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Iran, Oscar Committee Both Hate Ben Affleck

From “Argo” to “Gangster Squad,”  a celluloid news round-up

Adam Chandler
January 11, 2013
Ben Affleck at the Critics Choice Awards(Getty)
Ben Affleck at the Critics Choice Awards(Getty)

Perhaps the week’s best bon mot goes to Ben Affleck, who hours after being denied an Academy Award nomination for his direction of the film “Argo,” won the Critics Choice Award for best director. In his acceptance speech, Affleck fired this zinger:

“I would like to thank the Academy… I’m kidding, I’m kidding. This is the one that counts.”

The Academy wasn’t the only institution that frowned upon Affleck’s efforts with “Argo” (although the film did snag one of the Academy’s semi-coveted ten Best Picture nods). As it turns out, Iran didn’t love “Argo” either, finding the film to be anti-Iranian. To combat this perceived slight, the Iranian government is funding a film to correct the record.

Tehran’s proposed film entitled “The General Staff” will be directed by Ataollah Salmanianis, according to The New York Times.

“This film, which will be a huge production, should be an appropriate answer to the film “Argo,” which lacks a proper view of historical events,” The New York Times quoted Salmanian saying in an interview with Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency.

Meanwhile, Ruben Fleischer’s film “Gangster Squad” about the efforts of a rogue crew of LAPD officers against the Jewish gangster and former boxer Mickey Cohen comes out today. The Scroll had the pleasure of attending an early screening of the film, but arrived on Jewish Standard Time and had to crane neck-up at the screen for two hours. From that angle, the whole thing looked a bit distorted, which it turned out to be an appropriate symbolic vantage point given the film’s fast and loose historical approach to Cohen’s life. Nevertheless, seeing Sean Penn play a maniacal Jewish gangster is its own perverse thrill.

But as A.O. Scott notes:

The script, by Will Beall (and based on a book by Paul Lieberman), is flecked with enough period idioms to suggest a Google Docs search though some of the writings of Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane.

If you want to be entertained by a thing or two about that era, check out today’s story by Naomi Sandweiss, who discovers her husband’s great-uncle was one of the Jewish gangsters who was involved in the Purple Gang, a crime syndicates on the Detroit scene around the same time that Cohen was active in Los Angeles.

Related: A Mobster in the Family [Tablet]

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.