September 04, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch And Eddie Redmayne: The Changing Face Of Hollywood -Now Golden Globe, BAFTA And Oscar Winners


Although I have seen several of  Benedict Cumberbatch's films he really made quite an impact in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy".

His filmograpy is impressive and so is his name!
It's an asset I think, especially in an industry where so many have changed their names.
I am really looking forward to seeing "The Imitation Game" where he portrays Alan Turing.

The French have an expression called jolie laide—directly translated, it means "beautiful ugly," but as a concept it embodies the intersection between attractiveness and unconventionality that makes us relish imperfection. Jolie laide is Sarah Jessica Parker and Benicio del Toro and Jessica Paré. It's why Solange is visually more intriguing than Beyoncé, and why Meat Loaf, however improbably, was a sex symbol for much of the 1980s.

Sofia Coppola is often cited as the female embodiment of jolie laide, but as it relates to men, there's no more obvious example in contemporary culture than Benedict Cumberbatch. In bleached-blonde, Botox-browed Hollywood, he's the antithesis of everything we're supposed to find attractive.

Let's start with his name, which sounds positively Hogwartsian. He's purposefully Benedict, rather than the more casual Ben, which brings to mind 16 distinctly unglamorous popes, an order of monks, and eggs smothered with hollandaise. Then there's the Cumberbatch part, which conjures up images of either a professor of potions or the antiquated silk sash men sometimes wear with tuxedos. What's in a name? Michael Caine was once Maurice Joseph Micklewhite and Cary Grant was born Archibald Leach: In the flimsy, illusive world of film, names matter.

Or perhaps they don't, anymore, and perhaps 37-year-old Cumberbatch is the physical manifestation of a paradigm shift in a culture that seeks out slender, sensitive Edward Cullen over sweaty Magic Mike and prefers Sherlock Holmes to Superman. Perhaps this is why Cumberbatch is everywhere. 

This week, he’s in the news because he’s voicing a “super-duper smooth wolf” in DreamWorks’ upcoming Penguins of Madagascar. He's also playing Hamlet at the London Barbican. He's playing Richard III, possibly opposite Judi Dench. He's reading radio news scripts from D-Day on BBC Radio Four (in what seems to be a craven but successful attempt to get millennials interested in history) He's photo-bombing U2 at the Oscars. 

He's reading letters written by Kurt Vonnegut and Iggy Pop at the literary Hay Festival. He's one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World. He's officiating at same-sex weddings. He's crowd-funding short films made by a production company he set up, SunnyMarch Ltd. He's starring as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. He's replacing Brad Pitt in The Lost City of Z

He's replacing Guy Pearce as Whitey Bulger’s brother in Black Mass. He's on BuzzFeed surrounded by photoshopped pictures of kittens. And, yes, he's also doing a fourth season of Sherlock, the cult British series that made detached sociopaths dreamy and Cumberbatch a household name.

It's not beyond the realm of possibility to conclude that 37-year-old Cumberbatch is the biggest star in the world right now, riding an improbably perfect storm of talent, timing, sensitivity, virality, and our postmodern rejection of conformist standards of beauty—at least insofar as they relate to men. With actresses, we seem to crave homogeneity (as a fun experiment, look at a lineup featuring Kate Mara, Ashley Greene, Anna Kendrick, and Isla Fisher and see if you can say with absolute certainty which one is which). With actors, it's more complicated. There are the schlubby, paunchy Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill types, sure, but there's also brooding John Hawkes and goofy Michael Sheen and the quirkily off-kilter former ballerina Ansel Elgort.

Aesthetically, Cumberbatch's appeal is almost impossible to define. He has naturally auburn hair, which he dyes for different roles, but which brings to mind Byronic literary heroes as diverse as Mr. Darcy and Christian Grey. His haughty pallor bears comparison with the vampiric charms of Robert Pattinson in Twilight, and with the young Mark Twain. His features are aristocratic in a way that used to suggest inbreeding among the upper classes—his mouth is only vaguely defined, and his jaw is slender rather than square—while his eyes are situated disproportionately far away from each other, tilting back towards his temples in a manner that makes his angular cheekbones more apparent. Physically, he's most frequently compared to an otter

In previous roles, he sported a ginger mustache while playing a rapist in Atonement, and he suffered through a hideous makeover to play the infinitely gruesome Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate (not even Cumberbatch’s charms could make that movie a success).

Emotionally and intellectually, he is, quite simply, the perfect male celebrity for our time. 

The feminist blog Jezebel refers to him as "your boyfriend Benedict Cumberbatch," an endorsement that takes into consideration his intelligence, his chivalry (he once punched a reporter who was rude about Keira Knightley, but did so “gently”), his sense of humor, his status as a straight ally for gay rights (hence the wedding he officiated), and his Buddhist regard for humanity and all the earth's creatures. He's an activist and an artist who donates his drawings to charity auctions. He has concerns about the fact that his legions of fans refer to themselves as Cumberbitches or Cumberbunnies because of the potentially sexist connotations; he prefers Cumberbabes. Of course he does.

If Cumberbatch is as uncomfortable with the level of attention he's getting as he says he is, then his ascent can be seen as a cautionary tale for other reluctant idols. In some indefinable way, Cumberbatch is a walking, talking meme. When he appeared on Sesame Street he had to repeatedly remind Murray that he was actually an actor, not a detective named "Benedict Sherlock," in a joke that was far too sophisticated to be targeted at preschoolers and was presumably intended for a YouTube audience. His presence is guaranteed to make anything go viral, whether it's a literary festival, a TV miniseries, or one of the most frequently staged Shakespearian tragedies. In London, people are paying around $170 just to jump to the front of the line when tickets go on sale for his Hamlet. Combine photos of him looking intuitive or alluring with pictures of fuzzy kittens and it's a wonder the Internet doesn't implode.

In Edgar Allan Poe’s Ligeia a character says, "There is no exquisite beauty … without some strangeness in the proportion." Perhaps the strange and incalculable ascendancy of Cumberbatch from a man the BBC initially didn't think was sexy enough to play Sherlock Holmes to one of the biggest stars in the world is a sign that our culture is maturing, and no longer considers classical good looks to be paramount. The 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant drew distinctions between things that are evidently beautiful because we can see they're beautiful, and things that are sublime because they demand an intellectual response. In a Cumberbatch-centric universe, the sublime is finally triumphant.

With thanks to The Atlantic
His filmography is very impressive and can be viewed here.  

Review: The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the man who broke a Nazi code. It’s a part he was born to play, says critic Owen Gleiberman, who also reviews the new Stephen Hawking biopic. 

There's a film festival taking place somewhere in the world just about every week now, but three monumental events still tower over the rest: Cannes, Sundance and Toronto. You could make the case that Toronto, in the overtly tasteful way that it ushers in the awards season, has in recent years trumped the other two – at least, in terms of sheer media influence.

From The Descendants to Moneyball to Silver Linings Playbook to 12 Years a Slave to Gravity, Toronto is the festival that, more than any other, helps to launch the very idea of mainstream quality movies into orbit.

Given that, a funny thing happened at Toronto this year. Yes, it showcased some highly accomplished and celebrated awards-bait contenders, like Foxcatcher and Rosewater and Wild. But none of those carried the weight of awards inevitability the way that, say, 12 Years a Slave did last year. They were good films, but they weren't quintessential awards movies. For that, you had to seek out a pair of earnest and rather genteel biopics, each so fundamentally old-fashioned that they seemed to have come out of a time warp.

The Imitation Game tells the story of Alan Turing, the British mathematician who led the team that cracked the Enigma Code during World War II. 

The Theory of Everything dramatises the life of Stephen Hawking, the physicist who became the globally popular bard of black holes, despite the fact – or, to a degree, because of it – that he was crippled by the ravages of Lou Gehrig's disease. Despite some artful qualities, both these films could have been dreamed up by a computer programmed to win awards.

Each one has an excruciatingly civilised British hero who's a crowd-pleasing genius, and whose brilliance is bedeviled by a dramatic affliction: in Turing's case, he's struggling to live in secret to evade persecution for his homosexuality; in Hawking's case, he's trying to let the power of his mind outrace the slow decline of his body. By the end of each film, you practically want to stand up and shout, "Bravely done, boys! Bravely done!"

Man of many masks
As an actor, Benedict Cumberbatch can do just about anything, but even after playing a le Carré spy, a slave master, a Star Trek villain and Julian Assange, he may never have had a role that fits him with the emotionally tailored perfection of Alan Turing. 

It's at the start of World War II when Turing, tweedy yet becalmed, is asked to join a select team of mathematical eggheads tasked with decoding the cryptographic system the Nazis are using to send their military messages. The British possess a stolen Enigma machine, which means that they can receive the daily Nazi missives in coded form; they just can't read them.
It's the starting point for what sounds like a crackerjack puzzle-thriller. 

Except that once the movie settles into the grand shadowy confines of Bletchley Park, the site of the UK’s Government Code and Cypher School, it's a little like watching the Masterpiece Theatre version of the Manhattan Project. What seizes us, more than the actual breaking of the code (since, to be honest, it's almost impossible to understand how that was done), is Turing's peculiar personality – his mixture of decency and diffidence, his complete (and therefore hilarious) inability to tell a joke and the obsessive way that he rouses himself from his academic civility to do whatever it takes. That means, early on, sneaking a message to Winston Churchill – that's how he wins the right to lead the team – or deciding that instead of sitting around and trying to decipher messages, he's going to build a machine to do it for him. A machine that will one day be known as a computer.

The key members of Turing's team, played by the genial and cutting Matthew Goode and the radiantly staunch Keira Knightley, think that Turing is an anti-social head case. The amazingly dry wit in Cumberbatch's performance cues us to see how Turing, in his repressive dolefulness, is in fact  driven solely by a desire to save lives and win the war. That he's willing to be a monomaniac about it is the measure of his humanity.

Ready for his close-up
In The Theory of Everything, Eddie Redmayne seems like he was put on earth to play Stephen Hawking. First he is a gawkishly charming Oxford grad student in physics, the kind of guy who scrawls out the perfect answers to his professor's brain-teaser questions on a train schedule right before class. 

And then, after he's diagnosed with motor-neurone disease, as the audacious genius of space-time theory whose mind only grows more infinite as his body crumples up, his head hanging off his neck, his limbs twisted and useless, his mouth contorting itself around the words (and that's when he can still speak). 

This is acting out of the My Left Foot handbook, except that where Daniel Day-Lewis twisted his virtuosity over a bottomless pit of passion and rage, Redmayne rarely deviates from Hawking's whimsical quizzicality. It's a less wrenching, more user-friendly tour de force.  

Fortunately for Hawking, Jane (Felicity Jones), a comely, devoted fellow student, has fallen for his brain, and for his kindness; she marries him, gives him children, and (mostly) stands by him. That they have an active sex life is treated with a happy wink. It's the film's slightly funny way of saying, "You don't need to feel sorry for Stephen Hawking." 

I just wish that the movie allowed us to feel our way into his mind more. Not his theories, which shift back and forth with the wind: the universe is expanding, then it's contracting, then time has an end, then it's infinite – and it is all a great big metaphor for... love (or something). No, I wish that Hawking's story had been made much more intensely personal and lacerating. When you watch The Theory of Everything, you know that Stephen Hawking exists – and Redmayne's inspired mimicry nails him – but you also feel that if he didn't, a movie like this one would have had to invent him.

The Imitation Game: ★★★★☆
The Theory of Everything: ★★★☆☆
With thanks to BBC Culture

More about "The Theory of Everything" here. 

And  see also :

'Theory of Everything' Film Reveals Stephen Hawking's Personal Life

Eddie Redmayne was in Pillars of The Earth which I mentioned here.



He is also in "My Week With Marilyn" - a movie about the making of the Monroe/Olivier movie
"The Prince And The Showgirl, and Les Misérables.
Picture above and much more with thanks to The Guardian. 

I actually saw the dress Marilyn Monroe wore in this movie in a "Planet Hollywood" eatery in Washington, DC many years ago.It was quite lovely!


The New Turing Test:Brainy Machines Need An Updated IQ Test, Experts Say 
Five Brilliant Mathematicians And Their Impact On The Modern World
Claude Shannon Jr: The Greatest Genius No One Has Heard Of
World Wide Web Turns 25

Other posts on movies can be found using the blogger search function top left.


Above: Benedict Cumberbatch's Celebrity imitation games - just for fun!


Golden Globes: Cumberbatch, Redmayne and Jones among Britons recognised

Birdman, about a former superhero actor - played by Keaton - attempting a Broadway comeback, leads the flock this year with seven nominations. Richard Linklater's Boyhood - a coming of age story that took 12 years to make - and The Imitation Game both have five.

The Theory of Everything, like David Fincher thriller Gone Girl, Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel and Selma, has four nominations in all, to the delight of Eric Fellner, one of its producers.

"We're thrilled," said Fellner, co-chairman of Working Title Films, of Redmayne and Jones' nominations. "The emotional power of the film comes from the performances of all of the actors.

"We've got some of the greatest actors, technicians and artists in the world based here in the UK," he told BBC News. "Every year there is a number of them recognised - and I think it's only right."

The Grand Budapest Hotel amid BAFTA contenders

COMIC confection The Grand Budapest Hotel is the surprise front runner for the British Academy Film Awards, while English acting darlings Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch are competing in the best-actor category. 
WES Anderson's Hotel received 11 nominations on Friday, including best picture and best director.

Ralph Fiennes was nominated for best actor as the unflappable concierge of a chaotic European hostelry.
Acting nominees also include Michael Keaton, as a washed-up actor aiming for a comeback in Birdman. The Alejandro Inarritu-directed movie was nominated in 10 categories, as was James Marsh's The Theory of Everything, which stars Redmayne as physicist Stephen Hawking.
Redmayne said his acting nomination was "beyond imagination".
He insisted he felt no rivalry with Cumberbatch, who was nominated for playing World War II code breaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. That film received nine nominations.
"One can try and create a rivalry but it will not happen!" Redmayne said from Los Angeles.
"We both absolutely understand people wanting to pitch us against each other, but we are old, old friends and I think he is the most wonderful actor. He is sensational in The Imitation Game and I love watching him. "
Jake Gyllenhaal is also nominated for his performance as a sleazy journalist in Nightcrawler.
But there was no recognition for Timothy Spall, whose performance as artist JMW Turner in Mr Turner took the best-actor prize at Cannes.
Best-actress contenders are Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything, Amy Adams for Big Eyes, Julianne Moore for Still Alice, Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl and Reese Witherspoon for Wild.
Other front runners include Richard Linklater's decade-spanning Boyhood and Damien Chazelle's drumming drama Whiplash. They have five nominations each.
The best-picture nominees are Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything.
The separate category of best British picture includes The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything alongside tense Northern Ireland drama '71, alien chiller Under the Skin and animated ursine adventure Paddington.
Winners of the awards, known as BAFTAs, will be decided by 6500 members of the British film academy and announced at London's Royal Opera House on February 8.
The British prizes are seen as an indicator of likely success at Hollywood's Academy Awards, whose nominees are announced next week.
Marilyn Monroe's 'Happy Birthday, Mr. President' Dress Sells for $4.8 Million

Here is the list of 2015 Oscar winners.   

Marilyn Monroe: Fashioning The Myth And The Reality

Oscar Winners 2016: The Full List  

Marilyn Monroe: Her Secret Diary

Famous Blondes, From Monroe and Novak To Bardot And Basinger 

10 Historical Movies That Mostly Get It Right

Long-Lost Peter Sellers Films Found In Rubbish Skip

Are These The Top 10 Comedy Actors of All Time? 


 Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt Wins Prestigious Breakthough Prize

Biopics Now Focus On Key Moments Rather Than A Whole Life

The Best Movies Of 2014 

Some Biopic Actors And Their Real-Life Counterparts

Alan Turing Manuscript Sells For $1 million