MVFF Spotlights #3: The Imitation Game/Foxcatcher

by Chad Liffmann on October 13, 2014

The 37th Mill Valley Film Festival wrapped up last night.  The Festival screened some of this fall’s most hotly anticipated pictures: Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, and many more.  We gave you a look at some of the festival’s lesser known independent films, now here’s a quick look at a few of the hot titles (and Oscar bait) coming out this fall.  For full festival photos and information, visit: http://mvff.com.

The Imitation Game
(US/UK 2014, 113 min; English)

Cumberbatch cracks the code.

Cumberbatch cracks the code.

The Imitation Game is a return to the traditional period bio-dramas of yesteryear (you know, like A Beautiful Mind).  It tells the story of Alan Turing, the British mathematician who cracked the German Enigma c0de during World War II, thus introducing the world to computer science while having a large impact on helping the Allied forces win the war, and who was also subsequently arrested after the war for being a homosexual.  Everything about the film is rock solid, from the stalwart acting, led by a fantastic Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, to the film’s music and set design.  While many movies, dramas in particular, flounder under the weight of forced contrivances, The Imitation Game embraces and utilizes them to an entertaining degree.  We’re right there cracking the code alongside Turing in this old-fashioned period drama.

Foxcatcher
(US 2014, 133 min; English)

Words exchanged and fates intertwined in this bizarre true tale.

Words exchanged and fates intertwined in this bizarre true crime tale.

If you don’t know the true crime story of aristocrat John du Pont and olympic gold medalist wrestler Dave Schultz, then Foxcatcher will feel like a psychological slow burn, a meditative ushering toward impending doom.  If you do know the story, Foxcatcher will feel the same.  Director Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball) has crafted a slow but powerful true crime thriller, capturing the eeriness of du Pont’s involvement in Team Foxcatcher, and especially his relationship to the Schultz brothers, the wrestling pair training for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea.  Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum deliver career-changing (and Oscar worthy) performances, with an amazingly nuanced supporting effort by Mark Ruffalo.  Foxcatcher is about the drive for success, hierarchical tension, and familial expectations, as told through the lens of a creepy, bizarre story with a shocking finale.

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