Sunday, March 03, 2013

The Last Shot: Tehran Nights

...oh, right.  I should put a review here.  Welp, I finally saw it.  Argo, that is.  My congratulations to Lysa Heslov and company, but she probably won't like this review that much.  I mean, Ben Affleck was probably the right choice, but The Town had a few too many plot holes big enough to drive a truck through.  Argo arguably didn't have as many, but my viewing companion at one point started saying over and over "You know, I don't believe this part..." with the codicil that "...but it doesn't detract from the greatness of the story."
It was the cusp of the two most chronicled decades of late: the '70s and '80s, baby.  I think George Clooney's trying to indoctrinate us to the bad music of that time once again.  Van Halen?  Boston's "More than a Feeling?"  (see Men who Stare at Goats)  Back when the idea of the CIA producing a fake Hollywood movie was an embarrassing thought at the least.  But it was a clever plan, and I'm going to try not to call it a "game changer" or an example of "out-of-the-box thinking."  How about that it got caught up in the generational divide?
Of course, the idea of the government working with Hollywood was more embraced by the Department of Defense, vis-a-vis Top Gun and every Michael Bay / Jerry Bruckheimer movie since.  The movie opens with a brief history of Iran's last 2,000 years, accompanied by comic book visuals.  It's the best Hollywood can do right now.  For me, it cast a bit of a pall on the United States, and I couldn't help but think that the people of Iran had a point.  Our foreign policy's kinda crappy, to say the least.
And so, the Iranians were thirsty for blood, and they had the automatic weapons to slake it.  And if they were unable to spill the blood of genuine Americans, a few of their own countrymen would do in a pinch, particularly the weak ones, the ones who showed the slightest hint of sympathy towards the Great Satan.  They always get it first.  The American embassy is overrun and... what's the deal with the date and time lettering?  Looks like it was plastered on at the last minute.  Saul Bass must be rolling over in his grave.
God bless Wikipedia.  I finally know what exfil stands for.  I thought I'd have to brave the wilds of to find out.  I will say that I had to watch the opening sequences again where Tony Mendez / Kevin Harkins braves the wilds of Hollywood to set up the fake movie.  Alan Arkin plays an old school Hollywood producer who gets convinced all too quickly to take on this challenge by some nasty footage on TV, and he does good.  He and Goodman make a good team.  Well, John Goodman's always good.  He's got a big name to live up to!  Appearing in O Brother, Where Art Thou? may have helped out a little in landing this role.  Also, he looks a lot like the guy he portrays.
And so, we find that even a fascist state like 1980's Iran isn't immune to the right Trojan horse.  Again, I myself found some of the details unbelievable.  A 1980 airport using computer technology to book flights?  A thrilling car chase down the runway as the plane's taking off?  You're telling me that some of those Fidel Castro-wannabe soldiers couldn't get the plane to land?  But I nitpick it to death.  A fine film with a good cast, good visuals, filmed the old Panavision-looking way with horizontal lens flares and such.  And just like the Alan Arkin character ran into Warren Beatty once, Ben Affleck himself could turn out to be his generation's Warren Beatty, if only he would be more of a womanizer or something.
On the other hand, Stephen Colbert had a good point, too, saying that Hollywood gives the Best Picture Oscar to the film where Hollywood's the hero.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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