Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Affleck is The Shit

So a little while back I went and caught Ben Affleck's latest film Argo. I had very high hopes as the first two films Affleck has directed, Gone Baby Gone and The Town, have been two of my favourite films of the last decade. Affleck, it turns out, does not like to disappoint.

Argo is awesome and not just because Rory Cochrane is in it looking like this.

"Ben, is it okay if I leave Tehran now? I'm gonna leave Tehran now?"
For those that don't know, Argo tells the story of Antonio Mendez (Played superbly by the non Antonio Mendezy Ben Affleck) on a mission to save six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran. After the U.S embassy in Tehran is stormed in retaliation for the Americans taking in recently deposed Shah, the six diplomats slip away and hole up in the Canadian Ambassador's house. The American government must then try to get the diplomats out of the country before the Iranians realise that the embassy is six hostages short. The Americans, well Affleck, decide(s) the best way to save these citizens is to pretend they are part of a Canadian film crew scouting for locations for a Star Wars type film and then try and march them out through the Iranian's front door (or Airport). You'd be forgiven for thinking that sounds a tad far fetched and more than a little insane.

This film is based on a true story!!! Poking about on this here internets I've found that it is only loosely based on true events but that there is even the slightest bit of truth to this is mental. It's worth noting that the story is based on Antonio Mendez's account of events and therefore could and should be exaggerated, hell I wouldn't sell myself short if Affleck was making a movie about me.

High concept aside Argo is a pretty straightforward movie that is executed brilliantly, the plot unfolds naturally and is very uncomplicated. The early scenes of the mob outside the embassy in particular, look spectacular and are downright terrifying, more importantly though these scenes really give a good understanding of how the Iranian people felt and why they felt that way.

The main thing I absolutely love about this film is that it's for grown ups. It's a 70's film, I don't mean in setting (I think it was technically 1980/81), it's more the tone of it. For me 70's cinema was the shit, most of my favourite films tend to come from that era, and the reason I enjoy that period of film-making most is that not everything is spoon fed to you. The story tends to develop naturally and quite often at a slower pace than the cinema of today, there doesn't seem to be a need to hit beats/go through the motions and I prefer it that way. I appreciate I'm going a little off track here but if you could please allow me a moment longer to try and fully explain what I mean here. A large number of films made in the 70's (and the 60's) are the equivalent to how real albums are made. It's a piece of work that should be enjoyed start to finish and  in it's entirety. The films of the last decade or so, not all though as this film proves, are how flavour of the month pop albums are made, no one really cares a great deal how we get from A to B as long as there is a couple of singles on there. Argo slowly belts you in and takes you up the hill before dangling you over the edge and letting you see the roller coaster ride that's ahead of you, the suspense filled ending doesn't work without the slow build of the first 3/4 of the film and the viewer is therefore rewarded for handing themselves over to the film.

It's also nice to see a film that's comfortable with what it is, Argo is actually a pretty funny movie. It knows it's a bob on suspenseful thriller but that doesn't mean it can't poke a little fun at Hollywood and it doesn't mean it can't have a couple of goofy moments (Rory Cochrane in the market). Rather than being confined by the expectations of it's target audience, it's not afraid to straddle genres and it manages to do it without becoming disjointed or messy.

The acting in the film is tremendous and the supporting cast made up of Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber, and Bryan Cranston and countless others joining the previously mentioned Ben Affleck and Rory Cochrane. There's a real subtlety to the performances on display and it's with good reason that this film is being mentioned an awful with regards to awards season.

All in all folks should check this film, it's one hell of a ride but more importantly you're witnessing one of the best directors this generation has to offer doing his thing and that is a real pleasure. If none of this has convinced you then at least watch it for Affleck's majestic beard work.

I'm done.


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