Posts Tagged ‘Pride’

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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Pride: Its Spirit Soars—Movie

September 25, 2014

Pride” proves that inspirational doesn’t have to be preachy or cloying…it can  be extremely entertaining. Such is what describes “Pride”…extremely entertaining…joyfully so. Directed by Matthew Warchus and written by Stephen Beresford, “Pride” is based on true events in Great Britain during the days of Prime Minister Thatcher.

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In 1984 the miners were on strike in Great Britain. While the strike was going on, the first Gay Pride Day was taking place in London. That is where we are first introduced to Joe, aka Bromley, (George MacKay). A not yet out-of-the-closet student, he meets Mark (Ben Schnetzer) and Mike (Joseph Gilgun) during the march, but is reluctant to give them his name, just his school. From there on in, he’s known as Bromley. He’s drawn to Mark and Mike and their group of friends because of the group’s camaraderie and the idea that with them he can be himself. The ragtag group of gays and lesbians is led by Mark, an activist whose enthusiasm is contagious. Not one to be stopped by any obstacles, he’s always full of ideas about what and how the group should be doing to garner more support for their cause.

It’s against this backdrop that Mark sees the potential in supporting the miners’ strike, rationalizing that both groups are underdogs striving to seek better lives. As one might expect, this idea is met with less than an enthusiastic response from his group and out-and-out hostility from some of the miners. Undeterred, the group eventually forms Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM). But when the union is reluctant to welcome their support, Mark has a eureka moment—aligning their group with one group of miners. Mark starts making phone calls and hits pay dirt when Gwen (Menna Trussler) answers the phone in the office of a small group of miners in South Wales. In London, the LGSM meets with the Welsh miners’ emissary, Dai (Paddy Considine), who tentatively accepts their support on behalf of the union and eventually the LGSM make its way to the Welsh community to present in person the money the group has raised. Some of the miners’ committee members are won over immediately—most especially some of the older committee members such as Cliff (Bill Nighy), Hefina (Imelda Staunton) and the aforementioned Gwen. But winning support from the whole committee and the entire group of miners is not going to be easy, if even possible, and therein lays the conflict.

To its credit, “Pride” doesn’t dwell on conflict. The film focuses instead on how the two sides come together, and that is where the joy comes to the forefront. But “Pride” is based on true events and therefore it’s hard not to think about AIDS beginning to take hold during this same time-frame. The film doesn’t shy away from the subject. It can’t. So it addresses it and moves on.

“Pride’s” cast is simply wonderful…from the younger actors to the more seasoned performers. We see much of the film through Bromley’s eyes and the way in which George MacKay portrays his gradual awakening and confidence is amazing. Ben Schnetzer’s Mark is terrific throughout and he makes you feel the passion he has for the cause. Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy are wonderful in portraying the elders trying to bring some common sense to their community. Menna Trussler’s Gwen basically steals every scene in which she is in, she is that adorably funny. Finally, there is Dominic West ,who gives a fabulous portrayal as Jonathan, one of the older members of the LGSM. And when West’s character gives a dance performance that out Travolta’s Travolta, and in so doing, helps unite the two groups…well, enough said.

At the film’s conclusion, “Pride” will have you cheering in your seat without playing on your emotions in a cheap, pandering way. But it so deserves those cheers.

4 out of 4 nuggets

 


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