This week, Cineast offers previews of the new movies Foxcatcher, Dumb and Dumber To and The Imitation Game.
The film Foxcatcher recounts the history surrounding John du Pont’s murder of wrestler Dave Schultz in 1996. It was a bizarre murder that until now had faded from memory—maybe because it was so strange. It was pretty hard for the public to process that multimillionaire John DuPont, one of the heirs to the du Pont chemical fortune, a philanthropist and supporter of amateur wrestling, could have been such a creepy loser. While du Pont’s mental illness must have been plain for everyone to see—in the film, Steve Carell, in a career-altering role, eerily captures the eccentricities and otherness of the deeply disturbed du Pont—du Pont’s wealth and his family name insulated him from the repercussions of his oddities. Meanwhile, his generosity towards amateur wrestling—he established an Olympic wrestling training facility at Foxcatcher, his family farm, and supported USA Wrestling—bought him the loyalty of Mark and Dave Schultz, two Olympic wrestlers who lived at Foxcatcher for many years and coached younger wrestlers there. With Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo as Mark and David Schultz, the film explores what can happen when money becomes an incentive to ignore the truth.
Dumb and Dumber To
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels make their triumphant return to the land of the stupid gag that you laugh at despite yourself. Dumb and Dumber To is supposed to take place 20 years after the events of the original Dumb and Dumber, which is about right considering that the original film was released in 1994. Since that time, Jim Carrey—whose hilarious antics and broad physical humor elevated Dumb and Dumber and many similarly goofy films from the merely amusing to the sublime—has taken on more serious roles, with mixed results. Like Robin Williams playing serious roles, Carrey always seemed like he was holding himself in check. Audiences couldn’t help but long for the suppressed clown to break out. Naturally, neither Carrey nor Daniels is as young as they used to be, and it may be hard to watch these aging clowns try to recapture that spark of joyful idiocy that marked the earlier film. CGI might help. The Farrelly brothers directed, of course.
The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch, with his talent for playing eccentric geniuses (Sherlock Holmes, anyone?), takes on the part of real-life math genius Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. Brought in by the British government during World War II to break a seemingly unbreakable Nazi code, Turing went about the work with characteristic iconoclasm—trying the patience of his military minders and making many enemies. The fact that he broke the code—and pioneered computer design in the process—did not prevent the British government from later prosecuting him for homosexuality. I smell an Oscar.