Search This Blog

Sunday, 2 December 2012


Okay, in a rather pathetic display for a film fan, I watched one movie this week that I actually want to talk about.  It is at the cinema right now, so check out my review.


I've been a Ben Affleck fan for some time now, and anyone in the know understands why. With Gone Baby Gone he surprised all who saw it, with a keen eye and a passion for serious cinema that didn't make things easy; an emotional movie full of great performances, which drove everyone to consider their position on a serious subject.  With The Town, gone was Ben Affleck the joke actor we all remember; instead we saw a bright new talent, both in front of and behind the camera. Now we have Argo, the dramatisation of the CIA's rescue of six Americans, who escaped the US Embassy during the 1979 Iranian revolution and were sheltered by the brave Candian Ambassador.

They say truth is stranger than fiction, and here it certainly appears to be the case. Most recall the big event, but the smaller story of the rescue of the six was only de-classified in 1997, and it is this almost absurd tale that Affleck is interested in, though this is not to say the bigger picture is overlooked. Indeed, one of the numerous beauties of this film is the wonderful balance between the different parts.  The political unrest is not missed while focusing on the plight of the group, and you never feel you are spending too long or too little time back in America, where the crazy plan is gradually being set in motion; you care about all at once, and the shift between the different threads has the feel of a master at work. Not only this, but in a lesser director's hands the tone shifts could have been totally misjudged and all over the place. Again, Affleck shows he understands how to balance politics, personal drama, exciting thriller and, surprisingly, even humour, with a panache that feels wrong for somebody with his short time in the director's chair; this certainly does not feel like this director's third film. To be starring in it and not dropping the ball or stealing the limelight is also testament to his humility, and desire to focus on making the best film he can.

With the help of a careful, steady screenplay that includes a smart, brief history lesson at the front of the piece, allowing you to jump into the stunning opening scene fully informed, a terrific editor, a few surprise turns including those from John Goodman and Alan Arkin (who at times threatens to steal the movie, as always), Affleck has made another intelligent picture that boasts a great eye for detail, and which asserts him as certainly one to watch. Sure you can see certain liberties being taken to appeal to the popcorn crowd, but those liberties, particularly in the final section, do not feel naughty; they feel like a great way of bringing an important story to a gripping climax.

Barring the aforementioned big names, most performances go unnoticed, with the group of Americans being given little fleshing out, but this film is all about engaging with the story of the event rather than the characters, and given that from the opening moments I was hooked on the drama, could almost feel the fear and danger of the situation, could see a realistic, well paced cranking up of tension that is so masterfully paced we might call it Hitchcockian, and that I was on the edge of my seat for the last half hour, it is fair to say that to this end, 'Argo' is another success for the man.  Still not Gone Baby Gone, but a third solid piece that puts Affleck well on the way to being a classic film maker.


Catch it if you like:  Gone Baby Gone, The Town, Rendition, The Great Escape

No comments:

Post a Comment