I am back in Vancouver, somehow, and this is the rest of the holiday film roundup; more scheduled posts like this one may follow.
Argo is good, a ridiculous spy story that manages to be gripping and compelling without too many explosions. There's a lot of attention to detail that made me wonder where it was filmed: stock and re-creation worked really well. Shit cars from the 70s, the decayed Hollywood sign, hideous moustaches and icky suits...it all worked, and there was a smidge more redemption in it than seemed possible at the outset. There's the standard Hollywood manipulation to be sure, but almost all of it felt close and small and somehow plausible. Science fiction saves lives! Note to Ben: get rid of this lion for the DVD release.
A Late Quartet has Christopher Walken playing a plausibly kind individual with deep feelings for a now-dead wife. Remarkable. The gist of it is that his medical problems set off a chain of responses in the quartet, with various betrayals and measurings of worth leading up to what Walken wants to be his last performance. The quartet's actors all perform well (although the string skillz need work and is Philip Seymour Hoffman a regular jogger?) and the film is good if a little neat at the ending. Presumably I am meant to think that achieving a decent performance of Beethoven's Opus 131 String Quartet in C-sharp minor is worth dedication amounting to insanity; at the end I wondered more about whether the music should be played if it produces people like that (apart from Walken's character, who is, OMG, a swell guy somehow). The worst bit of performance was by Imogen Poots, whose name I really wanted to type, but she gets a plum in the form of a speech blasting someone that I really wanted to hear. Also too it may be worth dedication amounting to insanity to live well in Manhattan.
And back home I took The Lovely Daughter to Rise of the Guardians, which was nowhere near as bad as I expected (though not really worth seeking out in the absence of children) and fairly lovingly animated. Very pretty, good character motion, better than Wreck-It Ralph for sure, and the comedy was not entirely based on whether or not you can get a pop-culture reference. The Lovely Daughter informs me that Ratoncito Pérez made an appearance.