Anthony Lane on 'Argo'
First he gives us this laugh-out-loud line:
[W]e were wrong about Ben Affleck. Few of us, watching “Armageddon” and “Pearl Harbor,” could see a way out, or back, for an actor so utterly at the mercy of his own jawline.
Then he ties the film's super-dramatic ending to its earlier gentle mocking of Hollywood values, which include super-dramatic endings:
If you visit the C.I.A. Web site, you can read Mendez’s account of events in January, 1980. “As smooth as silk,” he calls the hostages’ passage through the airport, whereas Affleck, chopping up the action and spinning it out, insures that no nails remain unchewed. This is absolutely his right as a teller of tales, and “Argo” never claims to be a documentary. It struck me as a bit rich, however, to make such sport of Hollywood deceitfulness and then to round off your movie with an expert helping of white lies, piling on car chases that never occurred.
It helps, as it always does, that Lane and I are more-or-less in agreement about the movie. We're pleasantly surprised by Affleck, love ourselves some Alan Arkin, wish the last third had delved a bit more into character, particularly the character of the six embassy workers, rather than Spielbergian thrills--most of which, even as I watched them, I didn't buy.
But I bought “Argo.” It's one of the best movies I've seen this year: smart, funny, accessible.
Of course the year is just getting interesting.
Lane: “...and, most enjoyable of all, Alan Arkin as Lester Siegel, a producer so scornfully amused by Mendez’s request that he has no option but to obey it.”