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The Imitation Game (2014)
January 4, 2015, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Morten Tyldum
3 Stars
The Imitation GameAs enjoyable as it can be to watch Benedict Cumberbatch play the socially inept snob at the center of The Imitation Game, the decision to play the character in a way that is occasionally distancing comes with the asterisk that the context ultimately excuses any digression due to his moral superiority. This is the sort of biopic in which the supporting characters ruminate about how great the protagonist is and how much he’s changed history–it’s an awkward sort of congratulatory ritual, a hero-worshipping eulogy written and delivered by people of a different generation. The misfit in question is Alan Turing, the British mathematician credited with being a significant key in cracking Germany’s Enigma Code during the second World War II, thereby shortening the war considerably and ensuring the Allies’ victory. As a biopic, it plays things considerably more safe than the already agreeable The Theory of Everything. Awkward as its dealings with Turing’s sexuality are–the film makes such a concerted liberal effort at portraying homosexual nobility without showing Turing on screen with a single lover–the conventional boarding school flashbacks are even more dramatically rote. Cumberbatch, though, is good, refusing to overplay the inherent vulnerability of a misunderstood man.

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Headhunters (2011)
July 24, 2012, 1:30 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Morten Tyldum

Audiences who found The Dark Knight Rises suffocatingly grim won’t know quite what to make of Headhunters, a Norwegian thriller adapted from the book by acclaimed crime novelist Jo Nesbø. Bruce Wayne has it easy compared to the slick, Napoleonic antihero played by the charismatic Aksel Hennie – in the picture’s biggest gross out moment, he must submerge himself completely in a pool of excrement, using only a straw to breath. After sabotaging a job opportunity for the businessman that has been having an affair with his wife, Hennie is relentlessly pursued by his new nemesis, a man no stranger to military tactics and clearly possessing an almost supernatural discipline having persevered through severe Bolivian torture. The chase is absurd, attempting to top itself repeatedly through increased bloodshed and plot twists. That is precisely the point – that corporate bloodthirst has been taken to its carnal extremes. Appealing as Hennie is (one can’t help but root for him after he is subjected to an hour of unrelenting assault), director Morten Tyldum fails in his ignoble regurgitation of Hollywood style. The needless voice-over narration and a persistent score make things feel suspiciously sleek when the material itself is as gritty as can be. An American remake is already in the works, and while it isn’t necessarily a story that merits a revisitation, a satisfying directorial vision might salvage the material in a way that compliments its visceral pleasures with a subtle, unobtrusive telling.