Black Mass Makes the Gangster Film Boring

It’s pretty hard to go about making a film about Whitey Bulger, because how do you make it not like every other sub-Scorsese, heated-up-bullshit gangster movie? All the basic elements of the Whitey Bulger story – corrupt feds, brother on the other side of the law, paranoiac crime lord – are well-worn clichés in the…

The Theory of Everything (2014)

Stephen Hawking is the perfect movie subject. He’s a world-famous physicist. He’s charming and funny. And he defied the odds to turn his motor neurone disease diagnosis – and the accompanying average life expectancy of two years – into fifty years of success. That probably explains why The Theory of Everything is, by my count,…

Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game (2014)

The Imitation Game (2014)

The title of The Imitation Game refers to Alan Turing’s method of determining whether a machine is capable of demonstrating human intelligence – more commonly referred to as “the Turing test.” Turing’s achievements go far beyond a simple artificial intelligence experiment, and those achievements are chronicled in this biopic from Norwegian director Mortem Tyldum. The…

Timothy Spall in Mr Turner (2014)

British Film Festival 2014

November last year introduced the inaugural British Film Festival, a breath of fresh air in an increasingly stale slate of nation-centric film festivals. It’s not that I don’t have a lot of respect for local festivals like the Italian, Israeli, French etc festivals – I only saw one of my favourite films of the year…

12 Years a Slave adaptation

Source Material: 12 Years a Slave as an Adaptation

Solomon Northup’s autobiography, Twelve Years a Slave, was a bestseller in its own time, but like many others I’d never heard of this account of Northup’s gruelling ordeal in slavery until it was adapted into Steve McQueen’s masterpiece 12 Years a Slave. (McQueen’s film is actually the second adaptation of the book – television movie…