The Imitation Game (2014)

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Director: Morten Tyldum
Writers: Graham Moore, Andrew Hodges
Production Companies: Black Bear Pictures, Bristol Automotive
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Allen Leech
Genre: Biography/ Historical Drama

What It’s About: Mathematician Alan Turing works with a team to crack the Enigma code during WWII.

How I Watched It: Alone in my apartment. Evening.

Thoughts: Prodigy mathematician Alan Turing faces off against naysayers and sets out to create what will eventually be realized as a primitive computer in hopes of breaking Enigma–the German encryption device.

My main interest in watching this film was that it starred Benedict Cumberbatch–I won’t lie. I’m a big fan of his work. Right off the bat, we get to experience him  in his interpretation of famed mathematician Alan Turing. The scenes at the beginning between him and Denniston (Dance) are so well done. The back and forth is not only humorous, but it gives us great insight as to who Turing is and what he’s like.  There are several other scenes where Turing’s personality quirks make for some funny scenes–although maybe not intentionally. Cumberbatch sells the idiosyncrasies and makes them quite charming.

Eventually we meet Joan Clarke (Knightley). I loved this character immediately. When we’re introduced to Joan, she’s basically being told off by a misogynist asshole. She stands up for herself, and Turing steps in and assists her–you can see that they instantly bond in that moment. When she cracks the puzzle set before her in less time than Turing himself could do it, the look of astonishment on his face is priceless. The relationship that she forms with Alan is unconventional, yet absorbing. Knightley and Cumberbatch had great chemistry.

As a whole, this was really a great ensemble cast. I can’t think of any weak links off the top of my head.

This story lends itself to becoming a fantastic film–there really wasn’t any surprise there. How they played it, however, is what made me fall in love the movie. This movie–at its core–is a celebration of being different. Turing is strange and brilliant and we see the strife that he’s experienced throughout his life in the film. Alan was also a homosexual, and the trials that he faced in a society that was not only intolerant of that–but one that considered it illegal–they’re just unthinkable. Abhorrent. It’s so sad that after all he had done, and all the millions of lives that he saved, that he fell victim to an ignorant and intolerant government. He spent his life trying to program a machine that could think and act like a human–and in the end, it was almost as though they were trying to “re-program” him with hormone therapies that eventually made him take his own life.

There’s a line that is repeated several times in the film. I’m not sure if it was a creation by the screenwriter, or if it was a direct quote from those in Turing’s life:

Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.

What a fantastic quote. That stuck with me throughout the film, and I found myself nearly in tears every time it was uttered. Just to imagine how unappreciated he lived his life because he didn’t have a choice–everything was confidential. No one could know what he did–all the millions of lives he saved. Unfathomable.

The set design, the costumes, the cinematography, the score–everything really helped to build the story. The only criticism I could even think of was that sometimes the jumps in time between Bletchley during the war and Manchester after the war got a little confusing in the beginning. That’s it. I can’t think of anything else.

My Rating: Huzzah!!
I laughed. I cried. I gasped. I sat on the edge of my seat. A truly beautiful film.

Where Can I Watch It?: Amazon, iTunes, or rent it at your local video store or library.

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Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

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Director: George Miller
Writers: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris
Production Companies: Kennedy Miller Productions, Village Roadshow Pictures
Stars: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi

What It’s About: The road warrior Max teams up with a War Boys soldier named Furiosa, and they embark on an escape from the Tyranny of Immortan Joe.

How I Watched It: Alone in the theater. Small crowd…consisting of a bunch of dudes all wearing baseball caps. Weird.

Thoughts: After being abducted by these weird fellas known as the War Boys, Max(Hardy) ends up making an unlikely team with a rogue War Boy officer named Furiosa (Theron). They, along with several of Immortan Joe’s (Keays-Byrne) prime mating ladies, depart for Furiosa’s maiden land–“The Green Place”.

I was pretty excited going into this, being a fan of the original trilogy. Knowing that George Miller was once again taking the reigns made me hold even more hope. Surely if anyone could carry on the Mad Max legacy on the big screen, and do it well, it would be him. He did not disappoint.

Take your vision for what the original Mad Max films could have looked like with 30 more years of technology available….and multiply it times ten. Holy. Hell. All of the elements of the original films that we loved–the costumes, the crazy characters, the INSANE high speed chases–they’re all still here. Not only are they here, but they are far improved.

One of my only complaints about this film was, surprisingly, Tom Hardy. He is one attractive male specimen. However, there were several times that I just found him taking me out of the film. Maybe if I revisit the old films, I’ll see more correlations between his acting choices and Mel Gibson’s…but I dunno. I always appreciate actors giving their own spins and using their own inspirations for old characters being revamped, but that doesn’t mean I always like their interpretations. Something about him wasn’t working for me most of the time.

Now, this may be a Mad Max film, but this one belongs to Charlize Theron. Furiosa is by far a more integral character to this story, and she is such a frickin’ badass. Even with grease covering half of her face, she’s still incredibly beautiful (Lucky!). She is such an empowering female presence. This may well be my favorite performance from Theron.

Another favorite character of mine was Nux (Hoult). These War Boys are crazy mo-fos who are destined to live short, intense lives. They want nothing more than to die in the heat of battle and to be “witnessed” into the gates of Valhalla. Nux is initially just a War Boy using Max as a blood bank, but he ends up being an unlikely team member on the trek to “The Green Place”. Hoult’s performance was spot-on.

I can’t write a review of this movie without a shoutout to Hugh Keays-Byrne. If you’re not aware, he played the role of Toecutter in Mad Max (1979). It was cool having at least one actor come back to the series in a new capacity.

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My Rating: Huzzah!
This movie is a fun ride from start to finish, and is easily my favorite film that I’ve seen in the theater so far this year. I truly hope that this spawns even more films in the Mad Max franchise–*wink wink* George Miller *wink wink*. Go see it while you still can!

Where Can I Watch It?: THE THEATER! Right now! Go!  🙂