Argo

I subscribe to Sight and Sound, a film magazine published by British Film Institute. In the past three months since I started a new job, I have hardly found time to read them. The articles aren’t written in a style that is easy to read.  Even if I had, I doubted very much that I’d go see a film directed by Ben Affleck. Ben never made a huge impression on me in the past regarding his acting. To me, the media attention seemed to focus more on his private life and his toupe:-)

A friend of mine mentioned this film 2 days ago. The recommendation coming from a film lover is always better than reading films reviews written by some pretentious experts.  I went to see it yesterday evening at Odeon Covent Garden. It’s in Shaftsbery Avenue. Didn’t want to go to the big cinemas in Leicester Square because I don’t like the audience (too young, noisy, eat smelly snacks). But it turned out a big mistake this time. I had to pay the full price, but Argo was showed in a tiny room (screen is still big, though). The moment I walked in, OMG, I could smell the stench of the petrol (or some sort of industrial spirit). I  moved to the far end, but no escape of that smell, think about paying 12 pounds?!

But the film was indeed a hit! A big thumb up for Ben’s directing, although he still looked pretty wooden in the film (my view only, sorry for saying this, Ben’s fans wouldn’t like it).  He just terribly lacks of the on screen persona.  Or, maybe the real life CIA agents have to look so uncharismatic? This is a film after all. With all that heightened drama, I’d like to see someone like Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men).

Having said that, I cannot deny my sheer pleasure. I love thrillers that involve bank heists, espionage, hostage crisis – I want to see how they can get out! There was a bank rubbery happened in Berlin not long ago. A 100ft tunnel was dug up from under a park park into a bank’s safe deposit room. One of the oldest tricks in that trade!

I read a few articles on the internet regarding Operation Argo this morning. There are some interesting facts about how true Argo has portrayed.

1. Tony Mendes did not actually need to do much of the persuading for those diplomats to agree on Operation Argo. They actually embraced the idea, although sounded crazy, other ideas were more stupid and none of them would have worked.

2. The operation went as smoothly as silk at the airport. Not much high drama there. But it was undoubtedly the climax in the film. And the scene that shredded documents been patched together was somehow true, but patching the threaded pieces to get a photo of one of the diplomats – that did not happen. However, it was a clever idea to use that fact and put some imagination into it – that would make the airport scene so dramatic! Ok…the police cars chasing Swiss air flight,  that is typical Hollywood style. They could easily stop the airplane to take off by calling the air traffic controller and demand them to stay where they were. Then…what would happen? If I was the director, one of them would demand the pilot to take off telling him the truth that they have to go! That might also work.

3. The word ‘Argau’ was painted on the aircraft. Argau is a region in Switzerland. One of the diplomats punched Tony Mendez’s arm and said: “You guys arranged everything, don’t you” what a coincidence!

If the film was 100% true to the actual event, it wouldn’t make a great thriller in the cinema. This is a motion picture, not a documentary about American hostage crisis in Iran.

Finally, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston are great supporting actors in Argo.  The film has a grainy quality that gives a documentary style. That is another great feature of this film.

Argo wins Best Picture at the 2013 BAFTA Awards. Ben Affleck Best Director, well deserved awards for a rising talented Auteur!

Read more:

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2007/04/feat_cia/all/

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/10/12/argo_true_story_the_facts_and_fiction_behind_the_ben_affleck_movie.html

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