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Argo: one of the CIA’s clandestine experts creates a ‘real’ fake movie as the perfect cover-up to bring home 6 diplomats stuck behind enemy lines. The most obvious thing about Argo is the phenomenally chosen cast, particularly from the TV sphere; people representing Braking Bad, 24, The Good Wife, etc – everyone is on great form, doing their parts for the movie. Arkin and Goodman in particular get many great lines, which helps maintain the delicate balance between the drama & peril, and a tongue-in-cheek – almost knockabout – look at Hollywood in the early 80s (with a loving streak of appreciation for Sci-Fi B-movies). On that note, the immaculate, uncompromising, period detail adds an unusually thick layer of authenticity to the story. The film’s book-ended by some ridiculously tense, well-directed, moments of a siege and the final throes of an escape. There are a few minor issues; it feels a little longer than it needed to be, some of the drama comes from contrived methods (like the old “run that through the system again” trick); also, although it’s not a ‘political’ film per se – but it reeks of AMERICA, FUCK YEAH!! Bottom line, Argo is a solid, balanced (if somewhat over-dramatised), political/historical thriller, held together by a superb cast. It also looks like Ben Affleck is fast becoming one of the best Actor’s Directors around.

Score: 7/10

A Serious Man: the monumental breakdown of a weedy, pushover, atheist Jew as he searches for the ultimate answer, why him? The humour is the ultimate in dry / deadpan / dark / awkward and the story’s as bleak as anything else I’ve seen – so much so that handfuls of people walked out of the cinema around the 30-40 minute mark. The slow pace of the film didn’t help matters much and neither did the over-the-top ‘Jewishness’ – with lots of Yiddish vocabulary being used. The opening act didn’t seem to have anything to do with the rest of the film, and ended up being a distraction – whereas the finale is as  open-ended as No Country. It’s shot well, remaining pretty stylish and retro throughout and the acting’s of a pretty high standard – there’s also a few tactically placed laughs to slightly lighten the mood. Overall it’s totally pessimistic, bleak, relentless & overwhelming with no likable characters and not enough funnies to balance it out. Very difficult to watch, unless you’re a diehard Coen fan or were Jewish in the 1960s.

Score: 4/10