At The Movies, January 11th

I hope I didn’t have anything I was really supposed to do today, because whatever it was, I didn’t do it. But I did get a nice nap during the football game, so I’m ready to stay up and watch SpaceX’s Dragon get captured and berthed at ISS tonight. (NASA-TV coverage of the capture is 4:30 to 6:30 EST, the berthing is 8:15 to 9:30 EST)

We watched the Golden Globe awards tonight, more to get an idea of which movies we should be looking for than anything else. I could not possibly care less “who are you wearing,” what embarrassingly lame “comedy” bits the writers have come up with, or how obnoxious Ricky Gervais can be and still be allowed to be on camera.

The Long-Suffering Wife and I always try to see as many of the Oscar-nominated films as we can before the ceremony. We have our good years and bad, but the early awards (such as the Golden Globes) are a decent indicator of what’s likely to be under consideration.

And there was absolutely nothing else on except re-runs and reality television shows. I would have gone out to play, but it’s still be raining here most of the day. (Trying too hard to justify watching a lame, stupid show? OK…)

Of the two films that won the top awards, we’ve seen one, “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” It was fun, definitely “quirky,” definitely a Wes Anderson film. We enjoyed it, but I’m not sure it’s the best film we’ve seen this year. The other film, “Boyhood,” is on our hot list to see in our year-end push.

Over the weekend we went and saw two films, one of which made a ton of money and was fun, the other of which is absolutely spectacular and should win a ton of awards.

(I’ll try to avoid spoilers, as always.)

Interstellar” is a huge, beautiful, grand, visual, science fiction epic, the kind of thing that Christopher Nolan does so well. We both liked “Inception” a couple years ago, and I’m a huge fan of his dark and gritty Batman series. “Interstellar” didn’t disappoint. There were bits that were a bit confusing, even to someone who’s been a lifelong science fiction fan, but two days later I’m still thinking through some of the events and scenes and having those “a-ha!” moments.

At first I thought that the beginning was too drawn out and draggy, but by the end I could see why it had to be that way to lay the groundwork for what came later. There were also plenty of things that were very Hollywood-esque but total nonsense in real life. I’m not even talking about the exotic hyperdimensional physics that gets thrown around — most of that was at least “close enough for government work.”

But, for example, launching a tremendously huge freakin’ rocket out of a silo, which is in a building occupied by people, who happen to be walking by next to the rocket as it lifts? Potential script writers, a note for you. They don’t keep everyone two or three miles back from a rocket launch just in case it blows up. They keep everyone back because not only will the flame shooting out of the rocket roast anything for several hundred yards, but most dangerous of all is the acoustic energy being released. The sound of the launch. Stand  in front of a good home entertainment system and crank it up to eleven. Feel the noise physically pressing into your chest? Now multiply that by a billion or more. The energy in the sound waves will quite literally pulp you from the inside out.

But I digress.

Overall we liked the film and are now wondering if Nolan left himself room for a sequel. He did this, she did that, we still do know who did that other thing… Maybe if…

The truly spectacular film we saw was “The Imitation Game.” Run, do not walk, run to see this movie! The true story of Alan Turing and his work to break the German’s Enigma code during World War II, it is well told, well acted, a great suspense film, and in the end an absolute tear-jerker. If you know Turing’s story you’ll know why. If you don’t, the movie will grab you by the lapels and make you pay attention.

A side note — Charles Dance plays a key role in the film as the military head of the group trying to break Enigma. He was wonderful here, and he’s utterly fantastic in “Game Of Thrones” as Tywin Lannister. I remember him from “Alien³” (the least of the four “Alien” films – I am extremely fond of the others) as well as “The Last Action Hero” (a secret guilty pleasure film for me) and a couple of other roles listed on his IMDB page.

But I have one question – has the man ever been onscreen while smiling? I’m sure he’s a perfectly chipper and normal person in real life, but every role I have ever seen him in he is the most serious, humorless, staid, dreary, and grim character in the world!

So, to summarize, thumbs up on “Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Interstellar,” and a huge, rousing, go-see-it-immediately-if-not-sooner recommendation for “The Imitation Game.”

I no doubt will spout opinions of other films at you as we see them.

You have been warned.

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Filed under Entertainment, Movies, Science Fiction

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