Movie Review Catch Up – The Babadook, Nightcrawler & The Imitation Game

With December and Christmas bringing a sleigh-load of work with it (I realise this makes me sound like Santa Claus), I’ve not been able to get my thoughts down on some of the films I’ve seen. So here they are in one festive bundle.

The Babadook

The Babadook

A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.

Being a well-known wimp when it comes to horror films, I was incredibly trepidatious about checking out Australian horror film The Babadook but it turned out to be one of the more enjoyable horror experiences I’ve had of recent years.

Rather than your common or garden jump scares that litter most modern horrors, The Babadook has a creeping sense of unease rooted in issues that many may find familiar, mixed with the supernatural and the uncanny. It’s this sense of familiarity that helps the film really get under your skin, and those who have children may well feel it hits close to home.

When stripped down there’s little here that hasn’t been done before (haunted house, possessed child, etc) and it does stray into cliche territory on occasion, but an interesting subtext surrounding depression and the brilliantly-designed Babadook monster itself help it to rise above any problems those cliches bring about.

It’s not going to reinvent the horror genre, but The Babadook is a rarity in that it actually has substance and something to say rather than just relying on trying to make your jump.

4 pigeons

4/5 pigeons

Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler

When Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.

One of the things that made David Fincher’s Gone Girl interesting was its commentary on today’s media, how it’s produced and how we consume it. However, as Gone Girl had that as something of a secondary message, it’s very much the central focus of Nightcrawler and it does it brilliantly.

In a way it’s the more serious, sinister side of Anchorman and the instant nature of 24-hour rolling news, as well as the competition between news agencies and channels. It’s a murky, morbid world, but one that we’re happy to lap up and exposes the voyeurs in many of us. It’s like slowing down in your car to get a peek at a nasty accident.

Smack bang at the centre of all this is Lou Bloom, played superbly by Jake Gyllenhaal. Lou is a clearly troubled fellow who lacks social skills, but his desire to do whatever it takes to get the right shot makes him dangerous. He’s an anti-hero of sorts and despite his major flaws, there is something sympathetic, almost admirable about the character and Gyllenhaal must take a massive amount of credit for that.

It’s not often that a film makes you appreciate such an awkward, unsettling character but Nightcrawler does just that. It’s also an interesting comment on modern news and society, and suggests that we’re just as much intrigued and fascinated by what Lou does as we are abhorred by it.

4 and a half pigeons

4.5/5 pigeons

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game

English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), helps crack the Enigma code during World War II.

It’s unfathomable to think what the world would have been like without Alan Turing, and yet many still don’t realise just how influential he was in ending World War II. However, what’s even less well known (and just as unfathomable) is the inhumane treatment of Turing at the hands of the UK government simply because he was gay.

The Imitation Game balances both these elements of Turing’s life and does an excellent job of hitting all the important points, which is perfect for those who have little knowledge of Turing. However, it takes very few risks and never goes into too much detail about either side of his life, which might not satisfy those wanting something a little meatier and in-depth.

What really elevates the film, though, is Benedict Cumberbatch’s brilliant performance as Alan Turing. His awkward, arrogant manner isn’t always likeable but is magnificently handled by Cumberbatch and those hailing it as a career-best performance wouldn’t be being too hyperbolic.

It does verge on the wrong side of sentimental at times, but this is more a celebration of Turing that plays to the masses rather than anything deeper and darker. If nothing else The Imitation Game will bring Turing’s story to those who weren’t previously aware of it and encourage them to dig deeper into one of the most important men of the 20th century.

4 pigeons

4/5 pigeons

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23 thoughts on “Movie Review Catch Up – The Babadook, Nightcrawler & The Imitation Game

  1. ruth says:

    Great mini reviews Chris! I don’t think I have the nerves to check out The Babadook but been hearing great things. I so want to see Nightcrawler, hopefully that’ll arrive on Bluray soon. I’m still working on my review of Imitation Game and I pretty much agree w/ your rating. It’s a good film but not quite as impactful as I thought it would.

    • Thanks Ruth! The Babadook isn’t as scary as I thought it would be and there’s plenty in there for people who aren’t massive horror fans. Nightcrawler is a must as I think it should be in the Oscar hunt. And I agree about the Imitation Game. I think it would have been more impactful if they’d focused more on his later life.

  2. Stu says:

    Hi Chris, good to see a catch-up post. I’ve only seen Nightcrawler out of these three, and I thought it was superb. Glad to see you liked it too. I am keen to see The Babadook, but not a big Cumberbatch fan, which is probably why I gave the latter a miss.

  3. theipc says:

    Babadook Dook Dook….

    Nice to hear from you!

  4. Chris, you’ve seen three great films! I’m going to give The Babadook a try even though I’m easily spooked but this sounds more like psychological thriller than horror. Everyone seems to love it.

  5. Great reviews! I hope to catch up on Imitation Game. Nightcrawler is fantastic, definitely in my personal top ten of the year. I appreciate The Babadook but not one of my faves of the year. 🙂

  6. keith7198 says:

    Solid reviews buddy. I really enjoyed The Babadook. Pleasant surprise.

  7. Nostra says:

    Have only watched Nightcrawler of these but I absolutely loved that film. I compared the character to De Niro’s work in King of Comedy and Taxi Driver. For Gyllenhaal it is one of his most memorable performances.

  8. Abbi says:

    I LOVED Nightcrawler. It’s definitely going on my top 10.

  9. Jade says:

    I really enjoyed the Babadook, but would have to be a little patient for the releases of The Imitation Game and Nightcrawler. Great reviews!

  10. Mark Walker says:

    Good to see you keeping your hand in Chris. I’m pretty much the same these days. Loved Nightcrawler but haven’t even written about it. The Babadook was decent but I found it to be slightly overrated.

    • Cheers man, yeah it’s very sporadic for me at the moment, purely because I am working so much and haven’t got the energy in the evening to carry on typing! There’s a few films that I just haven’t got around to reviewing. I hear ya about the Babadook, it won’t make my best of the year but I still thought there was plenty of good stuff in it.

  11. sati says:

    I haven’t seen the Imitation Game yet but I agree the other two are really good. Nightcrawler is so far in my top 3 of the year, it was so entertaining and I really appreciated its fast pace – I saw some crazy boring movies before that one 🙂

  12. Great reads as always Chris. Haven’t seen The Babadook yet; too scared! Merry Christmas mate!

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