The Theory of Everything (Movie Review)

Oscar-nominated stars Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables) and Felicity Jones, who you may remember from the 5-second tease she got in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as Felicia Hardy. Godammit, Sony, first you squander Paul Giamatti, and now this?

Right, enough with the filler posts, it’s time to look at  one of the most brilliant men to ever  live on this planet of ours. One who has tested the boundaries of physics and changed the way many people think about the universe.

It’s time to examine: Dr. Stephen Hawking’s love life!!!

You’re elated. I can tell.

 The Theory of Everything

 Directed by: James Marsh

 Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten

 Screenplay by: Anthony McCarten

 Genre: Biographical romantic drama

 Based on: Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Simon McBurney, David Thewlis, Harry Lloyd, Emily Watson, Maxine Peake

Music by: Jóhann Jóhannsson

Plot: In 1963, Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is just your average brilliant astrophysics student attending prestigious Cambridge University, where his hobbies include math, physics, not having a topic for his thesis, and hanging out with his buddy, Viserys Targaryen from Game of Thrones. One day, while doing whatever it is that upper-class university students do, he meets a student of Romance Languages named Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), and the two young whippersnappers fall in love almost immediately. What follows is the story of their long, loving, frequently troubled relationship, through Dr. Hawking’s devastating struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (You know, ALS). You know, Lou Gehrig’s disease.

You know, the thing everyone was doing this for a few months back.

Admittedly, this movie was far from the movie I wanted to see most out of this year’s Best Picture nominees. I had heard good reviews, just not overwhelmingly positive ones, and I just thought it looked like one of those movies that are specifically crafted to rack up nominations by simply existing within the Academy’s wheelhouse (Recent examples include PhilomenaThe Artist and Everything that Meryl Streep Has So Much As a Goddamn Cameo in).

Also, I think I speak for many beleaguered high school students of the world when I say that physics can go fuck itself.

Just imagining it makes me want to start texting and put off studying.

Anyways, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely incorrect in that assumption as the film does, in fact hit many familiar beats, but it is executed in such a way that made me shrug my shoulders and say “Who really gives a crap?”. It’s not the most creative movie in the class of ’14, but I thought it was still a terrific movie that deserves all the recognition it can get. Unlike my next reviewed movie, which I would erase from everybody’s memory if I had the flashy pen-type things from Men in Black.

DO SOMETHING!!!

While the main reason that this movie works as well as it does is, as you may have guessed, the two leads, whose relationship actually came super close to making me shed man-tears, the other aspects of the movie are very well done, to boot. It’s very well directed, and the cinematography is downright gorgeous, to the point where it can kinda feel like they’re romanticizing a bit much, but I didn’t find it to be that much of a problem. The writing’s fine, and done in a way that actually made me understand more about physics than I did in three years of high school, even if it does wisely take a backseat to the relationship between Dr. Stephen and Jane (Those of you wanting to learn more about Dr. Hawking’s work would probably be better off going to a library. Or Wikipedia, whichever).

Also, the score, composed by Jóhann Jóhannsson of Iceland (A country whose musical output I’ve greatly respected since learning about Sigur Rós), is very beautiful, and quite memorable if you’re not an idiot like me who enjoys watching so much movies in such a short period so that all the soundtracks sound the same to you. Seriously though, it is beautiful.

While the lead actors do get a lot of deserved buzz for their performances, the very talented supporting cast also shines as well, with no real weak links among the bunch. Charlie Cox (Of Boardwalk Empire fame) is super-charming as a friend of the Hawking-Wilde family, which bodes well for his upcoming role as everyone’s favourite blind Marvel superhero).

Madame Web, Obviously.

I’ve watched this movie twice so far, and during neither viewing did I realize that the dude who plays Brian, Dr. Hawking’s college roommate, is the same guy (Harry Lloyd) who played Viserys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. I guess I didn’t recognize him without his sadism, creepy relationship with his sister or flowing platinum locks. Or it could’ve been the noticeable absence of liquid gold cascading over said platinum locks. Yeah, probably that. Anyways, he does a really solid job, as does David Thewlis as Hawking’s professor. Stephen Hawking himself makes a cameo as his own computerized voice and really disappears into his role in a way that nobody else could.

Obviously though, the actors that have really captured everybody’s attention are Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, and as emotionally poignant and fantastic as Jones is, Redmayne’s is the one that truly stands heads and shoulders above damn near everybody else this year. I’m not just being my usual lazy self when I say that I can’t come up with a way to describe this performance (Although that is playing a part). You truly need to see it for yourself to know what I’m talking about.

So, for all my fanboying out over this movie, do I have any complaints with it? Well yeah, it’s not a perfect movie.

Now this… THIS is a perfect movie.

For instance, while the makeup and prosthetics team did a fantastic job with Eddie Redmayne to help him look the part of somebody with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, they really didn’t do that great a job of aging Felicity Jones to make her look like a fifty-year old by the end of the movie. I’m not bashing her performance by any means, and this doesn’t rate as a huge issue in my book, but it still took me out of the movie.

I guess it’s not like Felicity Jones can help the fact that she looks eighteen.

Also, this may just be a personal pet peeve of mine, but I am so fucking done with love triangles as a film trope, and there are two of them in this movie. TWO (This isn’t a spoiler, you see them coming from a mile away). I get that it’s what really happened, but I can only take much before it gets annoying. I suppose it’s handled well enough to cut out the “will-they, won’t-they” bullshit, but it still irks me quite a bit. I dunno, maybe the first season of Legend of Korra just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Overall: It’s more or less a conventional Oscar movie, but if you get as entranced by the emotional resonance of the movie as I was, you won’t give a damn.

Rating: 8.5/10

Next time on PKTM: I review Left Behind/contemplate agonizing forms of suicide.

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Quote of the Day- January 29, 2014

So, because I haven’t yet learned not to trust myself with a deadline, I thought my Theory of Everything review would be out today. To tide all those of you still paying attention to me over, I give you one of my favourite quotes from one of the great philosophers of the modern age.

Everytime I see, like, an insanely hateful YouTube comment… I’m like, “Man, your time would really be better served making art.”

– Leigh Daniel “Danny Sexbang” Avidan

Look at him. Look at that sexy motherfucker.

The Imitation Game (Movie Review)

As homophobic a society as the UK was in the 40’s, the soldier on the right seems pretty into what he’s doing.

 Sorry that this review took me so long (Almost a month after The Imitation Game‘s wide release, to be exact), but I’ve been super busy with school, what with there being diplomas and midterms to write, and I had to take some time to write about the Oscar ballot, which was…Something else, to say the least.

For all the movies that got screwed over (Selma, The LEGO Movie, Nightcrawler), the Academy did do justice to some of the nominees, and one of the movies that got its just desserts is The Imitation Game, which ended up with eight nominations. Especially poignant considering both the new age in technology and the turning point in the LGBT rights movement that we’re currently experiencing right now.

As well as the equally influential “Cumberbitch” movement.

 The Imitation Game

 Directed by: Morten Tyldum

 Produced by: Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky, Teddy Schwarzman

 Written by: Graham Moore

 Genre: Thriller, historical drama

 Based on: Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges

 Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong,  Charles Dance, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Rory Kinnear

 Music by: Alexandre Desplat

Plot: World War II is in full swing, and, unfortunately, the good guys are kinda getting their asses kicked by the Nazis. Thanks to a highly sophisticated encryption code known as Enigma, the Germans are getting encrypted messages through to one another right under the Allies’ noses. Tired of the Nazis’ shit, the British recruit top scholars, mathematicians, linguists and such in order to try to break the cursed code. One of the mathematicians recruited by Her Majesty’s Secret Service Or Whatever is Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a brilliant man, but also an arrogant, antisocial one, who has to juggle his service to the government with his closeted homosexuality.

“Big deal!” You might say. “Gay people get married all the time today! We love gay people! Why should he fear the government?”

You might say that. If you didn’t know that back in those days in Britain, homosexual activity could be punished with jail time or chemical castration. Not exactly the most accepting environment to Come Out to.

Does Turing and his team decipher the Enigma code? Does Turing’s homosexuality land him in deep trouble with the homophobic British government? WILL THE WORLD FALL UNDER THE THUMB OF HITLER AND HIS JACKBOOTED NAZI THUGS!??!

Spoiler alert. You know, in case you’re stupid.

I know you guys can’t tell, but I just typed 700 words after this point, and then pressed a button by accident and it’s all gone now. This is why I drink. And also why backups are a good idea.

I had a whole rant about how people don’t pay Alan Turing enough respect nowadays, and how instrumental he was in shaping modern society the way he did through his technology (Helping to beat the Nazis, forming the basis for computers and such), but no way I’m retyping it. Watch this movie, and do a little research, and gain a little appreciation for the tragic genius of Alan Turing. And hey, who better to portray the guy then the man who has entranced Sherlock fanboys and fangirls the world over with his charisma and voice of James Earl Jones proportions of awesomeness?

I have a natural disdain for fanbases who give themselves cutesy names in order to give themselves an identity (Maybe Beliebers have just left a bad taste in my mouth), but I’ll be damned if I’m not a Cumberbitch at this point. The dude’s an amazing actor, and his performance in this movie is absolutely no exception. In a lesser year, he would be the frontrunner for the category, but in a year where Michael Keaton decided to resurface solely for the purpose of putting every other actor in the world to shame, Benedizzle Cumber….bizzle will have to settle for a nomination. Wow, I will never put an “izzle” at the end of anybody else’s name ever again.

“I’m not mad, just dissa-okay, no, I’m actually pissed off. Never talk about me again.”

So, Cumberbatch is great. Whatever, you already knew/assumed that. How do all the other actors do? Well, really quite well, actually. Charles Dance is fantastic as a total dick (Although not a historically accurate one, apparently), which one would expect from Tywin Lannister. Matthew Goode and Mark Strong both do real well as Turing’s rival on the team and a MI6 officer, but the supporting cast member who seems to be generating the most buzz is Pirates of the Caribbean alumni and Phantom Menace survivor Keira Knightley, who was also nominated for the supporting actress Oscar. And she does okay. Not badly, to be sure, she does a good job, but compared to the complex, layered portrayal that her co-star, Cumberbatch gives a complex, layered character, Knightley’s just seems a little bit nondescript, especially for a character as interesting as Joan Clarke. That said, I can see the Oscar nomination. Maybe it’s just the Oscar’s hard-on for historical movies, or a sign of the lack of good female roles in movies that there was last year, but I don’t have a hard time swallowing her nomination. I still would’ve preferred to see Emily Blunt for Edge of Tomorrow, though.

For that matter…

For that matter, I can’t really name anything that this movie does poorly, per se. It’s very well directed, it’s extremely well-written and paced, it didn’t feel boring as many historical dramas tend to feel once you hit the one hour mark, and you definitely feel the tension of the mission that the codebreakers feel throughout the movie. I mean, I obviously knew that the Allies won the war at the end, but I was still on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out how exactly they mean to break the code, and the personal life of Alan Turing is one replete with drama and tragedy that will leave you broken-hearted if you have any semblance of a heart. Or whichever part of your brain regulates sadness. I guess anybody has a semblance of a heart, or they’d be dead. It’s four in the morning right now you guys, I’m so goddamn tired.

I guess the only real flaw  is that when you take the focus of the movie away from Cumberbatch (Which isn’t often, admittedly), it kind of becomes not so much the classic historical drama and LGBT Rights movie that it could become in the future and merely a very good movie. The supporting characters are just not that interesting when you take Turing out of the equation. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen often at all, and not enough to detract from this movie’s credentials as one of the best films of 2014.

Overall: A pretty freaking great movie about a really freaking influential human being, The Imitation Game is… Really good you guys? I dunno, it’s five in the morning, I’m going to bed.

Rating: 9/10

Johnny Depp isn’t the only one phoning it in this weekend!!!

Quote of the Day: January 22, 2015

So, I was about to publish my 1200-word Imitation Game review when, due to some technical issue with my keyboard that I have yet to rectify, I lost everything I had written in several hours’ work. After I had finished contemplating suicide, I decided I didn’t want to leave you guys without a post for almost a week (I spend most of the time writing down ideas and notes for posts and much less time actually executing), so I decided to leave you guys with a quote from a book I’m re-reading for the first time in several years, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Is this going to be a regular thing? Maybe. Am I going to follow through on that? Probably not.

“Often the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.” 

-Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Mark Twain: Legendary author, insightful satirist and world-class pimp.

The 5 Biggest Oscar Screw-Ups of This Year’s Nominations

Even the statues seem miffed about Jake Gyllenhaal getting snubbed.

The nominations for the 87th Academy Awards were announced early Thursday morning, and, merely a year removed from the pleasant surprises that were the nominations last year, I was feeling pretty positive about the Academy’s ability to make smart decisions about who they would nominate.

And then, this clusterfuck of a ballot surfaced. Ho-ly-shit.

I’m sure there must be other colossal mistakes that just aren’t coming to me, but these are the biggest blunders that come to my mind when I think of this year’s ballot. Let’s dive right in.

5. No Recognition for Voice or Motion Capture Performances

The Oscars: Once again proudly displaying their bias against black people, women and tiny Englishmen with whiteheads all over their faces.

Look Academy, I don’t expect too much forward progress from you guys when it comes to movies that aren’t entirely live-action. Hell, it took you guys until 2001 to actually make a Best Animated Film Category, seventy-four years after the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. I’ll get into the animated movies later, but using this logic, we can safely assume that it’ll be sixty-one years (Seventy four years after Gollum’s appearance in The Two Towers) before motion capture gets the respect it so rightfully deserves.

I’m not saying that you give Andy Serkis a nomination for Best Supporting actor, because a) Wasn’t he the lead actor in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes? And b) I have no idea how to compare motion capture performances to live-action performances. That said, shouldn’t voice and motion actos get some kind of recognition? “Best Actor Whose Face doesn’t Appear in the Movie?” Something like that, maybe!?

4. No Best Animated Film Nomination for The Lego Movie!?!?!?!?

See Oscars? Even Benny the 80’s astronaut thinks you’re out of touch.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Despite everybody deeming The Lego Movie to be the movie to beat in this category, I did not want The Lego Movie to win this award. I wanted How to Train Your Dragon 2 to win this award. When How to Train Your Dragon 2 upset The Lego Movie at the Golden Globe Awards, I was ecstatic. So, in a sense, I’m happy that How to Train Your Dragon 2 now has less competition for the award.

That said, The Boxtrolls over The Lego Movie? Get a goddamn clue, will you Oscars? The Boxtrolls was fine, but it was no ParaNormanThe Lego Movie was earning consideration for a screenplay nomination.

Eh, at least that annoying song was nominated, so I can’t be too mad.

3. Selma…… Where are you Selmaaa……..

Sorry guys. We clearly have a ways to go yet. 

It’s so surprising to me that the power behind Selma (Oprah Winfrey, the American equivalent of Kim Jong-un) was unable to drum up a few more nominations for the movie, especially such an important, controversial one as Selma. I haven’t seen it yet (I plan to this weekend) but I have very high expectations, given everything that I’ve heard about it so far. The Oscars, being forward thinking as always, jumped at the chance to nominate David Oyelowo, who has been described by many to be the living embodiment of Dr. King.

Oh… He wasn’t nominated? Well, surely, the Academy jumped at the chance to nominate Ava DuVernay, the first black woman to be nominated for Best Director?

No? You’re gonna nominate the guy whose movie wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture?

…You people make me sick.

2. Lead Actor Shananigans

Yeah, I feel you, buddy.

This is just ridiculous. Jake Gyllenhaal and David Oyelowo being left off of the ballot is a damn disgrace. While I may end up eating my words when I do end up seeing Selma (I doubt it) I find it hard to believe that Steve Carell in a glorified Supporting Role (Admittedly, a great performance) or Bradley Cooper in his umpteenth consecutive nomination for a movie that is getting by on Clint Eastwood’s reputation, from what I’m hearing (I still need to see American Sniper) is topping somebody who has been called a present-day embodiment of one of the biggest heros this planet has ever seen.

And ditching Jake Gyllenhaal? Ridiculous. Fuck you, Academy. What the hell are you people thinking!?

1. Two “Best Picture” Slots Left Vacant

Look at that. Even the trophies don’t feel so good about this situation.

No, I don’t agree that accepting more movies dilutes the legitimacy of the ceremony. I think that even if a bad movie (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, for example)gets in, it’s not very likely to go anywhere when Judgement Day arrives, and that’s what really matters in the end. So when I booted up my laptop, I was so disappointed when neither Nightcrawler nor Gone Girl nor Dawn of the Planet of the Apes were nominated.

I thought I was gonna end with me guns-a-blazing, spewing vitriol, but I’m just too sad, honestly. The nominations are actually fine, mostly, it’s just that all the nominations, with the exception of Best Actor and Best Animated Film, are the safe choices, and I was also really hoping that maybe they could make some history with Ava DuVernay… I guess I’m just disappointed. Mostly pissed off, though.

Despite my whining, I’m still going to watch the Oscars in February, and I still plan on reviewing all the Best Picture nominees that I haven’t reviewed yet (What else am I going to do? Watch The Wedding Ringer?). I should have my Imitation Game review out within the next couple of days, and if I get through those relatively quick, I may review a few more of the nominated movies. You know, if I feel like it. Also, I have something special coming up that involves Batman, so keep an eye out for that.

Oh..Dark Knight was a movie that got snubbed… I’m depressed again.