The Imitation Game: Gratuity-Free, You’re Welcome.

I’ve heard about Alan Turing’s story before watching The Imitation Game, starring my favorite Brit, Benedict Cumberbatch. I knew that he was a gay math genius who broke the German’s Enigma machine, then got arrested for indecency that led to his chemical castration and eventual suicide.

I was preparing myself for hard-to-watch gay scenes (as I’m a prude straight woman, I usually close one eye on these scenes) and the suicide scene which I predicted would make me bawl as if I’m having my PMS. I was also prepared to be annoyed by Keira Knightly (not a huge fan).

Wouldn’t you know it there were non of that at all! Not one gay sex scene in a movie about a homosexual! That’s amazing! The suicide scene I was waiting for didn’t materialize either. And Keira Knightly was believable and not annoying at all.

As expected, Benedict Cumberbatch was excellent. How could he not be? Alan Turing was basically Sherlock Holmes. There were some controversy about Benedict’s quote on Metro about people assuming his characters have some form of autism. But clearly, Alan Turing is displaying some serious signs of Aspergers Syndrome.

Mathew Goode was good (haha). He’s truly one of the hottest British actors today(I loved him since Chasing Liberty). His character was a perfectly charming complement to Benedict’s socially awkward one. And how about the Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones cross-over, huh? I still kept seeing Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister in an army uniform, instead of his armour. Allen Leech aka Tom Branson in Downton Abbey as the spy for the Soviet Union I think was a bit far-fetched as he has a naturally kind face that could do no evil.

I like how the film was structured, going to and fro from the last moments of his life, to war time, and his childhood days at boarding school. It clearly illustrates where he’s been and how it affects his present circumstances. It made the audience more sympathetic as they understand Alan as a person and not just the genius who broke the German encryption.

I love the portrayal of his friendship with his team including Keira’s character, Joan. How she could agree to be his wife knowing he was gay truly made me admire her more. It made me think about my own gay best friend who I definitely don’t see marrying as I am a normal person without a genius IQ as is he.

I can see why this movie is nominated for a variety o awards including the Oscars. Too bad they didn’t win. But still, cheers to Alan Turing as he ushered in the age of the Digital Computer.

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Gone Girl: Misogynist or Feminist? Who Cares?

I just watched this movie and I loved it! I was planning on reading the book first but I’m stuck in a rut lately. I’ve not finished a damn book for months; I think I need to have my internet taken away!

Anyway, I now realized what everyone was raving about. Gone Girl is an absolutely smart and unique take on the mystery and thriller genre. The plot was a bit outrageous but not entirely implausible.

Relating to the feminist context, I thought the movie is very feminist but after seeing that shocking scene with Barney, I mean Neil Patrick Harris, and Amy’s (SPOILERS!) eventual return to her husband, Nick, who’s now afraid of her, I thought that’s a bit misogynistic. But who could blame him really?

The story turns the battered wife-abusive husband trope on it’s head. In Gone Girl, it’s the wife who’s a violent pyschopath who manipulates her victims and audience to her bidding. What’s interesting is everyone’s reaction to what was happening. I’m sure that the media won’t be so forgiving if it was a man who came back bloodied after murdering a woman, even if that woman kidnapped him and used him as a sex slave, meanwhile causing his wife to become a suspect in his “murder.”

It’s fascinating how Nick (Ben Afleck) in the end, feels trapped by his marriage to a woman he’s afraid could hurt him in his sleep. It echoes the majority of battered women trapped in a loveless marriage, forced to live under the thumb of their male partners.

On the other hand, I thought that the movie is also feminist as it shows that women can take control and direct their lives to where they want to be (although faking your death to frame your husband might not be such a good example to women). She used every weapon she had, including her sexuality, to get what she wants.

The very open ending of this film might cause frustration on the part of the audience but I don’t mind it at all. It allows us to imagine how their lives would become. Would he finally get the guts to leave and get a divorce? Would she eventually get a gun and shoot him in the head as he snores? (And sing “he had it comin'” “he only got himself to blame…”) Or would the town wake up to a murder with Nick Dunne holding the box cutter, this time?

We may never know…

The Sound of Music: As I Bid Adieu to 2014

FYI, Facebook, this year has not been great. How could it be when you’ve lost a beloved brother, whose life was just starting to make sense. As Idris the T.A.R.D.I.S. said, “I’ve been looking for a word. A big, complicated word but so sad.” “Alive.” It’s sad when it’s over. When you’ve experience a tragedy like that, you can’t help but be intimately acquainted with the concept.

However, time moves on, waiting for no one. And now we say hello to hopefully a better year in 2015. I wanted to start the year right by getting off my ass, dusting off my keyboard and finally stop procrastinating and update this blog.

As a kid, Christmas used to be my favorite holiday but as an adult, I feel a bit jaded as my wallet gets lighter from all the obligatory shopping I had to do. I was feeling nostalgic about my childhood so I watched something that always made me all warm and fuzzy, far from my usual sarcastic and cynical self. I watched Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music.

As an 80’s kid, this is the musical, maybe the only musical you care to know the lyrics to. I remember my sister and I bonding over our favorite songs such as “My Favorite Things” and “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”. Studying at a Catholic school run by nuns just added to the relatability factor, really. In my school, I remember we even had a full-blown production of the musical. Nuns absolutely love movies about nuns.

Watching this in 2014 is just as enjoyable, if not more so for the added nostalgia factor, as when I first watched it when I was 6 or 7. My feminist side winced at lyrics like “You need someone older and wiser telling you what to do,” though.

I was totally crushing on Christopher Plummer! He’s totally dreamy as Captain vonn Trapp. And Julie Andrews was fabulous, of course.

According to Wikipedia, the movie was initially turned down by some producers because it was too saccharine. The actual people and events it’s based on are actually very far from what was portrayed in the film. Well, if they based the movie closer to what’s historically accurate, I doubt it would result in a musical. It would probably a grittier story much too depressing to sing about.

I’m glad we have this “too saccharine” musical for times when we just want something to make us feel better, much like a tub of ice cream after a heartache.

 

Dead Poets Society: Robin Williams is Neal

How rare of an actor is Robin Williams. From mad hatter antics to seriously serious dramatic roles. He proved he can do it all…brilliantly! And we will all miss him tremendously.

At school, we were required to watch two of his movies. In both, he played a doctor – Patch Adams (I think we watched it in High School) and Awakenings (College for a psychology class, if I’m not mistaken).

I loved his suspense-thriller movies too – Insomnia and One-Hour Photo.

He is just one of my favorite actors. If I’d met him, I think I would be so inclined to give the man a hug. His eyes were so kind and demeanor, so open that it invites you in and does not, at all, intimidate.

Since the news of his death, I’ve had a craving to watch one of my all time favorite movies of his – Dead Poets Society.

I think I first watched this as a young kid in the 90’s. I can’t remember if it was on Laser Disc (those big-ass discs you needed to turn over) or VHS (Google if you don’t know, millenial). Was this the movie that inspired me to write poetry in junior year of high school? Probably.

I had this phase where I spat out poetry after poetry, giving them away as “gifts” to my friends and family. (This is ingenious, actually. A gift you made yourself, heartfelt so they can’t throw it away and the giftee would need to appreciate it whether they like to or not).

How can you watch Dead Poets as a student or teacher and not be affected? In college, I actually had a professor who stood at his desk and tried to do a Robin Williams. I just looked at him cynically (seen that before…)

Watching it again, I can’t help but draw a parallelism to Robin’s life.

In the movie, it was Neil who took his life because of the pressure from his overbearing father (Red Forman…I mean, Kurtwood Smith). When Robin Williams took his life, it was the black dog of depression that exerted the pressure.

The legacy of the movie remains, inspiring generations of students, teachers, and dreamers all over the world. As will the actor continue to be the inspiration of generations of actors, comedians, and the audience that watch his movies.

Afflicted: First Person Vampire Movie

Spoilers ahead!

I have been hankering for a great horror movie for some time now. Though it seems that horror is really a hard genre to get right. Too much gore, too much camp, not enough interesting characters, idiotic plot elements – the list goes on and on. So I got on Rotten Tomatoes to find some relatively new releases with enough fresh tomato cred that won’t make me want to wish for my time back. Turns out I had two options Oculus and Afflicted.

I admit, I wanted to watch Oculus just because Karen Gillan (a.k.a. Amy Pond from Doctor Who) was in there sporting an American accent. I slept through the first few scenes, gave up, and did a Guillermo Del Toro (just listened to his interview in the Nerdist Podcast. Apparently, he watches at least 1 movie a day but if the first few scenes didn’t grab him, he turns it off and walks away).

Afflicted was a better choice although I’ve never heard of the writers  and the actors before. This film belongs to a sub genre of “found footage films” which is so common these days, it has become in danger of being a cliche (if not already). These types of films usually gives me a headache with the shaky cams but thankfully, this one’s got better video tech, I suppose and not a Go-Pro in sight.

Bromance and parkour is probably two words that are not commonly associate with the horror genre but there it is. Although the film is basically a vampire story, not a sparkly make-up or doe-eyed teenage girl is in sight (oh wait… there is but just for a sec! Promise!)

The story begins immediately with their first video post about 2 friends’ (Derek and Clif) epic 1 year long adventure traveling around the world. But unfortunately, Derek finds out he has a brain condition called AVM that basically means there’s a possibility he could die at any moment. The doctor advises Derek not to push through with the trip but he’s pretty determined. His condition becomes more of an inspiration that Clif wanted to capture on video.

Their adventure starts in Barcelona, then to Paris where Derek meets Audrey and they seem to get along (if you know what I mean). Clif, together with 2 other friends, decided to prank him by bursting in the room but when they do, they find him bloodied with a gashing wound on his arm. Afraid of going to the hospital (because doctors might cut their trip short), Derek insisted that they continue their trip and they headed to Italy.

First signs of something wrong was the lethargy and sensitivity to light. Next, Derek had an epic public vomit in a restaurant because he can’t keep his food down and he got the worst sunburn ever while walking through a vineyard. They discover his super strength and speed accidentally and this began a montage of stupid stunts that I didn’t care for but I can believe that if you where male and had discovered superpowers, yes, you will do these stupid stunts to test your limits.

Realizing that Derek may be exhibiting symptoms of vampiric nature, they began to find animal blood that can satisfy Derek’s thirst including the murder of poor Babe. Unfortunately, this vampire strain is apparently is more terrifying than that of the Twilight folks. He can only drink human blood.

After a failed blood bank robbery and equally pathetic ambulance heist, Clif woke up to the most nastiest thing you could wake up to – your friend with white eyes and unnaturally contorted body staring at you hungrily while you sleep.

Clif finally decided to make the ultimate sacrifice and shared his blood but Derek got out and when Clif finally found him, he wished he never did.

The next scenes were all shot by Derek and he explains how he wants to honor Clif by continuing with the videos. He tried to commit suicide by blowing his brains out but apparently, that does not work. (I kept wondering if explosions would work.)

Interpol tracked him and he became a wanted fugitive. But he needed to find Audrey to get some answers so he went back to Paris to find her. Although he eventually did find him, as I’ve already guessed, she did not know of any cure or way to kill themselves. She told him how he needed to feed to remain in control; otherwise, he becomes a monster driven by primal instinct to kill. “You can’t choose not to kill but you can choose who you kill. It makes a difference.” And then, he asked her why she chose him. “You were dying. I thought I was being kind.” I think they should’ve cast a different actress because her accent was so thick I could not understand her clearly.

In an effort to atone for his crimes, he decided to do a Dexter and choose bad men such as a sadistic pedophile to eat.

A lot of the action in this movie reminds me of first person shooter video games. And it works especially the dark setting and just enough gore to be believable and not look utterly ridiculous.

Overall, I like this film. Even though the vampire mythology is a tad overused these days, I like their somewhat realistic take on it. The characters were interesting and the action/suspense was fantastic. If I was giving away stars, I give this a 3 and a quarter stars!

Let the movie play till the credits to find out what really happened to Clif!

Post Doctor Who: Matt Smith’s The Womb and David Tennant’s Fright Night

Since it’s going to be months before we get to see another installment of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor Who Season 8, I have been scouring the Internet for some of the previous doctors’ works. I’ve watched Broadchurch and I loved David Tennant in it, of course. And I’ve seen Matt Smith in one episode of Secret Diary of a Call Girl, where the 11th doctor gets to sleep with Rose (I was interpreting it differently as I watched). However, I’ve yet to watch a movie with the doctors in it. (Harry Potter doesn’t count as I was not aware of David at the time).

The Womb

Matt mentioned The Womb in an interview with Chris Hardwick of the Nerdist Podcast(Subscribe to this podcast. Trust me, you won’t regret it!). Former Bondgirl, Eva Green is apparently in it. I watched the trailer and I remembered I’ve watched the trailer before and I was interested in seeing the movie but again, I was not aware of Matt Smith. I just thought the premise of the story was interesting.

While the movie does have a curious tale to tell, the pace, execution, and eek-factor was just way off. In other releases, the film was know as “Clone”, which I think is deceptively presenting itself as more science-fiction genre than it really was. The “art” film is basically, a love story between Eva Green and Matt Smith’s character, Rebecca and Tommy, respectively.

I hope pedos don’t watch this film…

Rebecca and Tommy were childhood sweethearts, living in a beautiful beach somewhere in England. But then, Rebecca had to go to Japan for her studies while Tommy remained. When Rebecca returned as a young lady, with a science degree and everything, she sought Tommy out. They continued their romantic relationship like nothing happened (Sorry Osha from Game of Thrones). Unfortunately for Rebecca, they would only have a few days(?) together before Tommy get’s hit by a super speeding truck.

Rebecca’s brilliant plan is to clone her boyfriend. She gets pregnant using Tommy’s DNA, raise the version 2 Tommy as her own son and sleep with him when he’s all grown up(Sorry Gilly of Game of Thrones). And I thought Tommy 1.0’s plan to release a million cockroaches in a cloning facility was bonkers(Did I mention, he was a militant environmentalist?).

Although this film tries to be minimalist with little dialogue and overly long camera shots, I think it failed. I mean, I’ve watched the French movie, Amour, and was riveted so I know I can stand a slow-paced film.

I do have problems with the dialogue because it didn’t sound natural. Young Tommy’s lines, for example, sounded like it could’ve come from an artsy fartsy pretentious novel.

Why so slooooow????

The snail, the long minimal intro, Eva Green’s longing look at the sea, the constant sleeping shots, hit our head with all the minimalism, why don’t you.

I love Matt Smith as the doctor but I don’t know if I saw another character in this movie. The mannerisms, his voice, cadence, and movements all screamed – The Doctor – that I can’t help but laugh at his line, “It seemed bigger in my mind.”

The SCENE – you can argue that it’s technically not incest but still…eeeww… I have enough of that from Game of Thrones. Thank you very much!

I feel that the movie could have worked because of the very interesting premise. It’s too bad, it was so conscious about it being an “art film” that it fails to tell the story properly.

Fright Night

This movie has been shown a couple of times on cable TV but I didn’t see the point of seeing it as I heard some pretty bad reviews. You know what? It’s not as awful as I thought!

That goes to show what having low expectations can do to your perception.

It’s a fun enough movie for people who enjoy horror movies (like me). I watched it while I was organizing my stuff so I was watching it without my 100% attention and the movie was enjoyable to me.

Of course, I paid close attention not to the star of the show, Collin Farrell, but the skinny and lanky looking British dude, aka the 10th Doctor – David Tennant.

He plays Peter Vincent, a Chris Angel-like alcoholic magician who happens to know a thing or two about the occult including the existence of vampires. He plays the part brilliantly and his comedic timing is impeccable.  He’s so saucy! There are ridiculous parts yes, but the movie, I feel doesn’t take itself too seriously so I don’t.

—–

I don’t know if I’m biased because David Tennant is my doctor, but Matt Smith, I’ll still be watching the next Terminator just to see you!

 

 

Happy Birthday, Audrey Hepburn!

Thank you Google Doodle for reminding me.

Square-jaw, dark hair, stick thin, with doe eyes that’s arguably too big for her face, Audrey Hepburn defied the Hollywood beauty stereotype in her days. When blonde, curvy, and bimbo was an actress’ golden ticket to fame, she still got to the top spot with her eyes brimming with intelligence and smile radiating sincerity.

Audrey Hepburn was and still remains my favorite of all Hollywood actresses. I don’t think I saw every one of her films though. So I’m making a list of all her movies I’ve seen and all the movies I still need to find and enjoy.

So far, I’ve seen(no particular order):

Sabrina – I saw the remake; it so does not even compare to charm of the original

Roman Holiday – It made me want to go to Italy!

Funny Face – Audrey shows off her dancing skills with Fred Astaire .

The Nun’s Story – Her subtle performance earned her both an Oscar and Bafta nomination.

Two For the Road – All I can remember is MOD fashion

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – I was such a fan, I cosplayed her during our Hollywood-theme Christmas Party!

My Fair Lady – If I could afford to replicate that white gown, I would have worn this instead!

I still need to see:

War and Peace

Green Mansions

Paris When It Sizzles

How To Steal a Million

Wait Until Dark

Always

Love in the Afternoon

The Unforgiven

Did I forget anything? Any suggestions?