Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-10-18
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Knight at the Movies: Argo; film notes
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

For a while there, it looked like Ben Affleck's career was going to fritter away. After a series of missteps, topped by the wretched Gigli in which he co-starred with then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez (remember their nauseating dual moniker, "Bennifer?") it seemed as if the talented actor, who had won an early career screenplay Oscar (with Matt Damon) for Good Will Hunting, was down for the count.

A critically acclaimed performance in 2006's Hollywoodland as the murdered actor George Reeves began Affleck's renewal. And charming, subsequent acting performances led to a creative comeback. Then with his assured directorial debut in 2007 with Gone Baby Gone, followed in 2010 with the expert bank heist film The Town, there was no doubt that Affleck was not just back in top form as an actor but as a director as well. Now, with the intensely suspenseful Argo, Affleck continues his hot streak and the early Oscar predictions for the movie are merited.

When the American embassy in Teheran was overtaken during the fall of Iran in 1979, six Americans managed to escape detection, hiding within the nearby Canadian ambassador's private residence. Argo is based on the improbable but true story of Tony Mendez, a CIA consultant (played with deft assurance by Affleck) charged with ferretting out the group during the ensuing hostage crisis by his beleaguered boss Bryan Cranston and getting them safely home.

Affleck begins with the absolutely riveting—and terrifying—takedown of the embassy. As the angry mob outside pushes against the gates of the embassy, inside officials are frantically working to shred classified documents and figure out an exit strategy. Affleck cuts back and forth as the outrage outside and the panic inside both escalate, both finally reaching the breaking point. At the last possible second, seemingly, the six Americans slip out the backdoor and into the street, adrift in a country filled with anti-American sentiment.

Miraculously, the group finds itself the not-particularly-welcome guests of the Canadian ambassador (played with typical finesse by actor Victor Garber) and his demure wife. The Iranians, who are holding 52 other Americans hostages, do not know—yet—about the six escapees. But sooner or later, as CIA and Canadian government officials realize, they will. Before they can be found and no doubt publicly executed, Mendez is brought in to figure out a way to get them home.

The plan he arrives at (using the making of a Canadian movie to be shot in Iran as a cover story) seems crazy to the CIA officials—as crazy as it does in hindsight. However, knowing the power and lure of the movies, it also makes a perfect kind of sense. The six hostages will be identified as the film's director, production designer, writer, etc.—all in Teheran for the purposes of scouting locations and with luck, the group will fly out of the country after their brief, phony scouting expedition in the city.

Mendez enlists the help of two old-time Hollywood producers (played with cranky expertise by Alan Arkin and John Goodman) in putting over the scheme, and a dreadfully cheesy sci-fi flick named Argo is chosen as the vehicle. Sketches for sets are drawn, a press conference is staged and all the trappings are put in order to convince Iranian officials that the film is legit. Meanwhile, the tension builds to almost the breaking point as Mendez arrives in the country where is met with mistrust from members of the group, convinced that his wild plan will get them killed.

The ticking of the clock is almost palpable as the film draws to its nail biting conclusion and in the grand manner of Hitchcock it all comes down to suspenseful, tiny details—will a ringing telephone be answered in time? Will a housekeeper keep her mouth shut, ensuring the safety of the group? Will certain members of the group be able to keep details of their invented covers straight as they go through checkpoints? And on and on.

Affleck ably juggles these elements and is aided by his terrific cast and Chris Terrio's densely woven script (based on Mendez's memoir and a Wired magazine article). The re-creation of the late-'70s period is spot-on and recalls movie thrillers from the period (especially Dog Day Afternoon). Argo is an enthralling and deliciously entertaining movie—and a deserved triumph for its star and director.

Film notes:

—Pride Films & Plays presents Gay Film Weekend 2012 Thursday, Oct. 18-Sunday, Oct. 21, at the Center on Halsted in the Hoover-Leppen Theater, 3656 N. Halsted St. This third annual edition of the event includes readings of the five screenplay finalists from the group's Great Gay Screenplay Contest, panels focused on LGBT cinema with local filmmakers (I'll be part of a panel on Saturday, Oct. 20), as well as a queer shorts film program curated by Indie Boots Film Festival. Complete details and advance tickets available at

—The Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., is hosting the Music Box of Horrors, a 24-hour Halloween horror marathon kicking off at noon on Saturday, Oct. 13, with the silent classic The Golem and continuing with an eclectic program of 13 other fright flicks. These range from queer director James Whale's 1933 movie The Invisible Man to Phantasm, The Burning, Evil Dead 2 (a personal fave) and many others.

Sybil Danning, star of Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf, will be at the theater in person, as will Jeff Lieberman, director of the deadly earthworm ickfest Squirm. Lieberman's latest, Satan's Little Helper, will also have its Chicago debut during the marathon. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Vital Bridges. Complete line-up and advance tickets available at

—Out director-choreographer Adam Shankman's film version of the Broadway jukebox musical Rock of Ages, with songs culled from a variety of 1980s big-hair bands, is on Blu-ray and DVD. Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand (the latter two as gay lovers), Mary J. Blige, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Paul Giamatti support Julianne Hough and newcomer/hottie Diego Boneta as the young lovers with dreams of hard-rock stardom.

Funky Town—a Canadian mixture of 54 and Boogie Nights from director Daniel Roby, complete with throbbing disco soundtrack (albeit with redone versions)—is another recent release worth checking out. Based on the Montreal disco scene circa 1976, the film weaves together several storylines, including that of a gay disco impresario (think Alan Carr or Steve Rubell) and his up-and-down affair with a closeted Italian stallion. Good acting and a nice re-creation of the period help alleviate the predictability of the various plot strands.

Check out my archived reviews at or . Readers can leave feedback at the latter website.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

FILM Big names show up for 'Marshall' event 2017-10-18 - The 53rd Chicago International Film Festival opened Oct. 12 with a red-carpet event before the screening of the new flick Marshall at AMC ...

Gay News

'50s return in Pride Films' 'Arrangement' 2017-10-18 - Pride Films and Plays is now presenting Perfect Arrangement, by Topher Payne, through Oct. 22, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago. It's 1950, and new ...

Gay News

Kathy Bates gets personal at Lynn Sage event 2017-10-18 - Actress Kathy Bates was the guest speaker at the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation's 32nd annual luncheon on Oct. 2 at the Hilton ...

Gay News

Film festival to honor Alfre Woodard 2017-10-18 - The 53rd Chicago International Film Festival, presented by Cinema/Chicago, announced that actress Alfre Woodard will be honored with a Career Achievement Award as ...

Gay News

Showbiz news: Anderson Cooper, Kelly Clarkson, Shaun T, Coming Out Day 2017-10-17 - Andy Cohen will co-host CNN's New Year's Eve celebration with Anderson Cooper, Deadline noted. Cohen—best known as host and EP of Bravo's Watch ...

Gay News

Freelancers Anonymous LGBTQ comedy feature filmed in Chicago 2017-10-16 - Award-winning Spanish filmmaker Sonia Sebastian ( De Chica en Chica/Amazon ) teams up with Lisa Cordileone and playwright Amy Dellagiarino on Freelancers Anonymous, ...

Gay News

Five Worth Finding: Monteverde, Chicago Ideas Week and more 2017-10-11 - —Monteverde: Monteverde Executive Chef Sarah Grueneberg won Best Chef Great Lakes at the James Beard Awards this year—and for good reason. Her West ...

Gay News

Social-change film festival Oct. 13-15 2017-10-11 - The national nonprofit organizaiton Social Change will host its social-change film festival, #ChangeFest, in three states: Illinois, California and New York. In Illinois, ...

Gay News

Queer Brown filmmakers collaborate with CPS students 2017-10-11 - Vincent Martell didn't find himself inspired by filmmaking until he went to college in Barcelona. There, Martell, who now runs VAM Studios ( ...

Gay News

CHAVELA Film looks at chanteuse and sexual outlaw Chavela Vargas 2017-10-11 - There is a stunning new documentary about the life and times of iconic chanteuse and sexual outlaw Chavela Vargas. Vargas, who died in ...


Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.