The Imitation Game: Too Good to Ignore

This week I was ready to post s1600_The-Imitation-Gameyour traditional holiday blog post. I had it almost entirely written and ready to go with lots of cheery feel-good moments to fit the season. This is until I saw a movie that made me scrap that entire post. I know that writing about a World War II period piece movie is not very fitting for the holiday season, but sometimes there are those things that are just so good, that they deserve to be written about and read, regardless of the time of the year.
The Imitation Game-     For those of you who have not heard of this movie, that is not a surprise. Films such as this one do not have big advertising budgets, epic battle scenes, big explosions or superheros. Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with the big budget- Marvel-esque films, quite the contrary, I usually enjoy them immensely. But we seem to then overlook the really well done, well acted, important true stories that some films talk about. The Imitation Game had a limited release because of this reason. We love our true stories that end in heroism. But what about the other, equally important stories? Even with big stars like Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly, the movie was not picked up by a large number of the major theater chains. This, to me, is very upsetting.

     Based on the unbelievably true story, s1600_Kiera-KnightlyBenedict Cumberbatch proves once again why he is Hollywood’s new golden boy as he portrays the brilliant Alan Turning. Turning is the unquestioned premier mathematician of the 20th century. In Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Turning, he gives us a peak into a man who is painfully awkward, brilliant, arrogant, rude, lacking in patience and any semblance of understanding of social interaction but also managing, somehow, to be endearing and relatable.
     Alan Turning, was the key player in the cracking of the German Enigma code and it is estimated that his work ended WWII as much as two years earlier saving an estimated 12 million lives. The Imitation GameBenedict-Cumberbatch is a war movie where no battlefields are shown and no guns are fired. It illustrates the important concept that, even in the 1940’s, scientists, engineers, and mathematicians fought on a hidden front that eventually changed the tide of battle. However, Turning also faced moral predicaments associated with his major role in turning the tide of the allied forces. In the end, however, the genius behind all the innovations he made was destroyed by the pettiness of the society that didn’t understand him. The Imitation Game doesn’t hide this dark aspect and it makes the production enthralling, engrossing and sobering.
     In a day and age where we are trying so hard s1600_Alan-Turingto right the wrongs of our past as people and as nations– while still very much reminded by current events how far there is still to go — stories like these need to be seen, remembered and internalized so that we are not blinded by our own shortsightedness of the realities and fragility of  human life. By remembering that embracing our differences and individuality across ethnicity, cultures and genders, regardless of personal belief we could really make some much needed change in this world.five-stars.png
Final Thoughts
The Imitation Game is an extremely well done film. The acting and writing is superb. It has enough humor at appropriate moments to stop the film from being too weighty, but enough seriousness to drive home the important aspects of the movie. Even if you are not fond of history, I would highly recommend that you give this movie a chance. It’s message is important and I promise that if you give it a chance, you won’t regret it.

The Hobbit:The Battle of the Five Armies- The Last Film…Finally

  The-Hobbit For all you Lord of the Rings/Hobbit/J.R.R Tolkien fans out there, this is it. After this, there is nothing more anyone can make regarding this story. Four books and six movies later we have the very last installment of J.R.R Tolkien’s epic set in Middle Earth. This has been a highly anticipated film for me the last few months, but I will confess that I am very glad that I knew what to expect going in to the theaters.
For those fans out there who have read the book, I am sure you know by now that the first two movies have been very different from the original story. This last movie is no different. Though the movie stays true to the major plot points in the book, there has been a TON of subject matter that has been added to the film. My friends call this creative license… I say they just made shit up that they thought would go over well. My advice for this is to compartmentalize the two in your head. Separate the book from the movie completely. The book is a great story on its own, the movie is a great action film on its own, but the moment you try to compare the two, you will hate it. Just approach this film as a quality action movie and you wont have any issues with it.

The vast majority of the film The-Hobbit-Armyis a battle…. hence the name of the movie. If you do not like war movies, then this is not the movie for you! This movie is more battles, more creatures, more not-quite-comical asides, more stern speeches and more elaborate action set pieces. If you have been enjoying “The Hobbit” so far, you’re in for a treat. But if you were hoping for something extra or different this time around-like more plot- then ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ may leave you wanting.

The-Hobbit-Elf-Army   Luckily however, Jackson’s singular talent for massive-scale insanity hasn’t deserted him, and the hour long smackdown that crowns the film gives him ample opportunities to indulge in it. With what feels like a lot more than five armies involved — I counted elves, dwarves, men, orcs, trolls, goblins, eagles, evil bats and weird giant earthworms — it is one of the grandest sequences Jackson has ever shot. And if there is a hint that his imagination is, if possible, even bigger than his special-effects budget – some of the busier shots were a bit murky — that’s perhaps inevitable when you’re working on a bigger scale than any other director has ever attempted.three_half-stars_0.pngThere are flaws in this final film with some overly ambitious effects, being somewhat overwhelmed by its own spectacle. However, with Jackson’s six-film Middle Earth series finally coming to a close, it’s also a fitting tribute to his dedication and ambition as he managed something no other director would even attempt to tackle. The Battle of the Five Armies ends Peter Jackson’s second Middle-Earth trilogy on a satisfying note.

Don’t Be Stupid, Watch Classic Movies: Psycho

The other day I was speaking to a co-Alfred-Hithcock-Psychoworker about the fact that I like old movies. She then proceeded to tell me that she loved old movies as well and, silly me, I got really excited that there would be someone I could talk to about the classics like Casablanca, Some Like it Hot and All About Eve. To my dismay however, when she said she loved “old” movies she meant movies from the 80’s. Since when did films from the 80’s become the classics?
One of the first non-animated movies I ever watched as a kid was the thriller/ mystery film Psycho. And to answer your next question, “Why did your parents ever let you watch such a scary movie as a kid,” the answer is (As you might have guessed) they were out of town for the weekend and I was being babysat by my older siblings and they saw no issue with letting a 5 year old watch Alfred Hitchcock’s- Psycho. I am pretty sure they regretted that decision later that night when I forced one of them to hold my hand and walk with me everywhere (literally to the fridge from the living room).
If you are one of those out there who hasn’t viewed a movie made before the 80’s, then get your
head out of your butt and take a look at some of these great films that are worth watching. Starting with one of the all time greats.

PSYCHO- 1960
     By its name and reputation, Psychoyou might be a little apprehensive to try this film. There tend to be two, very different, reasons that modern day viewers don’t bother to see the movie.
1. You may think it is too dated and therefore not worth your time.
2. Or perhaps, you assume that it is a scary movie, and if you are like me, you HATE scary movies- not wanting to spend money or waste time being voluntarily terrified.
If either of these excuses are the reasons that you have not seen Psycho then let me dispel those misconceptions for you.
     Psycho, like most of Hitchcock’s films, is not gory or scary. It is not meant to terrify or startle the viewers. Hitchcock’s films are thrilling, creepy, psychologically challenging and suspenseful. This film will have you on the edge of your seat. Caught up in the building suspense of the mystery that surrounds the story and its characters.

Though I willHitchcock-Psycho not deny that Psycho is obviously dated, the film was made in 1960, and is in black and white. With this in mind the setting is obviously a little old. However, there are no movie affects that really make the age disparity noticeable. Because of the strength of the story, its director and its actors, Hitchcock’s most famous film, Psycho, has aged the most gracefully of almost any film from that time. The thrilling, exciting twists and turns of the movie are just as relevant and exhilarating for audiences today,
Final Thoughts —
I know this film is old and that modern day viewers have biases against old movies, especially black and white ones. But there is a reason Psycho is still referenced, copied and emulated in modern day movies. It is exciting, enthralling and entertaining.
(There have been several remakes over the years. The remakes are gory, and poorly done. Don’t waste your time on any except the original)

Jurassic Park: Awesome Things You Need To Know

s1600_Jurassic-Park     I am pretty sure I am not alone in saying that even though I am an adult I am ridiculously excited for the upcoming new film Jurassic World. Last time I checked, 40 million people have watched the new trailer on YouTube. Although I am excited, I am also nervous because I so badly want it to be good and not disappointing after all this build up. Because lets be realistic, even the biggest Jurassic Park fans admit that the third film in the series was total crap.
So in preparation for the newest installment of the classic franchise lets take a look back at the film that started it all.

Jurassic Park

1. Nerdy Dreams Can Come Trues1600_Jurassic-World
When director Steven Spielberg and author Michael Crichton were working on a screenplay that would eventually become the television show ER, Spielberg asked his fellow writer about the plans for his next book. Crichton told him about Jurassic Park, and Spielberg apparently fangirled so hard over the idea that he immediately convinced Universal to buy the film rights in May 1990– before the book was even published. He was so excited that he began story-boarding scenes from the book, even though there was no screenplay written yet.
2. Without One, There Would Be No Two

s1600_Steven-Spielberg-Schindlers-List    Though Spielberg was excited at the idea of Jurassic Park, he wanted to direct a film he thought far more crucial–Schindler’s List–first. But MCA/Universal President Sid Scheinberg refused to greenlight Spielberg’s Holocaust film unless the director agreed to make his dinosaur picture first. Both films were released in 1993; Jurassic Park in  June, and Schindler’s List at the end of the year.
3. A New Excuse To Go To Theme Parks
Spielberg’s original plans to bring the dinosaurs to life were inspired by the universal studios “King Kong Encounter” ride. On the ride, Kong is designed as a full sized animatronic. Because the dinosaurs couldn’t be life-sized recreations, Spielberg had to think a little differently. Some creations, including the T. Rex, were full dinosaurs, but most were just upper half–including the head and torso of the dinosaur– while others were just bottom half, including the legs and claws. –That would have been a really weird set to walk onto with just random dinosaur half’s all over the place.
4. Less isn’t More… it’s Less.

    Even with his animatronic Steven-Spielberg-and-Dinosaur-postreconstructions Spielberg was not happy with how choppy the filming had to be with only a few completely built dinosaurs and mostly half built creatures to work with. He decided on a bold move (at the time) using CGI in a movie in order to be a compliment and to smooth as well as to fill in the gaps that the animatronics couldn’t. The other added element was to actually build all the raptor suits that the crew climbed into and operated from the inside. Combined, all of Jurassic Park’s CGI dinos have just 6 minutes of screen time, while total dinosaur effects shots make up only 14 minutes of the 127 minute film. This, in my opinion, is why the first film as stood the test of time. Nothing dates a movie more than old, obviously older, CGI work.
5. What If…
Casting is really everything in a film. Other possible candidates for the roles in the movie included William Hurt and Harrison Ford as Alan Grant, Christina Ricci as Lex, Sean Connery as John Hammond, and Robin Wright or Juliette Binoche as Ellie Sattler
6. Who Can Say No To The Devil…or Dinosaurs?

s1600_Richard-Attenborough-Steven-SpielbergRichard Attenborough, who plays CEO John Hammond was on a 15 year hiatus from acting when Spielberg approached him about taking a role in Jurassic Park. Attenborough had been directing at the time but he said he agreed to end his semi-retirement because Spielberg had “the charm of the devil.” (Fun fact. When Spielberg approached him to do the film, Attenborough was directing Gandhi which beat Spielberg’s E.T. for Best Director and Best Picture at the 55th Academy Awards.)
 7. Everything In Perspective
Jurassic Park shot on location in 1992 on Hawaii’s Kauai Island. Hurricane Iniki, the most powerful hurricane to hit Hawaii in recorded history, hit during filming. Attenborough apparently slept through most of it. When asked by cast members how that was possible, he replied that it was nothing — after all, he had survived the London Blitz during World War II.
8. Grant and Lex Would Have Been T. Rex FoodJurassic-Park-T-Rex
  Even though the T. Rex could have hunted based on smell, at the time Jurassic Park was made, it wasn’t known for sure whether the giant dinosaur’s vision was based on movement. During filming in 1992 this fact was assumed as a possibility since some reptiles are known to exhibit that trait. However, more recent research suggests that the T. Rex probably had pretty excellent vision…. oops.