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Showing posts from December, 2014

The Imitation Game

World War II has proven to be a great, perhaps THE great source for all manner of literature and film since 1945.  Death and destruction on a previously unimaginable scale, sure.  But a gold mine for writers and filmmakers.  Almost seven decades on, despite existing mountains of scholarship and art, new narratives or wrinkles seem to emerge yearly, while those stories long-established provide their ongoing variations.  So it is with one of history's great thrillers, the breaking of the Nazi's seemingly unbreakable Enigma code.

In the last dozen or so years alone, there have been several productions based on the long-secret effort.  Enigma (2001), written by Tom Stoppard and directed by Michael Winterbottom, is a highly-fictionalized story set in the actual English code-breaking center at Bletchley Park.  More recently, the English series Bletchley Park (2012-14) followed a group of women who worked at the Milton Keynes complex during the war, relegated to more traditional fem…

Low Down

There's a very telling fire escape exchange between Amy-Jo  (Elle Fanning) and Alain (Peter Dinklage), two of the many marginal characters who inhabit a Los Angeles hotel/apartment building in the film Low Down.  The young woman points out that the music heard is being played by her father.  "Is Joe your dad?" Alain asks.  "Yeah," responds Amy-Jo, beaming.  Alain says nothing, but the expression that appears on his already sad countenance is all too eloquent.  There's the brief suggestion of a smile, but the lingering cast is knowing, rueful.  "Poor thing," he might as well say.

The 1970's Los Angeles of Low Down is pretty well circumscribed by the film's title.  One half expects Charles Bukowski to wander into the frame or be sitting in one of the dives into which we're which we're occasionally taken.  In that basin of almost indomitable brightness, what sunlight we see is indirect, often refracted through dirty windows.  A low …