Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Fake Movie Inside A Fake Movie


The Worst Picture Award

‘Argo’ and ‘Zero Dark 30.’  Two patriotic uber "American" movies that were nominated for an Academy Award as best picture in 2012.  Now coming to a $3 theatre near you.

I refused to see the film “0D30” because it was filmed using CIA input.  It was denounced by many mainstream politicians, leftists, military officials and film reviewers as justifying torture.  Kathryn Bigelow also made “The Hurt Locker” – an ambiguous film that she said was ‘anti-war’ but could actually also be seen as a glorification of brave and humane U.S. bomb diffusers in Iraq, and by extension, the war itself.  0D30 got no awards except a shared one, which no one should lament.  Bigelow first said 0D30 was ‘almost documentarian,’ than retreated behind the canard that ‘it was only a movie’ after her misrepresentations of the role of torture in Bin Laden’s execution came in for criticism.

Film makers that make films about actual events in history have a special responsibility.  The film version of history actually becomes the ‘real’ version in the minds of most people - the popular 'truth.'  Just as books exist in film more than in print in the minds of the majority of people, since most people have not read the book ... or know the real history.

“Argo,” a film by Ben Affleck, won the Academy Award for best picture.  It centers around a fake movie called “Argo” set up by the CIA to get 6 Americans out of Tehran after the Iran embassy crisis during the Carter administration.  It has been praised as a well-crafted patriotic ‘seat-of-your pants’ thriller, that lets ‘you’ – the film goer – imagine yourself as one of the potential Iranian hostages.  Yes, you!

Ironically, nearly everything about the actual Affleck film “Argo” is also false.  The plan was not developed by a competent and handsome CIA agent – played by Affleck in this picture.  Affleck is famous for his narcissism, so directing and starring should be no problem.  It was really developed by the Canadian ambassador to Iran, named Ken Taylor.  The whole premise that we cheer for the creative “American” idea, with a little Canadian help, was pure patriotic pulp.  The real story would not contain much for the ‘gutsy’ American CIA officers to do, as they basically sent a CIA agent to pick these people up with a script and some storyboards.  Almost nothing was actually done in Hollywood to create a fake movie.  The Argo scenes of reading scripts, opening an office, hiring a publicist and director to help, and getting a story in the paper – all Hollywood razzle-dazzle.  All the “Hollywood to the Rescue” crap?   Didn’t happen – until now.

The finger-nail biting last day in the ostensibly real movie ‘Argo,’ when the Americans leave the Canadian ambassador’s house in Tehran, is also completely fabricated.  No 3 checkpoints.  No phone call to Hollywood.  No last minute plane reservations. No script discussion or scene drawings fawned over by Iranian guards.  No trucks crashing through the residence gates.  No familiar pictures taped together by little Iranian kids at the embassy.  No chase on the tarmac.  In reality, just a bored Iranian custom’s official stamping their fake passports and they were off.

Almost every Iranian in the film is an angry, scary, hostile foreigner – except for the Ambassador’s nice maid.  Allusions are made to torture by the American-supported Shah of Iran, his greed, his SAVAK, the overthrow of Mossedegh to control the oil, but this back-story stays well in the back.  The logic here seems to be ‘Oh well. Sorry. We are still nice people!’    Let’s think about this a little.  No one who works in an embassy is there for the health of the country they are in.  They are hired to carry out the interests of their government and their country’s corporations and businessmen.  They are there in a military or official government capacity, not as a holiday in the sun.  So if things go wrong, I’m not so sure I feel sorry for them.  You chose to work for these people? Cluelessness is its own punishment.

Argo was in fact a fabricated, nationalist, pro-CIA, anti-foreigner, self-contratulatory Hollywood film.  Yet “Rotten Tomatoes” gave this film a 96% positive rating, based on reviews by mostly U.S. film critics.  To top this off, who gave the Oscar for Best Picture to this film?  Michelle Obama, the U.S. President’s wife.  Now if Brezhnev’s wife had honored the winner of the Leningrad Film Festival in 1982 by presenting the top award, all the American ‘critics’ would have scoffed.  Or if King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia’s wife was allowed outside of the mansion long enough to present the award for best Wahhabist or Salafist film, everyone else would scoff but the fundie Muslims.  But we have cute Michelle Obama giving the award, and many people, especially naïve liberals, going, “Ah, isn’t that wonderful?!”  One of the greatest sources of donations for the Obama campaign came from the U.S. film industry, so this was payback.  Although it is quite evident that Hollywood, the U.S. military, the CIA and the U.S. government all work together – no matter what party is in power.

Affleck failed at respecting history or truth.  For that he should be relegated to romantic comedies, where his talents might be more useful.  Although he might only be able to convincingly direct a romance about himself.  Call it, "The Solipsist." 

And I saw it at the Riverview Theater
Red Frog
April 13, 2013

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