Last night a smaller group of lolo, 2112.net and his girlfriend and I hit the theatre for Argo, the latest thriller from Ben Affleck about the Iranian hostage crisis. It is expected that it will make a killing at the Oscars and that would be no surprise. It is a gripping film end-to-end with a typically great performance from otherwise expressionless Affleck, an excellent Bryan Cranston as the Supporting Lead, and cameos from lots of others including John Goodman. The costumes and decors were all extremely believably 1980 down to the nutty glasses and geeky clothes and old Plymouths. I think it will be a long time until I forget the excellent line: “What does Argo mean? Ar-go-fuck-yourself!” The casting was particularly excellent regarding the Canada 6 as their photos and the actors all made up were really hard to tell apart.
I know the film is still pretty fresh and so no spoilers tonight. Let me just talk about my impressions of that formative crisis a bit.In 1980/81, I was all of 11 or 12 years old and pretty ignorant of anything in the world outside my unincorporated Dade County neighborhood having only left Miami a handful of times and having only left the state once to a farm in Georgia. This crisis hit me and others around me like a ton of bricks. Suddenly, we realized that there was actually a world outside of south Florida and, worst, that in that world there were people that didn’t really buy into our mythology of the guy on the horse with the white hat, the policeman of democracy, god’s chosen land (well, his second choice after Israel anyway). I mean who were these people that stormed our embassy and took our folks hostage. Fortunately, I didn’t really fall over the racist, xenophobic cliff and start slinging anti-arab slurs around, but I was taken back and had to re-evaluate my position and feeling about all this. I think it must have been nearly a decade later that I read Zinn’s awesome book describing the back room “real” American history, but something in my 12-year old mind was already set into motion in terms of critical thinking.
The particular incident described in the film only went public in about 1997. Thanks to 2112.net, I found the original testimony of Tony Mendez who was portrayed by Affleck here. I think the article that sparked Affleck’s attention and interest in making a movie about this was in this 2007 Wired Magazine article. Both are interesting reading, particularly the first one as it is first-hand testimony.
It was a great movie, one of this year’s gems.