Month: April 2015

Big Eyes

As usual when P. suggests going to see a film, I’d looked at a few reviews beforehand to decide whether I was interested. In this case what I’d read hadn’t made me super-enthusiastic, but Tim Burton’s latest film Big Eyes turned out (for once) to be better than expected. The film had received a fair bit of praise, especially for Amy Adams’ performance, but also a lot of criticism, most of which was centred on two aspects. The first of these was that it wasn’t sufficiently political, and that the sexism of 1950s America and the domestic abuse and denigration suffered by the main character didn’t receive enough attention and weren’t taken seriously. (more…)

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The Imitation Game

I’d been looking forward to seeing The Imitation Game, mainly because its subject, Alan Turing, was such an interesting character. Brilliant and influential enough to be a household name but practically unknown until a few years ago outside of gay and computing circles, he was an eccentric who had an interesting life and came to a tragic end, and a war hero who was hounded and persecuted by the very society he’d worked so hard to save. Just like The Theory of Everything, which we’d seen a few days previously, this film told the amazing story of a very special person, and again with an outstanding performance, this time by Benedict Cumberbatch. Unfortunately, while I’d described that film as “far too ‘Hollywood’ for my liking”, this one went even further in that direction. Rather than any sort of attempt at a serious biography this was more of a ‘war film’ with a code-breaking theme and a bit of ‘spy film’ thrown in, an exciting adventure with lots of emotion and obviously designed more to entertain than to educate or inform. OK, the story of the breaking of the Enigma code is indeed an exciting one, but there were too many things here which were just too good to be true. I left the cinema wondering just how accurate the film was, and also surprised that Turing was seemingly such an extreme, asocial character who was so difficult to work with. (more…)

The Riot Club

My initial feeling about this film wasn’t positive, and in a certain way that didn’t surprise me. After all, if you go to see a film which you know is about horrible people, then you shouldn’t be too surprised if you end up seeing a horrible film. On the other hand, a film about Nazis, computer virus makers or even people who cough during classical concerts can be an excellent film if it’s well made, well acted and has something interesting to say about its subject. Unfortunately this film didn’t quite fall into that category… (more…)

The Theory of Everything

I wasn’t super-enthusiastic about this film beforehand, and probably wouldn’t have wanted to see it at all were it not for the fact that I’d read A Briefer History of Time a few years ago and have always had a great respect for Stephen Hawking. Not that having an interesting person as its subject matter necessarily makes for an interesting film, but this one had got good reviews so I decided to give it a try. (more…)

’71

Very well made and with some excellent acting, Yann Demange’s ’71 really manages to recreate the atmosphere of the early seventies, and I found it exciting from start to finish. Most of the film also seemed very realistic, and the brilliantly shot riot scene at the beginning does a wonderful job of showing how it must have felt for young, inexperienced soldiers who’d had no training in police work or crowd control to be heavily outnumbered by an enraged and violent mob. The soldiers are the ones with the guns, but they’re soon running for their lives. Even though officially they haven’t even left the country, they find themselves in a totally alien world, a point which is effectively illustrated when a kid asks Gary, the main character, whether he’s a Catholic or a Protestant. He says he doesn’t really know, as he wasn’t really brought up to follow any religion, and the kid looks at him as if he’s mad: how can anyone not know such an important, life-defining fact about themselves? (more…)