Sunday, December 14, 2014

Power Game

Abuse of Weakness (2013) - Breillat
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Why on earth an intelligent, ballsy woman get herself knowingly conned out of all her money? Based on a real life experience, director Catherine Breillat's Abuse of Weakness poses that question. Always dabbled on sexual power politics in her films, Breillat sets the stage for Maud (Isabelle Huppert), an esteemed film director and a charismatic conman Vilko (Kool Shen). Maud has a stroke one morning in her bed that leaves her paralyzed left half of her body. After a long rehab, she is somewhat back to the way she was. But the usual day-to-day chores becomes tantamount tasks for her. After seeing a TV interview of a thuggish ex-con man Vilko, she immediately decides to cast him in a new psycho-sexual film despite everyone's objections. Vilko, amused by this frail, older woman who doesn't get impressed/intimidated by him and his tall tales, sets out to do what he knows best, charming her to squeeze money out of her. The movie idea is long forgotten. She writes checks upon checks to him as he cites various reasons for these 'advances'. She, in physically vulnerable place but financially has an upper hand, plays out this dangerous power game. Not exactly a sugar mommy, but she enjoys the power she has over the brut. She likes to have him carry her into the car or puts her custom made kinky orthopedic boots on for her. There is a sexual tension, but she doesn't let him have it which is also part of the power game. Things change when she runs out of money.

Abuse of Weakness is endlessly fascinating and delicious and features the most fearless, complex performance of the year by Huppert.


The Imitation Game (2014) - Tyldum
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The film doesn't turn out to be about brilliant English mathematicians led by Benedict Cumberbatch breaking the Nazi Enigma Code. But it's more about keeping secrets in the time when there was less tolerance. Cumberbatch gives a remarkable performance as an arrogant genius who has a terrible secret. Not a stretch for him by any means. He and his team may have helped to win the war but their heroics were classified for 50 years. But it's an unfulfilled, tender love story between Alan Turing (Cumberbatch) and his computer Christopher and the actor really shines portraying the agony of double secrecy Turing had to live with. Touching and well acted, The Imitation Game is a top notch entertainment. Norway's Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) proves to be a very capable director.