Battle Of The Boffins: Theory vs. Imitation

CONGRATULATIONS to EDDIE REDMAYNE: BEST ACTOR 2015

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“Both films offer main characters with enormous intelligence and originality… both are worth a watch, especially for a vivid narrative on an otherwise dense historical figure” – interviewmagazine.com

Two movies with so much in common, so might as well devote the same Post to them, especially now as the Academy Awards 2015 wrapped up just last night. Both are critically-acclaimed British movies about British scientific geniuses, played by top British actors who have each been nominated for several different awards. In that case, it will make a nice change to write about a couple of movies which were well-constructed and a pleasure to watch.

Although both movies have been out for over a month internationally already, they have only just been released here on my side of the world. With the 87th Academy Awards fast approaching, some emergency cinema-going had to be implemented, sharpish…

Whether they provide accurate portraits of their very real and learned subjects is open to ongoing debate, yet there is no doubt that both these movies are significant examples of powerful and emotionally-charged film-making; so, without further ado, let’s explore the astounding phenomenon that is: Beneddie Cumbermayne.

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“Oh my god, thank you, thank you… I don’t think I’m capable of articulating quite how I feel right now… I am fully aware that I am a lucky, lucky man. Erm, this Oscar- WOW!” – Eddie Redmayne.

“There should be no boundaries to human endeavour. We are all different. However bad life might seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope” – Stephen Hawking. 

Let’s begin with the movie which held greater personal appeal, and got Eddie his gong. Professor Stephen Hawking is one of this age’s greatest minds and probably the most famous living scientist on Earth. For me, he is an inspirational hero whose work is never far from my study. Primarily, it was intriguing to learn that The Theory of Everything is indeed “a masterful work of heartbreaking artistry and perfection.” 

In a truly amazing performance, Eddie Redmayne portrays a young, able-bodied, zestful atheist/cosmologist at Oxford, before the early onset of motor neuron disease. Of course, this could not be possible without sterling supporting roles, especially Eddie’s “staggering partner-in-crime”: Felicity Jones, who played the scientist’s wife: Jane; and “ferocious yet incredibly kind” direction from James Marsh. 

There was the slight possibility that Redmayne’s chances of winning would be seriously scuppered by his involvement in the staggeringly awful: Jupiter Ascending, but he was clear favourite, and had been for some time. 

Yet is this movie a fair depiction of this degenerative disease and a progressive vehicle to help instigate change in general attitudes towards the disabled? Once again, the same old sentimental cliches have been detected; therefore, some would dismiss this Theory as unconvincing…

Some cynics may scoff that playing the physically-challenged almost always ensures a fistful of gongs, but no one should besmirch Redmayne’s deserved moment of accomplishment. Among the first to congratulate the young star-in-the-making was Stephen Hawking himself. “Congratulations to Eddie Redmayne for winning an Oscar for playing me…” the Professor posted on Facebook. “Well done Eddie, I’m very proud of you.” 

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“I couldn’t stop crying, just thinking, my God, he [Alan Turing] went through this. And to get near that understanding because I’d played him for a while by then… God, it was just really upsetting” – Benedict Cumberbatch.

“One day, ladies will be walking their computers in the park and saying: ‘do you know, my little computer said a very funny thing to me this morning…’” – Alan Turing.  

The Imitation Game features the events responsible for turning the tide of the Second World War, concentrating on another real-life genius. Alan Turing was the greatest mathematician of his age, and can be credited as the pioneer of our computer age. Working at the Top Secret facility of Bletchley Park during the war, he built the machine that would crack Germany’s “unbreakable” Enigma Code. Due to the sensitivity of his work, Turing’s achievements were never recognised during his lifetime. Instead of becoming a war hero, he was disgraced; arrested because of his homosexuality in 1952 and ended up taking his own life two years later (receiving a Royal Pardon only in 2013).

From Benedict Cumberbatch there is what could be his career-defining (movie) performance; it is certainly Oscar-worthy. He portrays Turing as socially complex and incorrigibly difficult to work with, and yet manages to make the man watchable. There is a splendidly evocative recreation of 1940s England, and the drama is further enhanced by deft direction by Morten Tyldum and some distinctive supporting performances, especially Keira Knightley in the role of Joan Clarke who, ironically, seems to have been Turing’s longest and closest companion.

Special mention and congrats must go to Graham Moore who won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, accepting it with one of the more memorable speeches of the evening. The Imitation Game works because it is very much an old-fashioned biopicIt is an extraordinary movie about an extraordinary man. 

No point in toiling here over the major issues of fact-fudging which inevitably bedevil filmed biographies – not only would it be long-winded and almost as monotonous as sitting through this year’s Oscars show, it would seriously jeopardise the number of Likes/Comments this Post could muster. Rather than fret over which one of these dramas is best, it would be much more sensible to accept both of these fantastic movies on their own superlative merits – a credit to the once floundering British film industry. 

Hang on a mo, tho… 

Interestingly, Cumberbatch actually portrayed Professor Hawking in a 2004 BBC TV movie; this was obviously pre-superstardom and ineligible for the Oscars…!   

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Yay! Off-screen they are both the best of friends really. Aah, all’s well that’s fine and dandy, then. And as you can see, even ambitious bunnies get awards these days…

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So, no hard feelings, Mr. White Tuxedo? 

Well, almost none… 

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“What a lad!” claimed UK’s Daily Mirror. Down the hatch, Cumberbatch!

Cheers!

 

Jupiter Descending: What The Blazes Went Wrong?!

Who writes this rubbish…?! 

NOT INTERSTELLAR again ?!
NOT INTERSTELLAR again ?!

“We’re always looking for the range of what we see in life. That creates a tension between us and our audience because they don’t know what to expect. It makes people excited, but it can also make for frustrated consumers” – Lana Wachowski. 

Ho hum. The unfazed Wachowskis release yet another underwhelming dirge. When a big movie’s release is delayed by several months, you just know you’re gonna get lumbered with a dud. What should have been awesome has, instead – would-u-Adam-‘n-Eve it? – turned out to to be frickin’ awful. The Wachowskis’ CV (including: The Matrix Revolutions, Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas) is increasingly – and disturbingly – beginning to sound like a casualty list. 

As the chorus of critics complaining that they have lost two hours of their lives grows ever louder and more disenchanted, let’s analyse this distorted vision of the future and try and help these movie-making siblings where they have gone – hopelessly and unavoidably – wrong. Jupiter Ascending is not so much a case of having to sit through such an insipid spectacle, but sift through such utterly risible wreckage… 

Ladies and Gentlemen: it is our unenviable duty to announce – with a hefty dollop of dread – that we have found the Pluto Nash of 2015! 

NOT JURASSIC WORLD already?: Where the blazes did this thing come from?!
NOT JURASSIC WORLD already?: Where the ‘ell did this thing come from?!

I love dogs. I’ve always-” NO! My dear Followers, NO WAY should you be subjected to this tosh. NONE of this bobbins dialogue is worth typing out here! Gawd… where ‘ave me stress balls gone?!

Amid the overriding torrent of pessimism, Jupie appears to be a “spectacular visual feast” – which seems to be the only positive statement for the critical community en masse to cling to. Yet, unbelievably, unutterably, they have uncovered countless things bad, wrong, or just monumentally misjudged to dissect from this whole sorry mess of a movie.

The lavish costumes look like a (misguided) recreation of Dune’s stately opulence; the effects are superbly-crafted, but oozing with extensive CGI – too glitzy to be anything remotely special as yawn usual.

Pointy-eared Wolfboy Tatum just doesn’t ingratiate himself to my viewing sensibilities – and heck, let’s face it, never will -while Jupiter Jones herself: Mila Kunis is… my records show that she provides one of the voices on Family Guy… 

Surviving in a miserable menial existence on Earth, Jones is informed that she will, in fact, be the next Queen of the Universe – it’s basically Cinderella In Space. There are no prizes for guessing that this couple only represent archetypes rather than portray characters; and – hey! what a suprise – there is absolutely no chemistry to be had between them… whatsoever. And to think that Natalie Portman was first choice to “play” Jupiter Jones…?! Grief, this movie could have been… even worse?!

NOT EX MACHINA: Blimey Charley! Even Automata was better than this!
NOT EXACTLY EX MACHINA: Blimey Charley! Even Automata was better than this!

I play a character called Stinger. I’ve kind of got remnants of bee, or half-bee… Unfortunately, Channing’s character was in some trouble and I stood up for him, and they removed my wings” – Sean Bean. 

So, here is the last instalment of this excruciating Post. Honestly, there is a very serious matter that needs to be addressed here, and that is, quite simply: how did Eddie Redmayne get embroiled in this? We can only assume that the poor boy was dragged kicking and screaming into this nightmare. Apparently, his very first day on set involved getting: “strung up 30ft into the air with this extraordinary brace around me, flung down these wires and sent spinning… to recreate a kind of gravitational pull…” Oh, poor Eddie… 

And alas, poor Boromir. The same applies to Mr. Bean. He’s been in the business long enough to recognise a turkey when he sees one; unfortunately, none of his comments concerning this movie made the slightest bit of sense.

Last, and by all means least: how, pray, did the Wachowskis concoct the insane drivel which constitutes “dialogue” in this movie? You mean to tell me that no fraction of the humongous budget – let’s not deny it: vast acres of dosh were squandered to produce this audio/visual travesty – could be allocated to create some memorable, quotable lines? Even if they paid me to sit through this, erm… experience, there is no way you could trust me to actually go into the cinema. Not even a bribe of cheesy nachos and caramel popcorn would coax me in…

Enough is enough! No more wretched Wachowski discussion here. There’s only so much this jaded noddle can endure…

My sympathies sally forth to all you blogging friends who had (to pay) to sit through Jupiter Ascending. Just relieved that none of my time or money was spent on this rubbish…

 

NOT PROF HAWKING: "As camp as a row of bloody tents, mate"
NOT PROF HAWKING: “As camp as a row of bloody tents, mate”

Now now, Eddie-baby!

Screaming about it won’t help. All that flinging and spinning clearly did your head in, but please, go quietly into the night… Honestly, you’ve got the Oscar Nom for Theory, dearie (though after this debacle, you’re lucky you got that at all…)

Right, that’s it: going back to watch my Guardians of the Galaxy DVD again i.e. an infinitely more pleasurable experience. 

Cheers!