article about some of the inaccuracies here.  Mostly, they ignored just how much the Canadians helped in getting the six people out of Iran.  In the movie, the Canadians are seen as little more than innkeepers when they probably did more than the Americans in getting them out.  As a Canadian, you would think this would anger me.  But it doesn't.  This is an American movie made to sell tickets in America.  So it stands to reason that they are going to focus on Americans.  If Canada wants to get credit for the unbelievable stuff we do in the intelligence world, then our film industry needs to step up.  Second, when you adapt a true story (especially one so intricate), you have to leave some stuff out.  Otherwise, you end up with a drawn out, 3 hour film that will inevitably be very boring in spots.  So all the prep work that the Canadians did in real life had to be sacrificed for thrilling, cinematic value.

So forget any inaccuracies and see this movie for what it is: a near perfect dramatic thriller with great pace and fantastic comic relief from John Goodman and Alan Arkin.  It's perhaps the best movie I've seen this year and I've seen a lot of good movies this year.

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