Blu-ray/DVD Review ‘Argo’: Stranger Than Fiction

ArgoDue Tuesday, Feb. 19 from Warner Bros., actor, producer and director Ben Affleck’s Argo not only is truth that’s stranger than fiction. It’s also truth that’s more compelling, relevant and timely than any fiction in the running for this year’s Best Picture Oscar.

Yet Affleck, as director, isn’t nominated.

To some, that’s sacrilege — and certainly will be if Argo wins best picture and another, thereby lesser, film wins for best director. But that’s how Oscars are even more apt to shake out since the Academy added more Best Picture nominees (up to 10) compared to five nods for Best Director.

I, for one, am pulling for Affleck and his superb movie, whose unveiling of the true story of 1980’s Iranian hostage crisis has enormous timeliness for what looks like a ’70s period piece, given that it sets the stage for the current distrust and hostilities between Iran and the U.S. Yet Argo isn’t all painfully compelling drama.

Affleck also smartly leavens the creepy plight of six Americans hiding in the Canadian embassy and how his character’s CIA man rushes to their rescue with a wryly humorous, vividly colorful look at old-style Hollywood commercial expedience in the form of Allan Arkin’s and John Goodman’s producers.

Arkin, in particular, should win an Oscar as a sharp-tongued yet somehow lovable rascal who helps Affleck’s CIA man enter Iran in the guise of part of a Candian group doing location scouting for a crappy Star Wars knock-off titled Argo.

Though Affleck juggling act (his character also has a personal-life drama) won’t win him a directing Oscar, here’s hoping his movie prevails for Best Picture, so he and pal George Clooney as producers can take home Sunday night’s biggest award.

Ben, you especially deserve it — and thanks.

— Bruce Westbrook

PS–The Blu-ray of Argo (and the DVD) feature a fascinating interview-focused look back at the hostage crisis by many of its original participants, including former President Jimmy Carter. Don’t miss Rescued From Tehran: We Were There. It makes the story complete.

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