Sunday, March 31, 2013

Argo (movie review)

I usually like to write my movie reviews without peeking at what others have said.  That's just a game I play with myself.  Put my cards on the table and then maybe read others' stuff after.  In this case though, I did a fair amount of homework reading more background, but not a lot more.

Like many viewers of the film, I knew parts of the movie would be fake as this was not purporting to be a documentary.  This was a Hollywood film poking somewhat ironic fun at itself, with the director being told to his face, as an actor, that old cliche about how any monkey can be taught to direct a film in a day or two.  That's just another way of saying there's an immense gulf between a well and poorly directed film and/or agency and/or whatever needs directing.

I went with a film maker and photographer who plies her trade to some degree.  Her trajectory as a filmmaker had swerved a bit.  She did community access TV after inheriting family property that needed managing.  She was present when the Latino gay bar, which means family friendly in ways you may not get if Anglophone, got bashed by out of zoners and effectively closed by violence and threats, but the news shows didn't want to touch the story.  This was over 10 years ago.  We were having beer in a successor to the space when she told me of these events, partially caught on film.

She also spied in the women's stalls for me at the movie theater and reported they were gushing about Ben Affleck, whose name I can't think of without imagining a duck selling insurance (speaking of which, a friend of my friend Jimmy Lott voices the pig in Geico commercials).  He's both the ham and the director, Ben is, in this friendly look back to the 1980s, with those intensely loud IBM Selectrics.  Good job with the haircuts too, giant glasses, people still smoking on jumbo jets.  You say John Chambers was a make-up artist?  

Arkin and Goodman make a great Hollywood.

The state of the Hollywood sign (in great disrepair) was more than interesting in that they put up a black and white version right next to it, and as the eyes go back and forth, the sense of suspended disbelief is suspended even further.  "Wow it's so realistic!" says the neural nerd, so easily fooled by screen magic, so slippery when wet, "they spared no effort in recreating the past just as it was".  Critics leave the movie feeling hoodwinked at some level, and want to study more, which is good.  I'm getting to that.  Seven Psychopaths features that Hollywood sign, as do many in The Story of Film.

I wanted to know what Iranians thought of the film and whether the Iranian blogs were getting into it.

There's a dialog to be had about which "America" we prefer, the Thirty Dark Zero one [sic], where a CIA director shows his face (Tony Soprano plays Panetta), or this more Get Smart like operation (Kyle Chandler in both), where Stansfield Turner lurks behind the scenes and you see less gun play (Mendez gets through the whole movie without one).

Like in Hollywood:  which movie lots / production companies do you want controlling / orchestrating your projections?  That's a basic question.  Which screenplays to you really want produced?  That's a question governments answer, not just movie makers.  Their job is theater.

The two CIAs collide towards the end, as Delta Force is being scrambled for something more traditionally military, whereas those playing with mirrors and shadows are told to stand down, right in the middle of their setup.  Like when Alan Arkin tries to get back into his office:  the whole fragile plan is about to crash because of some slugheads (ex Delta Force?) making a two star film.   Quality operations go on hold while the brute force crowd crushes in, ruining everything.

Because remember how that Delta Force thing went:  not well.  That's not how the hostages got out.  Rather, something transpired that left Carter out and Reagan in, and then the 444 days were over.  This film helps at least associate a higher level of intelligence with Canadians, not unlike Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine in that respect.  Why are "Americans" being hunted in the first place, and not Swiss?

Iran is strongly into film making and needs to work through karma like any people with in-common destinies.  I'm all for getting Iranian DVDs taking us through a different window.  The same tension will likely prevail:  to what level is it mind over brain and brain over brawn?  Buckminster Fuller lurks in the background of this story, as a backer of Science Fiction Land, a kind of Toon Town, or Wilderness of Mirrors.