News and Articles


Downton Abbey is a hugely successful period British soap opera that is anachronistic, predictable and overwrought.  The Imitation Game is Downton Abbey for the movies.  Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the Sheldon Cooper of World War II; brilliant, odd, effeminate and humor impaired, and he is tasked with cracking the Nazi Enigma code.  He does so, with the help of Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode and an actor from Downton Abbey, all the while struggling with his sexuality, his anti-social personality and a race against the clock.

There is not much in the film that isn’t expected.  After alienating his colleagues, Turing wins them over.  After being quirky, we are charmed and in his corner.  After connecting with a teen friend in boarding school in flashback, the boy dies. After that boy tells Turing, “Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine,” that line is delivered again and then again.  After the team cracks the code, they immediately pinpoint the location of every ship in the Atlantic and deduce that a passenger ship is in danger, but they can’t save it, because it would give their achievement away to the Nazis, and then, it turns out the brother of a team member is on the ship in danger, and he tells Turing he can’t be God.

Cumberbatch is good in parts, but it is a mannered, tic-laden performance, one that eschews every one of the relationships he is supposed to develop.  You don’t believe he has bonded with his co-workers and you sure don’t believe he and Knightley have established an intellectual kinship.  Curiously, Turing’s homosexuality is successfully used against him – when he discovers a Soviet spy in his midst, the spy threatens to reveal Turing’s sexual orientation and Turing clams up.  And how did the spy come to learn Turing was gay?  When Turing became engaged to Knightley to keep her on the team, after treating his sexuality as a state secret, he rather comfortably tells the spy his personal business.

Another problem is the insistence on establishing a suffering symbol for homosexuality, a dramatic decision that has plagued African American characters in historical films for eons.  The real Turing was pretty openly gay with his co-workers, even coming on to several male colleagues.  Now that is interesting.  But we need a noble victim here so, let’s just forget the stubborn and inconvenient facts.  It is one thing to amp up Turing’s role in creating the device that breaks the German code.  It’s another to change his very essence to deliver us our important lesson.

But its British, it’s topical, it has sweep and it is a tragedy anchored by Cumberbatch’s Oscar bait tears and quivers.  So, it is heralded.  But when it is not being ridiculous and ahistorical, it is pedestrian.

I am seeing Birdman tonight. But I have to keep this blog energized, so I present, from Vulture. . .

The 30 Most Important Sex Scenes in Movie History.

I was surprised three movies were excluded: James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary; Kris Kristofferson and Sarah Miles in The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea; and Angie Dickinson in the shower in . . .

Dressed to Kill.

As far as the worst, it’s hard to beat John Travolta and Lily Tomlin in Moment by Moment, a truly disturbing scene

 “Please, God, don’t come in here.”

“How can you resist?”


The Oscar nominations have been announced

Nominations for the 85th Academy Awards

Best Picture
“Amour” Nominees to be determined
“Argo” Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers
“Django Unchained” Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers
“Les Misérables” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers
“Life of Pi” Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers
“Lincoln” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
“Silver Linings Playbook” Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
“Zero Dark Thirty” Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers

Best Director
“Amour” Michael Haneke
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Benh Zeitlin
“Life of Pi” Ang Lee
“Lincoln” Steven Spielberg
“Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”
Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”
Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”
Denzel Washington in “Flight”

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin in “Argo”
Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln”
Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained”

Best Actress
Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams in “The Master”
Sally Field in “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Animated Feature
“Brave” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
“Frankenweenie” Tim Burton
“ParaNorman” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
“The Pirates! Band of Misfits” Peter Lord
“Wreck-It Ralph” Rich Moore

“Anna Karenina” Seamus McGarvey
“Django Unchained” Robert Richardson
“Life of Pi” Claudio Miranda
“Lincoln” Janusz Kaminski
“Skyfall” Roger Deakins

Best Adapted Screenplay
“Argo” Screenplay by Chris Terrio
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
“Life of Pi” Screenplay by David Magee
“Lincoln” Screenplay by Tony Kushner
“Silver Linings Playbook” Screenplay by David O. Russell

Best Original Screenplay
“Amour” Written by Michael Haneke
“Django Unchained” Written by Quentin Tarantino
“Flight” Written by John Gatins
“Moonrise Kingdom” Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
“Zero Dark Thirty” Written by Mark Boal

Costume Design
“Anna Karenina” Jacqueline Durran
“Les Misérables” Paco Delgado
“Lincoln” Joanna Johnston
“Mirror Mirror” Eiko Ishioka
“Snow White and the Huntsman” Colleen Atwood

Best Documentary Feature
“5 Broken Cameras”
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
“The Gatekeepers”
Nominees to be determined
“How to Survive a Plague”
Nominees to be determined
“The Invisible War”
Nominees to be determined
“Searching for Sugar Man”
Nominees to be determined

Best Documentary (Short Subject)
Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
“Kings Point”
Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
“Mondays at Racine”
Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
“Open Heart”
Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill

Film Editing
“Argo” William Goldenberg
“Life of Pi” Tim Squyres
“Lincoln” Michael Kahn
“Silver Linings Playbook” Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
“Zero Dark Thirty” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Best Foreign Language Film
“Amour” Austria
“Kon-Tiki” Norway
“No” Chile
“A Royal Affair” Denmark
“War Witch” Canada

Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
“Les Misérables”
Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Best Original Score
“Anna Karenina” Dario Marianelli
“Argo” Alexandre Desplat
“Life of Pi” Mychael Danna
“Lincoln” John Williams
“Skyfall” Thomas Newman

Best Original Song
“Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice”
Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted”
Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
“Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi”
Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
“Skyfall” from “Skyfall”
Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
“Suddenly” from “Les Misérables”
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Production Design
“Anna Karenina”
Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
“Les Misérables”
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
“Life of Pi”
Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Best Animated Short Film
“Adam and Dog” Minkyu Lee
“Fresh Guacamole” PES
“Head over Heels” Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
“Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”” David Silverman
“Paperman” John Kahrs

Best Live Action Short Film
“Asad” Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
“Buzkashi Boys” Sam French and Ariel Nasr
“Curfew” Shawn Christensen
“Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
“Henry” Yan England

Sound Editing
“Argo” Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
“Django Unchained” Wylie Stateman
“Life of Pi” Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
“Skyfall” Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
“Zero Dark Thirty” Paul N.J. Ottosson

Sound Mixing
John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
“Les Misérables”
Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
“Life of Pi”
Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson
Achievement in visual effects
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
“Life of Pi”
Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
“Marvel’s The Avengers”
Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
“Snow White and the Huntsman”
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson


"In 1974's Emmanuelle, the Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel — who died in Amsterdam on Wednesday, at 60, of esophageal and lung cancer — plays a young model who moves to Thailand with her husband, a French diplomat, and embarks on a journey of erotic self-discovery.  If you're straight and male and your own journey of erotic self-discovery began sometime between the dawn of premium cable and the advent of the Internet, there's a good chance you knew that already. Today every 14-year-old who can work an iPad is perpetually about three taps away from a firehose blast of HD-quality smut graphic enough to put Caligula in the mood for a Silkwood shower. But back in the '80s, to see people doing it on film, you had to either tune into the Playboy Channel's scrambled signal and squint for glimpses of Cubist nudity, or stay up late, like Linus waiting on the Great Pumpkin, until that magic hour when Cinemax's programming turned bleu."

She was a bit of a first love.  She never loomed as large as Jill St. John, someone I was allowed to watch in a James Bond film, but she was a close second.  The problem was I could only watch her when I was at my father's apartment as a kid, he had a date, and in absolute wonder, I accessed the building-specific cable option.

Ah, youth.