Film Review: “Argo”

History as film art. The story line allegedly really happened in 1980.  Immaculately told by multi-talented Ben Affleck who directed and performed in this gem of a film.

A thoroughly hokey, thoroughly American-style plot to rescue six American bureaucrats trapped in the Canadian ambassador’s home, overlooked by the Iranian captors of the rest from the American embassy. The stealthy investigations of the Iranians using legions of children to reconstitute shredded documents are fascinating. I didn’t know it could be done. They simply reconstructed it all and used it to track down the missing embassy personnel, one step behind the rescuers. It was a nail biter followed by an edge-of-seat panic right to the end, very masterfully done.

Affleck used old 35MM film stock, enlarging it to create grain, washed out color and a 70’s feel. Period perfect properties. The characters are interesting and lively. The film is a joy on many levels, including a chilling portrayal of mob mentality and violence, a mob that has the moral authority to do pretty much anything it desires, and then proceeds to do just that in violent detail. Tense, suspenseful, thrilling and darkly comic. Rotten Tomatoes give is a deserved 94%/95% from both critics and audience on the tomato meter, a reliably stellar endorsement.

Best parts: Absolutely Alan Arkin and John Goodman.

Not so best parts:  None

Extra notes:  Watch for an aging Michael Parks (who every motorcyclist knows as “Then Came Bronson”, (1969)

BTW, the original 2 hour series opener of “Then Came Bronson featured then young actress Bonnie Bedalia in a brief topless scene that was cut for the TV opening. Naturally, I have a copy of the original.

The actor that portrays Jimmy Carter Chief of Staff Hamilton Jordan (Pronounced “Jerdan” by old-line Georgians) is Kyle Chandler, a dead ringer for Jordan in 1979.

Near the end, as John Goodman takes a poster down off his wall, a dead ringer for Jack Nicholson walks by the window and asks what happened to the movie. Some say it’s the real Nicholson in an uncredited cameo role, which is quite possible. Others have said it’s the “real” Tony Mendez in a cameo role.

Hint:  Don’t leave before the credits at the end.

I give Argo a whopping 5 of 5 pissed off Iranians on the warpath. See it now, don’t wait for HBO.

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