The Imitation Game (2014)

A film that starts with the words “based on a true story”, more often than not, are some of the best films ever made and remain some of my favourites. Wartime thriller ‘The Imitation Game’ has now been added to that list and will resonate with me for a while.

‘The Imitation Game’ focuses on the British mathematician, cryptologist and utter genius Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his team of code-breakers (Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode included) who, in the darkest days World War II, were racing against time to crack the impossible German Code ‘Enigma’ that helped the Allies win the war. Not only setting it during his code-breaking days, it also takes a more personal touch: his teenage years, his prosecution for homosexual acts and his awful treatment afterwards. Chronologically, the film may have been boring and not half as clever as it was. But instead it wove in and out of these different time periods making it an interesting watch.

I liked the fact that writer Graham Moore included this character exposition and backstory. It made Alan Turing human, something that maybe his colleagues and others didn’t think he was. Many probably perceived him like one of the machines that he wrote about or wanted to create, yet at heart, he was just different living in a time where different was not accepted easily. It seems he was only truly ‘accepted’ a year ago, when he was granted a posthumous royal pardon for ‘gross indecency’. This man is remarkable, did so much for our country and changed the course of history, so why did it take so long? It is a true injustice. Please don’t mistake what I’ve said so far to mean this is a sad film, really it’s not. It is an engrossing thriller, it is ‘feel good’, and really shows Turing’s achievements, as well as our country’s achievements fighting in the war.

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No words can describe how in awe of Benedict Cumberbatch I am and as Alan Turing, he was mesmerising and captivating, presenting the complex Turing as the biggest code to break of all. He was also heart-breaking, and his poignant portrayal made me cry.

Keira Knightley is warm and calming as Joan Clarke, the only woman on the team. Forget how ever so posh she is, she is Alan’s only vice sometimes and seems to be the only person to understand him. She is subject to prejudice herself in the film; as a lady, she is different too and not meant for intellectual things it seems and is expected to take a husband and live out her days. Matthew Goode is equally as charming as Hugh Alexander. And Charles Dance, Mark Strong and Rory Kinnear are a welcome addition to the cast.

This is the best film I’ve seen in 2014 so far and no doubt it’ll be nominated for a few at the Oscars. “Are you paying attention?” Alan Turing asks you and, honestly, ‘The Imitation Game’ will really grab your attention.

‘The Imitation Game’ is in cinemas now!

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Interstellar (2014)

Christopher Nolan’s visually beautiful, mystical and terrifying interpretation of space, ‘Interstellar’ tells the story of astronauts race to the other end of the galaxy and through a wormhole in search of a new habitable planet for a human race dying out and against the clock. The story is intense, the film is astonishing and visuals are impressive, as well as the film’s scary scientific accuracy.

Christopher Nolan directs and writes, alongside brother Jonathan, this epic affair. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a former NASA pilot and widowed father, who looks after his 10 year old daughter Murphy (a brilliant Mackenzie Foy), teenage son Tom and lives with his father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow) in a future world where Earth is failing. His curiosity leads him to a secret NASA installation lead by Professor Brand (Michael Caine). After explaining that twelve astronauts were sent on ‘Lazarus’ missions through a wormhole to find potential habitable planets, they recruit Cooper to join their team, including Brand’s own daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), to try and fulfil their task of reaching the only three potential choices of these planets and re-homing the human race.

Seems complicated right? Well it’s really not, meaning if I can understand it, you can! For me, the concept was simple, because it’s something I think about occasionally; the human race will have to be re-homed in the future to come. For me, the story is realistic and obvious. And scary too. At the end of the day, humans chosen for this task such as Cooper and Amelia are not machines, they have emotional attachments like love and family. Cooper is driven by trying to save and see his family again. As much as you want to save everyone else, selfishness and survival instinct can take over. One man’s act of cowardice or bravery can mean the difference- in this case the survival of the human race and Nolan often reminds you of this.

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The first two thirds of the film are truly magnificent and are so visually stunning to the point you want to cry! Moments to look out for are the movie’s interpretation of a black hole, the scariness of space time relativity and gigantic waves. Nolan has created a work of art as well as something incredibly character driven and with a clever plot, that builds tension, drama and grips you to the edge of your seat, something that I felt ‘Gravity’ lacked. Something else ‘Gravity’ lacked is an amazing soundtrack! The music is magical, loud and mystical, which is a pure interpretation of space and often reminded me of Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells.’ At points the soundtrack is ear-splitting and overpowering that it dominates moments, often making unimportant dialogue inaudible. But I felt this added to the atmosphere and realism particularly at moments of utter peril, chaos and stress.

The final third matches the start but reveals two twists in the story, that of course every Nolan film must have and complete with conviction. The first development, involving a character named Mann (you could interpret the name as important and ironic here), is smart and shocking like a twist should be. Similar to ‘Moon’, the twist is surprising and creates a problem, that could give the film a morose and unsatisfactory ending. The second twist, tying up loose ends and answers any questions you have, creates the ending. For me, I found it a little silly and disappointing, but then you have to respect the fact it is emotional, links well with the start and almost feel good.

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Matthew McConaughey is superb and Anne Hathaway is on par with him and matches his performance, so joining this with the visuals and sound makes ‘Interstellar’ a thrilling watch! Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy, Wes Bentley and Casey Affleck prove to be a formidable supporting cast. Also a massive shout out to the awesome robots Tars and Case too.

Let us hope in the future years to come, when our planet confronts this problem, the chosen intelligent few to complete this mission are as brave as the characters in this film. But these are actors and a screenplay and a camera, what is to come has to be acted for real.

‘Interstellar’ is in cinemas now.

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