The Imitation Game (Review – Movie 2014)

Imitation5 Kernels

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, and Allen Leech

The Imitation Game is one of those must-see movies of 2014 that is gripping on multiple levels. The Nazis have developed an unbreakable code machine that transmits vital information, which can be used against the allies to pinpoint their locations. Around the world the greatest minds alive have tried to crack the code without success, until Alan Turing’s eccentric idea of building a machine that can think.

Benedict Cumberbatch, the outrageously popular British actor, portrays Alan Turing, the genius mathematician and logician who cracks Germany’s Enigma Code. Along with him are other brilliant minds of the day working around the clock to find an answer.

Alan is not the most congenial of individuals. Bullied as a child in private school, he’s an odd sort of young man who has difficulty fitting in because of his brilliance. As he grows up, his people skills have not improved, and he has the unique knack of alienating those around him. While others on his team push pencils all day long attempting to break the code in 24-hour spans, before the German’s change it again, he’s fiddling with building a machine to do all the work. Undeterred by setbacks and critics, he continues onward until he succeeds.

The movie works on many levels for a variety of reasons. While we watch Alan attempt to do the impossible, we are reminded of the horrors of war from actual clips from World War II that reiterate the importance and urgency of breaking the code.  In addition, once the code is broken, the secrecy must be kept so the German’s do not realize their accomplishments. Instead, the brilliant men and one woman spend the remainder of the war crunching statistics on the number of casualties and the effects of actually using bits and pieces of information obtained from the Germans to direct those missions that would be most successful.

Beyond Alan’s intelligence, there is passion for succeeding and the struggle to be true to himself among a world that does not understand him. Benedict’s performance is absolutely astounding in portraying the emotions of Alan Turing. To add to the complexity of his character is the fact that he is a homosexual, living in an age when such lifestyles were criminal offenses. Benedict’s ability to take hold of each of these characteristics and display them with such heart-wrenching accuracy, is worth any award he may garnish for his performance.

Also in the movie are other familiar faces, including Allen Leech (Downton Abbey’s former chauffeur), and Matthew Goode (who nearly got hanged in Death Comes to Pemberly). Keira does a fine job as the only brilliant woman in the group, who impresses Alan by solving a challenging puzzle in less than six minutes.

The movie also delves into his post-war life and the struggles he faced afterward. He was arrested and convicted as a homosexual, and rather than do time in prison chose to take chemical castration drugs to curb his homosexuality. A few years later, he committed suicide but received a royal pardon 60 years later from the Queen.

With all of the movie’s intrigue and emotional highs and lows, I highly recommend The Imitation Game.


A Dangerous Method (2011)

7489a-dangerous2bmethod1 Kernel

Stars: Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender

R Rated Review

Okay, the disclaimer is up. It’s a shocking movie. If you’re a psychologist buff who has studied the works of Jung and Freud, this movie could be your cup of tea. If you’re an individual who has been beaten and sexually abused, hide the play button. It could resurrect repressed memories you had hoped to forget. Watch at your own risk. On the other hand, if you read Fifty Shades of Grey and liked it, this movie could be right up your alley.

This movie is supposedly based on a true story. Enters Sabina Spielrein – painfully played by Keira Knightly, I might add. She arrives at the mental institution, Carl Jung (played by Michael Fassbender) is her doctor. He sits in a chair behind her and starts to embark on the method of psychoanalyzing a disturbed woman. Sabina contorts into all sorts of physical language from her face to her toes, and confesses to her doctor that she’s been abused, beaten, and likes it. In today’s language that would be translated into kinky sex. She enjoys being naked, tied up, and beaten as a result of what her father did to her as a child.

As her treatment progresses, Carl meets his idol, Sigmond, and they discuss her case. However, Sabina, as she becomes more stable, entices her doctor into a relationship. Married and about to commit professional suicide, Jung has an affair with her anyway. If that isn’t bad enough, he satisfies her sexual needs by binding her and beating her with a belt. The act portrayed on screen is far too long on screen, as you watch her contort in pain but enjoy it sexually. The man who is suppose to cure her ends up reinforcing her behavior instead. The outcome is disastrous.

Jung becomes as addicted to her and their affair (even though at one point he tries to break it off), as she is addicted to her behavior. He gives you the impression he loves the dominant male position of spanking her bottom with his belt as much as she loves it at the receiving end. Whether Jung really did go that far in real life is questionable, since he’s well known and revered in his work. From what I’ve read the affair was real, but I’d like to believe the remainder is Hollywood contrived.

The interaction and professional discussions between Jung and Freud are interesting to watch. Surprisingly, Sabina eventually goes on in life to become a psychiatrist herself. Jung helps her achieve that goal. The affair eventually ends, the two part, she marries and finds her own successful career, while Jung wallows in regrets.

Frankly, I had high hopes for this movie, but it turned out rather discouraging and convoluted to watch. The timeline jumps from one period to the next. Scenes happen that make no sense and are followed with no explanation. For example Freud suffers what appears to be a heart attack or stroke in one scene, the next he’s perfectly fine. Huh? The acting on Kiera’s part can only be described as painful to watch earlier in the movie, and bland by others.

Not my cup of tea, especially standing in their bedroom watching drawn out scenes of Sabina tied to the bed and beaten with a belt for sexual arousal. I didn’t count the number of times; I only remember saying to myself, “Enough already, I get the point.”

Refund please.