Best Drama, and Best Director at the Golden Globe Awards 2012 went to Argo, and Director Ben Affleck. So many people have been talking about this film and saying how brilliant it is that it must deserves these awards? I thought I should probably check it out. Political dramas and the like have always won and been nominated for awards, but in my experience most of the general audience have found them dull, and probably wouldn’t have been to see it at the cinema (The Hurt Locker and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy spring to mind). It’s the film buffs and critics who usually enjoy this type of picture, maybe it makes us feel intellectual… maybe most of us average cinema goers don’t know what a makes a truly ‘good’ film. Either of those options is pretty offensive to one party or the other. Baring this in mind, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about Argo.
Ben Affleck isn’t every one’s cup of tea which is why I think Argo surprised a lot of people. He seems to have a bad rep which I don’t really understand. But then again, I liked Daredevil so much I bought it on DVD… Well it looks like he has put all that behind him now seeing as he has won an award for being the BEST Director, and has made the BEST Drama Film in 2012. I have to ask my self though, is it egotistical to cast yourself in the lead role of a film you are directing?! Maybe!
In fact, while I was watching Argo, I was asking myself a few questions…
How many cigarettes were smoked during the making of this film?
Who thought those glasses ever looked good?
How much alcohol was consumed in a dry state? Where does it come from?
Wasn’t the Hollywood sign restored in 1978, and this is set in ’79 – ’81?
How much facial hair stayed exactly the same during the course of a year?
Who was the Director in real life, was he an embellishment on the true story?
What did Tony Mendez look like in real life, he was the only one without a comparative picture in the credits?
Many questions, but none of them really important. You probably know the story by now, but the general gist is that the US harbored an ex-Iranian President, and in light of this some Iranians got very angry and stormed the US embassy. They took some hostages, but six Americans escaped and hid out in the Canadian Embassy. Before the Iranians find them, the US Government hatch a plan to pretend they are making a film in Iran, and use this cover to take the six American fugitives back to the US. Incredibly, it is based on a true story!
In the end, I really enjoyed this film. They did a very good job of making it look like a film shot in the 80’s, not a film shot in 00’s about the 80’s. Ben Affleck played a fantastic sullen Tony Mendez (who does not crack a smile throughout the WHOLE film), who is the spy that orchestrated this very risky rescue mission – growing a huge beard for the role which actually, I rather liked. I wasn’t sure about his back story though, he doesn’t spend enough time with his son, and him and his wife are on a break… Not really that relevant to the rest of the plot if you ask me. I guess it did give him the idea of making a sci-fi movie while him and his son watch Planet of the Apes… but that’s a minor detail really.
The music I think lacked a little, I can’t remember any moments where I thought the music was complimenting the visuals. I recall a moment in particular when Affleck is making a difficult decision whether or not to carry on with the mission, at its climax as he came to a decision, it sounded like something out the Lion King and I specifically remember thinking – erm, that didn’t really work for me.
BUT I really enjoyed the difference in mood between the very stern Government men talking boo-hockey, and then the flamboyance of Hollywood and all the bull-shit in the ‘movie business’. It made the film a little less serious in places and lightened the mood. John Goodman and Alan Arkin are both brilliant in these roles and really make the film for me. This is where the quote “Argo F*ck Yourself!” fits in!
Films based on true stories often tend to dramatise a lot of the actual events, but what I loved about Argo is that it never felt like it was embellishing too much. I could not believe the intensity of the troubles in Iran at that time. There were bodies hanging in the street and people being shot in their back gardens for so much as being associated with Americans. This really shocked me, and it added to the unsettling feeling that was growing in me throughout the film.
There were no crazy shoot outs between Affleck and the Iranians either, in fact he never seemed to do anything ‘physically’ heroic. It felt like a real life story, and that is where the appeal lies for me. That is not to say the film wasn’t exciting! Some of the best moments in the film were very tense, edge of your seat viewing. The use of juxta-position when the hostages are being tried by the Iranians, and the script is being read at the launch party of ‘Argo’ is brilliant. Similarly when the scenes flick between the CIA office, then Affleck and the fugitives making their way to the airport, it is very well paced and really gets your heart racing. I found myself constantly worrying about the characters well-fare and holding my breath when they got put in a difficult situation which they had to wriggle out of.
By the end of the film, I had been very tense, scared, excited and elated – sometimes all in the space of 10 minutes. It must take some skill to evoke these emotions in an audience. But what I found most interesting was at the end of the film, when it tells the audience what actually happened to the rest of the hostages, and the real photographs of the people who were affected by this ordeal. The casting team did very well in matching the likeness of actors with those actually involved. I would very much like to know what the real individuals who were hiding in the Canadian Embassy for all that time, thought of the film and how their story was portrayed. Or even if they would want to watch it back.
So over all I thought it was a very good film, and yes it deserved some recognition. Was it the BEST I had seen compared to the rest of 2012? Well, no not really, but I guess that’s why I don’t pick the winners of the Golden Globes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association do! (Thanks Wikipedia!)