I think this looks like a great movie. What a cool idea. If this wasn't based on a true story I would call this one of the most unbelievable stories ever...and that is what makes this so cool. I think the trailer has one of the best lines ever, "You want to come to Hollywood and act like a big shot with out actually doing anything." "Yeah." "You'll fit right in."
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Awesome article here on The Redemption of Ben Affleck.
I'm looking forward to this too!
That is a pretty good article, and I'll be the first to admit that I used to think of Affleck as just kind of a smarmy, handsome, loathsome face as well. Even his Academy Award winning screenplay was a subject of jest:
I like that he's finally taking that turn towards redemption. I seem to remember a time when a certain guy named Leonardo was launching his career with Titanic and Romeo + Juliet and everyone wanted to punch him in his punchable face. And now he's awesome. It's all about picking great projects.
I'm seeing Argo tonight, pretty pumped. But I have high expectations!
[Scott Roberts] "I seem to remember a time when a certain guy named Leonardo was launching his career with Titanic and Romeo + Juliet and everyone wanted to punch him in his punchable face. And now he's awesome."
Those were 1996 and 97, but he had a great 1993. He was the lead in This Boy's Life, with Robert De Niro playing his father. What's Eating Gilbert Grape was also that year, and he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for that role. If you haven't seen it, you really should. But definitely not a bad start.
Except that he started a couple of years before that! After a couple of bit parts (including an episode of Roseanne in 1990), he was a regular on the 1991-92 season of Growing Pains - 23 episodes!
Not disagreeing with the rest though. :-)
And can't wait to hear about Argo!
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Argo is one of those movies that I would recommend to basically everybody. It has the tension, excitement, humor, and historical fun that makes it a near universal experience. It's the kind of movie I can comfortably say to my family, friends, co-workers, the cashier at Staples, the guy fixing my toilet, the old guy who does exercises in my apartment hallway, and the teenager who took my order at White Castle; "go see this movie, you'll like it". If theaters sold tickets to dogs, I'd even tell that golden retriever across the street to check it out. It's a welcome change from having to say to people "Drive is one of the best movies of the last decade, oh, but I don't think you'll enjoy it..."
Telling the true story of the CIA devising a plan to make a fake movie called Argo in order to get some hostages out of Iran, despite knowing what the outcome is (SPOILER ALERT: Daniel Day-Lewis dies at the end of Lincoln), the film is still an amazing display of tension. I don't care if the entire reason the movie was made was because the operation was obviously a unique success, I still felt like the protagonists *weren't* going to make it at every turn.
This movie has a lot going on. It's part historical drama, with archival news footage being mixed in with the regular footage. It's part satirical comedy about Hollywood, by poking fun at how making a fake bad movie is more meaningful than making an actual bad one. And it's part political espionage thriller, with lots of entertaining CIA fast talking. Did Argo remind anyone else of Wag the Dog?
The characterizations weren't really fleshed out, but they didn't exactly need to be. They all got about the minimum amount of development to make me care about them. The only guy who really got heavier treatment was Ben Affleck's main character, and even that was kind of slim. But I didn't take this as a character driven movie to be honest, it was much more focused on the operation itself.
Perhaps the greatest thing this film has going for it is that there are essentially NO side stories. It's the anti-clutter film. The movie has one story, one goal, and it doesn't dance around it. They tease Ben Affleck's son as a potential side story, but you never learn anything specific about the kid. He serves his purpose for the story, and then gets pushed aside for more interesting things. The pacing of this film was flawless. It started out with a brief history lesson of Iran, told through storyboards (pretty neat way to catch people up on history. I'm not a scholar on Iranian dictatorships), and then just flows the action out perfectly. The movie felt like it was 80 minutes long because it just flies by. And the climactic action had me actually sitting upright in the theater (I'm normally a slouch). It's gloriously tense.
The cast was good. The hostages displayed the correct amount of panic. There was, of course, one jerkbag hostage who didn't want to play along, and his annoyance was on the brink of cliché. But then he sort of validates his character later on. John Goodman and Alan Arkin (almost wrote Alan Alda) are fun as the film's comic relief; as the two Hollywood producers who set up Argo for the government. Over on the CIA side, Bryan Cranston acts his balls off in the 6 minutes of screen time they give him. One of the best beverage container slaps off of a table I've seen since Kramer vs Kramer.
I don't think Ben Affleck will win a best actor award for this film, in fact, his character was a little too low-key to even validate a nomination, in my opinion. But his direction is worthy of a lot of praise. And they give out an Academy Award for Kickass Beard, right? Because his beard was awesome.
I can tell that I probably won't like Argo as much as I did last night when I watch it a second time. But the first viewing was spectacular. It's one of those movies that is completely entertaining and very riveting, even if it's nothing groundbreaking. We've seen political dramas set in the 1970s before. But simply what separates Argo from the rest of the forgettable turds is that it's a million times more entertaining than something like Frost/Nixon.
(and stick around for the credits, they have some neat pictures from the actual situation, and a great speech from Jimmy Carter on diplomacy! Yay, diplomacy!)
9 out of 10
Affleck in a recent interview, paraphrased: "When I read the story, I knew that with even just a minimally competent director, we could knock it out of the park".
If you think about it, Argo has elements in common with Apollo 13 as a story. Shiat goes badly wrong, stakes are ultimate, creativity and lateral thinking, American innovative spirit and sheer guts overcome adversity and snatch a triumph out of potential tragedy.
[Scott Roberts] "Argo is one of those movies that I would recommend to basically everybody. It has the tension, excitement, humor, and historical fun that makes it a near universal experience."
Finally got a chance to watch this over the weekend. Great movie and I completely agree with you Scott. I hate it when movies get attention for just being as dramatic as possible, like a fourteen-year-old girl begging for attention. I love to see all of the elements you just noted and this has been a good year for that. To me the three best movies this year (Argo, Moonrise Kingdom and The Intouchables) have all been those kinds of movies.