Saturday, 21 February 2015

87th Academy Awards: My Picks (Ranked)

The 87th Academy Award nominations may be considered the most controversial this decade. Expected nominations lacking include The Lego Movie for Best Animated Feature, Nightcrawler for Best Feature and Best Actor, Selma in the Best Actor category and Gone Girl in pretty much every category. The disproportion of nominations for Selma is indeed puzzling and as usual, the Foreign Language Film category being as wide as is, can please no one.  

The ceremony, to be held on the 22nd of February, will mark the conclusion of the awards season. Below are my preferences for each category. 

Note: Unfortunately, a number of nominated documentaries, animated features and foreign films have not yet been released in Australia.  I also failed to see Unbroken, Inherent Vice (released next month) and The Judge. (Although I did suffer through Into the Woods for the stylistic categories)

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

P.S. The Imitation Game

The mundane, crowd-pleasing The Imitation Game is at best a well-organised, cliché-ridden feature, every narrative turn expected and each actor, playing caricatures rather than characters. The feature boasts a nuanced basis story, compelling events of military endeavours and stratagem, the secrets of a genius cryptologist, Alan Turing, prosecuted for his sexuality, and of course, his revolutionary method of decryption. But these elements are underplayed and the insignificant, petty emotional strings are pulled far too often. The film manages to diminish a complex, brilliant man down to a mere stereotype genius. What The Imitation Game presents is not a real person, hardened by discrimination and exclusion, layered, real and shaped by forward vision and intellect in a backward society. The Alan Turing of the feature is a grossly oversimplified being, capable of being digested in one phrase: a  socially-inept, well-meaning polymath. The Imitation Game is no more than lazy, unsatisfying filmmaking disguised as a refined biopic by enlisting Britain's finest actors and adding some dull, pseudo-intellectual dialogue. Cumberbatch prevails as the feature's single redeeming features (as well as the more than competent score by Alexandre Desplat) even Kiera Knightley falters in her role, perhaps due to the lack of inspiration supplied by her thin, prosaic character. The Imitation Game is a formulaic, substandard piece, positioned as a big red dart aimed straight for the Oscars, utterly forgettable and actually infuriating in its lack of insight and wasted potential. 


Saturday, 7 February 2015


In the realm of modern cinema, the gritty and unembellished, the ugly and brutal belong in the milieu of Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. His "death trilogy" (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel) is a study of tragedy, citing lost, wasted and harried love as its aggressors and exposing the debilitating grief which follows. Hence, his latest entry into the Oscar race may come as a thing of surprise. Birdman, whilst not so far removed from his usual angle of the unromanced and diselusioned, is an entirely novel form of realism. The characters of Birdman are complex, cynical creatures yet idealistically hopeful, the assurance of "it'll be fine" lingering blackly over their trained lips. The ambitious feature is also both a notable comedic effort, the dark humour casual yet indisputably clever, and a technical marvel, the entire flick filmed of one fluid, unbroken shot. A spirited creation to add to a resume of primarily dark works, Birdman is the perfect example of a director being rewarded for taking risks in his work and reaching for elements outside of his expected capacity. Birdman is that rare combination of both escapism and insight - whatever type of movie-going experience you desire, Birdman will fulfil it.  

Captured in seemingly, a singular shot, Birdman tells of former iconic movie superhero Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton), who is attempting to stage a return to performance art via writing, directing and starring in his own Broadway production. The days leading up to the opening night of the show is nothing short of a mad struggle as his lead actor is injured and his neurotic, egomaniac of a replacement, Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), proves to be more of a challenge than a talent or saviour. His cynical fresh-out-of-rehab daughter, Sam (Emma Stone) offers up little help as his production assistant and notorious New York Times critic,  Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan), has already blacklisted the show, even before the curtains are drawn on opening night.