Wild (2014)

Wild

Cheryl Strayed. That is not only a sentence, it is a name. The author of a highly troubled memoir, she undertook a gruelling hike along the Pacific Crest Trail to avenge her demons and find her true self after years of self-destructive behaviour, death and divorce.  The film is a tour de force for star and producer, Reese Witherspoon and Nick Hornby’s kaleidoscopic collage of a screenplay is a thing of wonder. For those of us who came up through the Nineties it is also a peculiar kind of valentine with its reminders of Riot Grrls and the grunge scene. Director Jean-Marc Vallee is true to the stream of consciousness that dictates Strayed’s thoughts and the film is at once gritty and delicate, examining the very mind of a woman.  From that perspective it is utterly radical and unique particularly in the Academy Awards season which is dominated by stories of men. Talk about diversity? Why not talk about women? Fifty per cent of the population and we still can’t get a break. This should have been a contender.

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The Imitation Game (2014)

All art is imitation.  That is the basis of the epistemological code that balances our aesthetic perception and frames our understanding of the world of representation.  We are a few removes from reality at best, or so the philosophers would have us believe.  Hence the world of language and cyphers and cryptography and the idea that a genius loner with a hint of autism could alone create a projection of the world that is a replication of the mind, a thinking machine that can one day change perception and save lives and in the process dream up ideas and alter history. So to the tale of Alan Turing, the brilliant and persecuted code-breaker bursting onto the screens in the form of Benedict Cumberbatch, giving his greatest performance to date. The story-telling has been criticised for its liberties and it is perhaps too simplistic to state the the hamartia he experienced was entirely due to his sexual orientation albeit his prosecution and persecution are a matter of public record. However the catharsis experienced by the audience is the real thing.The Imitation Game