Saturday, 23 February 2013
As you will know I have seen most of the great movies of 2012 and I have to say I feel ashamed that I didn't catch this earlier, as the BAFTA for best film said, This is the best film of 2012, fair enough I didn't feel emotions of say Les Miserables, the wonder of Life of Pi or the pure amazement at Skyfall but this is based on a true story and with Ben Affleck directing (Gone Baby Gone (2007) and The Town (2010) are amazing) it just nips past them all.
The first thing that caught my eye was the use of the old 70's Warner Brothers logo, a stroke of genius by Affleck the movie is set in the late 70's and then early 80's so why not have the old logo too. The United States embassy in Tehran (in Iran) is invaded by Iranian Militants, on November 4, 1979, because of the USA sheltering the recently deposed Shah. Over 50 of the embassy staff are taken as hostages. Six of them manage to escape and hide in the home of the Canadian ambassador. The USA are determined to get their people out of the Canadian Embassy but have no idea how. The Secretary of state send for, Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), a CIA ex filtration specialist is brought in for consultation, criticizes all the proposals that have been mad so far. He has no idea what to do till he gets inspiration at home by watching Battle for the Planet of the Apes on TV with his son, he has a plan to create a cover story that the escapees are Canadian film-makers who scouting locations in Iran for a similar sci-fi film.
They end up going to Hollywood getting a studio to back them thanks to movie producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin in a film stealing role), all is set and Ben Affleck flies over to bring them home, simples as compare the meerkat would say....but it isn't. The hostages have to pretend to be different members of a movie crew, while always under suspicion of the Iranian people. To tell you I was biting my nails through this film hoping these people would come home, is an understatement, I had no nails left, it is a nail biting film. Thanks to Alan Arkin and John Goodman this film isn't all serious, these two steal it with their comedy timing, (especially when Arkin decides what "ARGO" means and the context its used), the casting is just so spot on. If they had an Oscar for best cast this would be it.
To think that Affleck is not nominated at the Oscars for this film is shocking, it is in the best Picture, but not best Director, I'm not sure what they were watching at the Academy, I saw one of the most promising Directors of this generation finally hit his stride. Affleck has been a pure genius director with his last two films (Gone Baby Gone and The Town) and this is by far his ultimate film. He builds up tension in this film like he's been directing all his life, his use of camera shots and the angles he uses the little touches (the before mentioned WB logo), he is one of the best and most promising Directors around I don't understand why he's not in them Director nominations, but hey Mr Affleck, I'll say this we Brits love your directing, and rightly so we gave you our Bafta for best director. This been set in the late 70's early 80's, there is so many little touches to take us back, we have cars, old televisions, clothes, Van Halen's "Dance the night away" song and we even have dodgy facial hair... 80's style oh yes! But seriously it looks amazing takes us straight back, it looks the era.
If you like films with true stories, an against the odds hero, a brilliant cast, superb directing you need to see this it is a phenomenal film.