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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Imitation Game

directed by Morten Tyldum
[director filmography: Headhunters (2011), some short films]

written by Graham Moore 
[some short films]

starring Benedict Cumberbatch [The Hobbit Trilogy, TV Series "Sherlock"], Keira Knightley [Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, Anna Karenina (2012), Atonement (2007), Pride and Prejudice (2005)], Matthew Goode [A Single Man (2009), Match Point (2005)]

ENJOYMENT: ****1/2 (out of 5)
"Very entertaining & important film"

For those of you who don't know the story of Alan Turing: you should. He is credited for inventing the computer and he used his invention to help the Allies defeat the Germans in World War II. Also, he was gay and was prosecuted by the British government under "gross indecency" laws despite his great contributions during the war. In addition to being brilliant and gay, however, he was extremely socially awkward and his inability to get along with his peers almost cost him, and the rest of humanity, what inventions he did have a chance to create. Throughout The Imitation Game, it seems that Turing is the only person aware of the importance of what he is creating, and he has little patience for other's ineptitudes. This is what makes The Imitation Game so enthralling, because, since his project is funded by the cash-strapped British government, Turing is usually only one argument and one sour relationship away from having his whole project shutdown. Benedict Cumberbatch is remarkable at playing Turing with all of his certainty, idiosyncrasies and character development, and adds a dimension to this role that couldn't have been done by just any actor. As Sherlock in the amazing BBC series "Sherlock", Cumberbatch plays a genius detective with such awareness and conviction that I thought it would be hard to see him in another, intellectually similar, role. However, Cumberbatch's Turing is completely different than Sherlock: Turing is an actual human with emotions, fears and handicaps as any other person has, and Sherlock is superhuman. The thing that unites these two characters though is how they both care more about the process of solving unsolvable problems than whatever auxiliary benefits the population at large may receive as a result of their work. Both Turing and Sherlock are less interested in saving lives than they are in their own intrinsic curiosities--it just so happens that what they're so obsessed with will also bring a great benefit to humanity. The Imitation Game is a great film created by young and talented filmmakers, acted beautifully by Cumberbatch as well as Keira Knightley and will be one of the most recognized films of 2014.

This film is great for many reasons but one of the main things that I liked about it was the audience perspective. Throughout the film, we are not always reminded of the devastating war taking place on the European continent and at times it seems that the main characters are not so consumed by its horrors. Because of the nature of the war, and the fact that dozens of Ally soldiers were dying every minute, they had to acclimate to these realities quick in order to stay sane. This allows for the characters to have what looks like a somewhat normal life despite living in horrific times, and it was an interesting insight into what must have been the case for those who didn't join the front lines. The chronology of how the story was told was very creative and engaging. The film is told semi-chronologically with flashbacks to Turing's childhood and scenes from after the war interspersed, and this allows us to get further insight into what makes Turing tick as we get to know him more throughout the film. Keira Knightly plays a remarkable character, as a genius problem solver in a man's world, and is an amazing addition and counter-balance to the often-unpleasant Turing. The rest of the film is fantastic and unfolds in very exciting ways. There are many ethical dilemmas that Turing and his team encounters and they culminate when they are forced to make great sacrifices in order to ensure their contributions end up helping to win the war. All in all, this film is a classic addition to the large collection of movies about World War II, but for the first time tells the story of perhaps the most important contribution that helped the Allies defeat the Germans when they did.

OSCAR PREDICTIONS (I wrote this before the Oscar Nominations released this week): Nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actress (Keira Knightley), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Original Score. It will not win anything. UPDATE: The film did get nominated for all of these award, plus a nomination for Best Director (Morten Tyldum). That was surprising. It still will not win anything.

Other ratings: IMDB (8.3/10, #220 on Top 250), Rotten Tomatoes (90%)

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