This month Simon watched a cosmic fantasy (allegedly based on fact), a disappointing - yet festive - children's sequel, and an historical drama featuring man-of-the-moment, Benedict Cumberbatch.
Rating 8/10 12A 169 mins
At some time in the near future, the earth will be unable to support human life because one by one the world’s staple crops have failed. The answer would appear to be in the stars, or that is the premise that lies behind Interstellar. Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway make an attractive leading couple in this story which has elements of George Clooney and Sandra Bullock’s Gravity as well as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Interstellar is based on science fact – allegedly – but there is also a strong element of fantasy. One of its strengths – but possibly also a weakness – is that it is difficult to pin down precisely what sort of film it is. The effects are terrific and there are some very tense moments, although there are also occasions when even a grown man might find that he has something in his eye.
Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?
Rating 5½/10 U 110 mins
The third film in the Nativity film in the series confirms the law of diminishing returns. Children are said to enjoy repetition and familiarity and so perhaps we should excuse a film that appears to be aimed at under-sevens for repeating the formula of the previous two films. Once again there is a new teacher – this time, it’s Martin Clunes – as well as the series regular, infantile teaching assistant, Mr Poppy (Marc Wootton). There is the usual in-house talent hunt and an inter-school singing competition. The new element is that Martin Clunes loses his memory shortly before his wedding and so is unable to remember his fiancée. One might think that explaining this to the poor woman would be the best option, but why spoil the plot with logic. This might appeal to an adult’s inner child, but otherwise this is strictly for small children. If you’re looking for a biblical theme in this film, it does have a donkey.
The Imitation Game
Rating 8½/10 12A 114 mins
Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is one of the fathers of the modern computer and he was involved in breaking the Axis Powers’ Enigma Code at Bletchley Park. He was also convicted of gross indecency and accepted chemical castration to avoid a prison sentence. The Imitation Game looks at three periods in his life – his childhood at Sherborne School, his recruitment and work at Bletchley Park during World War II and his conviction in the 1950s. Turing was clearly a brilliant man, but there has been some controversy regarding whether the film portrays his life accurately. However, those facts that are not disputed still leave us with a story of an emotionally-troubled genius whose life was cut short in strange circumstances. The Imitation Game is a fascinating film about a fascinating character and Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as Turing is likely to get a mention when the Oscar nominations are published early next year.