Friday, May 24, 2024

Jimmy Carter’s Image Spiffed Up in Ben Affleck’s “Argo”


Jimmy Carter gets a bad rap and I can tell you why since I lived through the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis with everyone else. The longer it went on the worse things got for Carter, who came across as inept.

Now in Ben Affleck’s wonderful new thriller, “Argo,” which I just saw, Carter’s image gets a polishing up. He even speaks at the end of the movie, which is about six hostages who were not part of the larger group. They escaped to the Canadian embassy and had to be removed as part of a CIA effort. It’s a little known story with a humorous Hollywood subplot–all true. Carter and his team come off looking like heroes.

Suffice to say that “Argo” is Ben Affleck’s third hit in a row as a director. Who’da thunk it? He gets better and better. Even though you know the outcome of “Argo,” Affleck builds suspense in this thriller like a pro. He’s also the star of the movie, although it’s very well cast throughout with dozens of talented actors comprising the ensemble.

“Argo” is also a real throwback to great movie making of the 1970s. The characters are well drawn, the action never stops. More imporantly, “Argo” recalls the best work of Alan Pakula and the directors of the 70s (also thinking Costa Gavras) who made entertaining pictures with political themes. Affleck and his whole crew will be up for lots of awards. But first they will have a box office hit and a real crowd pleaser.

And Affleck makes a movie not set in Boston, with no Boston accents. It’s a f—in’ wunda.

As for Jimmy Carter: he’s been better as a retired president than he was as president. But people may reevaluate even that after seeing “Argo.”

Kudos to a stellar cast: John Goodman and Alan Arkin, Tate Donovan, Victor Garber, most especially Bryan Cranston and my new favorite character actor, Scoot McNairy, who’s also so outstanding in “Killing Them Softly.”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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