REVIEWS – Argo; Give Up Tomorrow

Fictionalization
Reviews by Vives Anunciacion
Published Inquirer Libre October 16, 2012

Argo
Directed by Ben Affleck

Everyone loves movies, everyone. So much so that the Ministry of Culture of Iran will allow a Canadian film crew to scout for exotic locations in their country even at the height of the Iranian revolution.

Based on the declassified 1979 CIA mission about the extraction of six American embassy workers trapped in Iran while militant Iranian students held another 50 hostage, Argo is the Hollywoodization of that daring attempt of a CIA operative to extract the six Americans by disguising as a Canadian film crew out to hunt for locations for a fake sci-fi movie. Ben Affleck plays the CIA operative Tony Mendez.

Argo is the best argument that Ben Affleck works best behind the camera (he didn’t direct Gigli.) So far it’s his best, though I liked The Town better since that actually tried to flesh out characters. Argo is an exciting, satisfying thriller, especially during the last moments when the Americans attempt to get past immigration and airport security. Let’s call it the Ocean’s 11 of the US Department of State, circa 1979.

As with many thrillers set in the Middle East where most locals are random, nameless individuals, Argo suffers from that cartoonization of the event. Why do we root for the Americans to escape? Escape from what? The last thing we want to hear is another event sparked by hate and fueled by interest groups not dissimilar to what happened in Benghazi, Libya a month ago.

Yes it’s one of the year’s most entertaining movies. Makes a good show on the deeply-rooted connections between Hollywood and The Machine.

Give Up Tomorrow
Documentary by Michael Collins

Based on this documentary, Paco Llarañaga is an innocent man serving jail time in Spain while he awaits his date with lethal injection. He and six other men were accused, tried, found guilty and sentenced to death for the rapes and murders of Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong of Cebu in 1997. It seems Paco is a victim of the wrong end of history, because evidence point to his innocence.

That is not what we were led to believe by the media years ago. A clip shows a young Teddy Locsin Jr. (I presume it’s from the investigative program Assignment) calling the the accused, “animals.” Do we say that to Paco, who has served jail for 14 years, if we are to accept what this documentary exposes as the ails and corruption in our judiciary? Was there really a connection between the Chiongs and the Supreme Court that elevated their sentences to death? Was there really a powerful drug lord behind the cover-up?

Give Up Tomorrow is an important film – not for technical excellence nor for the awards it has reaped abroad but for its howling objection to the powers-that-be.

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