Saturday, November 10, 2012


Argo easily takes top spot in my list of best movies I have seen this year. Directed by/starring the ever-improving Ben Affleck (Hollywoodland, The Town), Argo tells the recently declassified true story of CIA operative Tony Mendez who attempts to extract six Americans from the US-hating Iran of 1980, using the guise of a Canadian film crew in the country to scout locations for a bad, low-budget sci-fi space film.

 Argo is - first and foremost - an incredibly well-paced and tense thriller, with a genuinely nail-biting climax. It is much more in tone with classic 70s/80s cinema like All the President's Men and Salvador than most current American thrillers. But on another level, Argo also works as a wonderful homage to/satire of the world of low-budget genre filmmaking from the era, when cheap Star Wars rip-offs dominated the drive-ins (Mendez first got the idea for his plan while watching Battle for the Planet of the Apes on TV with his son, and John Goodman appears as legendary make-up artist John Chambers, who won an Oscar for his work on the original Planet of the Apes and acted as a consultant for the CIA on this operation).

Argo might suffer a little in the character development department, but its many great points - which also include some stunning widescreen cinematography and a sountrack of vintage cuts by the Stones, Van Halen and Led Zep - more than compensate.