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Argo (Blu-ray)  [Region Free]
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Based on real events, the dramatic thriller Argo chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis, focusing on the little-known role that the CIA and Hollywood played--information that was not declassified until many years after the event. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, the Canadian and American governments ask the CIA to intervene. The CIA turns to their top "exfiltration" specialist, Tony Mendez, to come up with a plan to get the six Americans safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies.Extra Content
• Feature Length Picture in Picture: Eye Witness Account (theatrical version) -- Relive the takeover of the US Embassy in November of 1979 and the daring rescue mission in January of 1980 through the eyes of those that lived it.
• Rescued from Tehran: We Were There -- President Jimmy Carter, Tony Mendez and the actual house guests recount the real-life harrowing experience they endured.
• Argo: Absolute Authenticity -- From characters to heart-stopping action, Ben Affleck's eye and ear for hard-hitting realism and attention to exacting detail has become his signature as an A-list filmmaker.
• ARGO: The CIA & Hollywood Connection -- Director Ben Affleck and former CIA agent Tony Mendez give a firsthand view of the actual documents and cover story used to create the phony movie Argo that had all of Hollywood believing in.
• Escape from Iran: The Hollywood Option -- Escape From Iran commemorates the 25th anniversary of the "Canadian Caper," taking us back to this startling affair through the direct testimony of the Americans who found sanctuary at the Canadian embassy in Tehran, and the Canadians who risked their own safety to shelter their closest neighbours.
Set against the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979 and 1980, Ben Affleck’s Argo is a nerve-jangling footnote to the birth of Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Republic. The movie opens at the crest of the 1979 revolution--the storming of the US embassy in Tehran, and the escape of six diplomats to the precarious safety of the Canadian ambassador’s residence. To the rescue is Tony Mendez--a composed CIA agent whose heroism remained classified until 1997--and his state-approved plan to get the stranded embassy staff out of Iran under a brazen cover story: they’re an innocent film crew on a location hunt for the fake sci-fi blockbuster Argo. Hollywood is usually pressed into the service of the state in the name of comedy (either burying dictators in Team America: World Police or just bad news in Barry Levinson’s Wag the Dog), but Argo is a true story, and the tone of Affleck's Oscar-winning script is carefully split, switching between mounting tension in consular Tehran and a satire of the Hollywood machine as fronted by Alan Arkin and John Goodman--two raffish producers hired by Mendez to reverse-engineer some convincing buzz for the Argo movie. Affleck himself takes the role of Mendez, the steady-eyed agent betting everything on Hollywood’s age-old efficiency at creating a media circus for a project long before it exists. ‘History starts out as farce and ends up a tragedy’, remarks Goodman, but Argo ends on a patriotic upbeat, and doesn’t reflect much on history. It politely nods at the context of Iran’s attitude to the West, and we’re told about but not shown--bar the blank rage of the revolutionary mob--Iran’s anger at the Westerly flow of resources under Shah Pahlavi. Instead, Argo concentrates on the eggshell complexities of deception in plain sight, including a climactic set-piece in which Mendez’ team must fend their way through layers of suspicious Iranian airport security--with imminent capture, execution and political calamity only on the other side of their paper-thin pretext. It may have the ring of historical escapism, but Argo holds its nerve as a great Hollywood escape. --Leo Batchelor
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Ben Affleck, who also directs, is great as the agent tasked with pulling off this unlikely rescue of a group of American diplomatic staff trapped in Iran after the fall of the Shah. The rest of the cast are equally good and Affleck's direction is assured, nicely building the tension and cleverly blending documentary footage into the mix.
It should be 5 stars, but a point has to be knocked off for the usual shameful riding roughshod over the real facts, which wouldn't appear to add to the story greatly but do make the US look better. Yes its based on a true story but as with all these films it takes itself very seriously and is happy for people to take it as fact (which many people do of course) If you can stomach or ignore this - then its highly recommended.
I'm old enough to remember the events first-hand (though admittedly it was a long time and a lot of wine ago) but I was pretty shaky on the detail but the introductory `history lesson' using real and cleverly faked footage from the time made sure that we were fully aware of the context of the crisis. What we, and everybody else at the time, were unaware of was the CIA's and Hollywood's improbable involvement in the repatriation (or `exfiltration' as they seem to call it) of a group of escaped hostages. However, the alleged historical veracity has suffered, as usual, at the hands of the Hollywood machine. Just a brief bit of Google'ing shows how actual events have been subverted by the convenient `based on a true story' subtitle. The role of the British was completely ignored (just what have the Yanks got against us?) and the role of the Canadians was downplayed significantly.
This could have easily been one of those slow, stodgy films that take themselves far too seriously but there's just the right undercurrent of light humour in the Hollywood proceedings and the casting of Alan Arkin and the irrepressibly good humoured John Goodman was inspired. Despite the American penchant for re-writing history for their own shallow glorification this is still a splendidly watchable film and we shall undoubtedly re-watch it many times.
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