Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Free movies

Thanks to Vodafone, we now have so much upload/download data available to use each month that we'd barely be able to use it in two months, let alone one.  We've gone from having only 5 gb a month (which we were running over regularly) with Orcon, to 20 gb with Vodafone, which we also began to run over slightly (!), to having 80 gb, which is just far too much.  We'd have to be online watching movies all day long to use it.

Anyway, I do watch the occasional movie online, if it's free.  There's a great site called Open Culture which lists hundreds of free feature-length movies, and shorts, as well as all sorts of other educational programmes.  Some of the older movies aren't much to write home about, to be honest, but there are several of Hitchcock's older movies available, which I've caught up on, such as Jamaica Inn (one of his worst) and Juno and the Paycock.

I discovered the other night that there was a TV feature-length film called Breaking the Code available.  It's about Alan Turing, the man who basically invented the computer, although he was also well-known as a brilliant mathematician, and code-breaker.  (He worked on breaking Hitler's Enigma Code, at Bletchley Park.)

Turing was also homosexual, and his admission of this (which seems rather ridiculously done in the film) brought him not only to court but to a 'punishment' of having to take oestrogen to reduce his male desires.   It didn't work, of course, and he died unexpectedly a few years later: it was officially listed as suicide for many years, but recent investigation considers it may be more likely that he accidentally killed himself by eating an apple that had cyanide on it.  He was an experimenter in all sorts of scientific fields.

Turing is played by Derek Jacobi in the film.  Jacobi is one of the best of British actors, and he does very well with his role as Turing.   However there is a major problem.  Turing is at most only in his thirties when the film takes place but at the time of filming, Jacobi was 58.  You're too often aware of his real age, even though he doesn't always look quite so old.  In some scenes it's irrelevant, but in the scenes with the young man with whom he has a brief affair, and the young woman who's fallen in love with him, his age is a barrier to real belief in the story.  (Incidentally, Prunella Scales plays his mother in the film: she was born in 1932.  Jacobi in 1938.)

Nevertheless, this is an interesting film, and has an excellent cast.  The long explanation of some mathematical problem that takes place in the middle of the film will probably leave many viewers gasping for breath, but in general things are straightforward - mathematically.  The film leans a little heavily on the homosexual aspects, I think: Turing was a good deal more than a homosexual who happened to be a brilliant mathematician.