Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Real Computer Genius - (Film News - 15/10/11)

Difficult to get a handle on the headlines this week, especially with the leading story as there are two vastly different points I want to make about the forthcoming Alan Turing biopic. Of course overall I welcome the increased pace of news this week, with three completely new stories coming our way as well as a flurry of castings it feels like a proper week again.

Imitation Game

Leonardo DiCaprio wants an Oscar, his yearning has become obvious, as reports of his J. Edgar indicate it's fairly missable, he's already lining up his next biopic, a biopic that has all the hallmarks of Academy Award bait. He'll play mathematical genius, suicidally tortured homosexual and renowned stutterer Alan Turing.

Don't get me wrong with 2012 seeing the centennial of Turing's birth the list of his achievements should be sung from the rafters. Here is a man who virtually invented the modern computer, and whose work on the German Enigma device in the second World War won the war in the Atlantic. I wish that Hugh Whitemore's 1986 play "Breaking the Code" with it's award winning performance by Derek Jacobi at the core had a more significant part to play in Turing's fame. It's an incredible play that really gets to grips with Turing's work and personal dilemmas.

It's interesting timing for this news in a couple of ways, partly because of the J. Edgar connection, but partly because of the perceived connection between Turing (above) and Apple computers whose founder Steve Jobs passed away last week. Turing committed suicide in response to chemical castration following a conviction for homosexual activity (illegal in 1952 Britain) by taking a bite from a cyanide laden apple. When the epithet genius has been bandied about far too much in the last couple of weeks to describe branding maestro Jobs, it's time to remember the man who may (or may not) have inspired the Apple logo and who truly deserves the tag of genius.

In many ways I want DiCaprio to pass on the role, and as much as I want to see this film made I would rather the part went to an unknown (obviously I'm prepared to put myself up for the role) and the film garnered a less obvious but still committed audience. After all this story doesn't need awards it just needs to be told.

Read on for New York shenanigans, a time-travel twist on Pride and Prejudice and some casting stories.

The Emperor's Children

Scott Cooper has taken over the helm for the adaptation of Claire Messud's novel, taking over from Noah Baumbach. The novel revolves around the romantic and platonic relationships between four New Yorkers about to hit the big 3-0. Michelle Williams was attached for a while, but the latest press release says nothing about the actors so it could be that she's moved on. Either way this looks like it could have some curious performances from some up and coming actors.

Lost in Austen

Nora Ephron is set to make her first sci-fi movie, albeit one which won't alienate her core fans. Adapted from an ITV mini-series the film centres around a modern New Yorker - shifted from London - whose romantic life is further complicated when she finds herself implanted in Jane Austen's seminal novel "Pride and Prejudice", hijinks involving the novel's plot strands falling apart and the headstrong Elizabeth Bennett making the most of her New York adventure will no doubt make an excellent fish out of the water comedy. Ephron will probably use her Julie & Julia template of jumping between the stories much more than the ITV production which stayed firmly with our heroine. Expect two big names to sign up soon, as well as another iconic Mr. Darcy.

A book cover of Jane Austen's classic, I expect the book itself will feature heavily as a prop.

Casting News

We've had some odd rumours with regards to bills over the last week, none more so than the Avatar 2 saga with Sigourney Weaver and James Cameron both weighing in over the Alien star's potential to return to the franchise. Whilst currently denying it Cameron made a point about non-linear storytelling which could indicate that we could go back to Grace's early work on Pandora. Not to mention the spiritual world-building could bring in some surprising facts about the afterlife. I'm sure this story will go on and on either way. Liam Hemsworth, the brother of Thor with the least interesting CV, has signed up for time-travel romance Timeless, I normally wouldn't care but he's only 21 - how can we justify giving the role about a man inventing a time machine to see his dead wife just once more to a child? Alexander Payne has a long list of veterans he's approaching for his alcoholic old man road trip, including Robert Forster, Jack Nicholson, Robert Duvall and, most intriguingly given he's retired, Gene Hackman. If he can persuade Hackman to make a comeback then you know this will be something special. Finally the cast for Robert Redford's Company you Keep keeps on getting better and better with the latest additions of Anna Kendrick and Terrence Howard, look out for this to be in my top 20 for 2012!

Can Payne persuade the legendary Hackman to come out of retirement for one last role? I hope so.


TomS said... interesting, that the feeling about DiCaprio in J Edgar is missable.... I must admit I am nervous about his portrayal, the accent, the makeup...but, I suppose I have a duty to see it (LOL). Really fine comments Ben, about Turing, a man about whom I must learn a lot more.

Runs Like A Gay said...

Thanks, Tom.

Turing is one of the great minds of the 20th century, and someone without whom modern history would have been quite different.

I will see J. Edgar, but there's nothing in the trailer that makes it seem like a solid watch, and I have a horrible feeling it will rush through history and not get to the essence of what made Hoover the man he was.