Posts Tagged ‘the imitation game’

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The Imitation Game (2015)

May 17, 2015

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
Director: Morten Tyldum (Headhunters)

Bottom Line: It was interesting timing for me to watch The Imitation Game considering I just watched director Morten Tyldum’s excellent Headhunters last week and a few weeks before that I saw Ex Machina, whose plot is largely centered around something called a Turing Test, which evaluates if a machine can exhibit intelligent behavior similar to that of a human being. I knew nothing of The Imitation Game plot prior to watching it so it was a pleasant surprise to discover it is the story of Alan Turing, a highly regarded British mathematician and cryptanalyst for whom the Turing Test was named after.

Benedict Cumberbatch gives his typical wonderful performance as Turing, a man whose awkward genius and social ineptitude isn’t that far removed Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes portrayal on his BBC series. He plays Turing with a touch less narcissism and quite a bit more vulnerability. Indeed, Turing was a homosexual in a time (the 1940s-1950s) when such a thing wasn’t just frowned upon, it was prosecutable. While the film spends time detailing his arrest for gross indecency and flashes back to his schooling as a youth and the formation of his first meaningful relationship with another boy, the majority of the film highlights his time at Bletchley Park, a British codebreaking centre, working with a team of fellow geniuses and trying to crack Enigma, a machine used by Nazi Germany to send coded military messages.

The Imitation Game is an amazing and heartbreaking story, in which one of the greatest (unknown) heroes of World War II is later vilified by his country for something we now view as socially acceptable. The film combines drama and humor exceptionally well. Turing is portrayed as a flawed, often self-centered human being, but still someone that is quite easy to root for. Cumberbatch is worthy of his Oscar nomination and Keira Knightley is also great as one of his fellow codebreakers and continues to solidify her status as what I consider to be The Next Kate Winslet.

The Imitation Game delivers on all levels with a great story and top notch acting. Alan Turing is a man whose time and contributions to our world should never be forgotten. The posthumous pardon he was granted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2009 was long overdue.

Replay Value: This is definitely a film worth watch again and probably worth owning.
Sequel Potential: N/A
Oscar Potential: Won Best Adapted Screenplay. Cumberbatch and Knightley received acting nominations, Tyldum a directing nom, and the film was also nominated for Best Picture, film editing, production design, and score.

Grade: 8/10 (Excellent)

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Headhunters (2011)

May 10, 2015

Starring: Aksel Hennie, Synnove McCody Lund, Nikolaj Colste-Waldau
Director: Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Bottom Line: My parents have been hassling me to watch Headhunters for months, bringing it up every time I see them and posting on my Facebook page, so I was going to have to raise hell if it wasn’t any good. They’ve been known to put some staunch praise on questionable films (see: August Rush) so it’s not like Headhunters was a lock to be awesome.

I am happy to report that it is – very awesome. It’s a 2011 film that hails from Norway and is directed by Morten Tyldum, whose The Imitation Game was recently nominated for Best Picture. Aksel Hennie, who looks like a Norwegian cross between Billy Crystal and Christopher Walken, stars as Roger, a short man that works as a headhunter – someone that recruits suitable candidates for open positions at various corporations – and steals valuable paintings in his spare time. I say he is short because the whole film seems to revolve around this insecurity. He states at the beginning of the film that he “overcompensates in other ways,” and uses the extra income he gets from stealing paintings to project a lavish lifestyle he otherwise could not afford. It all helps make him feel worthy of his trophy wife played by Lund. It’s a system that seems to work for Roger until he steals a highly valuable painting from Jamie Lannister (of Game Of Thrones), who quickly turns Roger’s world upside down by having an affair with his wife and trying to kill him.

From there, Headhunters quickly becomes a game of cat and mouse (and dog), with Roger on the run for his life. And it gets absurd – fantastically absurd. Part of the reason Headhunters works so well is because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s listed as a crime thriller, but comedy could easily be added to its genre specifications. As awful as the situation was at times, I couldn’t help but laugh at Roger’s elusive tactics. There’s a scene that involves an outhouse that makes the one in Schindler’s List seem tame by comparison.

Headhunters is smart, funny, and plenty entertaining. The acting is good in general, but Hennie is particularly amusing as Roger, although he probably wouldn’t make the best poker player. For someone with so many secrets, he wears his displeasure plainly on his face whenever he is unhappy about something – such as running into a law enforcement agent who is tracking art thieves. I’m not surprised that this film propelled Tyldum to Hollywood success. It’s an enjoyable ride and somewhere in this crazy movie there’s a message about being yourself, but it’s difficult to take away anything serious from such a fun film.

Grade: 7.5/10 (Must See/Excellent)