Sunday, September 29, 2013
It's 9:11 somewhere
Cloverfield: written by Drew Goddard; directed by Matt Reeves; starring Lizzy Caplan (Marlena Diamond), Jessica Lucas (Lily Ford), T.J. Miller (Hud), Michael Stahl-David (Rob Hawkins), Mike Vogel (Jason Hawkins) and Odette Annable (Beth) (2008): I'm not entirely certain why I enjoy this movie so much. I think I just like seeing annoying yuppies pursued through Manhattan by a 500 foot-long gecko.
Argo: adapted by Chris Terrio from work by Tony Mendez and Joshuah Bearman; directed by Ben Affleck; starring Ben Affleck (Tony Mendez), Bryan Cranston (Jack O'Donnell), Alan Arkin (Lester Siegel), John Goodman (John Chambers), and Victor Garber (Ken Taylor) (2012): In 1979, the Canadian embassy in Iran secretly sheltered six American diplomats who'd escaped the hostage-taking of the rest of the American embassy staff by Iranian militants. It was a wild true story, told in Best-Picture-Oscar winner Argo as a thriller in which Americans are actually almost completely behind the escape of those escapees from Iran.
Absolutely none of the tense moments of the last 40 minutes of the film, as CIA agent Affleck rushes to get the six American diplomats hidden at Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor's residence onto a plane and out of Iran before their cover is blown, really happened. By the time Iranians race to catch an ascending plane with their cars and jeeps, the artificiality of the whole exercise seems to mirror the bizarre artificiality of the central premise of the escape plan: that the six diplomats pretend to be part of a film crew scouting Iran for locations for a science-fiction film named Argo.
Well, so it goes. Canada at least comes across better than New Zealand and Great Britain. Argo claims they refused to help the escaped embassy staff when in reality Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand all took part in the dangerous months-long ordeal -- to the extent that in real life, New Zealand diplomats, and not Ben Affleck, drove the escapees to the airport during the events that conclude the film. And Jimmy Carter didn't have to authorize the purchase of airplane tickets in the nick of time, as the movie shows -- Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor's wife had already bought those tickets. Oh, well. I was entertained! Recommended.