Friday, June 7, 2013

3 Short Paragraphs: Argo

2012, Ben Affleck -- download

You are Canadian so why aren't you more pissed off about this movie?  The premise basically rips a heroic era of our history from our hands and taints it with CIA spy biz "reality". Many of us grew up with the TV images, or at least saw retrospectives on TV later on. Then the US came along and "opened files", revealing that while the Canadian ambassador had indeed harbored the Americans in his house, to great danger to himself and family, the plan to get the staff out was CIA born, not his. Is this true? Canada never really argued the point.  It took a movie to really make us grumpy about it.

Argo introduces Tony Mendez to the Canadian Caper, an exfiltration specialist with the CIA. I cannot actually believe there is such a job -- that the Americans need to extract people from dangerous situations so often. But anywayz, they are struggling to figure out how to rescue the 6 embassy staff members before they are identified as missing and hunted down. The American government has issues coming up with a not-completely-silly plan to extract them, until Mendez suggests the whole "pretend to be a movie crew" plan, complete with scripts and posters and real Hollywood press conferences.  And it works.

So, we acknowledge this is a Hollywood adaptation of history, and those are always more dramatic and rarely accurate. I accept that. Its a movie. But what gets me are the tropes the movie makes so much use of in order to instill drama. We know the people escaped so why do a "they ALMOST get caught" scene involving unfortunate timing and cars chasing airplanes? The rest is deflated drama that means nothing. Affleck does do a lovely job building the look of the movie but its all about him, and little about the people actually involved. But the movie is so light on actual emotional connection, I am not sure where the critical acclaim came from.