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There are different types of Argo-watchers. Some enjoy the film as a masterpiece, others as nothing more than an average work of cinema. Others are concerned with the potential political ramifications of such a film, while some find the historical inaccuracies taken at the liberty of Hollywood extremely offensive. Some even go so far as to consider it a war crime. Talk about a controversial best motion picture of the year (2012, Academy Award)! Reviews were strongly favorable for Argo, and it needed a tank to bring home all of the awards it won. But there continues to be quite a stir about Affleck’s representation of Iran, his decision to highlight the “Canadian Six,” and obvious exaggeration of Mendez’s exfiltration efforts. Iran made a public statement that they’d be seeking damages for Argo’s inaccurate portrayal of Iran and plan to tell the “true” story of the hostage crisis from the Iranian perspective. Keep an eye out for The General Staff. We’ll be hearing about Argo for a long, long time.

Ahmari, Sohrab. "Ben Affleck's War on the Ayatollahs; 'Argo' is a refreshing Hollywood take on America's adversaries in Iran." Wall Street Journal (Online) 17 October 2012.
Ahmari says Argo offers a "vivid" account of the hostage crisis and is "one that is surprisingly unsparing of the Iranians, given Hollywood's usual preference for nonjudgmental multiculturism." Ahmari finds that the film is more about "movie-making" than it is about Iran's "national tragedy" and raises an interesting perspective about the Khomeini ideology that believes Hollywood "is Washington's ‘soft war' against their wretched regime." A "detectable irony" of the film is to see how Hollywood and the CIA cooperated to pull off such an unbelievable stunt.
Biancolli, Amy. "'Argo' review: Gripping Crisis in Iran." San Francisco Chronicle 11 October 2012.
Biancolli offers the typical, topical review of Argo. Like many reviewers, she is impressed by the film's cinematography and screenplay, praises Affleck's work, but neglects most of the historical component that makes this film worthwhile. Biancolli credits Affleck for the minute-and-a-half "clever rehash" of a 30-year period of Iran's history at the opening of the film.
Conan, Neil. "Former White House Aide Reviews 'Argo'." NPR 18 October 2012.
Interview with Gary Sick. See entry for Sick below. Audio here.
Douthat, Ross. "Emotional Response." National Review 12 November 2012: 54.
Douthat briefly contextualizes Affleck's fall from grace until his more recent films: Gone Baby Gone and The Town. Douthat calls Affleck's decisions on the mission a "forgivable exaggeration." He believes that "in our current season of drift, distrust, and disillusionment, it [Argo] offers a reason to feel good about our country."
Ebert, Robert. "Argo." Chicago Sun Times 10 October 2012.
Ebert's favorable review calls Argo "spellbinding and surprisingly funny" with a "rare" craft. Ebert praises Hollywood -- 1979's Hollywood and Affleck's Hollywood -- for its involvement in the crisis and reproduction of real events. Ebert credits the "Hollywood guys" within the film with "many of the laughs," but notes "that they aren't in danger like their ‘crew members' in Iran."
Fish, Stanley. "The ‘Argo' Caper." New York Times 29 October 2012.
Not wildly for or against Argo, Fish considers it a "caper" movie that he's "seen done before" and "done better." He finds that it's "one of those movies that depend on your not thinking much about it" and "doesn't linger in the memory" or "provoke afterthoughts."
Gilbey, Ryan. "Ben Affleck's Argo is all garnish and no meat." New Statesman 9-15 November 2012: 51.
Gilbey takes no prisoners in his unfavorable review of Argo, which he finds to be "purely theoretical," inauthentic, and "75 per cent garnish." He states that "each element that makes the film an enjoyable distraction undermines the veracity of which it boasts."
Gillespie, Sarah. "Argo and the Iranian Savage: A Film Review." Palestine Chronicle. 27 November 2012.
"It is a rather curious time for Hollywood to launch a blockbuster movie based on the worst US/Iranian diplomatic fallout in history. Currently Iran is threatened with attack from the West almost on a daily basis, and sanctions have devastated the rial, plunging millions into poverty for the crime of (allegedly) developing the same weapons that Iran's agitators enjoy without reprisal. Meanwhile, in the fantasy emporiums of high street cinemas, millions of moviegoers across the world are invited to imagine the opposite scenario, a tale in which the innocent Western subject is faced with extinction at the whim of an Iranian aggressor."
Habibinia, Omid. "Review of 'Argo': the best worst film on US hostages in Iran." Your Middle East 25 February 2013.
"Both Americans and Iranians anticipated the arrival of the film Argo. Perhaps Iranians were somewhat afraid of how they would be depicted. Just like Rocky and Rambo, Argo was made as a compensation for a horrendous mental breakdown in American contemporary history, and carries the same polarized atmosphere. Thus, confronting this film is a bit different for the Iranian audience whose lives are politicized in all aspects."
Hammond, Pete. Boxoffice Magazine. 7 September 2012.
Hammond touches on the humorous tone of the creation of "Argo-within-Argo," which "noticeably (and effortlessly) shifts once the action shifts to Tehran." Hammond finds that Affleck "gets it all right" from the opening credits to the end credits through his dedication to setting the story "almost like a documentary," even though "dramatic liberties" are apparent.
Hornaday, Ann. "Argo: Nail Biting Political Thriller." Washington Post 12 October 2012.,1215808/critic-review.html
"It's serious and substantive, an ingeniously written and executed drama fashioned from a fascinating, little-known chapter of recent history."
Johnson, Brian D. "Affleck rewrites history." Maclean's 12 September 2012: 66.
Instead of focusing primarily on the overarching fabrications of Affleck's version, Johnson goes into detail to discuss the misrepresentation of Canada. Johnson interviewed Ken Taylor, then Canadian ambassador to Iran, to discuss Argo's representation of Canada. Taylor says that his concern is that "we're [Canada] portrayed as innkeepers who are waiting to be saved by the CIA," calls much the movie "total fiction," and said that "Argo's magnification of the US role is "absolute nonsense." Taylor says that "for every hour spent in Washington, there were two spent in Ottawa."
Kennedy, Lisa. "Movie review: Ben Affleck's star rises as a director with ‘Argo'." 18 February 2013.
Kennedy finds that attention to detail is one of the "admirable" things about Affleck as a director and approves of the authenticity and intensity of his actors. She highlights that the six Americans hiding at the Canadian ambassador's home do a "great job of not seeming particularly exceptional" and that Affleck portrays Mendez with a "level intensity"; likewise, the CIA-Hollywood combination "shouldn't work so well together" but does "brilliantly."
Larsen, Josh. "Argo." LarsenonFilm. October 2012.
A must-read unfavorable review claiming that Argo opens with "an act of cultural imperialism" and is "a deeply myopic view of the world, one focused through a distinctly -- and distorted -- American lens." Larsen finds Argo to "play on our worst impulses" to "generate fear and suspense" and is "an unsettling combination of American jingoism and old-fashioned xenophobia." What Larsen suggests to be most problematic is that "cinematic fear mongering" is dangerous in a time where "war with Iran is being discussed in certain American circles."
Lee, Kevin B. "Argo F-ck Yourself: this year's worst Best Picture nominee." Slate Culturebox. 10 January 2013.
Lee is unsupportive of Affleck's Argo for many reasons: it "settles into a retrograde ‘white Americans in peril' storyline; "marginalizes" Iranians from this period of history and "shunt[s] them into the role of villains."
O'Hehir, Andrew. "'Argo' doesn't deserve the Oscar." 18 February 2012.
In a lengthy review, O'Hehir describes why he is frustrated with the praise Argo has received for being "just a movie" when dozens of today's films "wrestle with questions of history, morality and philosophy." O'Hehir disagrees with the way this historical episode has been "rendered" into a "familiar action-adventure flick about American heroism" and "the inspiring patriotism of . . . cynical bastards in the film industry." O'Hehir displays many of the inconsistencies between true events and the way they were displayed in Argo.
Podhoretz, John. "Escape from Tehran." Weekly Standard 29 October: 38-39.
Podhoretz is pleased with this "nationalist story with a unique twist" and finds that Argo would have worked in more ways than just on the big screen: as a successful "docudrama made for network television" and as "a little movie that could [have] easily fit on an old 19-inch color television." Podhoretz equates the suspense of Argo to a film called Raid on Entebbe; even though you know how the story ends, "your heart is lodged in your throat" and the "final escape results in a shocking flood of grateful tears." The closing end-title sequence is "perhaps the best [he's] ever seen" when "documentary footage matches . . . the movie's meticulous re-creations." But Podhoretz finds that because Affleck didn't "want to wave the flag" when it came to his framing of US involvement of the overthrow of prime minister Mossadegh, Affleck "loses the emotional wallop that could have made Argo a movie for the ages rather than the best fall release of 2012."
Schaefer, Sandy. "'Argo': The Movie vs. The True Story." Screenrant October 2012.
Schaefer poses the question of whether a facts-only version of Argo would have made for better or weaker entertainment. Shaefer ultimately answers that, no, eliminating the exaggerated and tense steps of the exfiltration would "probably not" have been as "engaging" and "fun to watch." Shaefer suggests alternate ways the film could have been done without sacrificing facts and questions why certain figures (specifically Ray Bradbury, Jack Kirby, and Buckminster Fuller) were dropped from Affleck's storyline. She concludes that Affleck "played to his strengths as a storyteller" but wonders if "somewhere down the road" Affleck will gain the "confidence" and "credibility" he needs to "break further away from convention."
Schenker, Andrew. "Argo." Slant Magazine 11 October 2012.
A must-read, two-star review: "Undeniably rousing, but deeply irresponsible, Argo fans the flames surrounding historical events likely to still remain raw in the memory of many viewers. In Ben Affleck's film, the past is present. Unfolding against the backdrop of the 1979 Iranian revolution and the resulting hostage crisis, the film quite clearly aims to draw parallels between that moment of history and the United States' current and increasingly belligerent attitude toward the Islamic Republic, goaded continually on by a bellicose Israeli state."
Sick, Gary. "Iran Hostage Crisis Insider Reviews Hollywood Thriller 'Argo'." al-Monitor 13 October 2012.
This review fleshes out the political and socio-political complexities of US-Iran relations since the hostage crisis in 1979. Sick is widely published and served on the staff of former President Carter's National Security Council; Sick was also the principal White House aide for Persian Gulf affairs during the Iranian Revolution. Sick finds that the six Americans' story "receded to the status of a footnote" until Affleck gave it "the full Hollywood treatment." He appreciates Affleck's resistance "to inject a large dose of James Bond into his (Affleck's) character" and the way archive footage is mixed "seamlessly" with "utterly realistic sets and performances." According to Sick, Affleck accurately depicts the "stifling internal rivalries among government departments." Sick mentions some minor inconsistencies between the "reel" and the "real" but closes with: "hey, this is Hollywood, not history. The film works. Enjoy it!" (See more of Sick in the Conan entry above.)
Stevens, Dana. "Argo: Director Ben Affleck's Iran hostage crisis is his best movie yet." Slate 10 October 2012.
Like Hammond, Stevens agrees that the transition from Hollywood humor to international tension is "nicely executed." Stevens also recognizes the "dramatic license" taken in a few key scenes but quickly reminds us that "we're not here for an episode of Frontline" and that "a little emotional catharsis with our late-20th-century history lesson" is a positive thing. Stevens brings up her discontent with Affleck casting himself as the lead role and suggests that other actors (George Clooney, producer of Argo, as one of them) "might have brought more texture and darkness to the role."
Suderman, Peter. "Argo." Washington Times 11 October 2012.
"If there's a weak point, it's the script by Chris Terrio, which was based on a "Wired" article by Joshuah Bearman. Mr. Terrio has designed scenes to build tension, but includes too many characters that he doesn't quite develop. The best compliment I can pay to the film is that it feels like a movie from an earlier era -- less frenetic, less showy, more focused on narrative than sensation. Part of that is stylistic: Mr. Affleck borrows heavily but effectively from 1970s political thrillers, adopting that era's grittier film stock and harsher light."
Travers, Peter. "Argo." Rolling Stone 11 October 2012.
"Ben Affleck doesn't merely direct Argo, he directs the hell out of it, nailing the quickening pace, the wayward humor, the nerve-frying suspense. There's no doubt he's crafted one of the best movies of the year."
Turan, Kenneth. "'Argo' is a Hollywood story with a real-world outcome." Los Angeles Times 11 October 2012.
"We see a compelling, expertly done re-creation of the Nov. 4, 1979, storming of the American Embassy in Tehran and how it was that six Americans were able to escape the building."