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The Imitation Game: Oscar Nominee 2015

Synopsis: Mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, is recruited by the English government, to help crack the Nazi code, Enigma, during WWII. Quad_BC_AW_[26237] Imitation Game, The Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode.

I can’t even begin to comprehend the vast abundance of subtext present in this movie. But, we have to begin somewhere…

Having never read the book myself and being aware of the often dramatised events in movies, I was thoroughly amused at the way Alan Turing was portrayed to have solved the Enigma code. There’s fantastic Christopher, the machine to which at first seems is just the most brilliant piece of technology ever built- until it starts taking weeks or months to even crack one code from millions of possibilities. The solution came to Alan in the most strangest way possible: flirting. Let me explain. From a young age, we can see Turing struggling to make friends and was always pointed out as the odd duck. He wonders how people are able to talk so easily to one other when they never say what they mean, yet, the other person understands what is being said. I never really thought about conversations being codes swapped from one another and then our brains deciphering the meanings behind them. It’s so normal and automated- the deciphering, I mean- that most of us probably aren’t aware that we do it on a daily basis. Because Alan Turing had problems with this, he was able to figure out how to solve Enigma, hence the running theme through The Imitation Game, “Sometimes it is the very people no one imagines anything of, who do the things no one can imagine”. Alan, obviously not knowing how flirting worked, watched and listened as his friend, Hugh, showed and explained to him how it worked. This is how Alan solved Enigma:

  1. The woman, Helen, smiled at Hugh and didn’t look back in 15 benedict-cumberbatch-imitation-game-3minutes.
  2. Helen sent a coded a message out to Hugh and Hugh read the coded message
  3. He understood it as he knew what the input the message had been in the first place before coding
  4. She wanted him to come over.
  5. Alan watching this exchange was able to figure out this was exactly the case with Enigma.
  6. Enigma had the same whether words (or “cues” in the case of flirting) when the coded message came through.
  7. He knew then, that he just had to watch out for these words rather than the millions of millions of possibilities beforehand (if we are still going with the flirting comparison, he just had to watch out for the flirting cues, rather than aggressive cues or anxiety cues of conversation).
  8. He also knew someone used the same 5 letters when transmitting because they had a girlfriend hence why he later says, “Love may have cost Germany the war!”

That’s pretty impressive. The reason the Germans got caught in the end was simply because, they were so sure it was impossible to crack Enigma, they became complacent with the coding and used the same words over and over again. Imagine if they had used different words other than whether vocabulary and “Heil, Hitler”? That would have been extremely bad luck for the English.

Now, the morality. Based on a true story and adapted from the book, 2014-12_turing_bookAlan Turing: The Enigma” written by Andrew HodgesThe Imitation Game reveals the government’s actions at winning WWII. Initially, we are faced with the question, “What is he on about?”, as Alan asks to “listen closely” and not to judge. After the amazing feat of solving Enigma, however, they were faced with a dilemma. There was no way they could save everyone or the German’s would become suspicious and change the Enigma’s settings. And now it becomes clear why they asked the audience not to judge in the beginning. How could human’s ever decide who gets to live and who doesn’t? What gives us the right to make that judgement? That sinking feeling hung heavily in the air as they let one of their own cryptographer’s brother die. All these self-righteous thoughts began popping in my head, “How could the government let this happen? How?!” After much deliberation, it became apparent to me that they probably had no choice. Statistics really was the only way to go. They could either use the secret they held to save all the people but then the Germans would change their settings, and they would end up back to square one. And then more people would have died as a result. They had to sacrifice the few for the good of the many. I really hate that saying. It shows just how unforgiving the world can be sometimes. Of course, keeping in mind that this movie is probably in favour of the British Government, it begs the question: Have we just been bombarded with propaganda in the form of a movie so the audience wouldn’t be outraged? Let me know what you think in the comments. At this point, I’m just speculating. 🙂

There is one very unsettling factor, apart from being able to sit and watch mass murder knowing you can prevent it, that becomes quite tumblr_n92l5pLgTP1r1eamko2_500apparent through the movie: the extent of homophobia. I mean, I understand back then it would be pretty bad considering there are still countries today where it is still illegal to be homosexual. But it is still absolutely shocking how people were, and can still be, so blinded by their own self-righteousness, that they fail to see the achievements people have done, the amount of lives they have saved and, instead, judge them for who they are and put them on hormonal therapy?! Whether I agree with homosexuality or not is irrelevant but what I do believe is, if they are not harming or doing any injustice to other humans they should be allowed to be who they want to be without having to live in fear of it and not be driven to suicide. I know this wasn’t explicitly stated, but I felt this was what Alan Turing was trying to tell Detective Robert Nock when he was being interrogated. When Turing asked that just because machines cannot think like humans, does this mean they cannot think at all? and asked the detective to judge him whether he is a human or machine, I think Alan was referring to his difference of sexuality, rather than machine and human. Just because he is different to the majority of humans, does that not make human? After hearing the story Alan Turing had to say, the detective could not judge him. And rightly so.

I enjoyed the way the movie swapped between flashbacks and o-the-imitation-game-facebookpresent day rather than a linear timeline. It allows the audience to develop questions and stay compelled, which is definitely what The Imitation Game did. Fantastic performance by Benedict Cumberbatch as always and was delighted to see him be nominated for an Oscar. He was very well practised for the role considering the character of Alan Turing and Sherlock Holmes are both very similar. Keira Knightley was wonderful as well and her talent as an actress truly shone in the film.

The Imitation Game, being the complex film that it is, rightly deserves to be nominated for an Oscar. Whether the movie is propaganda or not we can never really be sure, but one thing is for certain, is that it gives a shout out to those of us in this world who are different to fight to be themselves and that, hopefully, we can reach a time, that they do not have to fight any more.

Verdict: 10 of 10 kicks


August: Osage County

Dysfunctional doesn’t even begin to cover it…

Synopsis: Raised by the mentally impaired woman they call their “mother”, 3 strong-willed daughters return back to Oklahoma after a serious crisis occurs. Women are all sugar and spice…right?

Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor.

august osage county movie poster

What really caught my attention even before I started the movie, was the star-studded cast. This usually leads to the saying , “Too many cooks spoil the broth”, but I was pleasantly wrong.

Let’s get straight to the point: I have never seen a movie so devoted to trashing men in general. From the first scene itself, we see Violet Weston stretch the word “woman” into something that actually sounds like “woe-man”. Bit of a give away, isn’t it? I mean, the amount things that are wrong with the men in the movie? Shall I give a list? Here’s a list:

  1. Poor Little Charles Aiken- he doesn’t even deserve the respect of being called a man with  “little” being insisted in front of his name
  2. Criticised for watching TV and drinking beer- even when relaxing
  3. Bill Fordham is the reason why his daughter is smoking and is leaving Barbara Weston for a younger gal.
  4. All the women envy men for “not growing ugly and fat” when older
  5. Can’t even say grace properly before a meal
  6. At one point, Violet blames her husband for being selfish for killing himself!

Doesn’t really paint a positive light on the male population…but neither on the female. I meryl streep august osagethought I was going to puke with the constant complaining and antagonizing by the women, me being female myself. It was appalling. But this actually happens in the real world. I agree, women should be treated equally, but that doesn’t mean we should expect “special” treatment as well. In the film, if it’s not okay for a guy to strip down to his shirt front at the table, then it shouldn’t be okay for the women to be wearing bath robes. You get the idea. I am sure this was intentional in the film; to expose the bitter-sweet ideals of our society. But they may have over done it a bit in this film; it just made the women seem monomaniac with loathing men and Meryl Streep appeared to be in screaming mode 95% of the time.

Why can’t you call people what they want to be called?” is a running theme in the film. Basically, why can’t people be who they want to be? Everyone is constantly trying to prove themselves to other people that they aren’t who people say they are. Constantly. Bill to Barbara, Violet to Barbara, Ivy to Violet, Little Charles to his mother… At face value, I got irritated with it but then I came to realise we do this all the time in our daily lives, I wonder how sad it must seem to other people…then I thought “hang on, if everyone is busy proving themselves, then the people who we are trying to prove ourselves to won’t even notice because they are probably doing the same thing, too”. It is a huge risk putting such a raw human quality into the film because not everyone will necessarily glimpse the reality of the situation; most people may think “this is too depressing/overwhelming. I’m going to watch a rom-com”. And I appreciated the director’s take on the characters. But just barely. I could tell that this script was made for broadway- and should have stayed at that. It was too theatrical to be a film, too long-winded..

The chemistry between Ivy Weston, played by Julianne Nicholson, and Little Charles, august-osage-county benedict cumberbatchplayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, was so upsettingly pure . I nearly had a coronary when I found out they were brother and sister. I can’t even begin to fathom what a traumatic experience that must be. But this movie was so honest and tragically real, in that, it took literally every family issue that could ever occur and stuffed it into 2 hours; from the fighting, swearing and divorcing to the suicide, drugs and accidentally falling in love with your own half-brother. It must have really hit home for some people and that breaks my heart.

There were these little moments that don’t seem so significant at first glance but really, they are the basis of the movie. The Native Indian that is always watching over the family- there’s even a graffiti of a Red Indian when Charlie Aiken goes to pick up his son, as if Johnna is their guardian angel. Then there is mention of the invaluable books and references to writing- all symbols of knowledge, power and wisdom. When Jean Fordham brought up how by ingesting animals, we are devouring their fear…or when Barbara said that family is a random selection of cells that happen to meet- that sent me reeling. These small points that were made, they don’t seem to mean much, they are just random sentences floating in all of time and space…but that is the sheer genius of it. See, the movie begins with a quote from T.S. Elliot, where Beverly is commending the poet for being the only one brave enough to write ““life is very long”. But the special moments I mentioned above? This film is one of the bravest to speak aloud these things. Utter brilliance right there.

julia roberts and meryl streep

I have to especially point out Meryl Streep’s acting. I was so impressed I could barely keep my eyebrows from rising with awe every 5 seconds. Such a talented woman, if she doesn’t get the Oscar for best leading actress, the awards would be a sham…and Julia Roberts. They acted so well together, I am running out of words to praise them with. Their performances made this movie and, without the chemistry, it would have been very dry. I hope these two actresses get the recognition they deserve because they made a broadway play, that shouldn’t have been turned into film, into something decent.

Verdict: I’m going to give two scores: 10 of 10 kicks because of the compelling acting                                                                        6 of 10 kicks for the movie as a whole

Check out the Oscar 2014 nominees here!

Let me know what you guys think? 🙂

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Are you willing to broaden your mind?

Synopsis: Theodore Twombly, is a writer who is in the process of divorcing his wife. In a moment of loneliness, he buys an operating system with artificial intelligence, Samantha. Soon, he develops a relationship with her; the perfect woman to meet his every need.

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara.

Her theodore

From the opening credits soundtrack, I felt a little apprehensive. The creepy robotic music wasn’t comfortable to listen to but that symbolises the point of the film: from the strangest thing ever, to the most humane of emotions.

In a world of fast growing technology, he happens across an OS system, Samantha. There are many questions and concepts that have to be accepted when watching this film. It is not for the narrow-minded. Sure, it is strange to see a grown man having an actual relationship with a computer. But here’s the question, was she not real? Samantha, voiced beautifully by Scarlett Johansson, is the product of several human consciousnesses put together. So she thinks like a human…but what does it mean to be “human”? Our species have a basic form- arms, legs, torso, head- and we know that is human. But there are people in this world that do horrific things that are what we would call “inhumane”. But they look human; just don’t think, feel or act like one. So, clearly, from a socially-accepted viewpoint, human conciousness is what defines us. And yet…Samantha is missing the typical mould of a person. And that scares us. But even the soundtracks became less robotic and more musical as the film went on, suggesting Samantha’s humanization.

I positively adored how they used the eyes of a computer to help the audience marvel at the beauty of our world. I bet if a baby could articulate perfect speech, they would say a lot of what Samantha said.  If they used a person, it would be like, “he’s on drugs” but using something that doesn’t have a body helps us truly realise what it is missing out on- and what we should be grateful for. The one element that Samantha wished she could do over and over again, was touch. Such an important sense. There have been studies showing that babies who were cuddled more often, were shown to have healthier immune systems and less likely to develop depression in adulthood. Need more reason to appreciate what we have?

I was intrigued to observe Catherine, Rooney Mara, tell Theodore that he was hiding away her samantha from having to deal with the challenges of a real relationship and as the movie went on, it became clear that this was what many people were shying away from. Everyone was seen with an operating system , hardly glancing at where they even put their foot down let alone have an actual conversation with another being. And yet, in the end, even the OS’s blossomed a need for collaboration with others and ran off with their own kind. The need for collaboration, so human! And yet, at that moment, it seemed that people were less in touch with who they were than a bunch of computers. It would be disappointing to catch this occurring in our race, but we see it happening now: people using TV or the internet as an excuse not to go out and meet people. How are we ever supposed to evolve if we don’t challenge ourselves to things that frighten us the most?

There was one moment in Her that completely took me by surprise: when Samantha asks Theodore whether she’s been programmed to feel this way. It really got me thinking; aren’t we programmed to feel certain things in certain situations? Or do we do it instinctively? For e.g. if we didn’t think being overweight was “unacceptable”, would we be insecure in public? Or if we didn’t know we were supposed love, would we still? Is it instinct or have we been fixed by society-norms? And if it is inherent, has that intuition been programmed within us? I’m going all crazy here with the philosophy 😀

Most of the film is kind of dissociate, but I enjoyed the moment when the OS tells Twombly that she s “finding herself in the infinite spaces between the words in a book”. As if to say, we discover ourselves between moments of pain, anger, tenderness, confusion…every moment is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves. The book she refers to is obviously a representation of our story; our life. There is a lot of reference to writing as well; Theodore is a letter writer, constantly writing emails to one another, referring to your past as “a story we just tell ourselves”…just a little thought. Let me know what you guys think about it!

The plot is basically the synopsis. Nothing much happens in terms of a storyline and there her theodoreis a- somewhat- happily ever after. But for some reason, the ending was not satisfying to me. It just seemed so fleeting and where would the operating systems go? Is there some cyberspace that I am not aware of? For a person not looking for depth, the movie could even be considered depressing. However, the soundtracks as symbolism were excellent and Scarlett Johansson’s voice fits perfectly. There was also a cool bit of cinematography where, Theodore is sitting on the steps, after having a scare whether Samantha left, and the people going up and down the stairs in the background are noticeably going faster or slower depending on the intensity of his emotions.

Ultimately, a very philosophical movie. With my review, I have barely scratched the surface of the depth but you get the gist of it. If you’re looking for an eye-opener, this movie is for you, if not, maybe some other time. It is interesting to see this film and Gravity nominated for the Oscars; both seem like they don’t have much going on but there is a lot more than meets the eye.

Note: Just to be clear, this doesn’t necessarily mean I support having a relationship with technology…just open-minded enough to speculate about the theme behind it.

Verdict: 8 of 10 kicks

Check out the Oscar nominees here!

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Synopsis: Two astronauts attempt to survive as a series of misfortunes occurs- drifting in space, certain sacrifices are made and hardships test the very core of humans.

Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Orto Ignatiussen.

Gravity, sandra bullock

Before saying anything, I want to point out that the movie isn’t an action film or thriller so please do not be disappointed. It is a drama-based film. The setting of space is more of a metaphor than anything; a platform for her journey of overcoming grief. Ryan Stone had lost her child and, as she says in the movie, that she just keeps driving. In fact, she “drives”, for so long and so far out, that she finds herself in space, running away from her grief and distancing her emotional pain.

When she is in the Hubble and is taking of her spacesuit, there are a few seconds where she is curled up on herself, like a foetus in a mother’s womb- very symbolic of regeneration and, from that moment on, you know she is going to be reinventing herself. We can also see this journey from a “baby” to “toddler” in the end of the movie, where she crawls to the beach, struggles to stand up and is seen taking her “first” very wobbly and shaky steps on this earth. She has been born again and wiped away with a clean slate to which she starts life.

This movie is very inspiring in quite the literal and metaphorical sense. Literally, we see the gravity-movie-review-sandra-bullock-shiopultimate human instinct to survive; the will to live observed so intensely over the journey. But, in terms of emotional stability, the will to live doesn’t have to be in life-or-death situations; but rather being able to actually live after something as devastating as a loss of a child occurs and the tackling of the grief is played out powerfully in the film. We all have the strength within us to carry on when we feel all hope is lost, but sometimes we need a little push (in the film, it came to Doctor Stone in the form of her friend Matt Kowalski) in order to tap into that strength. Her falling through the skies like a shooting star resembles hope- that she, at that moment, embodies the extraordinary hopefulness that mankind is capable of; She is not a survivor of a dangerous mission in space, but a champion in her triumph of her war with grief. She has finally learned to let go, stopped driving and has come back home

It was intriguing how they kept mentioning things such as “Silence; I could get used to this” or “the view is amazing” While all of that is true, the film seeks to answer the question, could we really live in space? Not in terms of the dangers of lack of oxygen or meteorites but would we be able to leave our earth? To live without contact from others? Humans are creatures of sentiment; it could be the reason for our ultimate destruction- or salvation as we glimpse in the film when she finds the motivation to live in the love of her daughter, rather in her self-pity which is often a paralytic. Upon being able to contact someone on earth, she asks them to make their dog bark and to continue singing a lullaby for their baby. Sure, space is beautiful with its sunrise and its many stars, but we can see all that from earth, too. We are curious enough to explore the universe as there is so much more we have yet to observe and learn. But, just like Ryan, we would start to miss the simple things that make our world; the singing of birds, the colours of the sky, the magnificence of the landscape , the warmth of our loved ones…why would we ever want to leave all that behind?

In terms of science, the movie attempted to be as realistic asgravity-movie-review-space-2 possible- attempted being the operative word. We observe the Hubble and the ISS and the Chinese Space Station all within sight, when in reality, the ISS orbits 400 km above Earth, the Hubble at 560 and the Chinese station simply does not exist yet. In addition, the ease to which she changed orbital planes was exaggerated as they would be really time-consuming and energy intensive. The physics is wrong when we notice tension in the strings when, in space, it should be relatively easy to pull the cables. Similarly, Sandra Bullock’s tear drops would’ve just stuck to her face. I also had trouble believing that a medical engineer, which Ryan Stone was, would be granted permission to accompany the mission, let alone actually leave the interior of the Hubble, even if she had training for 6 months prior.

Overall, a brilliantly executed film with amazing special effects and realistic acting. Like I said before, it is drama-based film and should be judged accordingly. And for its genre, it is one of the best space films I have ever seen.

Verdict: 8 of 10 kicks

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Now You See Me

Synopsis: Four extremely talented street artists are recruited to pull of the biggest illusion of all time. Evading the FBI constantly, how do they manage to pull of such a heist? And is there something larger than themselves lurking in the shadows?

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher.

The movie is, at it’s core, about the ethics of playing on the innocence of the masses. Four cunning illusionists, called the Four Horsemen, put on a series of extravagant performances that leads up to one magnificent global performance. The visuals of the movies was absolutely brilliant, with amazing light shows and unique gimmicks. What was really good about the movie was that it constantly keeps you guessing and answers all the burning questions you have inside your head. The story line has fluidity and consistency which is always a good sign.

It scares me to think that the entire stadium and the French guy was hypnotised into believing that he actually went to Paris. That kind of knowledge and power on controlling the human mind-believing you’ve been somewhere you haven’t; blurting out your deepest secrets uncontrollably- would be devastating in the wrong hands.

Essentially, we see mass manipulation like this everyday, especially with businesses, promising more than they can actually provide for. The beauty industry would be at the centre of this, in my opinion. Maybe this movie is an indirect shout out to that?

There were some bits i would’ve liked them to expanded on such as The Eye of Horus and what does this secret order intend in this world? Or they could’ve possibly gone through a quick recount of how Mark Ruffalo’s character, Dylan Rhodes, plays the FBI a fool, just like they did with Jack Wilder faking his death. Also, with that teleporter contraption, when it pressed together to teleport the person, how did they end up in the air ducts?

Overall, a fantastic film to keep that brain of yours sharp. The acting is excellent, especially by Mark Ruffalo and you may have to watch it a second time to fully understand what’s going on. Or maybe because you want to fully appreciate the unpredictable plot twist at the end of the movie- left me hanging off my seat! Maybe though, their possibly-2nd film could be a bit more fulfilling?The Four Horsemen stand to shock the world

Verdict: 7 of 10 kicks