The Imitation Game

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What to say about it. As a film it kept its pace and it worked overall.

The most deeply-flawed representation of a character was Cumberbatch’s Alan Turing. He has to take the rap because the film was built around him. He is obviously capable – highly capable. But something went wrong.

I had high hopes when he first appeared – a highly-intelligent person who did not suffer fools gladly and who was a cruel and expert swordsman with his words.

When we first see him being interviewed for the job at Bletchley he is sardonic and cutting – and when we see him being interviewed by the police about the burglary at his house he is the same.

But at times at Bletchley he is bumbling and hesitant in a way that he is quite simply, another person.

Yes, I know, people have more than one side to them – but not these two sides.

The moment in the film that I knew it was falling apart was early on when the original code breakers were first together and The MI6 man (Mark Strong) makes a parting remark about leaving the children to play with their toys.

That was bad enough, but then when the boys are left and wonder what they should do, the then team leader (Matthew Goode) says ‘Let’s Play’, my heart sank.

So much for the human interactions. What made it worse was the poor attempt it made to show what went on at Bletchley.

For example, can it really be that no one had thought what they would do when they broke the code? Did no one think the obvious – that they couldn’t go around forestalling every German plan because they would tip their hand to the fact of the code having been broken?

And what was anyone to make of the redcap who tips a drawer-full of Turing’s papers onto the desk and then announces – ‘Nothing here Sir.’ – meaning that he hadn’t found the secret codes and tools of a Soviet spy. Oh come on!

I think Matthew Goode was weak because he didn’t carry the conviction that he was a code breaker. Nothing about him suggested it. Mark Strong as the MI6 man was good, given the parts he has played recently where he has hammed it up a bit too much. Kiera Knightley was a bit patchy, and best in the opening scenes.

I wonder what went on during the making of the film? Did someone come the heavy and force a change of direction? Did the director lose control or interest? There was a real wealth of possibility in this film but it didn’t use it.

Final word for wonderful acting from the young Alan Turing (Alex Lawther). I would give him an intelligent film in which to act and let him get on with it.

What Play Was That

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I’m trying to find out the name of a play that I saw on TV about two or three years ago in the UK.

It was a re-showing of a much older performance. The original may have been made for TV or it could have been a filmed performance of something that was originally a stage play.

The setting was a ‘civilised’ party with the hosts and with guests that arrived and interacted.

I would say it was set in the 1960s – in an apartment or house with contemporary furniture – an aspiring middle class setting.

It maybe had an American feel to it – like it was set in the USA – modern apartment – maybe not.

From memory, the whole play may have been silent – as in no spoken words – just gestures and expressions or perhaps the characters mouthed words.

We get to see into the psychology of the individuals – jealousy, fear, arrogance, disappointment – all of it under a veneer of civility.

The way people moved around in it, it was almost like a ballet – the whole thing was very styled and unnatural, yet insightful and realistic about the inner workings of how people interact.

It was almost balletic, very mannered – the way people turned and gestured and took their coats off and offered and accepted drinks – and through all that, the real inner cruelties, jealousies and disappointments were visible – attempted to be hidden but seen by us the audience – and sometimes by the other characters.

I asked what play was that, on Metafilter, but no one knew.

If you know the name of the play, let me know.