Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Argo

Cinema Monolith: 9/10 Film Reel
IMDb: 7.9/10
The Arizona Republic: ***** out of 5

Released on October 12, 2012
Rated R
120 minutes

Directed by Ben Affleck

Written by Chris Terrio

Cast: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Barber, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Kyle Chandler, Titus Welliver, Richard Kind, Barry Livingston, Adrienne Barbeau, Bob Gunton, Philip Baker Hall, Michael Parks

I was never really a fan of Ben Affleck’s work, whether he was acting or directing, but that all changed when I saw Argo, a superb and thrilling historical drama detailing a little-known facet of the 1979 US hostage crisis in Iran, where six Americans were rescued—after hiding out in the home of the Canadian ambassador—on the pretense that they were in the country for location scouting on a sci-fi movie, titled Argo.

This film held my interest from start to finish, taking its time in the beginning while it set up the scenario and planned the components of the rescue, then dropping the gates and taking off for its third act, becoming breathless and tension-filled as the six diplomats—along with Ben Affleck’s Tony Mendez, a CIA specialist who created the ruse and was overseeing the escape—made their way from their hideout to the airport, and what they hoped was freedom.

Even though I knew the outcome of the escape, the path their evacuation took was a complete mystery to me, since the processes everyone was involved in to make it happen were not so widely known. Not only was I impressed with Affleck the actor, but his directorial skills were even more commendable, especially when it came to re-creating the look and vibe of the era, and making the audience feel a part of the action (that final portion of the film was indeed nerve-wracking).

The phony film storyline, featuring Alan Arkin as a producer and John Goodman as a makeup artist, infused the film with not only a sense of low-key humor, but a sense of dread, as you kept wondering where and when the false front was going to crumble; this was by far my favorite aspect of the story. A classy and well-made film all around, and my only gripe is that the getaway seemed to end too quickly; I actually wouldn’t have minded a more drawn-out ending!  (9/10)

Argo

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5 comments on “Argo

  1. Popcorn Nights
    2/26/13

    I still haven’t seen this…and post-Oscars that’s a capital offence, right?! I need to hastily construct another film blog which will serve as a front for my humble escape from the blogging world! A nice review which gets me even more excited about seeing it – I have it and will watch it in the next week or two. Loved Gone Baby Gone but wasn’t so fussed about The Town. I think Affleck’s a talented guy, which makes some of his late 90s / early 2000s performances a complete mystery to me.

    • Todd Benefiel
      2/26/13

      Don’t worry, Stu, I think in cinematic circles that can only be considered a misdemeanor! Every year I would try to see all five Best Picture nominees before the Oscars, but now that they’ve bumped the list up to ten, forget it! And I agree, it was some of those early performances of Affleck’s that left me indifferent, but I’ll give him credit for improving with age; hopefully he keeps getting better.

      And what would you call your new blog…Salad Days?

      • Popcorn Nights
        2/26/13

        Haha very good! I’ll be sure to remember the title!

  2. Julie Dunning
    2/26/13

    Great review. And for a great movie which I’m thankful I was able to see. Have always felt Ben Affleck wasn’t all that bad. And am glad you now agree.

    • Todd Benefiel
      2/26/13

      Thanks, Julie! I guess the first time I really thought highly of his work was in Hollywoodland, where he played George Reeves, who was television’s Superman. In my opinion, a neat little crime mystery.

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Review Totals

Movies Reviewed: 159

From the Monolith: 87

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