Directed by Morten Tyldum. Written by Graham Moore. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Matthew Goode and Keira Knightley.
Before discussing the merits of the film, it was ironic to discover that the movie was rated NC-16 for “homosexual references” in Singapore. Thus, despite receiving a royal pardon for his criminal conviction for gross indecency, Turing is judged again in this risible manner. Ah well.
Apart from that, there is nothing notably negative about The Imitation Game. The actors are all on their game – Cumberbatch delivers a stunning performance. The narrative jumps around from time to time in a satisfying non-linear fashion. And the grand injustice meted out to Turing before his death is given its due as a horrifying third act.
The message behind The Imitation Game is clear enough – prejudice is inhuman and those that stand out as different should be treasured not vilified. Of course, much of the human drama is glamorized for effect – Turing’s role in breaking the Enigma code and the relationship with Joan Clarke (Knightley) – but necessary to design an effective plot.
An enjoyable ‘message’ film that really should be seen by everyone from 12 upwards.
It is universally accepted that some of the best screenwriting can be found on the tube nowadays. The latest episode of BBC’s Sherlock (“The Sign of the Three”), it must be said is probably the best one yet. Using the platform of John and Mary Watson’s wedding, the writers manage to push pointed characterization, complex non-linear plotting and a dramatic whodunit with finesse and aplomb.
Throughout, Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a razor sharp performance that conveys all of Sherlock’s complicated thought processes, his other-worldly demeanour and ultimate sad loneliness, with Martin Freeman’s Watson the perfect foil, as usual. There is of course, a cost to being as brilliant as Sherlock is and the story never ever lets you forget about that. But that’s what makes the character completely relatable to an entire spectrum of misunderstood savants.
One wonders what is in store when the season 3 finale is dropped, very very soon. A mouth watering prospect!
As a young kid, I loved the Basil Rathbone version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective. Subsequently of course, Sherlock Holmes fans have had no shortage of versions to choose from. Perhaps its the unsmiling Jeremy Brett one or the Steven Spielberg’s vision of the Young Sherlock Holmes or the latest Hollywood incarnation with Robert Downey Jr or even the quirky Elementary US TV series (where Lucy Liu is Watson!)
Man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. Does this sad fact of life really need to be shoved down our throats by movie entertainment? Yes, as many times as possible so that hatred, bigotry and prejudice will be marked and branded as atrocities and crimes against humanity and not justified in the name of religion, economics or self-preservation.
Director Steve McQueen has, with two feature films viz Hunger and Shame, demonstrated a razor sharp ability for telling the unflinchingly unblemished truth about the unsavory aspects of life. Now with this adaptation of Solomon Northup’s 1853 autobiography – Twelve Years a Slave – McQueen turns his keen eye on a dark chapter in American history – slavery.
The plot is straight-forward enough. Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) was a free negro plying his trade as a carpenter and violinist in Saratoga, New York in the mid-1800s. He was kidnapped and sold into slavery at New Orleans. He remained a slave for 12 years before finally re-gaining his freedom. Throughout those 12 years, he had to confront and endure physical and mental abuse – not to mention the despair of losing his family and his own identity, and in the latter case, for the sake of survival.
The story itself may be simple but the making of the film is anything but. Everything – from the cinematography to the acting performances, from the art direction to the costume design – demonstrates an attention to detail. McQueen is renowned for the realism of his films and 12 Years a Slave is no different. The locations – four historic antebellum plantations – come alive on screen and one is able to experience what it was like to live in those times.
The excellent cast flesh out these historical characters with conviction. Apart from Ejiofor’s sympathetic portrayal of Northup, special mention must be made of Michael Fassbender’s sadistic Edwin Epps, Lupita Nyong’o’s tragic Patsey, Paul Dano’s petty John Tibeats and Benedict Cumberbatch’s benevolent William Ford.
Not an easy or comfortable ride the moment Northup discovers his horrible plight – McQueen takes aim at the American South and Christianity and lays bare the monstrous attitudes that gives rise to the worst kind of behavior – that one segment of mankind is superior to the rest – demonstrated in Epps’ response to Northup’s accusation of sin – “A man does what he wants to his property” – even as he lashes the slave girl Patsey to an inch of her life.
Definitely a serious contender for best film of the year. Do not miss it!