Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Gay Defence of The Imitation Game; it's in the performance of Benedict Cumberbatch

The Imitation Game is a movie about a gay man. Naturally there is interest from gay audience as well as gay critics. Can it stand as its own story or must it represent a gay culture that is fast changing with both more gay rights in some countries and more gay persecution in others? How can one objectively write about it as a gay person.

The Imitation Game is one of my favorite films of 2014. I love it because it tells a great story and tells it well. It takes a historical anecdote and weaves a thrilling yarn out of it while shining light on the people involved.It is a story about a heroic man whose heroism went unnoticed for many years.

Alan Turing is someone whose name we should know. However because of the secret nature of his mission during the war and because the world is full of homophobia, he was vilified into suicide and died in obscurity. This movie reverses that and tells his extraordinary story.

The movie shows us Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch as an adult) during three periods in his life. During the War where he led a group of scientists in breaking the German Enigma code and helping win the war for the Allies; after the war when he was arrested, convicted and driven to suicide for being gay; and when he was a teen in boarding school and fell in love for the first time with a classmate.

The movie so far has gotten average to good reviews and is pegged to be a major Oscar contender. The critique about it the drives me crazy is that it is not gay enough, that while outwardly against homophobia it doesn't show enough of Turing being gay or even being persecuted for being gay. I can understand the latter to a certain extent but definitely not the former.

I get the disappointment. I had expectations too going into the movie. I thought Matthew Goode was playing Turing's love interest. I thought we might get a grand tortured love story at the center. But that is not Turing's story. The movie tells the stoy of his accomplishments without diluting the fact that he was gay. A central theme throughout is that he's a man of secrets trying to solve the biggest secret of all. And Cumberbatch delivers in his performance, this is a man very uncomfortable in his skin because of the secret he's carying around. The weight of that is evident in every frame he appears in. I didn't need to see more. I complety related as someone who carried their own secret for many years. Any inappropriate glance or whisper might have meant a life on the margins or even worse for Turing.

The Guradian reviewer claims the movie "doesnt allow him to be gay". What did they want? A fabricated love story? A quick romp in the hay? He was deeply closeted, I don't think that would have fit his personality nor the time he lived in. Other reviewers have made the same claim. The movie doesn't shy away of showing him fall in love. Yes it's a very chaste one sided infatuation from a love struck teenager but there's no evidence that he had a greater love in later years.

I wish the movie had shown a bit more of the homophobia in 1950s Britain. Did we need a sympathetic policeman at the time of showing his persecution? Probably not. Did we need to see the "lewd action"he was arrested for. Maybe. I wanted more hammering of the injustice that the British government and judicial system levelled against Turing. But I get it. The balance is there. Yes I would've liked to see more time devoted to how he dealt with the last chapter in his life. But maybe that would have taken away from spending more time showing us how he got to be a hero in the first place,

Maybe in this day and age we should expect more. I'm all for Alan Turing's name heard around the world. And I think this movie represents him well while thrilling and entertaining the audience. It is not the movie everyone wanted; but it's a great movie on its own terms.

I ask all these gay nayasers how many gay heroes with compelling stories that are not about coming out do we have? Let's celebrate this one. Should we question and ask for more? Absolutely. However this has enough virtues to be celebrated. Its merits as a movie are subjective and in the eye of the beholder but its celebration of Turing is undeniable.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Vibes of Macbeth : A Most Violent Year Trailer

Hey Marion and Fassbender, you've got competition. The new trailer for A Most Violent Year has echoes of the ambition of a married couple that recalls Macbeth. So before we see that film version we get Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. Feast your eyes,

It's a great trailer selling the drama and the chemistry between the stars. And maybe after the sort of failure of her Oscar chances somewhat with both The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby and Interstellar, Chastain might have found her vehicle for this year. Also I got a J C Chandor feeling in Original Screenplay.

Maybe 2014 is not going to be that underwhelming after all.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Short Notes on Whiplash, Birdman and Nightcrawler

Here are shorts reviews of the last three movies I watched.


I was not looking forward to this movie. Thought it would be a hyper masculine, "what it means to be a man"story. I was burned pretty bad by a few of those. Yes I'm looking at you Lone Survivor and Out of the Furnace. And yes it was exactly that, but I loved the shit ot of it, and that's mainly because of Miles Teller. What an actor; he grounds the story in a nakedly emotional place that is a joy to watch and react to. He's a student drummer trying to become great while being bullied by his profanity spewing teacher (J K Simmons). Teller, who was also great last year in The Spectacular Now, is going to have a long career.


I saw Birdman twice. First I wasn't impressed. I was too distracted by the intruding jazz score that I could not get into the story. I went back because I've liked every movie Alejandro G Innaritu has directed and because I suspected I might have missed something. Stories about actors are totally in my wheelhouse. And yes I liked it much better the second time around. Mainly a story of an actor in crisis about his position in the world and his legacy; its ideas about the pull between art and commerce are simplistic and nothing new. However the actors are great. And of course you've heard about the one take gimmick. That's pretty great too and definitely new and opens the story in spectacular ways allowing the scenes to breathe and the dialogue to settle. Michael Keaton in the lead is good and is matched mano a mano by an excellent Edward Norton as his nemesis. My two favorite scenes were when they both try to one up the other by showing what great actors they are. I wish the women had much to do. More women than men in this movie but they literally play : girlfriend, girfield, ex-wife, daughter and crazy old bitch critic. I enjoyed it more the second time once I accepted its heightened flights of fancy that were hard to swallow first time around. Fun but not profound.


Easily my favorite of the three. An insightful satire about the false American values of striving for success, it is also a hugely entertaining movie. The movie is bolstered by a bristiling committed performance by Jake Gyllenhaal as a man desperately needing success who finds work as a LA gonzo reporet specializing in videotaping crime scenes. He's matched by an on fire Rene Russo as a TV news reporter. They both come blazing at each other and a fantastic scene where they match wits is so good people will be talking about it after the movie ends. A lot of the drivel Gyllenhaal's character spews reminded me of many a nighmarish conversation I had in the hallways of corporate America. It sent a shiver down my spine. Nightcrawler brilliantly succeeds at what The Wolf of Wall Street tried to do last year; provide a biting critique of some of the values that make us lose our way. And in 2 hours no less; no excess with this movie.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It's Always Carol

I'm thinking of changing the name of this blog to Carol: The Most Anticipated Movie in History of Cinema.

The lovely Miss Belivet has created the swooniest Gifs ever. For those anticipating, enjoy!

These images are better than I ever imagined. Looks like the movie will have the romantic scope, lush visuals (not just the actresses but also costumes and design) that I had hoped for. Swooning.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Updated Oscar Predictions

So much has happened since our last update. Toronto put Julianne Moore at the top of the best actress category. Fury opened and proved it won't compete for Oscar. Gone Girl became a HUGE hit. So let's dive in.

(All predictions in likelyhood of getting nominated).

Best Film

Fury is out, added Into the Woods since the featurette dropped today is to die for. Gone Girl soldified its spot. I'm iffy about Foxcatcher but I'll keep it in for time being.

The Imitation Game
Gone Girl
The Theory of Everything
Into the Woods

A Most Violent Year
Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Actress

Pike is rising with the huge box office of Gone Girl. Sight unseen so is Moore based on the HUGE buzz out of Toronto. Witherspoon is quiet till the movie opens in early December where she'll pick up more heat. Blunt is apparently the lead in Into the Woods. My vote - and hope - goes to Cotillard who is again fantastic in Two Days One Night.

Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
Jessica Chastain - A Most Violent Year

Marion Cotillard - Two Days One Night  
Amy Adams - Big Eyes

Best Actor

Who's #4 and #5? I can't stand Eastwood and the premise of that movie is so macho and ra-ra Americana that I'm hating sight unseen so I'm not adding. Yes I have biases. I'm certain on my top 3 and despite all pundits saying it's a stacked year I can hardly find 5 to get excited about. Wishing Jake Gylenhaal or the guys from Love is Strange had a chance.

Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
Michael Keaton - Birdman
David Oyelowo - Selma
Steve Carrell - Foxcatcher

Channing Tatum - Foxcatcher    
Ralph Fiennes - Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Supporting Actress

Our Grand Lady Meryl is getting nominated. For now I'm keeping her in this category since that's how she'll be campaigned but I think they'll want their favorite in the more prestigous category.

Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game
Meryl Streep - Into the Woods
Emma Stone  - Birdman
Laura Dern - Wild

Jessica Chastain - Interstellar 
Carmen Ejogo - Selma

Best Supporting Actor

Boring as usual. Who is Miyavi? Maybe getting an answer to that question will make this category interesting. 

J K Simmons - Whiplash
Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
Ed Norton - Birdman
Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
Josh Brolin - Inherent Vice

Miyavi - Unbroken       
Robert Duvall - The Judge

Best Director

Will we have 2 women in the category for the first time? Not ready to call that yet.

Richard Linklater - Boyhood
Christopher Nolan - Interstellar
David Fincher - Gone Girl
Alejandro G Innaritu - Birdman
Morten Tyldum - The Imitation Game

Angelina Jolie - Unbroken       
Ava DuVernay - Selma

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fall Expectations Are High But Tempered

The Fall movie season is always eagerly expected because of the plethora of exciting options it usually provides. As the Toronto Film Festival unspools we think of all the movies we are eagerly expecting.

Been Waiting So Long We're Kinda Over It
We were excited a year ago. The raves came way back in May from Cannes. I guess we'll see it.

Cautiously Optimistic Because of Source Material
Into the Woods
Stephen Sondheim. Meryl Streep. Emily Blunt. Anna Kendrick. Christie Baranski. Billy Magnusson. Those songs. It would be our most anticipated but unfortunately we've seen Nine.

Career That Might Jumpstart
Jack O'Connell in '71
Starred Up. Unbroken. '71. Three major movie just might make a movie star. Two of them already seen with critical kudos, he's on his way.

Career Possibly Reinvigorated
Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler
The marketing has been aces. The campaign to tell us about his commitment and weight loss has already started. He's been on a roll of edgy interesting movies. We have faith.

Suspect Because of Terrible Trailer
Men, Women and Children
It seems it is trying to say something profound about the way we live now. Only that something looks and sounds very obvious. Hoping for the best but our gut says it's a turkey.

Suspect Because Tim Burton Has Been Lost For Years
Big Eyes 

Maybe Amy Adams will save it. Hoping for the best.

Known Entity But Still Eagerly Awaited
The Imitation Game 
We've seen it. It's fantastic. We love Benedict Cumberbatch in it. Who knew we'd ever say those words? We can't wait to see it again. Mostly we can't wait to discuss it over and over. The conversations are going to be good.

Meh Feel We've Seen Before
The Equalizer 
It looks like every other Denzel movie. Get that Fences adaptation going. And hire Viola Davis as your co-star.

Most Eagerly Awaited
The stellar reviews. Throwing about the "M" word. As in "masterpiece". We can't contain ourselves.

Wish It Was Opening This Fall
Not many movies starring women. This would've been the ultimate with some of our best actresses. As we mentioned before this might be our most anticipated movie ever.

What are you most excited about this Fall? What do you think of the movies we've mentioned? Agree? Disagree? Tell all in the comments.

Friday, August 29, 2014

First Stab at Oscar Nominations

As the Telluride Film Festival kicks off in Colorado, here is my stab at first guess Oscar Nominations. Presented in likelyhood to be nominated.

Best Film

The Imitation Game
Gone Girl
The Theory of Everything

Alternates - A Most Violent Year, Into the Woods, Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Actress

Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
Jessica Chastain - The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
Amy Adams - Big Eyes
Meryl Streep - Into the Woods

Alternate - Julianne Moore - Maps to the Stars

Best Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
Steve Carrel - Foxcatcher
Michael Keaton - Birdman
David Oyelowo - Selma
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything

Alternate  Channing Tatum - Foxcatcher

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Jessica Chastain - A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game
Emily Blunt - Into the Woods
Emma Stone  - Birdman

Alternate - Laura Dern - Wild       Carmen Ejogo - Selma

Best Supporting Actor

Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
Ed Norton - Birdman
Josh Brolin - Inherent Vice
Tom Wilkinson - Selma
J K Simmons - Whiplash

Alternate - Robert Duvall - The Judge

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Birdman walks Into the Woods

Blunt with James Corden in Into the Woods
These two movies have nothing in common except they both dropped trailers today. And they star two actresses we are very fond of around these parts and who we think have yet to show their best. We are talking about charm machines Emily Blunt and Emma Stone.

Blunt is first up. We fell in love hard after The Devil Wears Prada (2006). Eight years later that remains our favorite performance of hers. Yes she was a charismatic and believable action star just this summer in Edge of Tomorrow (2014). But no movie has yet built on that promise in Prada. She's the number #1 reason we are excited about Into the Woods (2014). And that's a tall order since we consider Sondheim and Streep Gods. She's not in much of this teaser trailer, but we remain optimistic since The Baker's Wife is a plum part.

And now it's time for another lovely lady, Emma Stone.

Love this shot of Stone in Birdman
Stone has also not delivered on the promise of her early work in Easy A (2010). But at least she has become a global superstar thanks to the Spiderman reboot. She even made us watch those 2 movies just to see her. Stone is the type of actress whose snappy line delivery, warmth and chemistry with co-stars (she sizzles opposite Andrew Garfield) makes us wish Billy Wilder was still alive. Give us that The Apartment (1960) remake we don't need but would love if it starred Stone.

We are hoping her 1-2-3 punch of collaborating with Woody Allen, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Cameron Crowe will gave her the showcase she deserves. Well #1 didn't quite work out. While she was charming and got her own way with Allen's lines in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)the movie was minor Allen at best. Still there's his next movie in 12 more months. #3 was postponed to next year. So Mr. Inarritu our hopes are on your very capable shoulders.

Below is the second trailer from Birdman  and Stone gets to yell at Michael Keaton. Reportedly she's playing his recovering addict daughter. So maybe she gets to show range? Maybe she even gets her first Oscar nod? Hopes are high over here.

We have faith in both Blunt and Stone. Do you? Are you looking forward to these movies? What did you think of the trailers? Tell all in the comments.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Few Stray Thoughts on Get on Up

Boseman as James Brown

Opening this week is the James Brown biopic Get On Up (2014) from the The Help's Tate Taylor. Now I loved The Help and thought it a throwback to 1940s "women's movie" that I love so much. So many actresses, actressing. I was in heaven. Here are a few things I had in mind after catching Get on Up.

- Chadwick Boseman is great as James Brown. Ferocious and committed. He's got the moves and he's got the spirit. This should be a star making role. While it's Brown we hear singing, Boseman brings the energy and it never looks like he's lip syncing. He will definitely contend for a Golden Globe in the comedy/musical category and be in the long list for an Oscar but I think will not be nominated.

- The movie is very entertaining. While the jumping in chronology was irritating at first the story moved fast propelled by Brown's songs and Boseman's performance that after a while I didn't mind.

- While the movie was entertaining I don't think it will be as popular as The Help. It's a bit more idiosyncratic and less emotional. But nice to see Tate Taylor stretching and trying something more than a straight through biopic.

Davis as Brown's mother, Susie

- Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis have tiny parts. Spencer's is tinnier. At least Davis' character gets an emotional arc and a fantastic scene with Boseman later in the movie. Both of them raise the emotional stakes and it pays off in drama. And no Davis doesn't outright win the battle, Boseman is her equal so we are the winners.

- The other actor who shines besides Boseman is True Blood's Nelsan Ellis as Brown's confidant Bobby Byrd. It is a subtle sweet performance fitting the second fiddle role Byrd played in Brown's life.

- The movie does well with historical context. Fitting in Vietnam War and Dr King's assassination into Brown's story in a linear illuminating way.

- Brandon Smith appears in a couple of scenes as Little Richard. He brings with him a jolt of energy and a wild sexiness. I wanted more!

All in all an enjoyable couple of hours. Did you see it yet? What did you think? Are you planning on catching it? Tell all in the comments.