It’s pretty rare that a movie puts you literally on the edge of your seat in the final 15 minutes, and you really don’t know how it’s going to end.
Even more rare when it’s based on a true story.
But I saw “Argo” over the weekend, and it was pretty freaking fabulous. There are so many movies you see after hearing good reviews, and they’re just OK.
But “Argo” lives up to they hype it’s gotten. The script is terrific, the acting and cast are splendid (Ben Affleck’s the star, but John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and a sadly-underused Kyle Chandler are all first-rate), and the plot is too incredible to make up: During the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, a CIA team concocts a story to rescue six U.S. citizens who had escaped on the first day of the crisis and have been hiding in the Canadian embassy.
Their plan? Pretend to be a film crew scouting locations in Iran.
The movie (and the reality) sets this up brilliantly, creating a fake studio, fake script, and fake business cards for the hostages.
Ben Affleck, who’s turning out to be a hell of a director, is the CIA agent who’s the mastermind behind the plan. He does a great job as a director here letting the plot unspool slowly, and giving each of the six hostages a distinct identity.
The final 20 minutes, as the plan unfurls and the hostages go to the airport, is just a terrific piece of filmmaking. I highly, highly recommend you go see this movie.
All three of the flicks Affleck has directed have been stellar. Who knew Banky’s roommate from “Chasing Amy” was this good?
**I have tried as hard as I could to avoid the Gangnam-style craze, because I frankly don’t get why people think it’s so funny and cool. But a few things have slipped through my radar, and this seemed pretty darn cool.
Psy’s famous song set to Halloween light decorations. Kind of mesmerizing if you watch it closely…
**Finally, ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary series, which I wrote about extensively last year, is once again proving to be must-see TV. The first few episodes this year, especially the Ben Johnson 1988 Olympics one (*9.79, it’s called) have been terrific.
But Tuesday night’s was just beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s called “Benji,” and it’s about a former high school basketball star named Ben Wilson, who in 1984 was the No. 1 player in the nation. Out of Chicago’s famous Simeon High program, Wilson was a 6-foot-8 kid who could shoot, pass, and defend as well as anybody. (“He was Magic Johnson with a jump shot,” someone said in the film.)
He had survived and avoided the gangs and street life of Chicago until one day in November of 1984, when on the eve of his senior season, he was killed in a mugging attempt by two teenage hoodlums.
The movie takes you back to that time in Chicago, and shows you Wilson’s impact still today (NBA star Derrick Rose wore his uniform No. in high school, and Fab Five member Juwan Howard chose No. 25 when he got to college).
It’s a really well-researched and well-done movie, with the benefit of one of the convicted killers telling his side of the story as well.
It’s on again tonight at 9 p.m. on ESPN. Skip the World Series for 90 minutes; this is definitely worth it.