Quick Reviews! : The Imitation Game, Housebound, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and Old Joy

I’ve been busy getting ready for a move so I wasn’t able to give these films a dedicated full review. Here are some quick thoughts on each film.

If I didn’t see Selma this year, Benedict Cumberbatch would have been my lead performance of the year. He’s that good in it. You can tell how dedicated he is in portraying Alan Turing as graciously as he can and it showed. Sure Turing was a bit frustrating to work with, but the man was a genius and didn’t deserve to endure some of the hardships during the end of his life. Graham Moore, who charmed us all with his Oscar speech, deserved his moment in the spotlight after crafting an airtight and seemingly flawless screenplay. From the start to the finish the film runs effortlessly like one of Turing’s machine, turning and spinning on a heartbeat like rhythm. I can see why Morten Tyldum was nominated for an Oscar. This film is just so well put together. The score, the acting, the cinematography, and the writing are all free flowing and synchronized. The film reminded me a lot of A Beautiful Mind, both in subject matter and in storytelling. I didn’t really understand the Keira Knightley praise but it’s always nice to see Matthew Goode in stuff. I love watching him act. Good show.


New to Netflix, this New Zealand film from director Gerard Johnstone actually surprised me. I expected a serious horror film but what the film really excelled at was the sort of horror/humor that guys like Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson gave us early in their careers. The film centers around a brat of a woman who gets in trouble trying to steal an ATM and has to be under house arrest for nine months in the house she grew up in. Stuff starts to happen that you would normally find in a movie like this but then the film takes a sharp right turn. The result is funny, original, fun, and occasionally disgusting. Give it a try if you like movies like Dead Alive of Evil Dead.


This Studio Ghibli film was recently nominated for Best Foreign Language film at this years Oscars. This is for good reason. The film is gorgeous. What seems to be colored pencil from time to time, Princess Kaguya’s beautifully animated story tells the tale of a girl born from a bamboo stalk that grows as fast as the plants she grew out of. Obviously there is some magical realism here, but that nuance is why I love Studio Ghibli films. This one was directed by Grave of the Fireflies director Isao Takahata, and features his best animation to date. Every scene leaps off the page in a colorful albeit very subtle display of animation. The simple story didn’t wow me as much as Ghibi’s other films, but its the kind of story that you can just sit back on a rainy day, like I did, and just take it all in. The music was also fantastic.


This was a bit of a slow watch. I’m a fan of Kelly Reichardt. I thought “Wendy and Lucy” and “Meeks Cutoff” were wonderful examples of what you can do with still images and slow burn story telling. Night Moves was a bit of a disappointment but after seeing that Old Joy was on Netflix, I decided to check it out. I didn’t realize a movie that has a run length of only 73 minutes could drag so long. That isn’t to say that I didn’t like the film. It was just the opposite of entertaining. Instead, it was a film that featured two friends going on a camping trip where their past and present only ever so slightly hits the surface of what we can see. There is a lot going on in the background of their lives that we aren’t directly told. I enjoyed it for what it was but I don’t think everybody will like it. It’s literally a car ride and a camping trip. Nice to see NJ natives Yo La Tengo doing the film score though. That helped.


Film News!

HBO is developing a Westworld series with Jonah Nolan and JJ Abrams.

If you’re in a any way a sci-fi fan then you probably know how awesome Westworld is and if you don’t please go out and watch it because it’s fantastic. Yul Brenner plays a robot sheriff in an amusement park designed to simulate different places in time. I’m actually not surprised that Abrams has joined this collaboration because the man dips his hands in everything. I don’t understand how he does it really. The man must never sleep. The fact that it’s being backed by HBO is a great sign that we’re going to get a polished well put together series that should make any sci fi fan happy. Here’s a description of the show brought to us by Dealine who broke the news…

…a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.

That sounds awesome.

That is the awesome news. Now for the sad news…

Hayao Miyazaki will retire from feature film directing

This pains my heart. Miyazaki has made arguably five or six of the ten best animated films of all time. From what I’ve noticed from most people who aren’t fans of anime (which include myself) that most of his films still haven’t reached a big audience. Spirited Away, Howls Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, and Ponyo are some of the prettiest and moving animated films I’ve ever seen and it’s a sad day that we won’t be getting any more after his new film The Wind Rises hits theaters next year.

The announcement was made by the president of Studio Ghibli, Hoshino Koji, at the Venice Film Festival where The Wind Rises is in competition. This is taken with a grain of alt thought because the man has expressed interest in retiring before but has never been able to leave the craft he loves. I hope that even if he does, that he’ll still be able to contribute to films in some way even if he isn’t directing because that man’s mind is a valuable piece of Japanese film culture that really would be tragic to lose.

Look for The Wind Rises next year to see a master of cinema’s final work.