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I was fine with this movie until the end. It wasn’t a terrible disappointment like the ending of The Departed or the end of The Happening, but rather the post-script of the movie which suggests the main character has become an icon of the transgender community kind of soured the whole thing for me.

The worst part is, the movie doesn’t really do that. In fact, the movie completely makes a diversion from the factual elements of the marriage of its true-life inspirations.

Set in the late 1920’s in parts of Western Europe, The Danish Girl is REALLY about Gerda Wegener, an American portrait artist played by Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina), and her marriage to Einar Wegener, a landscape painter played by Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything). Gerda uses her husband Einar as a female model for a new series of paintings, calling her Lili. What starts as a game between the couple turns troublesome as Einar starts to Flex His X (my term for a man exhibiting more feminine tendencies) and soon his personality splinters into the two persona’s with Lili taking over quickly.

Eventually, Lili decides to literally cut Einar out of her in an extremely risky operation (for that time) for the ultimate “I’d rather die as myself than live as someone else” ending…I think.

Here’s where the film fails to make Einar/Lili a heroic icon of the transgender community. First, it didn’t really show how Lili was received by the society around her. Even more shots of judge mental looks and whispering a would have been good, but rather Gerda had to deal with that FAR MORE than Lili ever did. Lili got a little harassed and beat up in a park. That’s about it.

Second, the film spent so much time on Einar going to different doctors trying to figure out what’s “wrong” with him, baiting schizophrenia and other mental disorders that its easy for the viewer to start to believe Einar/Lili does in fact suffer from multiple-personality disorder. In which case, surgery may be the worst thing for him. It was confusing in that respect.

I know this movie was based on a book by David Eberschoff which completely butchered the true life accounts of its inspirational characters, but the movie could have incorporated more of the facts regarding these two. One missed fact was “Einar” was diagnosed as being intersexed and found to have both male and female sex organs and XXY chromosomes (aka Klinefelter’s Syndrome). This actually wasn’t medically recognized until 1942. This little tidbit would have portrayed Redmayne’s character as having a gender crisis rather than appearing to have multiple-personality disorder. It would also show him as making a brave decision and working through his crisis rather than a mentally ill person making an ill-advised decision.

If there is any hero in this movie it’s, Gerda. She stood by her husband through every step of this unusual situation and came to terms that she only wanted him to be safe and happy. Although it was hard to understand where this strength was coming from, Vikander’s performance helped sell it. She ran the gambit with her inner conflicts; joy, confusion, bitterness, sadness. I’m just glad her performance wasn’t all victim mentality, tear-filled eyes in every scene. Some of that was in there but her role was far more dynamic.

In fact, she carried the movie. Redmayne was also amazing but his character was so confusing to me, it soured his performance as well for me. This movie is Gerda’s story not Lili’s. She had more dialogue. She has more screen time. I don’t even know how she didn’t get nominated Best Actress rather than Best Supporting Actress. I read Focus Features campaigned her for that award to give her a better chance of winning but who knows.

I’ll also say the visual telling of the story was also good with Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) at the helm. There moments I was watching Danish Girl and thought This movie completely LOOKS like King’s Speech. So I looked it up and behold, Hooper as director. He has a very recognizable style which I enjoy. I just wish his material for this was a little more clear than it was.

Overall, The Danish Girl was decent but not stellar. With no political agenda on the subject in either direction, it was okay at best.

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poster_exmachinaThis movie was terribly awkward, and part of it was how quiet it was. It was like sitting in a room with a super smart but socially awkward person and not saying anything to each other for almost two hours.

While highly interesting, Ex Machina struck me as a new generation Stanley Kubrick film; one that is far more entertaining and with actually something to say.

Ex Machina is about a young programmer named Caleb, played by Domhnall Gleeson (The Revenant), who is hired by a young but powerful tech mogul named Nathan, played by Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), to assess the result of Nathan’s latest AI development for flaws. The AI to assess? An android beauty who shows her true intelligence, artificial or not, by using Caleb as a means of escape.

The best thing about this movie is watching the mysteries surrounding Nathan unfold. What the hell is going on with this guy? What did this programmer get himself into? That’s what you spend half the movie wondering and getting little clues towards. And albeit the movie is paced slow until the third act, it’s these wonders and these clues that kept me engaged. I had to know what the hell was going on with this Nathan guy, no matter how slow the film. So I will credit this engagement to the screenplay by also-director Alex Garland (Dredd, 28 Days Later), which garnished him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and deservedly so.

As a director, the pace was a little too slow for me to say no nomination was a wrong. However, this awkwardness of the style accompanied the film’s style very well.

There were only three principal performances in the film each of which committed extremely well. My two favorites were Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) as the AI femme droid, and to which the visual FX attached to her character Ava were beyond incredible; truly seamless. However. as her character inner and outer motivations unfolded, the extent of what Vikander gave to the role become increasingly more impressive.

Isaac as Nathan was also spot on. He seemed creepy, but we never really had a reason to be nervous. He was dark and stormy, but we always saw him interact with Caleb with courtesy, accomplishment and appreciation. Isaac really presented this genius with a subtle dynamic that was ultimately hard to explain on the surface and completely added to the fun of unraveling the mystery around him and what he is trying to achieve with his AI development….and why.

Since the film had me so involved, I didn’t mind the Kubrickness of the style. I definitely feel, despite this style, this is the best picture Garland has added to his writer-director credits to date. However, I would say this type of movie is an acquired taste and I can’t say for sure if just anyone will enjoy it as I did.

Let me just put it this way. I enjoyed the film immensely, but I will never own it. I just don’t find it a film I would pop in for fun and watch a second time.

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