The movie is very Haneke, very contemporary, A fresco of today's human condition by looking at the exquisitely delineated characters within an upper class French family. Hupert and Trintignant brilliant as usual, the teenager protagonist a total revelation. Technology, immigration, race and inequality traumas thrown in along with the usual dose of existential angst.
Likely to become a cult movie. Don't miss it.
This is one more film with pseudo patriotic messages and hypocritical wailing over the fate of the "people who go to war". It's not the "people". Career officers are not affected by PTSD. Those affected are lower class enlisted men and women who, with or without patriotism, find going to war the best available option. Ill prepared (many with pre existing mental problems), ill trained and exposed to the most vulnerable situations, they find that "option" sometimes is just one more step in a downward spiral.
The answer is dealing in a rational and humane manner with all aspects: assessing the real cost of engaging in war, careful selection of recruits for different kind of duties and adequate aid to veterans. These are the real issues that these films carefully sidestep.
The historical features underlying the film are reasonably adequate and it is not a bad idea to call attention on some little known aspects. On the other hand, there is some trivialization of tragedy, for instance, in the too unrealistic story of a good German soldier getting into a fight with SS murderers on the front, yet later feeling it to be his duty to his country to live out the war at a desk.
Good cinematography and acting.
There is a final twist, reminiscent of "Dangerous Corner" the old play by J.B. Priestly: the dilemma between a pleasant exterior held up by lies and hypocrisy and the painful truth underneath.
I had a problem during part of the movie confusing husbands and wives and who was doing what to whom, but that may be just me (difficulty in identifying characters). So will watch it again more carefully.
But against this entertaining backdrop there are some serious themes, such as cruelty to animals, vegetarianism and the recruitment of youngsters for extremist causes. Also, more generally, the changing values, aspirations and fears over three generations. The older generation represented by imaginary dialogue between the protagonist and his dead parents. Imaginary but somehow realistic. How many of us have imagined such dialogue? (I have).
I liked less the unnecessarily cruel scene where he throws the little dog into the river. Perhaps a tragic comment that at his breaking point he takes it out on the most innocent and defenseless of his "aggressors". There is also a Hollywood-esque climax complete with a narrowly missed explosion. But overall it ends on a (moderately) hopeful note.
The film is (painfully) funny, at times (uncomfortably) sidesplitting, very enjoyable. It is a must see because it makes a major contribution helping the general public navigate through years of lies and delusions on Afghanistan and foreign policy generally.
Having said that, an ideological ALERT is called for: Anybody concluding from the movie that all you need to do is get out (of Afghanistan in this case) is in my view missing the intricacies of conflicts within Islam and the complex interaction between Islam and the Western World. That is for leaders with courage and imagination to sort out. This is just a movie review.
I found the Isaacson book well documented and credible. Is the series helping to make Einstein and the other characters truly believable? I am afraid not quite due to some of the reasons mentioned in previous reviews. Having said that, I had forgotten most of the details in the book and that sustains my interest and suspense in developments in the series. And I am sure I will remember them longer than was the case after the book.
Yes, the German-accented English (so often used in the past) is a tad ridiculous, but let's face it. Over 90% of the audience to which this series is addressed do not understand German, so direct perception of the dialogue will suffer anyway, whether it is in straight English or in German with subtitles. On the other hand, yes, there are some subtle ways to communicate period and alien culture (as possibly reflected in "The Reader" and Schindler's List).
Regarding complaints about the emphasis on sex and other personal stuff, over "science", once again about 90% of the audience (including myself) is more interested in the former. Anybody wanting to learn more about relativity and other physics issues should rather find some documentary films about these. I would concede that the sex scene right at the start is a little "blatant".
The series does ultimately filter through the theme of public greatness and private shortcomings which so many giants show. At least, it is fair to say that Einstein was honest with himself and the world even if not quite so with the women in his life from day to day.
There is, of course, some "scientific" drama in the case of Einstein. He made a giant theoretical leap as a very young man and spent the rest of his life in frustrating and failed search of another such leap, falling behind others in the race to the mythical "ultimate" answer to "everything". Perhaps the rest of the series will still reflect that.
Finally I totally disagree with negative reactions to having the story shift back and forth in time. The past is not necessarily remembered chronologically and such shifting, if not confusing or frustrating is a completely valid dramatic device. What's more, it is my belief that history generally should be taught that way also. It does not make sense for students to have to plod for months or years through antiquity and the Middle Ages to get exposure to modern times. Rather, the subject should be tackled by focusing on themes, such as slavery, democracy, the role of religion, etc. moving through different periods, starting from present day implications.
I will continue to watch Genius.
Strange though that nobody thought of linking it to Hidden, a 2005 French movie with Daniel Auteil, even when somebody on the board asked about other movies with video tape scenes.
In fact, the French movie covers the same "Stalker as avenger" theme, in a somewhat different context, but suggesting, to use the language of "The Gift" that, in fact, bad things happen to bad people.
In this case, an apparently fine young man is stalked by a former classmate, which unleashes revelations that ultimately unravel the "fine young man"'s life.
Good acting and good dramatic tempo. Only precisely the video scene toward the end could have been made clearer - it is hard to follow.
If you don't understand enough Spanish to follow the Cuban dialog, I am sure a lot gets lost in translation. Others complain the film tells them nothing new.
From my perspective, with some familiarity with Cuban culture, down to the iconic Hotel Nacional featured in the film (where I stayed for 3 mights in 2011), I can only say that I may have learned little that is new but through most of the film, the vibrancy, the music, the sensuality, the sheer joy and pain of the Cuban experience shone through and it touched my soul.
The movie is reasonably entertaining, based on usual clichés of small-time America, British-American culture chasm, etc.. The women are nice to look at. Colin Firth does an average job, which suffers from comparison with some of his major movies. Also both he and Hugh Grant have clearly been over-stretching their franchise on the bumbling Brit cliché.
All together, if you stumble into this while zapping channels, you won't be sorry.
Having said that, I was quite unaware of the simultaneous attempts to assassinate the Vice President and Secretary of State. I was aware of the "Sic semper tyrannis" quote - I remember my father mentioning it to me not less than 50 years ago, but I was not aware that it had been adopted by Virginia as part of its state symbol.
I had read and saw films about conspirators, including notably one about incarceration and trial of a physician who allegedly set John Wilkes Booth's fractured leg. I remembered reading - probably in a history magazine - a story about one conspirator who was hunted by U.S. agents all the way to the Papal States and brought back in chains but ultimately acquitted. After watching the movie, I wondered whether that could be John Surratt, so I googled it and lo and behold, it was. Perhaps they could have added a few words regarding this extraordinary story in the final footnotes.
So for me the film was extremely interesting from an historic perspective. From the point of view of cinematographic entertainment it was just OK, not overwhelming, possibly too "serious" to stand out as fun.