Wednesday, January 28, 2015
The movie I saw last week was one that I've been looking forward to for a very long time. I'm sure y'all could tell how much I enjoy a good biopic after my Selma review and my raves on that one movie about Abraham Lincoln a couple years ago. The Theory of Everything fits right up there with the list of top 10 biopics I have seen in my young 26 years. The movie was incredibly touching and, in my honest opinion, truly grasped the daily struggle and genius behind one of the greatest minds of the past century: Stephen Hawking.
The story revolves around the love shared between Jane and Stephen Hawking, which began early on during Stephen Hawking's time at Cambridge. Chemistry is a difficult thing to portray on screen, especially when it comes to a love story that is anything but average. You can't really fake it. It's incredibly important and even more difficult to find two actors that can make the viewers believe that the love they are portraying is real. Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones pulled it off. I was convinced with the beginning and the awkward nerdy courting; I was convinced with the marriage and struggle that began with the discovery of Hawking's ALS. Really, I was just convinced with it all. Felicity Jones, for sure, portrays for the viewers how difficult it would've been to be married to someone you essentially had to give all your energy. It was powerful and it resonated with me long after I left the theater. Redmayne and Jones sold the marriage in every way that they were needed to..the dating, the marriage, the struggle, the loss of love. ALL OF IT. AHHH LOVE.
This brings me to my next point: Eddie Redmayne's performance as Stephen Hawking is the best leading actor performance of any movie (that I've seen) during 2014. I've seen Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler. I haven't yet seen Michael Keaton for Birdman or Mr. Cumberbatch in the Imitation Game (that review will come tomorrow)...but I don't care. Redmayne absolutely should win the Best Actor Oscar for his incredibly difficult and amazingly beautiful grasp of the entire character of Hawking. He pulled it off. Keep in mind how difficult of a character Stephen Hawking would be to portray. Redmayne barely has any lines because Stephen Hawking can barely talk in real life. The whole performance relies on the subtle movements, the look in the eyes, all of that. Redmayne hit a home run here. It gave me chills. For example, take a look at a picture of Stephen Hawking and compare it to a picture of Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking. Pay attention to the subtleties in the facial expressions...the lips...the eyes...all of it is just incredible.
Remember that THIS is the guy that played Marius in the Hollywood version of Les Miserables (not a horrible performance, but also not exactly memorable). What an incredible turnaround and breakout performance for Eddie Redmayne. Let's hope he keeps it up and we continue to see great performances from him. I love seeing new faces burst on to the scene like this. It keeps things fresh.
My last point about this movie...the scene that depicted Eddie Redmayne's diagnosis and when he fell to the ground after tripping at Cambridge...it LITERALLY made me cringe. I'm not a guy that loves hospitals. I have spent my fair share of time in the hospital and every time I enter one I get that nausea feeling that I remember from my early years. I have to struggle to not pass out. The scene in this movie with Hawking in the hospital brought about that same intense inner struggle. I really did have to look away. It was just hard to watch. To me, that's just another way that speaks to how well this movie tells the story of Stephen Hawking.
Anyway, in case you hadn't already guessed it...Theory of Everything was one of my top 3 movies of the year. I was blown away by it and plan on buying it on DVD as seen as it comes out. I don't buy a lot of movies. When I do, you know it's a movie that has stuck with me. Go see it. You won't be disappointed.
Sunday, January 18, 2015
To start off this review, I should express how much I love a good biopic. One of my favorite movies of all-time (Lincoln) is an incredible biopic about Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is one of those historical figures that's so beloved and mythical that it seems almost idiotic to try to find an actor that can portray such a larger-than-life character. Daniel Day-Lewis somehow figured it out. He was able to accomplish something few actors are able to do...make viewers forget they are watching a movie and actually believe the character they see is the real thing. Day-Lewis was so powerful in his portrayal of Lincoln that there were times it was hard to believe I wasn't actually watching Honest Abe himself, alive and well.
The most recent biopic I watched was Selma, a movie about the issues surrounding Selma, Alabama and the legendary Martin Luther King, Jr. Much like the movie Lincoln, Selma was able to achieve the same effect while attempting to portray such a complex character as Luther himself. David Oyelowo deserves nothing less than an Oscar for Best Actor for his amazing portrayal of Dr. King. He became the man, which is not an easy task to accomplish with someone as universally beloved as Martin Luther King, Jr. I truly felt like I was watching real footage of Dr. King during the uneasy days surrounding the events of Selma, Alabama. I don't even remeber where else I've seen Oyelowo, but I will definitely remember him after this incredible performance. Oh wait, I remember! He was the douchey boss in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. This guy:
Let's just hope he gets more chances to show his considerable talents after Selma. One of the things I was impressed with most while watching Selma. was that it didn't shy away from the fact that King was a complex man. It's been documented that King was a bit (that's putting it generously) unfaithful to his wife and not necessarily the greatest family man. The movie addresses this and shows that, yes, King was an amazing civil rights leader but he did still have shortcomings. That's always been a pet peeve of mine. Many times, historical figures achieve that level of sainthood or whatever where they become completely godlike and appear to have no discernible flaws or weaknesses. Selma did not shy away from painting the picture of King being a lot more complicated than most would like to admit.
The movie was a great period piece that taught me a lot about King as a man and about the events that happened in Selma, Alabama. Just like 12 Years a Slave and The Help, it made me cringe for the majority of the movie. Could white people in the South really have been that over-the-top terrible to African Americans? Ugh....it's shameful. Selma didn't hide away from the ugly truth and told exactly what happened while King was attempting to do away with the unfair voting restrictions that littered the South during that time.
Overall, the movie was entertaining. It's a movie I would definitely consider adding to my collection and Oyelowo delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as the flawed Dr. King. It's not the most incredible movie I've ever seen, but I enjoyed it merely for the fact that David Oyelowo took a very difficult role and completely owned it. Go see it, you won't be disappointed.