Thursday Movie Picks #6: Prodigy/Genius

Thursday Movie Picks by Wandering through the Shelves returns. The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week, pick three to five movies and share the reason. Should anyone be interested in joining in, feel free to visit the main page here.

This week’s theme is: Prodigy or Genius. This kind-of-movie used to be one of my most favorites, when I was awe-struck by mind-blowing movies. For this theme, I personally pick movies about those genius who descends into trouble ironically caused by their brilliant minds. So, here’s my picks of movies about prodigy/genius.

01. Proof (2005)

Proof (2005, John Madden)
Proof (2005, John Madden)

Proof is one of the first films I admire for how it narrates its complicated, unreliable narrative. It tells a story of a relationship between a mathematician father and daughter (respectively portrayed by Anthony Hopkins and Gwyneth Paltrow). Both are geniuses in the field they both share; however, their brilliant minds take its toll. The father suffers from mental illness allegedly rooted from his genius; meanwhile, the daughter, although having brilliant mind as well, is over-shadowed by her father. The complicated relationship is seasoned with Hopkins’ and Paltrow’s engaging performance, along with Jake Gyllenhaal in a supporting role.

02. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

A Beautiful Mind (2001, Ron Howard)
A Beautiful Mind (2001, Ron Howard)

Ron Howard’s based-on-real-event Best Picture winner is a very poignant story of a brilliant mathematician, who develops paranoid schizophrenia following a dire mission he carries. Russell Crowe as Nobel-winner, John Nash, convinces us that sometimes beautiful, brilliant mind descends into the dark side. However, deep inside, A Beautiful Mind is a beautiful love story takes place in a perplexed mind.

03. Pi (1998)

Pi (1998, Darren Aronofsky)
Pi (1998, Darren Aronofsky)

Darren Aronofsky’s directorial debut is a monochromatic surreal thriller about a mathematician and his manic obsession with specific numbers, which he relates to the secret of universe. Pi embraces lots of elements from mathematics, economics, even mysticism into one head, creating a quantum leap in a form of psychological thriller.

 

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15 thoughts on “Thursday Movie Picks #6: Prodigy/Genius”

  1. Oh a theme within the theme! Love those, this is a dark one but a good choice. I haven’t seen Pi, always meant too but haven’t gotten to it yet but the other two are terrific films. I’m not much for Paltrow but she was decent in Proof, though I thought both Hopkins and Jake were better.
    A Beautiful Mind is one I’ve seen pop up a few places already, it fits very well and has fantastic work by Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly. It’s not something I revisit but a decent film.

    Speaking of theme within themes I did one myself this week focusing on musical child, at least at the start of the films, prodigies.

    The Legend of 1900 (1998)-In the year 1900 Danny Boodmann, a stoker (Bill Nunn) on an American ship discovers an abandoned baby left on board. Taking him in to raise as his own he gives him a long unwieldy name eventually shortened to 1900 as the pair live their life at sea. As 1900 grows his musical genius becomes apparent and he becomes the ship’s mascot. After a tragedy befalls Danny 1900 remains on board growing to manhood (where he is played by Tim Roth) never touching dry land but continuing to hone his skill (including a fantastic sequence where he plays a waltz during a storm at sea). In time he befriends Max, a trumpeter in the ship orchestra (Taylor Pruitt Vince) and it is through his reverie we learn 1900’s story.

    Poor Little Rich Girl (1936)-Starring Shirley Temple, one of Hollywood’s premier musical prodigies (in terms of dollars & cents THE musical prodigy) as the rich girl of the title. Barbara (that would be Shirl) on her way to boarding school is left to her own devices when her nanny is killed in an accident. Barbara unaware of this but not wanting to go to the school wanders the city until she becomes acquainted with and is taken in by a pair of down on their luck performers Jimmy & Jerry Dolan (Jack Oakie & Alice Faye). Thinking she’s an orphan and realizing that she’s a musical prodigy they put Barbara in their act as their daughter. Soon they hit the big time with their own radio show overseen by ad exec Margaret Allen (Gloria Stuart of Titanic fame) where they’re heard by Barbara’s widowed father who has been searching for her frantically. One of the better Temple vehicles with a first rate supporting cast, both Oakie and Alice Faye get several chances to strut their stuff, and no matter how you feel about her Shirley was a bundle of talent.

    Amadeus (1984)-Multi Oscar winning story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) and Antonio Salieri (an Oscar winning F. Murray Abraham) and how Salieri’s jealousy of Mozart’s genius lead to great tragedy for both. Amazing music, performances, set design and direction. An essential film.

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  2. I have placed Proof on my to watch list. A Beautiful Mind is an excellent film and another popular choice this week. I have never heard of PI but it sounds interesting

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  3. I’m really a fan of A Beautiful Mind. Glad to see it’s so popular, this week. Pi is a perplexing film. Lots of great ideas, but it fell apart for me. I’m willing to give it another go since I’ve only seen it once, though. Haven’t seen Proof, yet.

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  4. I haven’t seen any of these movies. Your first two have been suggested already and I added them to my watch list. This is the first time to see Pi mentioned, which I plan to see soon. Thanks for sharing your recommendations. Have a good weekend!

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