Saturday, 28 February 2015

TV Show Review: Revolution Season 1 (2012-2014)



© NBC  |  Source: tvdinnerandamovie


United States; 20 Episodes (Season 1); Sci-fi, Survival, Action
Channel: NBC
Creator: Eric Kripke, J.J. Abrams
Cast: Danielle Alonso, Billy Burke, Stephen Collins, Giancarlo Esposito, Tim Guinee, Maria Howell, David Lyons, Elizabeth Mitchell,  Zak Orth, J.D. Pardo, Anna Lisa Phillips, Graham Rogers, Tracy Spiridakos



"We lived in an electric world. We relied on it for everything. And then the power went out. Everything stopped working. We weren't prepared. Fear and confusion lead to panic. The lucky ones made it out of the cities. The government collapsed. Militias took over, controlling the food supply and stockpiling weapons. We still don't know why the power went out, but we're hopeful that someone will come and light the way." -- Miles Matheson


Before I begin, I’d like to say that I really love the recently so very popular genre of dystopian fiction. For whatever reason, I immensely enjoy being confronted with all the different, more or less original ways in which our world could come to an end and then watch a selected group of people fight for survival in the most dire and hopeless of circumstances. So when I first heard about NBC’s TV series Revolution (2012-2014), which deals with the after-effects of a global blackout and is produced by no other than Supernatural’s Eric Kripke and Lost’s J.J. Abrams, I was brimming with anticipation. The preconditions are full of potential to be crafted into a gripping storyline, but are the famous producers really able to make the best of it?

In the past, people were afraid of the things they didn’t know or didn’t understand, and while I’m beyond claiming that it’s any different today, our generation is without a doubt more hardened than its predecessors. Or could you imagine anyone fainting while watching the Frankenstein movie from 1910? By now the cinema screen has been traversed by so many monsters and ghosts and what have you that they don’t really scare us any longer. But what does scare us then?

The team behind Revolution has a good nose for unearthing probably THE most terrifying scenario that could befall homo smartphonis – the loss of all electricity, with “loss” being the operative word. So just imagine now waking up one morning and the light won’t come on. The room is cold because neither does your radiator and no water, neither warm nor cold, will drip out of your faucet. Don’t even think about checking out the news or the internet for any possible explanations or making a call to your neighbour to see if they are faring the same way. There is no more TV, no internet and no phone connection. Not even your car is working. You have no choice but to actually walk all the way to the next house, while the food in your freezer is slowly beginning to thaw. And now imagine that this problem is neither just locally restricted to your own four walls, nor is it just a temporary glitch. No one knows what is going on and no one knows how to stop it. What will your life be like? What will you do to survive?

The first episode of Revolution is set 15 years after the blackout occurred, which I thought was a bit of a letdown. The first years in which society had to be remade and humanity had to find out how to deal with this new situation were what interested me the most. But then the storyline seemed appealing enough, so I could come to terms with that. Especially, since a couple of flashbacks at least hint at the way the world changed after the involuntary throwback into pre-modern times, therefore I’m not going to complain about that. After all, this series provides more than enough things to complain about. 

I’m not going to give a too detailed insight into the story since that would only lead to chaos. There are so many twists and turns in the plot and characters changing from one camp to another and back again that it’s hard to keep track. Of course that gives the series a fast pace and there is rarely a minute of respite. It’s bam-bam-bam, action-action-action, and even the most extremely shocking event ends up outshined by the next even more extremely shocking event. The series never gets boring, but the producers’ determination to always surpass themselves gives off the impression that they had too many ideas, but no clue how to realise them. Everything that happens, no matter how important it is claimed to be, ultimately seems like nothing but a further step to yet another huge, world-devastating event and you just don’t know what to think about it. Let's just take the beginning of the series. It takes them half the season to find Charlie’s abducted brother but then only a few episodes after the family reunion he meets an abrupt death. Just like that and then we’re off to the next tragedy. Not only do the characters seem too shallow and clichéd to allow for identification, but the apparent lack of significance of a main character’s death actually discourages from getting emotionally involved. The interpersonal relations, ever-shifting alliances and love relationships are no more credible and really superficial. The way in which some of the formerly bad guys can just switch sides without anyone ever seriously questioning their motives works out too easily for my taste. 

So neither the focus of the story nor the way it is implemented are quite what I expected, however all those are things I can reconcile myself with. But if there is one thing I can’t stand then that would be “Mary-Sue” characters and almost every single one of the protagonists falls into that category. The main heroine, Charlie, is entirely unbelievable. After the blackout militias formed and took over the country. The cruel and almost barbaric Monroe Republic, named after Sebastian Monroe, is where most of the series takes place. In every possible occasion it is stressed that Monroe’s soldiers are the best there are. Having gone through a lifetime of training, supervised by no other than superhero/former-villain/Monroe’s-best-friend/worst-enemy/lone-warrior/seducer/loving-uncle Miles Mathews, the most dangerous man in the entire Republic, they are still no match for a little girl with a bow and later on a ridiculous assemblage of firearms, which she can immediately handle like a pro. A very severe case of Mary-Sueing. 

In general, the concept of the series is very simple. You’re either one of the main characters, which equals having god-like powers that make you practically invincible (unless you need to be helpless for plot reasons.) Or you are screwed. Whenever a new character is introduced, you can be sure that he will either die within that episode or, if that isn’t the case, he will do something to get the group of core characters out of a seemingly hopeless situation and die then. It’s really that simple. I still can’t get over one of the probably most ridiculous scenes when a group of soldiers with firearms, some even with horses, invades a town and then three of the main characters, armed with nothing but knives and swords, tell them they have them surrounded. And then it turns out they were right. They butcher them without even breaking a sweat. Nothing to add there. 

Revolution may not be the most profound or thought-provoking kind of series, but if you’re not looking for an intellectual challenge, it is entertaining enough. The many surprising twists (which I just damned) see to it that the series remains intriguing. Despite the fact that my review sounds mostly like a rant, the series really isn’t all that bad. Especially the first ten episodes were really exciting and not quite so overdone yet. It is probably because of how good the series started that I didn’t give it up yet, despite the fact that it seems to be losing its touch more and more. So long as you don’t approach the series with too high expectations and are just interested in watching a good action-packed sci-fi survival series then Revolution isn’t the worst choice, I guess. It’s a pity that the producers didn’t manage to tap the full potential of their so very original idea, but that doesn’t make it bad by default. The prominent cast, fast pace and great visual effects manage to make up for some of the shortcomings in the storyline and a great merit of the series is that it remains exciting to the very end. That's worth something, isn’t it?


Rating: 


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Award Shows: 2015 Oscars - Rina's Favourite Moments


© Mike Blake/Reuters  |  Source: Newsweek
 

The Oscars are over and I'm already missing all the excitement that goes hand in hand with award season. Now it'll be another year until I can indulge again in glitz and glamour, in happiness and outrage, and in the sheer subjectivity of it all. 

On the whole, I'd say that 2014 was a good year for film. Maybe not always utterly mind-blowing but, as usual, especially the end of the year brought us some wonderfully exciting and, at times, deeply moving exercises in cinema. 

This year's Oscar ceremony did a good enough job to celebrate the movie industry. While the show itself lacked originality, and Neil Patrick Harris, the host, failed to deliver some truly outstanding moments, it were the inspirational speeches by the winners and the musical acts that saved the show from boredom. 

In the following, I'm going to present my favourite moments from the 87th Academy Awards. So, settle back, grab a tasty beverage of your choice and join me in reminiscing about the events that took place in the Hollywood Dolby Theatre on 22 February 2015. And beware, there's subjectivity ahead.


Neil Patrick Harris' opening number

Moving pictures shape who we are."  -- Neil Patrick Harris
  


When Hugh Jackman opened the Oscars in 2009, he did so with a bang. I think no other musical number has since then reached the greatness of his opening. He introduced all the relevant movies in a witty, sometimes even downright hilarious way. He alluded to underlying political conditions, showed the right amount of melodramatics, made a subtle comment on low and high culture and, above all, it was a joy to see that he really had a blast. This being said, NPH's opening this year certainly was lovely, mildly snappy, unspectacularly professional and supported by beautiful set design, yet it lacked the overall superb-ness of Jackman's number. Still, I enjoyed the allusions to multiple movie franchises and great stars of the silver screen. The whole thing was harmless and short-lived, but entertaining enough.


J.K. Simmons winning Best Supporting Actor


And if I may, call your mum. Everybody. I've told this like a billion people or so, call your mum, call your dad." -- J.K. Simmons

© Kevin Winter/Getty Images  |  Source: abcNews

I was beyond happy to see this guy win since his performance in Whiplash really is, well, frigging amazing. His speech was a shout-out to his dear ones. It was funny and classy, reminding us to stop texting and take care of our family connections more thoroughly. Hear, hear, Mr. Simmons, and congratulations!


Pawel Pawlikowski defying the playoff music

You know, life is full of surprises." -- Pawel Pawlikowski



Pawlikowski's movie Ida won Best Foreign Language Film and, after a brilliantly funny start, the director refuses to cut his speech short only because the playoff music tells him to wrap up. I seriously loved his resilience, and so did the audience.


The Birdman/Whiplash Spoof

Not my tempo!" -- Neil Patrick Harris




One of NPH's more memorable moments had him re-enact a scene from Birdman, with Miles Teller reprising his role as an ambitious jazz drummer in Whiplash as well as taking over the part of the percussionist appearing in Birdman. The whole thing was poignantly random and hilarious. And maybe this is the right time for me to express my happiness about all the Whiplash love shown throughout the show. The film won three out of five possible Oscars, and deservedly so. Congratulations, you precious little indie gem!


Patricia Arquette's feminist shout-out

It is our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America." -- Patricia Arquette

Source: YouTube screenshot

After winning Best Supporting Actress for her role in Boyhood, Patricia Arquette really became The Boss (sorry, Bruce!) when she finished her speech by demanding equality for US women. Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez were ecstatic, and I cheered at the TV in agreement. You go, sister!


John Legend and Common performing "Glory"

Now we right the wrongs in history."



Probably the goosebumps moment of the evening. "Glory" went on to win the Best Song Oscar for Selma, a movie about Martin Luther King's voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Even though this didn't make up for David Oyelowo and Ava DuVernay's respective Oscar snub, it felt good to see the film take home a trophy. The performance was beautifully staged and perfectly carried by both Common and John Legend. The latter's final vocal part bristled with raw emotional power and had the one or the other member of the audience in tears.


Lady Gaga's Sound of Music tribute

The hills are alive with the sound of music..."



Speaking of performances, Lady Gaga's tribute to the 1965 classic The Sound of Music starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer really was delightful. Once I had gotten over the fact that she wore grooming gloves on the red carpet, I thought her performance was beautifully simple, with the spotlight on her wonderful voice and performing qualities rather than on cheap shock value or overly dramatic self-projection. Julie Andrews coming out afterwards to give her a heartfelt hug was another highlight. 


Graham Moore's acceptance speech 

I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she's weird or she's different or she doesn't fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird, stay different. And then when it's your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message." -- Graham Moore

© Reuters  |  Source: International Business Times
A beautifully honest and uplifting message from the winner of the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for The Imitation Game. Stay weird, everybody! 


Eddie Redmayne acting all weird and different

Please know this, I'm fully aware that I am a lucky, lucky man. Uhm... This, this Oscar... WOW!" -- Eddie Redmayne

Source: Vogue
I've been a fan of Eddie Redmayne for a long time now. His performance in The Theory of Everything was his career best so far, and I was strongly rooting for him to win this one. When he did, he not only delivered the most adorable speech of the evening, he also made me squee with joy. Loved the sheer awkwardness and the pure joy in his reaction. #happiness


Julianne Moore's Oscar fun fact

I read an article that said that winning an Oscar could lead to living five years longer. If that's true, I'd really like to thank the Academy because my husband is younger than me." -- Julianne Moore

Source: YouTube screenshot
Julianne Moore kept her speech funny and classy by mentioning, first, the age gap between her husband and herself and, second, the importance of making movies about Alzheimer disease. Congratulations on your first win, Ms. Moore! 



For a complete list of all nominees and winners check out this post.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Award Shows: 2015 Oscar Nominations & Winners


Source: collider

Here are the nominees and winners of the 87th Annual Academy Awards. The ceremony was held on 22 February 2015. 

Who were you rooting for? Which of your favourite movies didn't make the list? Whose performance did you like best? Whose was the worst? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comment section of this post. 

* Winner



Best Picture
American Sniper
* Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash



Best Directing
Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel
* Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman
Richard Linklater for Boyhood
Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game


Best Actor in a Leading Role
Steve Carell for Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper for American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton for Birdman
* Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything


Best Actress in a Leading Role
Marion Cotillard for Deux Jours, Une Nuit
Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything
* Julianne Moore for Still Alice
Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon for Wild


Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Robert Duvall for The Judge
Ethan Hawke for Boyhood
Edward Norton for Birdman
Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher
* J.K. Simmons for Whiplash


Best Actress in a Supporting Role
* Patricia Arquette for Boyhood
Laura Dern for Wild
Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game
Emma Stone for Birdman
Meryl Streep for Into the Woods


Best Original Screenplay
Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness for The Grand Budapest Hotel
E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman for Foxcatcher
Dan Gilroy for Nightcrawler
* Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., Armando Bo for Birdman
Richard Linklater for Boyhood


Best Adapted Screenplay
Paul Thomas Anderson for Inherent Vice
Damien Chazelle for Whiplash
Jason Hall for American Sniper
Anthony McCarten for The Theory of Everything 

* Graham Moore for The Imitation Game


Best Cinematography
Roger Deakins for Unbroken
* Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman
Dick Pope for Mr. Turner
Robert D. Yeoman for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Lukasz Zal, Ryszard Lenczewski for Ida


Best Film Editing
Sandra Adair for Boyhood
Joel Cox, Gary Roach for American Sniper
* Tom Cross for Whiplash
William Goldenberg for The Imitation Game
Barney Pilling for The Grand Budapest Hotel


Best Production Design
Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis for Interstellar
Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts for Mr. Turner
Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald for The Imitation Game
Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock for Into the Woods
* Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock for The Grand Budapest Hotel


Best Costume Design
Colleen Atwood for Into the Woods
Mark Bridges for Inherent Vice
* Milena Canonero for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jacqueline Durran for Mr. Turner
Anna B. Sheppard, Jane Clive for Maleficent


Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Bill Corso, Dennis Liddiard for Foxcatcher
* Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, David White for Guardians of the Galaxy


Best Original Score
* Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alexandre Desplat for The Imitation Game
Jóhann Jóhannsson for The Theory of Everything
Gary Yershon for Mr. Turner
Hans Zimmer for Interstellar


Best Original Song

Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois; "Lost Stars" from Begin Again
Glen Campbell, Julian Raymond; "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me
* Common, John Legend; "Glory" from Selma
Shawn Patterson; "Everything Is Awesome" from The Lego Movie
Diane Warren; "Grateful" from Beyond the Lights


Best Sound Mixing
* Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Thomas Curley for Whiplash
Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten for Interstellar
Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, David Lee for Unbroken
Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Thomas Varga for Birdman
John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, Walt Martin for American Sniper



Best Sound Editing
Brent Burge, Jason Canovas for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Aaron Glascock, Martín Hernández for Birdman
Richard King for Interstellar
* Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman for American Sniper
Becky Sullivan, Andrew DeCristofaro for Unbroken


Best Visual Effects
Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner, Paul Corbould for Guardians of the Galaxy
Dan Deleeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill, Daniel Sudick for Captain America: The Winter Soldier
* Paul J. Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott R. Fisher for Interstellar
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Erik Winquist for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie, Cameron Waldbauer for X-Men: Days of Future Past


Best Animated Feature Film
* Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
Kaguyahime No Monogatari



Best Foreign Language Film
* Ida (Poland)
Leviafan (Russia)
Mandariinid (Estonia)
Relatos Salvajes (Argentina)
Timbuktu (Mauritania)


Best Documentary Feature
* Citizenfour
Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth
Virunga



Best Documentary Short Subject
* Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Joanna
Nasza Klatwa
La Parka
White Earth



Best Animated Short Film
The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
* Feast
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life



Best Live Action Short Film
Aya
Boogaloo and Graham
La Lampe au Beurre de Yak
Parvaneh
* The Phone Call

 

Features: Manic Monday - 'Glory' 2015 Oscar Performance


Source: Huffington Post
 
Yesterday's Oscar ceremony has given us quite a few moments well capable of chasing away the Monday blues. So, without further ado, I give to you John Legend, Common and their powerful performance of the award-winning song "Glory" from the movie Selma. Let's head into the new week by celebrating equality and justice for all.


Sunday, 22 February 2015

Award Shows: Oscars 2015 Preparations


©moviepilot

The Big Night’s Here!

It’s the Oscars tonight, but like every year the actual day came around much too sudden and you didn’t get to watch all the movies you wanted to see? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. So you’ll know what everyone is nominated for and you’ll get all the obvious and a little more subtle references BSP provides you with a quick overview of what you need to know for tonight’s awards show.

Best Picture

American Sniper
Director Clint Eastwood teams up with Bradley Cooper to show the struggles of a war hero away from war.

 
Birdman
An actor past his time attempts a critically acclaimed theater comeback, while fighting his inner demons in form of his biggest role "Birdman."


 
Boyhood
Patience seldom is a virtue in Hollywood, but for this movie shot in real time it pays off. Watch the stars of the film age in the same way the characters do.


 
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Follow the adventures of Gustave H., concierge, and his protegée and lobby boy Zero Mustafa at the Grand Budapest Hotel between the world wars.

Experience episodes in the life of math genius, war hero, and convicted homosexual Alan Turing in this bio-pic.
  
 
Selma
USA, 1965: Amidst racial inequality and violence Martin Luther King attempts a non-violent approach. Selma, Alabama is the next stop in the campaign for equality.


 
The Theory of Everything
This bio-pic looks behind the scientific theories of Stephen Hawking at the man himself, his relationship with his wife and the personal strength in battling his illness.

 
Whiplash
Andrew, a talented drummer, enrolls in a music conservatory and joins the Jazz band. To realize his potential and to achieve the greatness his instructor expects of him, Andrew has to make some sacrifices.

Best Animated Feature Film

Big Hero 6
Based on the Marvel comic book series Big Hero 6 Disney brings you an animated super hero adventure.

 
The Boxtrolls
Based on the children's novel 'Here Be Monsters' by Alan Snow this movie sees one orphaned human grow up with genius, yet thought to be evil "boxtrolls."

 
How to Train Your Dragon 2
In the follow-up to the big success How to Train Your Dragon vikings and dragons seem to have finally found a happy way of living together. But things don't stay that relaxed for long.

 
Song of the Sea 
This is a the journey of Saoirse, a young Irish girl, to free all fairy creatures in this world. She is the last of the "Selkies", women of Irish and Scottish folklore that can transform from seals into humans.

 
Kaguyahime No Monogatari
Mystery revolves around Princess Kaguya, a young girl found inside a bamboo stalk.


Best Foreign Language Film

Ida (Poland)
This black and white movie, set in 1960 Poland, shows nun-to-be Anna, who is about to take her vows when she discovers a shocking secret about her past. A journey in search of her family's identity begins.
 
Leviafan (Russia)
A story of corruption is told in this Russian costal town, when Kolya takes on the mayor of the place to prevent his house from being torn down.

 
Mandariinid (Estonia)
War breaks out in 1990s Georgia and an Estonian, who stayed in the country to finish harvesting his tangerines, gets caught between the lines, when he takes in a Chechen and a Georgian trying to kill each other.
 
Relatos Salvajes (Argentina)
Caught between love and disaster, everyone seems to be losing control and moving towards the abyss in this picture of Damián Szifrón.

 
Timbuktu (Mauritania)

In this visually breathtaking and moving tale the quiet life of a family of kettle herders in the dunes of Timbuktu is drastically interrupted.



Best Documentary Feature

Citizenfour
This is the story of "Whistleblower" Edward Snowden.

 
Finding Vivian Maier 
After years and years the series of photos, a nanny secretly took, revolutionize street photography and reveal a creative genius.
 
Last Days in Vietnam 
As the Vietnam War draws to an end, Saigon is the final place of battle. American soldiers try to save South-Vietnamese civilians. They have to make the horrifying decision of who gets to leave and who gets left behind.
 
The Salt of the Earth 
An homage to photographer Sebastiao Salgado, who captured the depth of humanity in his pictures.

 
Virunga
In Congo a group of people risk everything to protect the only remaining mountain gorillas in the world, when struggles break out over natural resources in their habitat, Virunga National Park.



In case you forgot who else is nominated and for what, here is where you can look it up.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Film Review: The Imitation Game (2014)


© Studiocanal  | Source: WIRED.CO.UK
UK; 114 min.; drama, biography, thriller
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writing: Graham Moore; based on Andrew Hodges’: Alan Turing: The Enigma
Cinematography: Oscar Faura
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, James Northcote, Tom Goodman-Hill, Steven Waddington, Alex Lawther


Machines can never think as humans do but just because something thinks differently from you, does it mean it's not thinking? – Alan Turing

There is no doubt that historical accuracy in movies is debatable. After all a movie wants to tell a story and provoke thought, rather than document mere facts – unless it’s a documentary of course. In this fashion The Imitation Game wants to give us a glimpse into the tragic life of one of the most important, yet seldom acknowledged figures of modern science: Math Genius Alan Turing here portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch. During WWII the young prodigy is employed by the British war office to crack the German Enigma code. As a self-confident loner he finds it difficult to collaborate with his team of code breakers – especially when he enlists the help of a woman, Joan Clarke portrayed by Keira Knightley, with a knack for crossword puzzles. However, the unlikely alliance of riddlers is successful in the end, Turing invents the first computer, and the researchers become the unsung heroes of the war. This episode of Turing's life is framed by a narrative set in the early 50s which addresses his private life as a homosexual and thus delivers the tragic twist to his tale. It is furthermore supported by flashbacks to Turing’s school years, where he met his one true love Christopher.

The Imitation Game tells the story of a difficult time and a group of people working on difficult things, but most of all it tells the story of a man living a difficult life. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the delicate isolation of Alan Turing with an almost autistic quality that even exceeds his Sherlocky quirkiness. He makes you feel for a guy who seems to have no feelings whatsoever and is at best socially awkward, at worst a machine or "monster." The isolation of Turing, it seems, is deeply rooted in secrecy, which will involuntarily become the motif of his life. It's therefore also a major motif of The Imitation Game. While the effect of personal as well as private secrets on Turing is depicted well, the elaboration of the plot is lacking in other areas.

One area to name is that of interpersonal relationships. Just as Alan Turing, the film seems to have a hard time developing plausible, significant connections between people. The tight-knit group of co-conspirators for the British government comes about from one moment to the other without the passing of time or a bonding event included in the plot. Although seemingly a loner by conviction, Cumberbatch's character listens to the advice of his then fiancée and makes friends with guys he thought of as nuisances only hours ago. Likewise, the entire storyline of Turing's homosexuality comes out of nowhere for people unaware of the math genius' life story like myself. Flashbacks to his boarding school days, where he was close to a boy named Christopher, and his awkwardness towards people, especially women, in adulthood, paint a picture of social seclusion rather than suppressed homosexuality. There is no revelation of romantic closeness or warmth throughout the movie and only when spelled out on paper or in speech, does this important feature of Turing's personality become apparent.

What the picture is lacking in plot development it makes up for in emotion. While I’ve talked a lot about flaws in the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it while watching and that – in the end – is what counts. The tragedy of Turing’s life is played out beautifully. The math professor with the secretive past, it seems, randomly becomes an interest for law enforcement. They dig so deep into his life, which the government enforced secrecy on, that every aspect of the genius is laid bare. Consequently, in what I felt was a clear betrayal and ungratefulness of the British government, Turing is then convicted for indecency. Given the option of a prison sentence or hormonal therapy to cure his homosexuality, Alan Turing chooses the “cure”. One is close witness to the deterioration of Turing in a series of scenes made up of facial close-ups and shots focused on his movement. Cumberbatch’s face paints the agony of a guy, who rejected to go to prison to stay close to “Christopher”, the machine he created in his love’s legacy. The final shots tear at your heartstrings with a contrast of factual information of the desperate end of a tragic life, while showing him at his moment of triumph: Enigma cracked, government pleased - here’s to a final hurray with my crew!

With award season upon us, we are once again looking for greatness in film - for the complete work of art or an extraordinary performance by an individual. The Imitation Game has it all. Eight nominations in major categories speak for themselves. The nomination as best picture honors the collective that worked on the movie on-screen and off-screen and the performances of Cumberbatch and Knightley are recognized as well. Rightly so.


Rating: 

Monday, 16 February 2015

Features: Manic Monday - Carlton's Dance


This week's Manic Monday is all about Shrove Monday, which means eating collops for some and carnival processions for others. And how do we celebrate an occasion such as this – or any occasion we can use as an excuse to celebrate? We shake it out like Carlton!

©NBC| lolquebec

Friday, 13 February 2015

Trailer Check: Crimson Peak (2015)


© Universal Pictures  |  Source: YouTube screenshot

I enjoy a good ghost movie. There's really nothing like squeaking doors, creaking floors and a bunch of old-school puppets to make my heart pound a little faster. So, yes, when director Guillermo del Toro announced that he was planning to revive the classic haunted house genre, I whooped with joy. And now that the first trailer is out, I'm even more excited!


To be honest, come October, buying a ticket for this film really will be a no-brainer for me. The cast is to die for, which is actually quite genre-appropriate, I guess. I'm a fan of Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Hunnam, and would watch anything that stared only one of these people. However, now that they've united for this project, Crimson Peak is definitely at the top of my must-see list this year.

But there is more to this trailer than just a quartet of talented actresses and actors in stylish period fashion. First of all, the whole thing is accentuated by a haunting cover version of Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand". Second, the set design looks perfectly lavish, with a sinister estate, harbouring gloomy aisles contrasted against pale snow and colourful costumes. 

Set in 19th century England, the story of a young girl falling for a dark, handsome stranger with a peculiar sister oozes with gothic charm and sinister passions. Additionally, it combines vibes from Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940), Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980), Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Fall of the House of Usher", and from a nearby corner Jane Eyre seems to be screaming at you: 'Stay away from the attic!'.

Granted, I cannot hear doors squeak or floors creak in this trailer, I'm nonetheless drawn in by the engaging visuals, the creepy, repressive Victorian atmosphere, the music and all the lovely people flooding the screen. 

Further cast members include Leslie Hope, Jim Beaver and Burn Gorman.

Release: 16 October 2015

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Data Base: Castle (2009-2016)


©ABC| zap2it

Series PremiereMarch 9, 2009 as a mid-season replacement
Series Finale16 May 2016
GenrePolice procedural, romantic dramedy
Country of OriginUSA
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes173
Running Time43 min.
ChannelABC
Websitehttp://abc.go.com/shows/castle
Developed byAndrew W. Marlowe
StarringNathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Susan Sullivan, Molly Quinn, Jon Huertas, Tamala Jones, Seamus Dever, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Penny Johnson Jerald
Guest Stars Worth MentioningAlyssa Milano, Dana Delany, Laura Prepon, Adrian Pasdar, Jane Seymour, Dominic Purcell, Gene Simmons, Hilarie Burton, Adam Baldwin, Jonathan Frakes, James Brolin, Wes Craven, Ioan Gruffudd, Lisa Edelstein, 

Synopsis:

Bestselling mystery novelist Richard Castle suffers from writers’ block, after killing off his protagonist Derrick Storm. Fate intervenes when he gets to assist real-life crime fighter Detective Kate Beckett on a copycat murder. Using his witty charm and influence Rick Castle sets up a more permanent arrangement to shadow the detective on cases. Intrigued by her job and the mystery surrounding her Castle is inspired to base his next set of novels on Beckett (DON’T call her muse). While working together for research on this new character, Nikki Heat, the two form a close partnership. A great team, Castle and Beckett solve murders involving curiosities and possibly the supernatural as well as the seedy underbelly of NYC.


Yay or Nay?

For everyone obsessed with pop-culture and witty dialogues this is a must. You get a bit of everything here: crime, romance, comedy, and throw in a bunch of geeky/ nerdy/ meta references why don't you. And to those of you who can't get enough of the story, the show even offers their own tie-in books and graphic novels.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Award Shows: 2015 BAFTA Nominations & Winners


© Ben Sutherland  |  Source: Wikipedia

Here are the nominees for the 2015 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards. The ceremony was held on 8 Febraury 2015, hosted by Stephen Fry.

Who were you rooting for? Which of your favourite movies or TV shows didn't make the list? Whose performance did you like best? Whose was the worst? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comment section of this post.

 * Winner



Best Film
Birdman
* Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything


Outstanding British Film of the Year
'71
The Imitation Game
Paddington
Pride
* The Theory of Everything
Under the Skin


Best Leading Actor
Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game
Ralph Fiennes for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton for Birdman
* Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything


Best Leading Actress
Amy Adams for Big Eyes
Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything
* Julianne Moore for Still Alice
Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon for Wild


Best Supporting Actor
Steve Carell for Foxcatcher
Ethan Hawke for Boyhood
Edward Norton for Birdman
Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher
* J.K. Simmons for Whiplash


Best Supporting Actress
* Patricia Arquette for Boyhood
Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game
Rene Russo for Nightcrawler
Imelda Staunton for Pride
Emma Stone for Birdman


Best Direction
Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Damien Chazelle for Whiplash
Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman
* Richard Linklater for Boyhood
James Marsh for The Theory of Everything


Best Original Screenplay
* Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Damien Chazelle for Whiplash
Dan Gilroy for Nightcrawler
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo for Birdman
Richard Linklater for Boyhood


Best Adapted Screenplay
Gillian Flynn for Gone Girl
Jason Hall for American Sniper
Paul King for Paddington
* Anthony McCarten for The Theory of Everything
Graham Moore for The Imitation Game


Best Cinematography
* Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman
Dick Pope for Mr. Turner
Hoyte Van Hoytema for Interstellar
Robert Yeoman for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Lukasz Zal, Ryszard Lenczewski for Ida


Best Editing
Douglas Crise, Stephen Mirrione for Birdman
* Tom Cross for Whiplash
John Gilroy for Nightcrawler
Jinx Godfrey for The Theory of Everything
William Goldenberg for The Imitation Game
Barney Pilling for The Grand Budapest Hotel


Best Production Design
Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis for Interstellar
Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts for Mr. Turner
Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald for The Imitation Game
Rick Heinrichs, Shane Vieau for Big Eyes
* Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock for The Grand Budapest Hotel


Best Costume Design
Colleen Atwood for Into the Woods
* Milena Canonero for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jacqueline Durran for Mr. Turner
Steven Noble for The Theory of Everything
Sammy Sheldon Differ for The Imitation Game


Best Make Up/Hair
Christine Blundell, Lesa Warrener for Mr. Turner
* Frances Hannon The Grand Budapest Hotel
J. Roy Helland, Peter King for Into the Woods
Jan Sewell for The Theory of Everything
Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, David White for Guardians of the Galaxy


Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects
Stephane Ceretti, Paul Corbould, Jonathan Fawkner, Nicolas Aithadi for Guardians of the Galaxy
* Paul J. Franklin, Scott R. Fisher, Andrew Lockley for Interstellar
J. Letteri, E. Saindon, D. Clayton, R. Christopher White for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Erik Winquist, Daniel Barrett for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
R. Stammers, A. Langlands, T. Crosbie, C. Waldbauer for X-Men: Days of Future Past


Original Music
* Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jóhann Jóhannsson for The Theory of Everything
Mica Levi for Under the Skin
Antonio Sanchez for Birdman
Hans Zimmer for Interstellar


Best Sound
* Thomas Curley, Ben Wilkins, Craig Mann for Whiplash
Wayne Lemmer, Christopher Scarabosio, Pawel Wdowczak for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Walt Martin, John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman for American Sniper
John Midgley, Lee Walpole, Stuart Hilliker, Martin Jensen for The Imitation Game
Thomas Varga, Martín Hernández, Aaron Glascock, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño for Birdman


Best Film not in the English Language
Dabba (India)
Deux Jours, Une Nuit (Belgium)
* Ida (Poland)
Leviafan (Russia)
Trash (Brazil)


Best Animated Film
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
* The Lego Movie


Best British Short Animation
* The Bigger Picture
My Dad
Monkey Love Experiments


Best British Short Film
* Boogaloo and Graham
Emotional Fusebox
The Kármán Line
Slap
Three Brothers


Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
'71
Kajaki: The True Story
Lilting
Northern Soul (2014): Elaine Constantine
* Pride


Best Documentary
20,000 Days on Earth
20 Feet from Stardom
* Citizenfour
Finding Vivian Maier
Virunga


EE Rising Star Award
Gugu Mbatha-Raw
* Jack O'Connell
Margot Robbie
Miles Teller
Shailene Woodley