Snapshots - #42: Thor: Ragnarok, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, LBJ

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Thor: Ragnarok (2017), (♦♦♦♦½): Thor has saved earth twice by now and has, for the last two years, wandered the universe searching for infinity stones. He hasn't found any. He has, however, become prisoner of an enemy of Asgard, Surtur, who tells Thor that his visions of Asgard engulfed in flames is a premonition of Ragnarok—the destruction of Asgard, which is already in motion. Thor frees himself and arrives at home to find Loki sitting on the throne, passing as Odin, and neglecting his duties to protect the Nine Realms. With Odin's exile, Asgard's enemies have been reassembling, but Odin's death may just free Hela, a goddess against whom neither Thor nor Loki are enough.
It was in Thor: The Dark World where Loki, an antagonist, first threatened to steal the show. He became the villain that Marvel fandom loves to hate. While Loki is at his most charming in this film, the director, with the help of a sparkling screenplay, has very much exploited the great chemistry of t…

Argo (♦♦♦♦♦)

Tony Mendez, a CIA operative expert in extractions, has a seemingly bad idea: to stage a fake sci-fi movie set in Iran with the purpose of providing a cover story to free six Americans hiding in the residence of the Canadian Ambassador during Iran’s hostage crisis in 1979-1980.

Argo is a wow movie the like of which I hadn’t seen this year. It’s co-produced, and splendidly acted and directed by Ben Affleck. Out of the myriad of movie directors out there, no one does climatic, full of tension movies as Affleck does. He proved it when directed the devastatingly gritty The Town and Gone Baby Gone, but in my opinion he has outdone himself with Argo.

The movie delivers funny lines such as “If I’m going to make a fake movie it’s going to be a fake hit”, but it is the edge-of-your-seat tension enhanced by a climatic musical score that make the audience feel close to a “benign” heart attack if that’s even possible, at least I felt that way.

Ben Affleck’s performance is one for the ages: subdued emotions but bubbling lava under the surface as only he has been able to master. In another film, it would be considered a passive performance, but one can see reflected in his demeanor that he is as tense as a violin’s chords.

To top the atmosphere of doom that precedes triumph, are the scenes of angry Iranian mobs demanding the heads of any American who stand in their way, or the scenes showing hanged men from construction sites as proof of the fate dissenters may suffer.

Alan Arkin, Kyle Chandler, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman co-star.

Overall, Argo is a movie destined to become a classic, a film for generations of Americans to treasure as a testament of the power of courage and imagination. Not that it’s a seal of quality, but my eyes moistened when the Swiss Air plane took off and it dawned on the hostages that they were finally free.

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