Film Friday #226

The Imitation Game (2014)

During WWII the Allied forces found themselves on the back foot unable to interpret messages sent by the German army using their “uncrackable” Enigma code. Mathematician, Alan Turin (Benedict Cumberbatch) is brought in to join a team of colleagues who have been working on deciphering the code for months without success and immediately makes an impression for all the wrong reasons. He is obstinate, arrogant and oblivious to social niceties earning him the scorn of his co-workers and superiors. On the other hand he is also brilliant and begins work on a machine, which he names Christopher, adamant that it is the only way to break the code. When Turin brings in a new team to help him he finds a companion and soul mate of sorts in Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), a mathematical prodigy whose talents are largely ignored because she is female. As Christopher initially fails to deliver, Turin must fight to keep his project alive by any means neccessary while also hiding the secret of his sexuality. The Imitation Game was the only Academy Best Picture nominee I didn’t see before The Oscars and I really regret it now because it was definitely one of my favourites. Cumberbatch is outstanding as the socially inept but brilliant Turin and he is ably supported by Knightley who is, dare I say it, good? Throughout the film it is evident that we are witnessing something ground breaking happening and the fact that Turin and his team were forced to keep their work secret is heart breaking, especially considering how Turin’s life ultimately ended and that he was hungry for recognition that never came. All of this makes for an excellent story, especially against the backdrop of Turin’s struggle with his sexuality at a time when homosexuality was illegal in the UK. I guess one has to wonder how the man himself would have felt about this biopic. One has to hope he would have liked it… as well as the fact that the conference room in the IT division of my company is named after him. 4/5

Alan's red rope licorice experiment was going horribly wrong

Alan’s red rope licorice experiment was going horribly wrong

 The Prestige (2006)

Alfred Borden (Christian Bale),  Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Robert’s wife, Jess (Samantha Mahurin) all work for Victorian stage magician, Cutter (Michael Caine) learning the tricks of the trade. At first Alfred and Robert are firm friends but when Jess is killed during an a trick, Robert blames Alfred. This sets off a rivalry that will last years as the two magicians go back and forth trying to one-up each other.  But what is the secret behind Alfred’s most famous trick and how far will Robert go to discover it? While it might seem on the surface that The Prestige is a film about magic and performance it is just as much about loss, the lengths a person will go to to get what they want and the nature of obsession. Further to this it  has a central theme of duality. While Alfred invariably has the best tricks, Robert is a far better performer and while Robert’s obsession starts with his desire to avenge his wife it quickly becomes selfish – especially when he meets Olivia (Scarlett Johannson). For me this is one of director, Christopher Nolan’s best. Not only does he capture the Victorian setting magnificently, he draws excellent performances from both leads with Bale especially shining as the mysterious Alfred. The addition of Robert’s interactions with the legendary Nikola Tesla (David Bowie) adds an element of extra intrigue and I challenge anyone not to be captivated until the last jaw-dropping twist. Outstanding. 5/5

hgiurhgur

Olivia *thinking*: if he tells that fucking story about how he met Nikola Tesla one more time I  am going to glass him

Don Jon (2013)

Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a typical New Jersey guy. He loves the gym, going out with his friends, scoring with hot girls… and lots and lots of porn. In fact he even prefers porn to sex. When he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) he thinks she might be enough to make him change his ways. It’s not going to be easy though because Barbara’s obsession with romcoms means she expects  a lot from him  and she’s none to pleased when she catches him indulging in a bit of internet self-abuse. One of Barbara’s stipulations for Jon is that he attend night classes to better himself, where he meets Esther (Julianne Moore), a widow who might just have some insight into why Jon just can’t seem to connect with a real woman.  I can totally see what first time director, Gordon-Levitt, was trying to do with his debut film. It’s supposed to be about superficiality and how people distract themselves from the desire for real connection by trying to acquire the perfect life they think they want. It doesn’t quite work though. He’s far too heavy handed with his message and his characters lack nuance. Barbara in particular is badly developed and what’s behind her obsession with the “perfect” romance is never really explored, making the message Gordon-Levitt is trying to deliver fall short of his goal. All of that said, this is a promising start and with some more experience I imagine he will deliver bigger and better things. 3/5

Ticket to the gun show? Anyone?

Ticket to the gun show? Anyone?

Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

Nick (Jason Batemen), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) are back and time they’ve decided to start their own business (kind of rendering the name of the film irrelevant but who needs details). After they get an offer for their ludicrous “Shower Buddy” product from tycoon, Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) the trio borrow money to go into full production… without a contract. Bert swiftly steals their idea and leaves them at the risk of losing everything. At this point they come up with the ingenious idea of kidnapping Bert’s playboy son, Rex (Chris Pine). Inevitably things go horribly wrong, especially when Dale’s former boss, Julia (Jennifer Aniston) gets involved. It gets even more complicated when Rex wants in on the kidnapping plan and the three are forced to turn to Kurt’s former boss (Kevin Spacey) and Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Fox) for advice. Horrible Bosses was kind of funny but not funny enough to warrant a sequel. There are a couple of amusing  moments dotted in among how endlessly annoying the moronic lead characters are but  trying to make up for actual jokes but just getting Rachel from Friends to say progressively more crude things does not a cinematic masterpiece make. Best avoided. 1.5/5

Hands up who wishes they hadn't agreed to do this film

Hands up who wishes they hadn’t agreed to do this film

 

42 Comments

  1. I am ashamed to say I have never watched the Prestige. It sounds like my perfect movie too, but I have never gotten around to it.

    1. Abbi

      I think you’d love it.

    2. theipc

      WTF Abbott???

      1. I guess I am saving this for Cara’s Resolutions at the end of the year lol

        1. theipc

          : )

          Good call!

  2. Great reviews! I think you’re spot on. The Prestige is wonderful. Such a great movie. I just watched Horrible Bosses 2 last weekend and it was just plain HORRIBLE. They were so unbelievably stupid and there was so much yelling. Not effective storytelling

    1. Abbi

      There really was loads of yelling. I felt exhausted by the end of it.

      1. Me too! There was really no need for it. I’m so disappointed that such talented comedic actors resorted to this.

  3. theipc

    Here are my thoughts on this post:
    -The Prestige is FANTASTIC
    -Horrible Bosses 2 is BULLSHIT
    -how are all the girls so APESHIT over Cumberbatch? He is totally weird looking to me and yes I can appreciate a good looking dude
    -you rock

    1. Abbi

      I don’t know what it is about Cumberbatch because he is totally weird looking but he’s also totally hot. I can’t explain.

      And hell yeah I rock!

      1. theipc

        It’s an enigma!

  4. Excellent post Abbi, still need to see The Imitation Game.

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! I would highly recommend it. It was one of the best of the Oscar nominated films.

      1. I can always trust your recommendations.

  5. Jay

    I was so disappointed with Don Jon. I wanted to like it so bad!

    1. Abbi

      I hear you. It had so much potential but like Jon himself, jizzed it all out in its pants.

  6. I loved the Imitation Game. It was much better than The Theory of Everything.

    1. Abbi

      I completely agree!

  7. The Prestige is the classic example of a film i saw once when it came out, loved and have not seen it since. And definitely should. The Imitation Game is such a great film. A really important film too.

    1. Abbi

      The Prestige would definitely stand up to a rewatch or two. The Imitation Game is excellent. Turing was a hero and I hope he is remembered as one.

      1. I am so glad the Turing film was made. An astonishing man who deserves t be remembered. A low point in British history in how he was treated.

  8. smilingldsgirl

    I was really excited about the Prestige after I first saw it but the second time it didnt hold up for me. Still a good movie but not a rewatchable one for me

    1. Abbi

      This wasn’t the first time I’d seen it but it still worked for me. Sorry to hear it didn’t wow you for a rewatch.

  9. Great post! The Imitation Game was definitely one of the strongest Oscar contenders this year. Really liked Cumberbatch and Knightley (who I see you’re warming up to!)

    The Prestige is an absolute gem and one of Nolan’s best. I love it!

    Don Jon I wasn’t a fan of at all! Thought thw writing was just atrocious!

    Horrible Bosses 2 was so unnecessary and unfunny and a waste of time. I liked Chris Pine, though.

    1. Abbi

      I’m not sure if I would go as far as saying I am warming up to Keira Knightley. Lol!

      Chris Pine was probably the only reason I didn;t turn off Horrible Bosses ten minutes in!

      1. Oh well, it’s a start! Hehe
        And yeah, Chris Pine was fun and energetic and crazy. He was the only one making an effort. Also, he looked great

  10. Of those The Prestige is the only one I can say I truly loved. Such a great Nolan film and one that sometimes gets overlooked in light of Nolan’s big blockbusters. Great flick!

  11. Theo

    I’ve seen the Prestige and totally agree with you! I want to watch Imitation Game, but I’m reluctant to do so because I can’t stand Cumberbatch… :/

    1. Abbi

      You can’t stand Cumberbatch??? But he’s AWESOME!

      1. Theo

        Nooo…. He’s like a weasel and am traumatized by his Holmes acting. But maybe I am biased for this because I’m obsessed with Jeremy Brett.

  12. MIB

    Glad you got to see The imitation game at last! 🙂 And it’s nice to see someone else who isn’t overawed by Kiera Knightly too! 😉 😛

    1. Abbi

      I generally can;t stand her but for once the hate didn’t distract me from the entire rest of the film.

  13. Awesome reviews! The Prestige is a really great movie. However, it did release at the same time as The Illusionist so I happened to see both in theatres and ended liking The Illusionist more for some odd reason. I believe I’m the minority though 😉

    1. Abbi

      I have seen The Illusionist but I can’t remember much about it. It must not have had the same kind of impact that The Prestige did.

  14. Hi Abbi! We’re pretty much in agreement about the first 3 movies you reviewed. I haven’t got around to seeing the Horrible Bosses movies, sounds like I’m not missing anything.

    1. Abbi

      You are definitely not missing anything. Just avoid it completely and save yourself an hour and a half of your life!

  15. jennypughuk

    Oh no, not Cumberbatch! He looks like a startled otter!

    I really want to watch Don Jon, I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and have done since he was a young whippersnapper in 3rd Rock from the Sun.

    Ugh, Horrible Bosses. We watched it and Michael said it was “a fairly cynical remake of the Dolly Parton classic Nine to Five”. I think we’ll swerve the sequel.

    1. Abbi

      He does… but he is also an excellent actor and bizarrely sexy.

      I love JGL but this isn’t his finest work. Maybe because he is also directing. It does show promise though so I am definitely expecting more and better in the future.

      I think Michael makes a good point and I would definitely avoid the sequel if I were you.

  16. Ah, The Prestige never fails to amaze me! ❤ It's amazing! I watched The Imitation Game recently and I must say that I liked it.

    I have not even seen the first Horrible Bosses and don't plan to, and I was horrified to see that Christoph Waltz was attached to this one because… why?! ;(

    1. abbiosbiston

      I don’t know what Christoph Waltz was thinking and I wouldn’t recommend either of them. The Prestige is probably my second favourite Nolan movie after Inception,

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