Posts Tagged ‘Keira Knightley’

The Imitation Game: Film-making at its Best—Movie

December 19, 2014

The Imitation Game” is a brilliant film about how the man who broke secrets harbored a secret which eventually broke him. Directed by Morten Tyldum with screenplay by Graham Moore, based on the biography, Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, “The Imitation Game” is the true story of Alan Turing, who, by breaking the Nazi code, helped bring an end to World War II. Beginning in 1939, Turing and his team worked at England’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park. Because their work was done in secret, the world did not learn of what Turing and his colleagues did to change the course of the war in favor of the Allies until many years later.

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“The Imitation Game” begins in 1951 with the arrest of Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch). During the course of his interrogation, he decides to break his silence, telling his story to the arresting detective, Detective Nock (Rory Kinnear),   and warns him that what he’s being told can never be repeated. We then go back and forth in time, beginning with his Turing’s recruitment into the Enigma Program—learning about the work the group accomplished and the relationships that developed within the group and end with Turing’s arrest and the years that followed.

Turing doesn’t suffer fools easily and has an abrasive personality, to put it mildly. He’s not one for diplomacy, speaking the truth as he sees it. Although his superiors, Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) and Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) don’t love his attitude, they do appreciate his smarts.

Through the magnificent acting of Alex Lawther as the young Alan, we see the bullying Turing received as a young student. His boyhood friendship with student Christopher (Jack Bannon) affected him deeply and the manner in which Turing honors him later is a stroke of genius.  As an adult, Turing earns the respect of his colleagues, but not necessarily their friendship. Turing helps recruit the lone woman, Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), into Enigma and the two develop a warm relationship, which, for a time, proves beneficial to both.

“The Imitation Game” is full of wonderful performances, but as Alan Turing, Benedict Cumberbatch is absolutely fantastic. He has the most expressive face which he uses to full advantage in this role. He simply nails all the inner conflicts his character goes through. When the final credits roll, you feel as if you have met the real Turing and walked in his shoes. It’s because of Cumberbatch’s performance that the movie has such a dark, sad feel to it.  The film’s supporting cast never lets the main character or the film down. It’s hard to think of someone better in the Joan Clarke role than Keira Knightley. She has a look that fits easily into the style of the times and there is something about her that makes you believe she could be that smart…matching Turing step for step…quip for quip. As his “colleagues,” Matthew Goode and Allen Leech turn in great performances. Each has a moment to shine and each takes that moment and runs with it. Charles Dance and Mark Strong are also very good as Turing’s bosses.

Special kudos must be given to Alexandre Desplat’s magnificent score which suits “The Imitation Game” perfectly. The real black and footage used within the film also lends a great deal of authenticity to the story.

Beginning with television’s WGN America series, “Manhattan,” about the making of the atomic bomb (which has many similarities to “The Imitation Game”) and “The Theory of Everything,” the smartly performed “Imitation Game” joins the growing list of 2014 stories about geniuses and their effect on world events. What makes all of these endeavors work so well is that there are genuine, compelling stories being told and that each one has real heart. Since Turing was eventually convicted of gross indecency, a criminal offence resulting from his admission of maintaining a homosexual relationship, “The Imitation Game” will not necessarily leave you in an uplifted mood…in fact, it could have the opposite effect. Turing, for all of his contributions to the world’s well-being, including being thought of as the father of computer science, was treated abominably. That one can feel so depressed from watching the story unfold from afar…a story that took place many years ago…speaks volumes for everyone associated with “The Imitation Game.”

If you are in the need for a spirit booster upon leaving the theatre, this reviewer suggests seeing “Pride” immediately to see how far we’ve hopefully progressed as human beings.

4 nuggets out of 4

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Begin Again: Once is Not Enough—Movie

July 16, 2014

With “Begin Again,” Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, New York City and, yes, even Adam Levine have combined to bring a joyous film to the screen. Although “Begin Again,” is a wonderful escape from some of the over-hyped films of the summer, this movie is so much more than mere escapism. Written and directed by John Carney, “Begin Again” is the story of two people who meet at just the right time…when each has something the other needs materialistically and emotionally.begin-again-poster

“Begin Again” opens in a noisy club during an open mic night. Gretta (Keira Knightley) is encouraged by her friend, Steve (James Corden), to come up to the microphone and sing one of her songs. After much prodding, she takes the “stage” and begins to sing. Although not many in the club are paying attention, one man at the bar is mesmerized…a slightly inebriated record producer, Dan (Mark Ruffalo). After Gretta’s performance, Dan approaches her and over time a friendship/business relationship is formed.

The back-stories of the two characters are cleverly told as each is introduced to us at the club. Gretta was part of a singer-songwriting duo, dumped by her partner, Dave (Adam Levine), romantically and professionally, while the two were are on a business trip to promote his music in NYC. Dan’s been in a downward spiral since separating from his wife, Miriam (Catherine Keener), and being tossed out of the company he helped found with former partner, Saul (Mos Def).

While Dave’s career as a singer appears to be taking off, after the break-up Greta is on the verge of heading back to London before being convinced by Dan to give him a chance to prove that he can he can make her a success. In so doing, he thinks he will be able to reignite his career as well. Turned down by his former recording studio partner to produce her music, Dan comes up with a very unusual recording approach that suits Gretta’s music and voice perfectly. It also presents the movie audience with the sights and sounds of a NYC that many of us have never before seen.

“Begin Again’ is filmed with a lot of love and it shows. Mark Ruffalo has never looked worse, but been better as the down-on-his-luck producer. He’s absolutely believable as someone who knows his way around the music business. Although he generates a lot of chemistry with Knightley, his scenes with the film’s children are even better. His work with Hailee Steinfeld as his teen-age daughter, Violet, and the young musicians are especially good. “Begin Again” gives us a Keira Knightley we’ve never before witnessed and she is fabulous. Knightley is no Barbra Streisand (and who is), but she sings in a voice that’s extremely well-suited to the songs she’s asked to perform. Her scenes with Adam Levine are outstanding and some of them will break your heart. Speaking of Levine—he’s absolutely tremendous as her boyfriend-singer who may want fame more than he wants to be an artiste. His final performance is simply amazing.

“Begin Again’s” supporting cast is very strong. Keener and Stanfield really sell their roles (is Keener ever bad?). James Corden has a great voice and he is wonderful as the supportive friend. His film, “One Chance,” is set to release in late August, and I, for one, can’t wait to see it.

Special shout-outs must be given to costume designer, Arjun Bhasin and cinematographer, Yaron Orbach. Bhasin nails the clothing for Stanfield and especially, Knightley. Her outfits are simple, but beautiful, and perfect for the role Knightley is playing. Orbach films NYC in such a way that you immediately want to book the next flight to New York.

In 2006 John Carney scored big with “Once,” and with “Begin Again” he scores again. He adds touches to the film that are just spot on. Watching Dan imagining Gretta’s song with instruments behind it is a stroke of genius and there are other smart touches throughout. “Begin Again” is more commercial than “Once,” but that is not a bad thing. In fact, it is terrific.

4 nuggets out of 4


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