Films I watched in January

This is a brief summary of each of the films I watched in January.

Source Code

I tried to write a short summary of the plot here, but gave up. It proved too difficult to explain the plot, and especially the intriguing sci-fi concept around which the film revolves. You’ll simply have to view it yourself, because it is very intelligent, high-concept stuff to which I don’t think I could do justice here. All I’ll say is that the concept is utterly engaging, and the plot just as much so. This is more a drama film than a science-fiction film; this is not necessarily a bad thing. The only science fiction element of the story is the titular concept, “source code”, which forms a central plot point, but the imaginative central science fiction concept is not allowed to overpower what is otherwise essentially a drama/thriller film — and a very good one at that. Rating: 8/10.

Matilda

I was in my hotel room one night on holiday when I saw Matilda in the television listings. On a whim, I decided to watch. I think I must’ve been feeling particularly nostalgic about my childhood at the time, because this one is definitely a strong callback to my salad days. I wouldn’t say it was one of my favourite films as a child, but it’s something of an icon from that era of my life, as certain things — films, music, objects, friends — are for any given era of one’s life. Matilda has great nostalgic value for me, then, and revisiting it again all these years later was like remembering those lost halcyon days. It’s an adorably cute and heartwarming children’s film, while still being enjoyable leisurely viewing for grown-ups, the fact that a significant measure of scientific licence was taken regarding Matilda’s powers notwithstanding. Rating: 9/10.

The Imitation Game

The ebullient Benedict Cumberbatch’s latest outing sees him paired with Keira Knightley in wartime London. Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, and The Imitation Game is Turing’s story — an extraordinary mind who turned his talents to the cause of the British war effort, creating a machine that decoded Enigma, the “unbreakable” German code, only to be persecuted and driven to suicide by the British government after the war for his homosexuality. This is really a magnificent film, a story of great triumph and heartbreak is brilliantly executed in The Imitation Game, and both Cumberbatch and Knightley are in top form here. Cumberbatch excellently captures Turing, socially awkward, insecure, an extraordinary war hero, and scandalously persecuted. This film does an admirable job of bringing Turing’s story into the public light, and of giving the hero the recognition that he deserves. Rating: 9/10.

Shaun of the Dead

For some reason this is the first time I’d watched Shaun of the Dead, which is odd, as I absolutely adored Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s other acclaimed outing, Hot Fuzz. I was suitably impressed by Shaun, which, like Hot Fuzz, was just a marvellously fun romp, one of those films you put on for a reliably relaxing night in. The secret of Shaun is that it doesn’t take itself seriously. While ostensibly a zombie apocalypse horror film, it’s a comedy first and foremost, and therein lies its success. As a straight zombie film, it’s fairly mediocre, but it’s the comedy and the characters and the general absurdity of it all that makes the film. Shaun’s development from loser to leader of the small group of survivors is heartening to watch, and Nick Frost is, as always, effortlessly hilarious. A genuine classic to be sure. Rating: 10/10.

St Trinian’s

St Trinian’s, for those that don’t know, is a film about an anarchic girls’ school for unruly girls. The film follows Annabelle Fritton (Talulah Riley), a former Cheltenham girl who haplessly finds herself attending “Hogwarts for pikeys”, as she adjusts to her strange new school, and as she helps the St Trinian’s girls save the school from closure (at the hands of her father, who wishes to sell the debt-ridden school). St Trinian’s is great, walloping fun, a lighthearted, camp, comedic romp. It has a star cast: Whovians might recognise the lovely Talulah Riley as Miss Evangelista from Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead as well as Amara Karan (Rita from The God Complex) in a minor role; there’s also Gemma Arterton in her first major film role, Russell Brand, Colin Firth, Lena Headey, Rupert Everett and Steven Fry. Rating: 7/10.

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