6 March 2015
Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Glagow Film Festival
Ayako Fujitani, Pepe Serna, Kazuki Kitamura,
One night, after hitting an unidentified Japanese man with his car, Sherriff Del Moral (Pepe Serna) stumbles on a mysterious case that leads him to San Francisco. There, author Aki Akahori (Ayako Fujitani) has fled Tokyo and after enjoying a brief fling with a mysterious stranger, is thrust into the very same case. Dave Boyle’s Man from Reno keeps threatening to be a dark (at least consistently serious) film pulling on film noir inspirations and pulp paperback detective stories, but it never quite gets there.
The humour is off, sometimes far too dry, others far too silly, considering the story, but then, there’s another issue. The story, in attempts to achieve the kind of ludicrous twisting narrative of the noir thriller, loses itself too many times. It delves in deeper and deeper but doesn’t manage to drag us with any great zeal. Though, one of the most interesting things about Man from Reno is its array of zany multinational characters who, though sometimes jarring, are often enjoyable. Unfortunately its array of strange characters are left in a pile somewhere out of sight, its story hopelessly convoluted and confused by too many characters and not enough intrigue. There is some success in Kazuki Kitamura’s portrayal of a handsome stranger and Serna’s wily old cop, but even when those two characters eventually meet, it’s unfortunately underwhelming.
The humour along with the mix of genre templates is surprisingly uninvolving. The darker streaks work best when married with a significant amount of mystery, but the humour inevitably sinks the boat. Del Moral’s investigation really pulls you in, but is thrown overboard by a middling and distracted story of author melodrama. This is a mixed pot that’s trying far too hard to achieve a type of story usually marked by shameless nonchalance.
Moments of gorgeous noir cinematography are few and far between in the glorified melodrama of Man from Reno. Viewers will be split by which side of the plot they enjoy more, but as a whole this isnt quite there.
5 March 2015
Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Mark Strong, Matthew Goode
Release: 9th March 2015
Buy:The Imitation Game [Blu-ray]
The Imitation Game, as everyone probably knows at this point, is about Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) who was one of the radical figures in the creation of what we now know as the computer. He was also homosexual, and was convicted by the police as a result. Due to being forced to undertake chemical castration, he later committed suicide. The film was an early front runner for the Academy Awards and ended up being triumphant in the adapted screenplay category.
In The Imitation Game, Benedict Cumberbatch has never been better; he perfectly captures a driven man who has ideas too large for his time. He also manages to capture the paranoia Turing suffers after the war, specifically in the scenes where he is interrogated, which eventually leads to his downfall. Keira Knightley plays Joan Clarke who was one of the code breakers but had to operate in secret because of the sexism of the time. The rest of the cast is full of solid British actors like Mark Strong and Matthew Goode.
The production design is top notch by Maria Djurkovic who also did Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (which also shared some of the same cast). Both have an attention to period detail that is sorely lacking in many films. Oscar Faura shot it and he has been doing beautiful work for a long with films like The Orphanage and The Machinist and this no exception. Finally the director Morten Tyldum solidly puts it all together, even if at times it seems as though it’s begging for an Academy Award.
The film works on many levels; it’s firstly a nail-biting thriller that is gripping from the moment it starts to it’s sad climax, but it also works as a solid war film that shows the behind the scenes of what really won the war. Not only that, but it also works as a depiction of a time when being yourself could lead to prison, or in the case of Turing, even worse. The film is actually surprisingly funny throughout which is surprising given the subject matter, but Turing's interactions with high officials and his team of code breakers are laugh out loud funny as times. The Imitation Game is one of the better British films to be released in 2014, in a year where there were a surprising amount of British films up for the major awards in the US.
The Blu-ray release includes 3 features including 2 on the true history of the story, and finally the more standard making of.