After trying to convince the bro to see Argo last week, I managed to rope him into it this week, partly by shaming him based on a recommendation by his sister posted as a comment on the last blog. However, I am still trying to figure out if he didn’t just come along for the excellent sushi we had at Bonzai, but that’s besides the point.
As stated, the sushi at Bonzai Tepanyaki was excellent, making me question why we tried to expand beyond the closest sushi restaurant to our house. The right mix of ingredients with great preparation always makes for better sushi, regardless of where you might actually go. After the Ichiban experience of last week, however, it was reinforced that it may actually matter where you go. While price and other considerations are important, it is also important to know ahead of time that what you are ordering will be good. With Bonzai, and the numerous times that we’ve been there, they don’t disappoint. I even tried a roll that I hadn’t tried before, and it matched the quality of everything else that they make. A pleasant experience for sure, one that will probably be repeated often over the next few months…unless Bill and I get super serious about the gym, and eating better all the time, going forward.
Argo, Ben Affleck‘s latest movie, was probably his best, and he has truly improved in his ability as a director over his three films. Gone Baby Gone was as good as a directorial debut as you could do, and The Town, while full of heist tropes and a lot of Affleck Chin, was better than a lot of movies that are being released today, especially considering that 80% of the movies released these days are remakes, sequels, and other unoriginal content.
Argo is not original content per se. Just like Gone Baby Gone was based on a Dennis Lehane novel, Argo is based on an unclassified CIA operation led by Tony Mendez, which was first pulled out of his memoir The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA. The story is a real spy thriller, and executed well. Being based on actual events and actual people, however, made it better than any Hollywood spy movie of the past few years.
If you are unfamiliar with the story, it takes place in 1979, shortly after the American embassy in Tehran has been taken over by Iranians seeking the return of the Shah from America. Six American employees of the embassy escape out a side entrance and hole up with the Canadian ambassador for a few months, but with Canada recalling its ambassador, time is running short to get these Americans out. To complicate matters further, the Iranians have figured out that there are some folks missing from the embassy staff, and they are going around the neighborhood trying to locate them.
Enter Tony Mendez, CIA expert at getting folks out of rough places. The State Department hatches a couple of cockamamie ideas to free the six, and Mendez uses his expertise to come up with a better idea. He would pose as the producer of a Canadian film crew, and under the pretenses of a location scout in Iran, he would have the six pose as his film crew and leave through the airport. It was a rough go, but they obviously got out as it is based on history, but the suspense is palpable and the drama pretty well done. I may be overly emotional, but I did start to get choked up a bit at the end.
The movie is definitely worth seeing, if only for the accuracy that Affleck tried to portray in placing the film in its era. It starts with classic looking title graphics, with a score not out of current times. Be sure to stick around for the first part of the credits to see the comparison of the actors to their real-life counterparts, as well as some of the more famous images from the Iranian unrest in 1979. This oft-neglected period in our history was important for various reasons, if only setting the stage for our future involvement all over the Middle East during the next 30+ years.
On sister Jen’s recommendation, I have grabbed Mendez’s book. She recommended it because she had to read it when she tried to become like Mendez for the CIA a few months ago. It’s only 99 cents on Kindle over on Amazon, so you should go pick it up when you get a chance. Once I finish reading Lincoln in preparation for Lincoln* next month, The Master of Disguise should be the next thing I read. I’ll let you know how it is.
*I know Spielberg’s Lincoln is based on A Team of Rivals, but I already read that book, so I am finishing up a different book on Lincoln in the meantime. I’m am about to the point in my book that the movie will be based on, and I am prepping myself for the water works when Lincoln dies, since I seem to cry every time he does. Such is the life of me.
Until next time, which will feature a story about Roller Derby…