DM Haight

“Agrof#$% yourself”

Probably one of the most fun things to say, and an honest sum up of Ben Affleck’s newest picture, Argo. It might be one of the best movies about Hollywood, while simultaneously having absolutely nothing to do with Hollywood.

We find ourselves stuck in Iran during the revolution in ’79. Protesters and extremists are banging at the gates of the American Embassy, and six people manage to escape just before the doors are broken in. Tony Mendez, a CIA exfiltration ¬†expert, aims at getting the six refugees out of the Canadian Embassy, where they are being kept safe, and back on American soil before they’re taken hostage and killed by the revolutionaries.

How do we do this you might ask?

Make a movie. A science fiction picture. Set it in the desert. Shoot in Iran. Get a script–a good one at that. Get Alan Arkin and John Goodman and let them run wild. That’s how you get out of Iran, and that’s how Ben Affleck finally wins an Oscar for Best Picture.

Argo is not only a beautiful film to look at, thanks to the excellent cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto, who’s muted, yet rich color sets the tone of the film as being one of hopelessness and optimism; but Argo also masters the Hollywood trope and spins it on its head like a dradle. It’s a film rich in history, using Hollywood as a means to an end–a smirk-worthy turnabout–resulting in a work that is not only engrossing, but enlightening. It’s a more than timely film, taking a retrospective look at what was once an Iran that didn’t carry the threat of nuclear war on its shoulder like a dimwitted parrot.

With standout performances from the always great Goodman and Arkin, not to mention yet another somber outing for Affleck, and still yet another memorable Cranston role, with every performance laced with healthy dose of wit and anger, there is absolutely no reason why Argo should go untouched.

There is a constant sense of urgency, a foreboding that looms in the shadows, just ready to grab onto the nearly safe refugees. The process of extraction is almost too stupid to fail, with constant arguments and stoppages that render the six another few words on the death warrant. Each pause, each hiccup leaves you guessing whether or not the mission will succeed. That, right there, is perfect film making.

Coming from one of the most ridiculed actors in Hollywood, Argo has gone above and beyond the required work for a redemption. Affleck has mastered his craft, leaving behind a slew of denegrations as he takes some of the best writing we had in 2012 and turns it into the best picture winner of 2013. Finally Affleck has broken away from the image of Daredevil and a mass of other forgetful works, and emerged from the chasm of sewage to rise the beacon of hope in a Hollywood that sees more and more great actors becoming great directors. Argo seems to be Affleck’s way of telling his naysayers to “Argof#$% yourself”. And I can dig it.

 

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