Argo

Ben Affleck’s third movie, Argo, is his best so far. Argo is based on the true story of six Americans who escaped the hostage situation in Tehran (that begin in 1979) and hid with the Canadian ambassador. Those six people have to be flown out of Tehran, but the question is how to do that without the Iranians discovering they are Americans and not Canadians.

There are some flaws in the movie, namely the oversimplification (as Hollywood does so well) of the behind-the-scenes politics that had been going on for years to bring the whole situation to a head. Also, from what I’ve read, it seems that some of the scenes in the movie, especially toward the end, are over-dramatized to add more tension and slightly misleading.

Those flaws aside, the movie was captivating and quite thrilling. The drama, whether amped up for Hollywood or not, will certainly keep the audience’s attention. What is also fascinating is how well they captured the look of the era–the clothes, the hair, the tensions, and more importantly, the terror in the streets of Tehran. While all the hostages are eventually released, Tehran remained a dangerous place for those who wouldn’t toe the line. If you don’t believe me, read Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran. But I digress.

What was most surprising to me about Argo was the humor. I wasn’t expecting a movie about hostages and secret rescue missions to be so funny, but it was. Much of the humor is a dark humor, but it rings true to how people would have reacted in such a situation. Alan Arkin and John Goodman’s Hollywood characters add a lot of the humor, although the CIA agent O’Donnell, played by Bryan Cranston, has some of the best lines.

Argo is a thrilling and entertaining movie about a frightening time in American history. Even though the story is a little doctored, it is still well worth watching. This is a movie that, while it will be good on a TV, is worth the money to watch in theaters. The large screen of a theater makes the terrifying mobs in Tehran more realistic, and it makes the Hollywood scenes more opulent in comparison. I recommend you watch this movie in the theater if you get the chance.

I watched the entire first season of "Breaking Bad."  Many people are lauding the show almost as much (or more, depending on the people) as the other AMC show "Mad Men."  I didn’t make it past the first few episodes of "Mad Men" because I found it depressing.  I’ve been told that it gets better, but I haven’t been able to watch any more of it.

"Breaking Bad," even though it deals with deliberate violation of law, did not seem as dark as "Mad Men."  I think the main reason for that is Bryan Cranston, who plays the protagonist, Walter White.  Cranston is able to make the character believable, and make the extremely dark humor at least slightly humorous.  He is an excellent actor.  However, I did not believe the main premise of the show–that a man intelligent enough to make extremely pure meth could not find a legal way to make more money than he does as a teacher.  That whole main premise did not seem like an organic growth from the character.  The parts that seem real are his reactions to situations where he previously acted like a doormat.  Because of Cranston’s talent, the viewer can see the pent-up anger and frustration on Walt’s face, usually right before he does something outrageous.  However, making meth–which is one of the deadliest drugs out there–is a cold-blooded, thought-out process.  It doesn’t compute for me.

I did find the show entertaining in a "why on earth is this guy doing this?" way, but I didn’t feel compelled to keep watching after the first season.