Mobi’s Moscars (Part 4) – 18th January, 2015

Mobi’s Moscars (Part 4)

I’m writing three reviews this week, as I want to ensure I review at least all the ‘best picture’ nominations before the Oscar winners are announced on the 22nd February…

…and I want to announce my Mobi’s Moscar winners first….

I have to say that while I was somewhat out of step with the various award bodies last year, (with the nominations of such uninspiring, mediocre films as The Wolf on Wall Street and American Hustle), this year, things seem to have progressed from bad to worse.

Two films, which would not be on any list that I might put together are: “Birdman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” . Yet these two lead the field with nine Oscar nominations each, followed by “The Imitation Game” with eight.

I reviewed ‘Grand Budapest’ last week, and while by no means a dud, in my humble opinion, is nothing particularly special, is not very funny  and is undeserving of all the accolades it has received.

Today I will review Birdman, The imitation Game and Selma.

Birdman

I’m really sorry folks, but I found this movie a piece of self-indulgent nonsense made by a totally self-absorbed industry and reviewed by totally self-absorbed movie ‘insiders’, who think that the world at large are interested in their own egotistical torments.

I truly believe you have to be an industry insider to like this movie.

Why? – Because only an insider would care about a middle aged, superhero has-been, whose ego is huge that it is wonder his head doesn’t burst.

It is the tale of a thoroughly unpleasant, washed up comic-book superhero who tries to gain some respectability from his peers by a adapting a book into a play and then directing and starring in it on Broadway.

The man, played by Michael Keaton, is a thoroughly unlikeable , self-absorbed bore who treats his his family and friends and lover like trash. It leaves me wondering why anyone could possibly interested in what happens to him and feel any empathy for him.

I have felt more empathy for Hannibal Lecter than this piece of crap that passes for a human being. At least Lecter was crazy, ‘The Birdman’ is supposedly sane;  he’s not an alcoholic and he’s not a drug user. 

He’s just an egotistical dick-head, who never changes – there’s no miraculous conversion on his own particular road to Hell.

For some reason that totally escapes me the film has been labelled as a comedy, but trust me there is not one line of humour in the whole, boring effort, except maybe when he shoots his own nose off, instead of killing himself – pity he didn’t do the latter. Honestly, if anyone thinks that watching such a boor is funny, then alll I can say that they must have a very warped sense of humour.

I strongly suspect the truth is that it was labelled a ‘comedy’ so that it could be nominated in the Golden Globes Comedy and or Musical category – another piece of shameless movie-insider double-dealing.

(The insiders must have whispered: “My oh my, Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, and actor Michael Keaton have done this luverly ‘art-house movie’ – so let’s find a way to give them a gong or two, by pretending it’s funny…”)

On the plus side, the movie is well acted by all the leading protagonists, and I can’t fault the directing and cinematography.

Having said that, the professional  reviews are all raving about how the movie looks like it was shot in one long continuous take, and how that is so clever, because it wasn’t really done in one take and isn’t that even more clever! (pretending it is one take when it isn’t…)

Frankly I couldn’t give two hoots whether it was shot in one take or a thousand takes. Who cares? Only movie insiders.

As for the background music… the less said the better, but if I ever get hold of a gun and I meet up with the drummer who played that never-ending, mind numbing drum solo which lasts almost the whole length of the movie, I think I might shoot him.

I have never been a fan of drum solos – even when the they are played by the finest drummers in the world in the middle of a great music concert, but to have drum solos foisted on us as background ‘music’ to a highly annoying and boring film, I have to say is the final straw. It is a miracle that I succeeded in watching this piece of nonsense right through to the bitter end. (I had to, otherwise I couldn’t review it).

Unlike Grand Budapest Hotel,which was well liked by almost everyone, (except me), I didn’t have to look far to find quite a number of amateur reviewers who agree with me about Birdman. 

Headlines like:

 ‘Art’ vs. Commercial Success is the one-joke idea this overrated claptrap attempts to mine, ad infinitum’,

and: ‘Make it stop!’

and even the slightly kinder: ‘Excellent actors in search of a good story’

…all to me tell their own story… which has to be a better story than the story in Birdman.

*

The Imitation Game

Now this was a much better movie than Birdman and with the excellent Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role, it is a movie that aspires to movie greatness, but again, I’m sorry to say, that in my humble opinion, it falls  a bit short on a number of counts.

It is the story of the brilliant scientist/mathematician, Alan Turing who was the man who almost single-handedly cracked the enigma code machine in the second world war.

This remarkable feat is generally acknowledged to have shortened the war by at least two years and saved thousands upon thousands of lives.

It is also the story of a man who has been credited with the invention of the modern day computer.

It is also the story of the man who was a homosexual, and who was prosecuted for committing (what were then considered to be) ‘illegal’ acts, and who subjected himself to state administered chemical castration rather than spend time in jail.

It is also the story of a man who was treated so shabbily by the country who owed him so much that at the age of 39, he killed himself.

It is a difficult story to tell in a couple of hours – especially when we know nothing about the really exciting part – the details of what exactly led up to Turing breaking of the enigma code during the war.

We know he was hired to lead a team and he built and used a very primitive form of computer to break the code. More than that is still secret, or the records have long since been destroyed.

The film writers decided to write what they thought was a clever piece of fiction in which Turing was continually fighting his bully-boy bosses; that his resentful, fellow workers all thought he was an idiot; that he was wasting valuable funds, and was probably a Russian spy.

According to the film, he was  at constant at risk of being fired.

All the above is fiction

Indeed they would have us believe that that it was only after Turing wrote directly to Churchill that he was put in charge and granted the funds to build his computer. (Fiction again.)

It really is a load of tosh, and Charles Dance’s role as Turing’s ignorant, malevolent commanding Officer is so full of ‘cartoon-evil’, that for all the world, he comes across as a male manifestation of Creuella Deville.

One of the most outrageous fictitious storylines concerns Turing’s failure to report a Soviet spy to avoid himself being outed as gay. It is pure Hollywood invention, as are so many of the dramatic machinations that allegedly took place at Bletchley Park.

It is a pity, as although I really don’t like bio-pics unless they are very very good – this might have been an exception, but sadly it isn’t.

The film didn’t seem to know what it wanted to do – celebrate the genius of a man who shortened the war by two years and invented the computer, or show us how gays, even war heroes, were so appallingly treated  by the authorities in Britain back in the early 50’s.

I think it tries to do both, and falls a bit flat on both counts

It is still a very watch-able  entertaining movie, and Cumberbatch and Dance are always worth seeing – whatever they are in, as is the gorgeous Keira Knightley.

But I don’t think Benedict quite nailed the role – maybe he tried a little too hard. 10 out of 10 for effort but only a 7 /10 for the result.

He should not be up for best actor. Eddie Redmayne, as Stephen Hawking is much better.

And neither should the movie be up for best film – it just isn’t that good. Honestly – I’ve seen a couple of documentaries on Turing that are much better.

Incidentally, it is a fact that Churchill later acknowledged Turing’s massive contribution to the war effort, which shortened the war by at least two years, but no mention was made of the disgraceful way he was treated in the early 1950’s because he was gay.

Turing was recently pardoned by the then PM Gordon Brown for his ‘crime’ of being a practising homosexual, but isn’t it about time he was posthumously awarded a knighthood – after all he is one of Britain’s greatest ever heroes.

If the likes of Cliff Richard, Mick Jagger and Bruce Forsyth and Angelina Jolie  can become Knights and Dames of the Realm, sure Alan Turing is equally deserving?

*

Selma

At long last a movie worthy of Oscar nominations.  Yet it was totally ignored by the BAFTAS and only received two Golden Globes nominations, (neither of which it won), and only a single major Oscar nomination, but at least we can be grateful it was for ‘best movie’.

Of all the movies I have seen so far, Selma should win the ‘Best Movie’, hands down, as should Selma’s director, and lead actors in the best acting categories.

Selma is the story of a three month period in 1965 when Martin Luther King campaigned to secure equal voting rights for blacks by making an epic, non-violent, but ‘illegal’ march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

The movie is labelled a bio-pic – but is it really?

To me, a bio-pic tells the story of someone’s’ life – or least a good part of a person’s life. A three month period in someone’s life – however momentous, is more the story of a true event than the story of a life, which in the case of King’s life, included numerous other momentous events. But let’s not get hung up on semantics.

I was nineteen years old in 1965, and I still recall the event which was covered by the British media in great detail.

I believe that everyone from Britain and the United States who cares about this troubled world we live in today, should see Selma, as indeed they should see 12 years a Slave, last year’s Oscar winner.

Why?

Because we in Britain were prime participants in the abominable slave trade that brought millions of Africans to America in the first place, and because Americans can see how, within living memory, blacks were still being treated as inferior human beings and were still miss-treated, tortured and even killed with impunity…

We should keep this fact in the back our minds when we look at the horrors of the 21st Century, in Iraq, Nigeria and elsewhere. Not so long ago, we used to do some pretty inhuman things to our fellow human beings ourselves.

Maybe that knowledge will help us to understand that there always have been – and always will be – very evil people in this world who, if left to their own devices, will perpetrate unspeakable acts of violence to their fellow men.

The Nazis killed 6 million Jews  less than 90 years ago and the ‘killing fields’ of Biafra, Rwanda, Bosnia and so many more abominations have occurred in even more recent times.

Yes, we should do well do dwell on man’s inhumanity to man.

It seems incredible that during my own life time, blacks in America were regularly strung up and hanged by the Klu Klux Klan, that they were denied basic equal rights; such as being banned from  ‘white’ hotels, denied entrance to ‘white’ schools and, critically,  were denied the vote in many southern States.

Martin Luther King’s historic march from Selma to Montgomery was an event that was initially stopped in its tracks by ruthless state troopers. They did this by charging at the would-be marchers on horseback, by beating them mercilessly with clubs, and even shooting and killing them.

When, in its third attempt, the march finally succeeded in taking place, it was one of the 20th century’s most momentous and iconic happenings. It resulted in the then US President, Lyndon B Johnson, passing a bill that removed all voting barriers for blacks.

American readers may think that I only support movies with predominantly British cast, but nothing could be further from the truth. Selma was made by first time major film director, Ava DuVernay, a female, black American. She is clearly the major mover and inspiration for this film and what a wonderful job she has made of it.

As indeed does the British Actor David Oyelowo as King; as does British actor Carmen Ejogo as King’s wife; as does British actor Tom Wilkinson as LBJ; as does British actor Tim Roth as Governor George Wallace. All British, but all so American in their roles.

Why DuVernay didn’t cast Americans in these roles, I can only guess at, but it doesn’t really matter.

For me, not only should DuVernay be nominated for Best Director, but so should all the above listed actors in their respective acting categories. Tim Roth as George Wallace is a stunning revelation… trust me.

I am glad to see that the song ‘Glory’ is up for best song, as it is a soaring and inspirational melody – but even that was ignored by BAFTA.

Shame on the BAFTA and Oscar Academies! What is wrong with you? Surely this lack of nominations  isn’t  all about ‘race’ raising its ugly head again is it? I sincerely hope not.

I read somewhere that the Oscar academy was turned off Selma when the left leaning Democrats, (which comprise a majority of the voting academy), put it out that the film did not show one of their favourite  Democratic Presidents, LBJ, in a very flattering light.

Considering how Hollywood routinely twists real life events to suit their own ends, (Argo, a few years back and this year’s Imitation are big cases in point), this is utter hypocrisy on a grand scale. Never mind that the film is about one America’s all time heroes, ignore it because it casts a few aspersions on a long dead, white, Democratic President.

Well I guess many of these faded stars from yesteryear who make up the academy voters, are all as egotistical as the Birdman character. That’s why they love Birdman so much and dislike Selma. I reckon the only reason it was put up in the single category of best film was to avoid charges of being racist.

If you see only one movie in 2015, make it Selma – you will not be disappointed.

Also, do yourself a favour and click on the link below and listen to Glory.

Glory

It is the first rap song, (partially rap to be accurate), that I have ever really appreciated and enjoyed. Not only does the rap by ‘Common’ perfectly blend in with John Legend’s singing and music, but – wonder upon wonder – I can actually hear and understand the words! And I liked what I heard – what a song!

 

MAB mini pic

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