Uri wrote:Sorry Marco, but I’m on Sabin's side here. First, I must admit I’ve always been a fan of Affleck, so I may be biased. And I was aware of what you guys said about this film when I saw it yesterday. The fact that it’s a tribute to Carter was very obvious to me. But while I thoroughly enjoyed it, at first I felt the scope of it was too limited. As said in a piece of criticism I read in the paper here right after I saw it, it looks like a missed opportunity to say something about the American historical way of handling itself in the world. But as it usually the case, I needed to sleep on it.
Yes, it’s a very American piece. Yes it’s patriotic. Actually, it’s a remark about what constitute as American patriotism. And it’s being an homage to Carter is not only about him being the one green lighting this operation at the end but in the fact that Argo at heart is about celebrating moderation, lacking of bravado when needed, and putting the interest of one’s country ahead of one’s self promoting. There’s a respect for these six people who are the ones who escape, who smartly managed to avoid confronting the Iranians, and the film embrace them. And the hesitations they demonstrate about the rescue operation are viewed as respectably legitimate. It celebrates the quite heroism of the Canadian (Canadian!) diplomat and his wife as well the extreme bravery of the Iranian woman who work for them (and the price she had to pay for it). And above all, its comment about the patriotic power of cinema is as much Cateresqe as the Rambo ones’ were Reganesge. You can try and re-write history with your silly, pompously self important Alfa male action blockbusters, but it was the one film that was never made that actually saved the day. Self-depreciation should never be underappreciated, if you ask me.
As for the politics of Argo. For me it was very clear – Affleck clearly stated that on the Americans vs. Iranians issue, it’s the later who’re right. And I found the way the Iranian crowds and individuals are depicted to be quite objectively done. It says volumes about us that we’re conditioned to see them not only as threatening, which in the context of the film (and history), for the Americans, they indeed were, but also as demonian and evil, which I for once didn’t find they were depicted as. Throughout the film, Affleck choose to bring the Iranian side in the shape and voice of a seemingly reasonable, pleasant, soft spoken young woman. The Iranian officials are doing their jobs and not looked at as buffoons as often is the case in Hollywood films and I think that the part about the shreds of papers being salvaged but the children was almost depicted as heroic. For a mainstream American film, I found the tone used towards “the enemy” to be rather soberly fair.
As for the flags. Surprisingly, this overbearing presence of them, in real life as well as in its cinematic representation, is not even part of MY national iconography, but it is essential to the way Americans define their own, so in a film which is about what constitute American heroism and patriotism, there must be a flag waving, but again, I found the almost The Searchers-like framing of the flag by the door at the end to be both the “real” thing and a (non cynical) comment about it, which was fine with me.
No Uri, there mustn't be a flag waving. It's terrible and terribly superficial. Ok, you say that it's not a problem of the movie itself, but of the way Americans define their "heroism and patriotism" - but it's still a problem, one that I will always fight against, and especially from a would-be intelligent director one would expect a different, and more critical (it's possible to be critical, you know) approach to this kind of subject (as far as iconography goes, I prefer the way the American flag was used in In the Valley of Elah. Icons can be destroyed, even).
And are you sure that we really need ANOTHER movie about American "heroism and patriotism"? I personally don't. I've seen enough. I don't think we should be grateful to Americans when they make something admittedly a bit less stupid than Rambo on these issues - I want them to be like us, because it IS possible to be self-critical, especially today. I'll never treat Americans as inferiors who can't escape certain cliches - I'm sure that they can do it, and they sometimes did by the way. Even Leni Riefenstahl's movies (which are much better than Argo, of course) can be seen as intelligent studies of the Nazi regime's "heroism and patriotism" - so what? I still hate their messages.
And no, Uri, sorry... Not from you. Not you. I expected anyone else here to point out that there's the good little Iranian servant in the movie. But not you. I know that there are good Iranians in this movie, just like there are good Thais in The Impossible, but... ok, I won't insist. You know what I mean, I'm sure.