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Argo, film of the week

The Ayatollah stroking Ben Affleck’s hair in Argo

I recently caught up with a lot of films that I missed during the year, as well as seeing some that have been recently released in the UK. Suffice to say I haven’t had time to write reviews of them all. But I wanted to quickly note that Looper, Argo and Silver Linings Playbook are all great, four star films.

Looper is a bit silly, but thoroughly enjoyable. As with Terry Gilliam’s 1995 release Twelve Monkeys (which also stars Bruce Willis), I was sufficiently captivated by the entertaining plot that I didn’t feel the need to question or analyse the logic behind the time travel shenanigans. I also preferred it to Duncan Jones’s Source Code – which for some reason provoked the opposite response, when I felt the ending wasn’t coherent with the film’s internal logic. I’m a big fan of both Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and both are great here. I also really enjoyed director Rian Johnson’s previous collaboration with Gordon-Levitt – Brick.

Argo is a real political thriller heavyweight, an impressively directed film from Ben Affleck that features everything you want in such a drama piece – action, suspense, wry comedy and – best of all – a true to life, yet little-known, tale. It’s a smart piece of work that also contains one of the year’s best lines / scenes, when the CIA confidently declare – “This is the best bad idea we’ve got”.

Finally there’s Silver Linings Playbook. As everyone has said, this ‘rom-com’ is so much more than its initial marketing might suggest, with thoughtful, sincere performances and that warm fuzzy feeling at the end without the saccharin sentimentality that so often blights such films. Jennifer Lawrence is undoubtedly a star (though her performance in this and Hunger Games still doesn’t match her tour-de-force in Winter’s Bone). And Bobby DeNiro still has it.

With the Oscars on the horizon I’ve seen five of the Best Picture noms. In my order of preference they are: Django Unchained, Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, Beasts of the Southern Wild. Review of the first coming soon.

The noms I haven’t seen are: Amour, Les Mis, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty. Looking forward to seeing them all before deciding on my favourite.

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