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The Imitation Game: Benedict Cumberbatch is flawless as Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing

The Imitation Game: Benedict Cumberbatch is flawless as Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing

The Skeleton Twins

The Skeleton Twins

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The Imitation Game: Benedict Cumberbatch is flawless as Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing

During World War II, the Germans used a code machine called Enigma that changed the code every night at midnight and made the code all but impossible for the Allies to break. However breaking it would mean knowing the German plans and it became a priority, with a secret unit set up in Bletchley Park.

The Imitation Game, based on Andrew Hodges' biography of Alan Turing, begins with a frosty interview between Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch)  a young maths' scholar and Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) who is in charge of the team trying to break Enigma.

From the outset it is clear that Denniston doesn't like Turing whom the film suggests is on the autism spectrum. He manages to alienate his code-breaking colleagues (Matthew Goode, Allen Leech and Matthew Beard) and really only rates the skills of Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) who although highly skilled is not allowed to work with the code breakers officially because she is a woman. With the support of M16 in the person of Maj Gen Menzies (Mark Strong) Turing gets funding to build the machine which he believes is the only way to crack the code.

Director Morten Tyldum tells the story on three levels, in its present, flashing back to Turing's solitary school days and forward to the last days of his life when, his war records expunged because of secrecy, Turing becomes a victim of the British version of McCarthyism making it a tragedy snatched from the jaws of victory.

A great story, told in a workmanlike fashion, its emotional content made the Weinstein company pay a record amount for the US rights. The whole cast is great but Cumberbatch is flawless, offering a Turing who is both annoying and affecting. Two hours well spent.

Opens November 14th.

Aine O'Connor

The Skeleton Twins

Cert: 15A

Milo (Bill Hader) is a failed actor who waits tables in LA and describes himself as "a tragic gay cliché". For over a decade he has not spoken to his twin, Maggie, (Kristen Wiig) who is making a stab at suburban normalcy with an all-American husband called Lance (Luke Wilson). Yet before the opening titles have finished, and to the blaring tune of Blondie's Denis, both of the Skeleton Twins have attempted suicide.  But whilst Milo's attempt is public knowledge, Maggie's is known only to her, and us. In the aftermath they reunite, piecing together their separate lives and the one they had together.

Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman won the screenwriting award in Sundance and it is, in virtually every respect, a quintessential Sundance film. Quirky but traditional, good characters and characterisations, family, bit of humour, bit of pathos, bit of redemption, which actually makes it right up my street as well and I liked this a lot.

Hader and Wiig are great together, they have done TV before and it translates well as they play two halves of one personality, Milo who vomits his truths and Maggie who guards hers. They have excellent support, Lance sidesteps predictability every time and Wilson plays it really well and Modern Family's Ty Burrell has a small but pivotal role that he plays with intensity. The pace is steady, it's not too long, it's moving without being schmaltzy, it's more film-ish (versus realistic) than it might aspire to be, but that's no bad thing. Now showing.

Aine O'Connor

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