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Here’s a thought: The Theory of Everything – Worth the time.

Our ‘Film of the Year’  😉  and for good reason.

Yup, It’s New Year’s Day and we have already made the trip to see one of the newest ‘Big Hitters’: those biopics that target one person’s strength and battle against adversity with everybody leaving the cinema saying “wasn’t [insert lead] brilliant and didn’t he act just like [insert real person]” with us all expectant to see the highlights cut together for a slot at the [insert relevant film award].

The latest film to fit into my naïve pre-categorisation being The Theory of Everything the biopic of Stephen Hawking, Directed by James Marsh. Yes, rather ignorantly, it does fit there but has also transformed the genre for me with its sheer fantastic construction and demands explanation as to why.

Firstly, and most importantly, he is an entirely interesting human being. A character profile that most feel acquainted to, but like most of these profiles, we don’t really know them, do we? The Theory of Everything introduces the audience to the brilliant man Professor Hawking is and always has been, rather than ask you to join him as the cliché young man in pursuit of ‘self-discovery’.

You share his experiences and learn about Professor Hawking’s character with Eddie Redmayne playing the part hypnotically. What starts, as any good film can, gradually becomes a performance of very considered looks and facial expression with Eddie’s portrayal as the lead. We see a man’s condition deteriorate without losing sight of the man he continues to be, it is a marvel to watch and truly believable. Both performance and the Direction allow you to share in the humour and stoicism of a man and his pursuits, rather than spending the majority of the film dealing with those heroic ‘crisis’ scenes. You know, where the hero has a very literal ‘emotional crash’ on-screen before experiencing an epiphany just in time for the picture to wrap.

I felt the writing of the story was brilliant with the right tone throughout. The right amount of time was spent on the disease and the deterioration that Professor Hawkins experiences on a day-by-day basis. But chiefly, this doesn’t become the backbone of the film itself. Felicitiy Jones as Mrs. Hawkins has some lovely moments within the film and is as much the protagonist as the Professor. The importance and influence she clearly had is a big deal, and the moments the film portrays are considered and delicate. Beside every great man is a woman reminding them they are just a man. I have most definitely got this analogy wrong, but it certainly works for the purpose of this review.

Ultimately, the challenges that this cruel disease poses becomes engrained in the daily routine and obstacles for the couple to overcome; this is of course, consequential and visually evident but isn’t necessary to constantly stress. The character of the man and his contributions to the world of Science are testament enough to this; the film is right to celebrate his achievements without placing motor-neurones disease, the damage it does, front and centre.

For me, the importance of cinema should have at heart humanity and relationships, it is always a pleasure to see a film that does so within the complexities of reality and a lifetimes experience so well. If I had to give this film a mark out of ten, I would say:

Watch it; take tissues for the tears and value from the messages put forward.

Thanks for reading!



Here’s a thought: Interstellar

A hell of a thought.

No, really.  I mean, essentially the Nolan’s must have sat down pre-Memento to start ironing out that bad boy!  This was a film I purposely avoided trailers, reviews and interviews of.  Fuelled by the basis that it was written and directed by the two brothers…

As a result, I went to the cinema with this premise in my head:

“Matthew McConaughey goes to space with the regular Nolan line-up and it’s going to be a new kind of epic”.  What you get is this, plus a long and incredibly intricate film-of-the-year type experience.

The Nolan’s do not underestimate an audience.  They know in the the 21st Century how good we are at decoding film around the world and don’t pretend otherwise; they have a lot to say, they know we’ll listen, so they say a lot.

Sound IS and SHOULD be a big part of cinema:  To quote a favourite Lecturer of mine:

“We all start in the womb, with sound as our primary sense.  It is only until we’re born that vision hits us with the sensory overload that is light, colour and perspective.  It is then that the brain takes this to be priority.”

Nolan uses sound in a big way for Interstellar.  Sure, he takes it to the extreme and you feel like you need a beer and a dark quiet space after.  But his sound is tension.  Distorting breathing, for the pressure of space and the unknown, alongside silence, to great effect for the emptiness surrounding the spacecraft.  I saw a headline earlier today that suggested cinemas are complaining about the film ruining their speakers.  I’d say it is probably time to buy better ones; I’m pretty sure the cheapest ticket you can get these days is 8 Sterling, so cash flow can’t be the problem here surely…

Time, thematically, is a big deal to Nolan:  Choices, regrets and pursuits translates to time spent and you only get so much!   This is reflected in the story and movement of the narrative, knowing when to hold back and when to run in with guns blazing!

Sci-Fi over the years has shown us how the future could look.  Films still spend too much time setting this up, badly.  Nolan asks us to except that the intricacies are there and spends this time on the relationships between the characters instead.  Something I personally feel he’s learnt since Inception and Cob’s (DiCaprio) relationship with his children.

For someone to return we need to see who they’ve left behind, to buy in to this relationship and it’s importance within the story.  We always notice if this isn’t shown to us and so the heart of this story is a Father compelled to leave, despite his duties to stay and raise his children.  Which is made all the more fierce alongside the Daughters inherent belief in him.  Ultimately, without these relationships, the consequences would not have been so high and the cost would have been immaterial.

The robots serve purpose.  That is all.  In so many Sci-Fi films we are sold this ‘look how cool the future is’ type vibe by stretching ingenuity in different ways.  A good pal of mine described them in this film as ‘wardrobes’, which is pretty fair.  Yes, no one left the film hoping for the day they can pop one in their Amazon basket, but they fit into the picture without being the sole distinguishable ‘style’ of the film.  But if you still feel bad about it though, have a think how you’d have designed the robots and how quickly you’d feel like you had knocked off Alien, i, Robot, Matrix, or another classic for that matter, that has marked this genre so distinguishably.

You can and should leave a story without all the answers.  If you’re trying to satisfy every viewer’s curiosities, you’ve already lost.  Sci-Fi, as a genre, hangs on the ‘what ifs’ and chasing shadows to justify every element of the universe is detrimental to the film but why books are so great!

Apparently Scientists have been kicking off left right and centre about the science involved, I must have missed the title saying based on a true story… and the rocket launch in the paper. Film is not a scientific journal and whilst the closer you can get to the ‘truths’, the more immersive a film can seem, you are still asking an audience to suspend their belief and accept what is contrary.

I really liked this film.  Yeahhh, no kidding!

There will always be a place for films that you can kick back and watch with zero brain function and finish with a smile on your face.  What is really exciting are those filmmakers that look to leave us with more than the sentence “I saw that Interstellar; It was good”.

It was good though.