It’s finally FRIDAY!!! It’s funny how having Monday off makes the week seem so much longer…But we finally made it, and I finally have something new to share with you! Don’t get me wrong—I’ve got a couple more reblogs on the way this weekend, but I’ve been meaning to write about Oscar-nominated film The Imitation Game for quite a while now! It has received noms for: Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Writing (Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published), Best Achievement in Editing, Best Achievement in Production Design, AND Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score). So there’s that…and then there’s Frank. Spoiler alert: one of these films worked for me and one of them did not. Time to unveil which is which:
Synopsis: “Jon, a young wanna-be musician, discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank.” –www.imdb.com
The High Notes:
- The delightfully bizarre premise. A man gets recruited to play the keyboard for an avant-garde pop band, and the lead singer wears a giant fake head. It’s so crazy that I couldn’t resist checking it out, and it definitely stays…interesting. Haha. I appreciate that this film kind of says, “Screw it—let’s just go for it.”
- The cast. I was thrilled to see Domhnall Gleeson in this because I really have been wanting to see more of his stuff. If the guy’s gonna be in Star Wars, I need to see what he can do! As sad sack, wannabe musician Jon, Gleeson’s pretty great. His pathetic Tweets cracked me up—so desperate for attention. He’s awkwardly charming, and it makes his character fun. Also, Maggie Gyllenhaal as complete psychopath Clara is pretty wonderful. I had no idea she played crazy so well. And Scoot McNairy gives a strong performance as Don—a supporting character (with a crazy quirk) who becomes surprisingly important. But let’s be real: the standout performance in this film is definitely…
- Michael Fassbender as Frank. I think it’s a testament to Fassbender’s talent that he can walk around with a giant fake head on for most of the film, yet still give an amazing performance. In fact, it’s probably the best performance I’ve seen out of him yet (though, to be fair, I haven’t seen Shame). Fassbender’s voice and movements are so wonderfully expressive throughout the film that we don’t even need to see his real face—we know exactly what he’s feeling. And at the end we get to see a very different side of Frank, which Fassbender also portrays perfectly. He’s the best part of the film by far.
The Low Notes:
- Jon is kind of a douche. Gleeson definitely gives him a degree of charm, but as the film went on I became less and less enamored with the character. It’s not just that he’s a bit of a loser. I can get past that. But he’s also selfish, fame-hungry, and increasingly annoying. Makes the film kind of hard to get through sometimes since Jon is the main character.
- The music. It’s weird. Like, really, really weird. Sometimes it’s kind of fun, but other times I just had to pause and wonder if I’d accidentally gotten into the weirdest Wes Anderson movie ever. Seriously, I kept thinking of The Life Aquatic for some reason. Not necessarily a good thing for me since that’s my least favorite Anderson film…
- The end just felt…dissatisfying. In a way it was good, I guess, but you know when you finish a movie, and you’re just like, “Oh. So…that was it?” That’s pretty much how I felt. Aside from sweet Frank, I didn’t really care one way or another about the characters, and though I know there’s deep, thought-provoking stuff at Frank’s core, it just didn’t work for me.
The Staccato Version: Much like Only Lovers Left Alive, Frank was one I really, really wanted to like. But, ultimately, I pretty much felt the same way about this as I did about OLLA—just not my thing. I did like Michael Fassbender quite a bit, and I love the idea of the film, but…meh. Fassbender’s performance is great enough that I don’t regret watching it, but I doubt I’ll be checking this one out again.
My Grade: C+
The Imitation Game
Synopsis: “During World War II, mathematician Alan Turing tries to crack the enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.” –www.imdb.com
The High Notes:
- Benedict Cumberbatch as brilliant, code-cracking mathematician Alan Turing. Like, duh. Haha. It’s pretty much a given that Cumberbatch will be amazing in any role he tackles, and he certainly has a knack for characters that are a bit (or a lot) out of step with the rest of the world, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he plays such an interesting, complicated man so well. Also, he got an Oscar nom for it. So yeah. 🙂
- I didn’t hate Keira Knightley in this! Yes, that’s actually kind of a big thing for me. Haha. I like Knightley pretty well in Pride & Prejudice, but in just about everything else…meh. But as clever Joan Clarke—a woman who steps up and outsmarts a whole slew of men during a time when women weren’t given many opportunities to prove themselves—Knightley totally works. She clearly has chemistry with Cumberbatch, and the scenes between them were great.
- The well-balanced story of Turing’s personal life with the World War II backdrop. Ultimately, this is Turing’s story—and rightfully so since it’s a fascinating one—but you can still feel the tension building as the war rages on. In some ways, it’s a race against the clock, and it’s amazing that Turing and his team were able to basically invent the computer and do what they did. Frankly, it’s kind of ridiculous that so few of us knew this story before now…
The Low Notes:
- Apparently the relationship between Turing and Clarke is exaggerated. Honestly, knowing that doesn’t bother me too much since it’s such a great story, but it is a tiny bit disappointing that their relationship was fairly played up. Like, Turing’s family even came out and said so. If you’re a diehard historian, that might bug you a bit.
- There’s a really clichéd moment in the film that bugs the crap out of me. Ugh. It felt way too cheap for a film like this, and I’m pretty positive there was no moment like this in Turing’s true story. Stop me if this sounds familiar: Turing’s boss feels he’s wasting precious time on his code-cracking machine, so in a burst of impatient stupidity, he and a few officers bust in to take Turing away, smash his machine, and have the others get back to making almost no progress at all. But the rest of them team isn’t having it. In moment of pure, clichéd melodrama, the others say, “If you want to take him, you’ll have to take us, too!” Face, meet palm. C’mon, Imitation Game. You’re better than that.
- If you’re not big on anti-heroes, you might not like Turing. Honestly, I think most people would be able to get past that (because Benedict Cumberbatch), but Turing can definitely be a pretty cold cat nonetheless—a coldness that, I’m sure, is exaggerated for the film. Basically, he’s a lot like Cumberbatch’s Sherlock—a much more serious version of Sherlock…but yeah. Sherlock. Haha.
The Staccato Version: I don’t always go for historical films (I’ve always been more of a fiction lover), but this one really worked for me. Yes, a large part of that is probably my shameless fangirling over Cumberbatch and his ever-increasing awesomeness, but the cast as a whole is strong—especially Knightley, who completely impressed me—and the story is completely fascinating. Sadly, I don’t think it will walk away with many awards (if any) at Sunday’s Oscars, but it deserves every one of its nominations.
My Grade: A-