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Posted by martinteller on March 9, 2013

I knew very little about this movie going in:

* It has something to do with hostages, and something to do with Hollywood.

* The hosts of the Filmspotting podcast had some sort of big disagreement over it.

* It was directed by Ben Affleck.

* Someone says “Argo fuck yourself” (I didn’t know it would be repeated multiple times).

* It won Best Picture at the Oscars.

That’s about it.  I couldn’t have even told you who was in it.  I wasn’t avoiding spoilers or anything, I just wasn’t that interested in following the discussion.  I did know there was a lot of discussion about it, though, and that was enough for me to want to see it.

I hesitate to express my opinions, because I fear I’m getting too predictable when it comes to recent Hollywood productions.  There have been a few that I’ve responded to enthusiastically, a handful that I hated… but most of them evoke a middle-of-the-road reaction.  At the risk of being predictable… Argo is okay.  What it does very well is move the story forward.  You’re thrust into a complex situation right off the bat but the information is handled in a way that’s easy to follow and keeps momentum going.

Everything else about it is competent but not exceptional in any way.  Arkin is fun.  You can argue whether Affleck’s performance is “understated” or “wooden”, but it works well enough.  He and the rest of the cast do a good job of being believable but not especially interesting.  The situation is engaging and allows for a few sketchy moments, but it never really sinks its teeth into you.  It’s a story where everything pretty much goes according to plan, where the most suspenseful scene is a rather perfunctory chase (of sorts) at the climax.

The controversy between the Filmspotting hosts involves (as I understand it from reading the forums, I didn’t listen to the review segment of that episode) something about whether or not the film demonizes Iran and Iranians.  It was a concern for me for a while, but ultimately I think no, there’s enough trust in the audience to understand the situation and enough of an attempt to humanize one of the Iranian characters.  If a particular viewer is already inclined to think of Iranians as the “evil other” then the film certainly won’t change his mind, but I don’t think that’s Affleck’s fault or responsibilty.

I enjoyed the pacing of the movie, and felt it was quite competently done.  I just didn’t find anything that special about it.  Rating: Fair (66)


6 Responses to “Argo”

  1. It was a fun, light, and very slight film. I agree that Arkin was fun, and I was never bored by the film, but it wasn’t at all memorable. The “emotional” moments at the end were particularly undeserved.

    • I thought it was kind of weird how much the film points out that Canada got all this credit they didn’t “deserve”. Seemed kinda crappy, especially since they helped out a great deal.

  2. I liked it as well. It’s a satisfying film, but I don’t think it’s that amazing. That being said, I didn’t mind it winning Best Picture. It had all the criteria for what the Academy looks for.

    • I still have too many others nominees to see (and of now, the only one is Beasts, which I liked about as much as this). I don’t MIND it winning, but I’m pretty sure I’ll like Amour and Django more.

  3. JamDenTel said

    Yeah, I never saw what the fuss was about either. I want to see it again at some point, a little more removed from all the hype, but I have a hard time imagining I’ll ever consider it better than okay. And for my money, “Argo fuck yourself” got real old, real fast.

    • It was already old for me since I’d heard it many times already on podcasts. Boy, someone thought that line was super clever, though. I wonder if that came from the true story.

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