Argo

Argo totally lived up to my expectations. I anticipated an intelligent screenplay brought to life via a very 1970s  cinematography with plenty aerial views, street scenes and closeups.

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Ben Affleck did an incredible job. As a director he managed to deliver a very sensitive story without making any accusations or stirring the pot. I especially liked the comparison between movie scenes and actual photographs at the end. I believe he wanted to assert the point that he was not exaggerating, merely jotting things down for history. I knew this story, because I had seen a documentary years ago on National Geographic Channel. However, even though I was familiar with the ending, I spent the last half an hour sitting at the edge of my seat. The suspense was really built up to the extreme and I would love to hear how those of you who didn’t know the story reacted during the incredibly tense scenes at airport.

His acting was characteristically well, even if his character reminded me quite a bit of of George Clooney in Syriana. This is especially interesting in lieu of the fact that Affleck and Clooney are producers of Argo.

It surprised me, though that Ben Affleck’s name isn’t on the Best Directing list, especially because David O. Russell’s name (director of Silver Linings Playbook) is up in that category. Usually Hollywood loves to honour actors turned directors, so what do you think happened this time?

Prestige versus love

Synopsis: A troublesome young janitor at MIT, Will Hunting (Matt Damon), shocks the faculty when he solves the “unsolvable” math equation. After his delinquent behaviour lands him in jail, a professor (Robin Williams) bails him out on the condition that the youth attends therapy.

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This is one of those movies that gained instant cult status. The world was so taken by Good Will Hunting that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck became stars over night, and Hollywood awarded them with Oscars for an original screenplay. That’s right: Matt Damon & Ben Affleck were the screenwriters of this remarkable film. I remember thinking that they were geniuses, and it never occurred to me that they would have such rich acting careers.

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Like so many Gus Van Sant films, Good Will Hunting is layered with existentialist pondering embodied in characters. Was there anyone who didn’t fall in love with the rebellious genius (Will) who mocks the traditional, patriarchal education system? Was there anyone who wasn’t frightened by arrogance with which he tore apart other people’s lives? Was there anyone who didn’t want to hug and kiss him when he revealed details of the physical abuse he suffered as a child? And was there anyone who didn’t breathe a sigh of relief when he decided to pass up the business opportunity that so many dream of to “go see about a girl”?

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What makes the movie so loveable is the unpretentious manner in which it delivers the point that life is about more than achieving prestige. This is a wonderful reminder, especially in this day and age when societies have become obsessed with success.

The question that is most on my mind now, is whether it’s possible to be both prestigious and successful in love. The movie seems to suggest that this is an impossibility. After having been conditioned to attend therapy, Will finds himself with two father figures who stand in opposition to one another. On the one hand there is Sean, who has based his every decision on love for his wife, missing out even a historic moment in baseball. And then there’s professor Lambeau who only seems to be concerned with mathematical achievements, setting aside all other pleasures.

This dichotomy is perfectly illustrated in one scene when Sean and Lambeau argue about Will’s future. Lambeau likens Will to Einstein, citing that it would be a great shame, if not even irresponsible to the future generations if Will’s talent was wasted. Sean, however, is insistent that Will has no obligation towards anyone but himself.

I for one think that nothing is impossible, but it is true that some of the greatest minds in history lived a lonesome lifestyle, without a spouse or a family.

What do you think about all this?