Helytimes Mailbag


Lots of readers wrote to me to the effect “You got Wild completely wrong, this is a great movie.”  A sample:

The fact that she can quit and has no reason to walk is what I liked.  I don’t see it as a motivation problem. I like that we don’t know what she means to accomplish almost precisely because she doesn’t know what she wants.  She just knows that the noise in her head telling her to act out and hurt herself and it’s turning her into a person who is different than the person she thought her mom wanted her to be.   So that’s why she heads into nature.  She never “arrives” so to speak, she just feels differently about herself by the time she gets to Ashland

Terrific!  Thanks for writing.  Like I said I thought it was pretty good.


Lots of incoming fire also came my way re: Selma.  (Funny to do an image search for “Selma”).  Let me quote from one:

Helytimes, I have a bone to pick with you.  Selma was a great movie.  I wept.  I may not know everything about LBJ but this was a powerful movie and I don’t get why you were being so hard on it.


Why were you so hard on Selma without taking any shots at an even more historically inaccurate movie, The Imitation Game, which misrepresents Alan Turing’s character, is similarly “all over the place” and is just a mess?

Well what can I tell you: I didn’t think it was that good.  It’s not an easy movie to make, surely.  Should it get points for difficulty?  Maybe!  If you liked Selma, that’s terrific.  I want you to have as many things to like as possible.

As for The Imitation Game — whatever, I can’t pay attention to everything!  It seemed to me that movie took place in a kind of bizarro reality so whatever historical crimes were extra- beside the point.  The Wikipedia folks seem to have it covered too:

Turing’s surviving niece Payne thought that Knightley was inappropriately cast as Clarke, whom she described as “rather plain”.

joan clarke

Harsh. I did wonder why the character played by Tywin Lanister was such an asshole to Alan Turing:


Was that real?  Tywin is playing Alastair Denniston.  Got this book:


and looked up every time Denniston appears, which is six times.  He’s never once a jerk to Turing.  This is the closest he comes:


Maybe Andrew Hodges just left that part out.  Is it unfair to real-life person Denniston to make him out that way?:

Libby Buchanan, Denniston’s 91-year-old niece and god-daughter, said she recalled a “quiet, dignified” man who was devoted to his work.

Judith Finch, his granddaughter, added: “He is completely misrepresented. They needed a baddy and they’ve put him in there without researching the truth about the contribution he made.”

The film’s writer, Graham Moore, and producers said: “Cdr Denniston was one of the great heroes of Bletchley Park.

“As such, he had the perhaps unenviable position of being a layman overseeing the work of some of the century’s finest mathematicians and academics — a situation bound to result in conflict as to how best to get the job done.

“I would say that this is the natural conflict of people working extremely hard under unimaginable pressure with the fate of the war resting on their heroic shoulders.”

The part of Imitation Game I found most interesting was the idea that once they broke the code, Turing and the boys and Kiera Knightley worked out a system to use the information they had in a statistically measured way.  Looked into this and couldn’t find much more about it.  Seems like actually the way it worked is they limited access to the Enigma info to a small pool of top military commanders, and even that they were haphazard and bad at.  This seemed like a decent article on that:

According to Gordon Welchman, who served at Bletchley Park for most of the war, We developed a very friendly feeling for a German officer who sat in the Qattara Depression in North Africa for quite a long time reporting every day with the utmost regularity that he had nothing to report.

qattara depression

Qattara Depression. Wonder what happened to that guy.

Anyway: I love getting mail, thanks for taking the time, keep it coming – helphely at gmail is the way.

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