In cinemas this week: Foxcacther, Still Alice, The Theory of Everything and Mortdecai.
Foxcatcher – Tells the story of Olympic Gold Medal-winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), who sees a way out from the shadow of his more celebrated wrestling brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo) and a life of poverty when he is summoned by eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) to move onto his estate and train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Desperate to gain the respect of his disapproving mother, du Pont begins “coaching” a world-class athletic team and, in the process, lures Mark into dangerous habits, breaks his confidence and drives him into a self-destructive spiral. Based on actual events, Foxcatcher is a gripping and profoundly American story of fragile men who pinned their hopes for love and redemption on a desperate obsession for greatness that was to end in tragedy. Review at link.
Still Alice – Alice Howland (five time Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore), happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, Alice and her family find their bonds thoroughly tested. Her struggle to stay connected to who she once was is frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring. The film is based on Lisa Genova’s 2007 best-selling novel. Moore, and her co-stars Kristen Stewart and Alex Baldwin in particular, are outstanding in this deeply upsetting film about the shock onset of a debilitating illness, and how Alice and her family cope with her gradual loss of knowledge, memory and identity. It is a candid and honest portrayal of such a terrifying situation, but the filmmakers Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland do everything right. Tears aplenty.
The Theory of Everything – Starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, this is the extraordinary story of one of the world’s greatest living minds, the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who falls deeply in love with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde. Once a healthy, active young man, Hawking received an earth-shattering diagnosis at 21 years of age. With Jane fighting tirelessly by his side, Stephen embarks on his most ambitious scientific work, studying the very thing he now has precious little of – time. Together, they defy impossible odds, breaking new ground in medicine and science, and achieving more than they could ever have dreamed. The film is based on the memoir ‘Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen’, by Jane Hawking, and is directed by Academy Award winner James Marsh (Man on Wire). Naturally, I am fascinated by this film because of the critical acclaim and the Oscar-nominated performances, but why do I think this is going to be a very ordinary film about an extraordinary man?
Mortdecai – Juggling some angry Russians, the British Mi5, his impossibly leggy wife and an international terrorist, debonair art dealer and part time rogue Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) must traverse the globe armed only with his good looks and special charm in a race to recover a stolen painting rumoured to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold. Reviews have been dire, calling this role a low point in Depp’s post-Pirates career. Yikes. I think I will skip this one.
Weekly Recommendation: This is one of the most Oscar-heavy weeks of the season so far. Foxcatcher and The Theory of Everything both received five Academy Award nominations, and Still Alice one. I will catch up with The Theory of Everything this week, but I can highly recommend Foxcatcher and Still Alice, which are likely to cut deep.