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Caution: this is a relatively long post reviewing two movies…  You’ve been warned.
Today’s reviews are re-watches from my childhood:  “Tribes” (1970) and “The D.I.” (1957).  Both are movies about being in Marine Corps Boot Camp.  “The D.I.” was released when I was two years old, so I obviously never saw it on original release, but I remember seeing it in my early teens.  “Tribes” I saw on its original TV broadcast.  I recently discovered / watched both movies on YouTube.
The D.I.” — movie review
If you’ve ever wondered what “Dragnet” would look like if it were turned into Marine Corps Boot Camp, this is the movie for you.  The movie stars Jack Webb (who also produced and directed the film) as Sergeant Jim Moore who is a Drill Instructor (“D.I.”) at Paris Island.  His job is to turn civilians into Marines and he has a problem in the person of Private Owens (played by Don Dubbins).  Whenever Owens feels he’s under pressure, he quits / gives up.  The company Captain (Lin McCarthy) feels Moore is getting soft and orders Moore to bring Owens around or get rid of him.
There are (of course) side issues:  one – Moore is falling for a shop clerk (Jackie Loughery) named “Annie”, which is wrecking his “tough-guy” Marine self-image;  and, two – Owens’ mother (Monica Lewis) appeals to Moore that she coddled Owens and she lost her husband (in WWII) and her two older sons (in Korea).  She wants Moore to make her son into a Marine or he won’t be able to live with himself.
This movie is shot in black and white and it is fairly dark.  I guess as a nod to realism, the movie has a scene with Moore and Annie which (shockingly) edges very close to date rape.  It doesn’t happen, but I was surprised it was even implied in a movie from that period.  Incidentally, in real life, Loughery married Webb the following year (1958).  Despite this being a “Webb” movie (“Just the facts, Ma’am…”), from the 50’s, it is also a happily ever after ending movie – for the Private / mom and the Sergeant / clerk.  Who woulda guessed?
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  Viewed as a “Webb” production, this is a classic.  As a period piece, I would say it’s still pretty much a classic.  This movie was my first introduction to the concept of “Basic Training / Boot Camp”, and I remember it had a fairly strong effect on my impressionable mind.  Don’t get me wrong, this movie is not a cinematic “classic” and it’s really only a fair movie, but, in watching it, it reminded me of the simpler times of my childhood when things did seem more “black-and-white”.
Tribes” — movie review
Tribes” is not strictly speaking a “real” movie.  Back in the 1970’s, one of the main TV networks (ABC) used to run what it called the: “ABC Movie of the Week“.  Some of the ninety minute movies were pretty good and some even became TV series in their own right.
Tribes” is a movie about a free-spirited (that’s “hippie”) individual who joins the Marine Corps and who has to go to (and survive) Boot Camp.  It stars Jan-Michael Vincent as the free-spirited Private Adrian, Darren McGavin as Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Drake, and Earl Holliman as Chief Drill Instructor (and Drake’s boss) Master Sergeant Frank DePayster.
The movie always seemed to me to be a message about the changing times of the 1960’s / 1970’s in America.  You’ve got two straight-arrow Marine lifers, but one has a streak of decency and the other does not.  Ultimately, the leadership abilities of the young recruit pushes not only his platoon to excel, but also to win over the D.I. nominally there to break his individuality and “turn him into” a Marine who will follow orders.
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  I was very surprised how much of this movie I could recall after nearly 50 years from my first (and only) viewing.  LoL – this movie also introduced me to meditation / alternative states of consciousness and boxers vs briefs.
I am very biased towards this movie as it had a personal effect on me when I was in Basic Training for the Army four years later.  When I was learning to fire the M16, I asked my Drill Sergeant why we used “human” silhouettes instead of “bulls-eye” targets, he replied, “because we want you to learn to shoot at people.”  He went on to explain Fort Ord (where I had my Basic Training) had the highest casualty and injury statistics of any of the training facilities which sent soldiers to Vietnam.  It was determined this was because “West Coast” city boys didn’t shoot at other humans instinctively.  Using silhouettes, trained them to shoot as a reaction instead of pausing to take aim.  Fortunately, I never had to put this to the test…
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On This Day In:
2018 Being President Doesn’t Make You Presidential
Day 27: 4 Weeks / 55lbs
2017 I’m Seeing It, Too
2016 Personal Decisions
2015 Verbal Fluency
2014 Familiar
2013 Unbending
2012 Simple Sayings
2011 Wupped Again?
2010 3 and 1…
Musical Notes…
Doubt Tries…
Northwest Passages – Evening Two
The Beierly’s Web Site
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Goodbye, Mr. Chips”  (1939)  —  movie review
Haec olim meminisse iuvabit.
  —  Virgil
From the “Aeneid
(Translated:  “Someday, perhaps, it will be delightful to remember even this.”)
Today’s review is for the black and white classic from 1939: “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” starring Robert Donat in his Best Actor Oscar winning performance as Mr. Arthur Chipping a classics (“Latin and Greek”) subject master (instructor) at a British boarding school.  The movie was up for six other Oscars but was mightily steamrolled by “Gone With The Wind” (GWTW).  Greer Garson plays his wife Katherine Chipping and Garson was nominated for best Actress.  (She lost to Vivien Leigh in GWTW, steamroll remember.)
Anyway, at the start of the film, an elderly Chipping falls asleep in front of a fireplace and dreams of his life (68 years teaching at an all-boys “public” school).  The memories trace his rough start at the school; his early years of struggle in the profession; his falling in love and brief marriage which results in his personal and professional blossoming; and, then the long years where he becomes a virtual institution at the school.  His longevity provides him the opportunity to teach multiple generations of young boys / men from the same families.  From our perspective, we see him age (and grow) as a teacher and as a man.
Although this movie only garnered one Oscar, it is a “CLASSIC” in every sense of the word.  It addresses friendship, loyalty, romance, shyness, love, loss, education standards, and last, but not least, the inherent value of morals, of commitment and of perseverance.
Final recommendation: very highest!  This is a movie everybody should see (and almost all will enjoy).  It is definitely among the top ten of my all-time favorite movies.
The quote from Virgil (above) is from the movie.  It is the line Chips relates in his retirement ceremony before the assembled school.
As a side note: This story (along with “Pride & Prejudice“) is one of my favorites in all of cinema.  There are several other versions / adaptations of the original book (1934 — reviewed here), which include a musical version (1969 — reviewed here) starring Peter O’Toole and Petula Clark, a BBC version (2002) starring Martin Clunes as Chips, and an earlier BBC version (1984) starring Roy Marsden as Chips.  The book review, linked above, is the same link for the BBC versions.  All four (book and three adaptations) were reviewed in posts by me back in February, earlier this year.
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On This Day In:
2018 Still Blogging
2017 Reliable Vision
2016 Still Walking
2015 Steps
2014 To Be Greatly Good
2013 Limited Capacity
2012 Two Ear Ticklers
Justification
2011 To Avail The Nation

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The Meg” (2018) — movie review
The Meg” is basically a “Jaws” remake / update starring Jason Statham as Jonas Taylor.  It’s a science-fiction / action movie.  There are, of course, a bunch of other actors in the film, but the movie is really about Statham killing a big fish.  Unlike “Jaws“, where the other two main actors contributed to the story line, these folks are just chum or wanna-be chum.
A supposedly extinct “shark” (technically a “Megalodon”) gets free from its entrapped environment and kills some scientists.  Taylor escapes the attack and wallows in survivor guilt.  Shark / Meg starts attacking other people.  Taylor gets a call for help.  “No, no, no.  Okay, I’ll help.”  (Not the actual dialogue, but close enough…)
Shark / Meg continues to attack ships, people, whales, beaches, small dogs, more people.  Blah, blah, blah.  Taylor kills shark / Meg.  And they all lived happily ever after.
Is the movie any good as a “Jaws” remake?  Is it any good on its own?  No and yes.  Statham is okay in the lead role.  It’s not great acting, but it is serviceable.  The action scenes / special effects are ok to very good, but like most of these “larger-than-life” monster movies, the director / producers don’t quite settle on the size of the monster.   This is acceptable because it is so common.  Heck, even the original “Jaws” suffered from this problem.  For me, even though the updated effects were good, the movie lacked tension and really felt like it was just going through the motions for those who were too young to have seen the original.
Final recommendation: moderate to almost strong.  The action is ok.  The acting is ok.  The effects are ok to good.  The movie is what it is: “OK”.  The movie just flat out lacked the pizzazz / suspense of the original.  If you are going to watch this movie, view the original first.  It won’t detract from this version and you’ll get a grounding in understanding that better technology doesn’t always make a better movie (remake).  The movie is rated about a 4.5 on RottenTomatoes.com, which I think is probably a bit low.
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On This Day In:
2018 Hoping For A Blue Wave In November
2017 Garden Dreaming
2016 Well, Maybe Not “No” Talent
2015 An Appetite For Life
A Trip To The Library
Great Expectations
2014 Pass The Soul
2013 Zapping Music And Art
2012 Not Quite Fantastic
That Kid Is Back
2011 Wolves At The Door
2010 I’m Feeling Patriotic… (Well, more than usual, anyway.)
Beating the Heat…

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Z For Zachariah (2015)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the post-apocalyptic survival movie “Z For Zachariah” starring Margot Robbie as Ann Burden (the farm girl), Chiwetel Ejiofor as John Loomis (the scientist), and Chris Pine as Caleb (the country boy).
The basic setup is “something” happens to the world and it becomes a radioactive waste.  It’s implied this is due to an exchange of nuclear weapons, but I don’t remember it being precisely stated.  Anyway, the movie starts with the farm girl being all alone.  It appears she has been alone for at least a full year, as she relates surviving a winter.  A scientist enters the frame.  He has managed to survive because he has a suit, drugs and a small, portable shelter.  However, he falls ill from exposure to radioactive water. The girl nurses him back to health.
Despite her encouragement, he resists becoming intimate with her.  He appears to have memories of happier times with an African-American female, but her status is unknown.  Eventually, loneliness overcomes hesitancy and the two become intimate.
After some period of time, another man (Pine / the country boy) appears on the scene.  There is no real explanation for his survival because he lacks the suit, drugs or shelter of the scientist, but whatever…
Slowly, the three begin trusting each other and working together.  Ejiofor / the scientist continues to have bad feelings about intimacy with a white female and “gives” permission to the country boy to become intimate with Robbie / the farm girl.  One night, the scientist gets drunk and passes out.  The farm girl and the country boy engage in sex.
The following day, the “social” dynamic has changed and conflict seems inevitable.  The two men continue working together.  One day, the country boy places himself in a hazardous situation.  The scientist saves the country boy, but at the very instant of safety, the two men lock eyes.
The scene shifts back to the farmhouse and the scientist is again alone with the farm girl.  He tells her the country boy has decided to move on.  The movie ends with no resolution of whether or not the country boy was killed and / or if two remaining survivors reestablish their relationship.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  I like all three actors in most of the other roles I’ve seen them in – Pine less than Robbie or Ejiofor, and this film is no exception.  The movie is interesting as a character study of the three “types”, but it didn’t really seem to have a direction which engaged me or made me want to root for any of the actors.  As such, despite it being beautifully filmed and reasonably well acted, I was left with feeling piqued but not fully entertained.  Hence, my recommendation is more “moderate” than “strong”.
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On This Day In:
2018 Sounds Like #45’s White House
2017 Have We Started Winning Yet?
2016 Still Springy
2015 Well Concealed
2014 The History Of Warriors
2013 A Cult Of Ignorance
2012 Counting Valor
Understanding Faith
2011 I Can Hear You Now
2010 Inception

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Continuing in my pursuit of viewing all things “Pride & Prejudice“, I offer two more tangential movie reviews: “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” and “Austenland” and a third made for TV series: “Lost in Austen“.  The reviews are in the order I watched them, not in preference or year of release.  Because this post covers three “films”, it will be considerably longer than normal.  Feel free to skip it and come back another time if you’re not “into” P&P.
Lost in Austen” (2008) – TV Series 4 part on YouTube
This is a four part TV mini-series for a privately owned (not-BBC) channel in England called ITV.  The movie is a rom-com adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice” book, but is really kind of a “Back to the Future” (back to reality?) feel.  Basically, the lead (Amanda Price, played by Jemima Rooper) is so in love with the book, she stumbles into it through a portal in her bathroom.  She retains all of her knowledge of the book and Elizabeth Bennet (played by Gemma Arterton) “replaces” her in our time.  Basically, what happens in a romance story if you know all the story but as soon as you join the story, the story is irrevocably altered.  Mostly, comedy (and romance) ensues.
The rest of the main characters are: Elliot Cowan as Fitzwilliam Darcy, Tom Mison as Mr Bingley, Morven Christie as Jane Bennet, Tom Riley as George Wickham, Hugh Bonneville as Mr. Claude Bennet, and Alex Kingston as Mrs. Bennet.
Once you know the premise, the TV-series is 70-80% predictable.  Given that, I still enjoyed it.  Rooper is not brilliant, but she carries the load and does it more than adequately.  Cowan is not “my” idea of Mr. Darcy, but he’s not bad.  Strike that.  He is better than most.  He is stern and formal without being Hollywood handsome.  And then he comes out of the pond…  LoL!  Adequate is true with the rest of the cast with the exception of Bonneville.  For whatever reason (mostly “Downton Abbey“, I think), I really like him as an actor and I thought he is very good as Mr. Bennet adding depth which is not always in some of the other portrayals in other versions of P&P.
The series uses the characters from P&P and kind-of follows the novel’s plot, but has (and ends with) significant variance.  Final recommendation: strong.  If you are a “P&P” fan, I think you’ll enjoy this series as an addition / alternate universe to Austen’s P&P.  If not, it is at least tolerable as rom-coms go.  I found it better than “tolerable”, but that may just be my taste.  If you are not a “P&P” or rom-com fan, why are you even bothering to read this review? (Just kidding…)
I watched this on YouTube for free and I would definitely consider buying it if it ever came out in my price range ($5).  Each episode is about 40-45 minutes, so you are looking at almost three hours of viewing commitment.
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” (2016)
I know that “everything” goes better with Zombies these days, but I really didn’t know what to expect before viewing this version of P&P.  I need to preface this review with a comment: I am not a horror or slasher film watcher.  Mostly, I find them repetitive, boring, or offensive. I stopped watching them about 1977 or so.  I very occasionally will touch base with one if it becomes a “societal” touchstone, but even then, it’s rare.  I have never seen a Jason, 13th, Halloween, Hellraiser, Saw or any of those series.  I have seen and do like some of the classics: “Wolfman“, “Psycho“, “Jaws“, etc and I also enjoy “monster / SciFi” films: “Predator“, “Alien“, “The Birds“.  I’m not sure why I like some and not others. I guess it’s just me.
Anyway, this is actually a rom-slash / martial arts / action film.  It is a “take-off” on P&P, so I thought I’d give it a chance.
Lily James plays Elizabeth Bennet, Sam Riley plays Mr. Darcy, Lena Headey plays Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Matt Smith plays Mr. Collins, Jack Huston plays Mr. Wickham and Charles Dance plays Mr. Bennet.  I like Lily James and love Lena Heady.  James makes a surprisingly good martial artist actor.  I don’t know how much is actually James doing the fighting, but “her” portions looked great.  Headey plays her typically serious role, even when it’s in a ridiculous role, like this one.  (I love the eye-patch.)  Dr. Who, I mean Matt Smith is outstanding as the incompetent and obsequious Collins.  Riley is handsome and gallant enough as Darcy, but seems (to me) a bit too young (and movie handsome, not really ruggedly handsome).  He looks like he should be in a boy band instead of on a parapet killing zombies.  And, finally, I liked Dance as Mr. Bennet.  I haven’t cared for him as much in other roles (GOT and “The Imitation Game“), but I thought he fit in this role.
Between the two threads, P&P and the zombies, this movie is 90% predictable.  The 10% which was unpredictable was whether James, Headly and the other ladies could pull off the martial arts scenes.  They do and quite well, too!
As a P&P fan, my final recommendation is moderate to strong.  I liked the sets, the costumes and the martial art set pieces.  I enjoyed this movie as a different “parody / take” on P&P even though I didn’t care for any of the zombie portions of the film.  They were merely action figures inserted to give the main characters moving targets to slice and dice.  I watched this on my “On Demand” TV service.  I’m not sure if I enjoyed it enough to actually buy a copy if ever comes in to my price point (yeah, still $5).  Despite James and Headey, I’m not sure I’d pay for this P&P theme movie.  And the movie ends as a setup to a sequel (which I will probably miss).
Austenland (2013)
This movie is supposed to be a “rom-com” about a late-20’s young lady who visits a theme park dedicated to re-enacting Jane Austen period life, social settings and romance.  The problem is while there is romance, there is almost no comedy.
So, who’s in this movie? It stars Keri Russell as Jane Hayes (the Austen fanatic), J.J. Feild as Henry Nobley (kind of a Mr. Darcy who looks vaguely like Tom Hiddleston), Bret McKenzie as Martin (the love interest for Russell’s character in the park), Jennifer Coolidge as Miss Elizabeth Charming (I thinks she was meant to be the comedic character, but she is an offensive “rich, unread, ugly American” instead – but with a kind heart), Georgia King as Lady Amelia Heartwright (another offensive rich guest – also American), and Jane Seymour as Mrs. Wattlesbrook (the proprietor of the resort).  There are also a number of other characters who aren’t really worth bothering to mention.
Russell is a “girl-next-door” version of Michelle Pfeiffer.  To be honest, I thought Russell might be Pfeiffer’s daughter or much younger sister.  She is the second best thing in this movie.  Feild is the first.  He makes both an interesting Nobly (Mr. Darcy) and a likeable history teacher.  The only other “interesting” actor was Seymour playing a manipulative park director.  The camera (or director or makeup crew) was not kind to her in this film.  She looks old in her closeups – much more than the early 60’s she would have been when this was filmed / released.  And not, evil / craggy / old – just old.  Like I said, “interesting”.
Final recommendation: moderate (at best). I did like Russell and Feild and thought there was pretty good chemistry between them.  So, “rom” is the limit of this rom-com.  As a P&P fan, at least I can say I gave it a shot and watched it.
Thanks to any of you who made it all the way through this post / these reviews…
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On This Day In:
2018 Dead Red
You Ain’t Done Yet
2017 Just Because
2016 As Close As They Can Get
2015 And So I Blog
2014 Take Flight
2013 Contributing Joy
2012 More Than A Race
2011 Institutionalized Leadership

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Just Friends” (2005) — movie review
Today’s review is for the “Christmas” rom-com, “Just Friends” staring Ryan Reynolds as Chris Brander and Amy Smart as Jamie Palamino – the two love interests.  Other actors of note are Anna Faris, Chris Klein, Chris Marquette as Mike Brander (Ryan / Chris’ younger brother) and Julie Hagerty as Carol Brander (Ryan / Chris’ mother).  In full disclosure mode: I thought this movie starred Reynolds and Kate Hudson.  I didn’t read the promo and I was expecting Hudson for the first ten minutes.  So, she (Hudson) never shows up and instead we get Smart who is (to me) more of a “Hallmark Movie” / girl next door rom-com female lead.  In absolutely full honestly, this whole movie seems like the production value of a Hallmark Movie — not BAD, but not really good, either.
The movie revolves around the idea of if / whether two lifelong childhood friends (a beautiful girl and an overweight nerd), who separate for ten years after high school can meet again and become more than “just friends“.  The movie opens with a high school graduation party and Chris awkwardly declaring his “love” for Jamie.  Embarrassed by all the other teens at the party, Chris vows to leave town and make something of himself.  The obvious problem with this opening is getting two actors in their late 20’s (I’d guess 28 or 29) to play kids of 18.  Even in a “fat-suit”, Reynolds doesn’t look like a teen.  He also doesn’t look fat.  And, putting Smart in a cheer-leading outfit doesn’t make her look young, either.
We flash-forward ten years and Chris is in California, has lost a bunch of weight and has become a famous music producer / agent / publicist.  (I wasn’t exactly clear what he did.)  Through the stupidity of his current client (Anna Faris) he ends up back near his home town and stuck because she has set fire to the jet they were traveling in.  This is just before Christmas, so Chris decides to take his client to his parents home while the repairs get done.  (Okay, so it’s a stretch…)  And, then we get to meet his ditzy mom, played by Julie Hagerty.  My first reaction was: “Wow! It’s the flight attendant from ‘Airplane’!”  We also get to meet little brother: Mike.  Mike happens to be a mad-fan of the client, with her posters and magazine pictures lining his bedroom walls.  Mike and Chris have a “typecast” brothers-always-fight-and-slag-each-other thing going on.
Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention Chris’ response to the party is reflected in LA where he is a cad with women, a jerk around co-workers and for some unknown reason, a hockey star in an amateur / friendly league.  It’s only “unknown” at the time, this becomes a plot device a few minutes later in the film.  Actually, the entire movie is a series of plot devices which are introduced from left field and which then become a part of a (and sometimes two) major scene(s) later in the film.
Anyway, the two friends meet again and “suddenly” Jamie is attracted to Chris.  They agree to a lunch date – cause opposite-sex friends “do” lunch; potential lovers “do” dinner dates.  Which leads to a kids hockey game; which leads to an accident; which leads to the competing love interest (Chris Klein) – who happens to be an EMT.  So, blah, blah, blah…  Chris and Jamie admit their love for each other and happily ever after.
And, that’s about it.  From start to finish almost nothing is predictable.  What?  But, didn’t you just say…?
Okay.  This is a “rom-com” so almost everything is going to be predictable.  And, it ALL is.  The kicker is that it is actually entirely predictable, but still funny.  In a strange, bad acting, bad writing, crappy props foreshadowing kind of way, the movie works and it IS funny.  Not side-splitting, lose your breath funny, but just dumb enough or silly enough to prompt a smile, a chuckle or a snort / short belly-laugh funny.
Final recommendation: medium. This is more of a com-rom than a rom-com, but that’s okay.  Actually, I’m pretty sure, I prefer it that way.  The movie ends with Reynolds doing a closing credits song / lip-sync.  I guess this closing credits scene is kind of his “thing” as he also did it in “The Proposal” and his Deadpool movies.  I am now “officially” a Ryan Reynolds fan.  I loved him in “Deadpool” and “The Hitman’s Bodyguard“, enjoyed him in the Deadpool sequel, enjoyed him in “The Proposal“, liked him in “Green Lantern” and I thought he was okay in the X-man movie. I now have look out for some of his dramatic roles to see if he’s any good in those.  If anyone reading this has any recommendations, please leave me a comment…
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On This Day In:
2018 Daydreams And Wanna-Be’s
Or Work For #45
2017 Summer Pale
2016 Ain’t It Funny
2015 At Both Ends
2014 Whiner(s)
2013 Just Passing Through
2012 Dog-gone Heaven
2011 Occasional, Sad Results

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Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.
  —  Alan Turing
Codebreaker” (2011)  —  movie review
Codebreaker is a “docu-drama” about the life of Alan Turing, the famous mathematician who lead the team which developed the computer which broke the “Enigma” German code machine back in World War II.  Turing is played by Ed Stoppard.  The “drama” portion of this film is mostly from the journals of Dr. Franz Greenbaum, who was the psychiatrist Turing was forced to see for counseling. Dr. Greenbaum is played by Henry Goodman.
This film was made for TV and was aired in 2011 in the UK under the title: “Britian’s Greatest Codebreaker“.  The title was changed and the film had a limited theatrical release in the US in 2012, so you may find it noted with either year of release.
The documentary portion of the film is interspersed into the drama and features a series of interviews with relatives of both Turing and Greenbaum, a few of Turing’s colleagues / contemporaries and some otherwise famous folks from mathematics and the computer industry.
Of course the “psych” interviews delve into Turing’s childhood, schooling and his homosexuality.  The documentary interviews try to give a lay-person’s explanation of some of Turing’s main computer breakthroughs.  For those who don’t know, Turing is considered one of the creators of both digital computers / computing, and of artificial intelligence (AI).
Turing is reputed to have died from suicide by poisoning.  This film does nothing to explicitly contradict that conclusion, but it offers slim insights into the conspiracy theory that Turing might have been killed off by the British government in the interest of state secrecy.  In any case, some 50 years after the fact, Turing was given a full pardon for his “crime” (indecent acts) as well as a formal apology from the British government.
Final recommendation: Strong to highly recommended.  Although no where near the “movie” which followed in 2014 (see below) for production value or drama, this made for television movie was just as interesting and probably more informative.  If you are interested in computers, AI or the history surrounding WWII, I think you’ll enjoy this film.
The Imitation Game”  (2014)  —  movie review
This is my third or fourth time viewing this movie and my initial review can be found here.
This movie is based on the book / biography: “Alan Turing: The Enigma” written by Andrew Hodges.  The movie is a dramatized version of “basically” historical events with liberties taken for “drama”.  Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, (Alex Lawther plays a young Alan Turing), Keira Knightley plays Joan Clarke (the female / “love” interest), Allen Leech plays John Cairncross (a Russian agent / collegue of Turing on the project), Rory Kinnear plays Detective Robert Nock, Mark Strong plays Stewart Menzies (the MI6 super-spy), Matthew Goode plays Hugh Alexander (one of the brilliant collegues), Charles Dance plays Commander Denniston (Turing’s commanding officer at Bletchley Park ).  The basic premise is that a brilliant Turing invents a general purpose computer to defeat the Nazi coding machine “Enigma”, thus saving lives by helping to end the war faster.  Their work is performed at Bletchley Park.  Turing (and the team) are successful, but because it is all TopSecret, there is no record of his achievements until much later (several decades) and Turing has committed suicide in the meantime.
The movie (and presumably the book) is based on fact. Turing was a real person; he was brilliant, he did come up with this codebreaking machine.  Also, he was homosexual; he was subject to hormonal “treatment” to “cure” his desires; he did die in 1954.  Beyond that, there are a number of points which are probably better handled in the “Codebreaker” TV movie reviewed above.  To begin with, I don’t believe he was autistic (as is implied in this movie).  I gather he had a mild stutter, but nothing like what is implied in the movie.  He was homosexual, but he was not as closeted as the movie implies.  My understanding is while he was open about it with his friends and colleagues, he was not what would be described as “flaming”.  He was “in love” with Joan Clarke and did propose to her and later break off the engagement.  By “in love” I mean he cared for her deeply, although it appears the relationship was more than Platonic but less than physical.  At any rate, as portrayed in the film, Turing does tell her he is gay and she did appear to not care (in real life) about his sexual preferences.
There are also a number of other factual inconsistencies: the character Hugh Alexander did handle most of the supervisory / administrative duties for the team.  He was not “really” Turing’s supervisor and Turing was uninterested in those duties and most office (and real) politics.  The character John Cairncross may or may not have been a Russian agent.  In either case, he and Turing did not work together and I’ve read it’s unlikely they even met or knew each other.  Finally, Turing was not add odds with Commander Denniston, but it seems there was some issue with funding, a letter was sent to Churchill by the team and Turing’s name was on the letter, but it was from the whole of the team, not just from Turing.
Okay.  So after all that, was the movie any good and did I enjoy it?  Yes and very much so.  I admit I am a fan of both Cumberbatch and Knightley. I also quite like Mark Strong as I see him in more things (the “Kingsman” series is top of this list).  Because I spent a career in computing, I already knew of Turing and some of his accomplishments, so it was nice to see it dramatized and put up on a big screen film.  Final recommendation: (still) highly recommended.  I am a fan of the two leads, the specific (codebreaking / history) and general (computing / WWII) topics are also of personal interest, so I had a natural predisposition to enjoy this film.  But, beyond my personal interests (biases), I do think this was a good film / drama and worth the time of anyone who happens to view it.
For those wondering about the movie’s title…  Turing wrote a paper about computing and artificial intelligence which proposed that if a person sat in front of typing instrument (what we today would call a terminal or workstation) and could type in a series of sentences and questions to “someone” at another workstation using normal language and could not tell the responses came from a machine, then the machine, was in fact, intelligent.  This is the simplified version.  The more complete version had three participants: the human testing / judging, a human responding, and a computer responding.  In this case, the judge had to decide which responder was human and which was the machine.  In some variations, the judge isn’t advised one responder is a machine until after completing several question / response cycles.  Basically, the test was evolving to add a blind control situation: the judge didn’t know there was a test or what was being tested until after the cycles.  I found it interesting that the producers of the movie would try to educate the audience about this aspect of computing and AI even though it had little to do with the premise of the movie, that is, a long-suffering individual genius breaking the German code machine.
As an aside (and final note), the movie shows Turing out running cross-country several times.  What isn’t specified is that he was a world class distance runner who nearly qualified for the British Olympic team in the marathon.  Again, nothing earth shaking, but I found the detail interesting.
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On This Day In:
2018 Until Integrity, Decency, Wisdom, And Humility Return
Just Tell (And Re-tell) The Big Lie Often Enough On Fox News
2017 To Laws, Not Office Or Individuals
Beast / General / Civil
2016 Patronage
2015 For Blogs, Too!
2014 Righteous Anger
2013 An Irish Blessing
2012 But Is It Worth It?
2011 Let Us Start

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