'Argo' Blu-ray Review: Ben Affleck's Directorial Snub Only Blemish on Oscar-worthy Thriller
The snub heard 'round the world might be the best thing that ever happened to Argo.
Director Ben Affleck's Argo, the thrilling tale of the other Iranian hostage crisis, failed to net him a Best Director nomination. Since then, virtually every film award has gone Argo's way.
Now, mere days before the Oscar ceremony, the film arrives on home video via Blu-ray combo-pack, DVD and Digital Download.
Affleck does more than shrewdly avoid partisan point collecting--save the film's left-leaning history lesson at the story's beginning. He takes a story with a commonly known ending and leaves us fraught with fear that reality will somehow betray us.
That's crafty filmmaking, and after Gone Baby Gone and The Town it's no accident Affleck could pull it off.
The film stars Affleck as Tony Mendez, an FBI agent tasked with getting six Americans out of Iran at the peak of the 1979 hostage crisis involving 52 captured Americans. To do so, Tony concocts an improbable rescue plan involving a fake science fiction movie and plenty of crossed fingers.
Veteran scene swipers Alan Arkin and John Goodman give life to the Hollywood players who help Tony attempt his mission: darn near impossible. Their work also gives the tense film some well-received comic relief. Argo really soars when we're dropping in on the six house guests waiting, and hoping, for a rescue plan that will take them out of a nation gripped by anti-American sentiment.
The Blu-ray extras include a valuable "Eyewitness Account" mode where viewers can watch the film and pick up information from the real-life Argo players (including the actual house guests and former President Jimmy Carter) and Rescued from Tehran: We Were There featuring the same people providing a more documentary-style approach to the historical record.
Behind the Scenes: Argo - Absolute Authenticity shows the film's creative team describing how the buzz word behind the project was "replication."
"I was a Middle Eastern studies major," Affleck says but he learned of the real-life Argo after his college days wrapped once President Bill Clinton declassified the pertinent information. He demanded every period detail be duplicated on the set.
Affleck also had the actors playing the house guests live together before the film began - without cell phones, computers or the Internet to recreate a 1979-like mindset. It was also partly to bond the cast mates to one another for the project ahead.
"It's very hard to 'act' familiarity," Affleck says of his approach.