Posts Tagged ‘Matthew Goode’

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

Belle: Jumps Ahead in Class—Movie

May 28, 2014

Belle” is a fascinating look at race, privilege, sexism, customs and class during late 18th century England. A far more complicated film than its previews suggest, “Belle,” directed by Amma Asante and written by Misan Sagay, is based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle. To be sure, race is the film’s dominant issue, but what jumps out as a very close second is the topic of class. And as “Belle” very subtly illustrates, if you were not your family’s first-born male or came from a family of only women, your future could be very bleak indeed.

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Dido Belle is the illegitimate daughter of a deceased black woman and white Royal Navy Officer, Captain Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). To keep her safe, he brings the young Dido (Lauren Julien-Box ) home to England to live with his aunt and uncle, Lord and Lady Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson) and demands that she be treated equally…as a member of the family. Lord Mansfield is the respected Lord Chief Justice, and he and his wife are already raising a niece, Elizabeth (Cara Jenkins). She is the same age as Dido and the two young girls quickly bond. Helping to raise both is their maiden aunt, Lady Mary Murray (Penelope Wilton), who has a sharp tongue, but is the family truth-teller. For the most part, Dido is loved by all and treated equally except when guests are in the home for dinner. Too good to eat with the servants, but not good enough to dine with the family, she eats many meals alone.

The movie jumps ahead in time and both girls, Dido (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon), are of dating age. They are pursued by one family of brothers. But is it for money or love? Also hovering in the background is John Davinier (Sam Reid), who is the son of a vicar and a rebel-rousing lawyer seeking an apprenticeship of sorts with Lord Mansfield. And, finally, there is the all important case on which Lord Mansfield will be ruling… (Gregson v. Gilbert)… which could do much to end slavery in England.

Belle’s cast is top-notch. Whether playing an American or Englishman, Tom Wilkinson never makes a false step. In “Belle” he is terrific at showing many conflicting emotions. Emily Watson is also very good as the mother trying to be fair to both girls. Penelope Wilton is wonderful as the outspoken, meddlesome aunt, and steals every scene in which she is a part. Sarah Gadon is fantastic as Dido’s cousin—accepting, jealous, supportive and ultimately human. Matthew Goode’s role is brief, but for me he makes more of an impression in “Belle” than he did all season-long in “The Good Wife.”   As the outspoken lawyer and Dido’s potential suitor, Sam Reid is very good and appropriately dashing. Lastly, there is Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Belle herself. A relative newcomer, she is absolutely fantastic. One can’t wait to see what she does next.

In many ways, “Belle” has much in common with the television series, “Downton Abbey,” in illustrating how restrictive the English class system could be. Because Dido’s father provided her with a substantial inheritance, she was actually in better shape financially than her cousin. The lack of such a class system and the chance for opportunity…to rise above one’s birth… is perhaps what made America so appealing to so many. Unless and this is the big unless…unless one was black. And in this case, America fell very behind England.

“Belle” is part history, but wholly entertaining, too. It’s a story and film in which everyone can relate. It’s well worth seeking out.

3 nuggets out of 4

 

 

Stoker: Nothing Beneath the Surface—Movie

March 21, 2013

With “Stoker” renowned South Korean director Chan-wook Park makes his English-language debut.  Sadly, it’s not an auspicious one.

Somewhere beneath “Stoker’s” watercolor-like cinematography, the sinister music (and who knew Nancy Sinatra’s and Lee Hazlewood’s “Summer Wine” could be so disturbing), the blood spatter in all of its red fineness, and most especially, the two pairs of the bluest of blue eyes one has ever seen on the screen, is what turns out to be, nothing more than a slasher film, albeit a stunningly packaged film.  It’s because of this beauty that I will be creeped out for some time to come. However, don’t view this as praise or a recommendation, because it is most assuredly not.Stoker

“Stoker,” with screenplay by Wentworth Miller (“Prison Break“) and Erin Cressida Wilson, is basically India Stoker’s (Mia Wasikowska) story. High-school age India spends most of her time in her own head and her one friend seems to be her father, Richard (Dermot Mulroney). He’s killed suddenly in a car accident and it’s at the funeral that India meets for the first time her father’s younger brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode). That’s when the creep factor begins in earnest.  A too soon immediate attraction from Richard’s widow and India’s mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman),begins for Charlie. He reciprocates, but  at the same time we also sense something not quite right in how Charlie interacts with India.

Mia Wasikowska is an outstanding actress. Her work in “Albert Nobbs,”  “The Kids Are All Right” and “Alice in Wonderland” is as good as anything  her peer,Jennifer Lawrence, has done. BUT in “Stoker” she is so one-note sullen (and the dark brown severe hair-style does her no favors) as to become painful and boring to watch.

“Stoker”  is no friend to Nicole Kidman. She probably thought that working with Park would be an interesting experience. Perhaps it was for her, but not for the audience. Kidman spends most of her time staring with her big, blue eyes. This movie is so beneath her.

Finally, Mathew Goode. He also spends a lot of time gazing, glaring or staring with his big, blue eyes. He might be “Stoker’s” most interesting character.

Chan-wook Park  has directed some very remarkable movies, but this is not one of them. “Stoker” is beautiful to watch, but is excruciatingly boring and fairly dumb. He lets himself down with this one.

1 nugget out of 4


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