The King's Speech reviews

Mister Tee
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Postby Mister Tee » Mon Feb 21, 2011 12:29 am

Okay...The King's Speech.

I liked it fine, I suppose, but I'm with BJ that it's a really minor piece, with even less reverb than The Queen had. Sonic pinpointed it nicely in saying it's neither epic nor intimate -- or, maybe better, it's an intimate story that doesn't seem content to keep the focus limited, but then doesn't provide a broad enough scope when it attempts to expand its horizons. I presume it wants to be to a degree about monarchy adapting to a new era of modern communications (it's not presuming, actually, as Michael Gambon spells that out pretty literally), but it never forcefully links that up to the other motifs/themes are are running through the piece. In fact, not much of anything links up -- it's mainly Sad Lonely but Fortitudinous Bertie makes a friend and overcomes his handicap just enough to make a speech (and, oh yeah: Hitler!).

The film plays well enough despite this weak structure because of its basic appealing pas de deux, executed by two good actors, and because of some enjoyable enough dialogue. (This probably would have played just as well onstage, where its limitations wouldn't have mattered so much, and the closeness of the actors would have made the dialogue scenes even more fun) I'm still at somewhat a loss as to why this has become the runaway best picture favorite (in a decent year). Though I will say I spent much of the film flashing on earlier best picture winners -- the snooty classism (are we really supposed to be sympathetic to the Queen Mum when she snubs Wallis Simpson?) brought Cavalcade to mind; the succession question evoked A Man for All Seasons; the near-tears therapy sessions had overtones of Ordinary People; the Masterpiece Theatre all-stars showing up in small roles recalled Chariots of Fire; and as for the vocal exercises...when the three were belting out their vowels, they seemed ready to launch into The Rain in Spain.

Incidentally...I've never been that versed in the Edward VIII/Simpson affair, but it sounded silly to me when characters were saying "You're head of Church of England, you can't be involved with a divorce". Ummm...I thought getting an easy divorce was the reason there is a fricking Church of England?

Colin Firth is, as others are saying, not up to his Single Man work, but it's a very solid performance, and in an unexpected key. Yes, the stammer is effectively managed, but I was most taken by his general dyspeptic manner. Asking Colin Firth to sit on his likability is like commanding Julia Roberts not to smile. I fully expected him to melt by the middle scenes, but, honestly, he maintained his reserve nicely, really even past the end, except for minor cracks. Not a major performance, but a strong one. Geoffrey Rush is, by his standards, perfectly restrained, and an able partner for Firth; he's better with dialogue than I remember from earlier efforts. After Helena Bonham Carter's first few scenes, I thought, she's delightful; how is she not seriously in the supporting actress running? Then she disappeared for 95% of the remainder. Nice work; just not enough to do. I didn't care for the rest of the cast -- thought Guy Pearce gave a rare bum performance. The SAG prize was for 2 1/2 performances -- had it really been meant for an ensemble, The Fighter or Social Network were far better qualified.

As for below the line Oscar prospects...I think the costumes are too un-gaudy, but the art direction might be just about what an Academy that voted for Howards End at one time would like (and I bet that wall is something they'd really go for). Desplat's score was disappointing to a fan like me. Yes, it used classical tunes to cover too many moments, but even the intro theme felt reminiscent of Accidental Tourist. It would be a very minor piece of work for which a major composer would be winning.

Not sure where among the ten I'd place it, but I know for sure it's not up top.

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Postby Damien » Sun Feb 06, 2011 8:36 pm

rain Bard wrote:Damien, that is simply brilliant. You put the Onion writers to shame.

Thanks, Rain. Glad you enjoyed it.




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Postby rain Bard » Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:31 am

Damien, that is simply brilliant. You put the Onion writers to shame.

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Postby Damien » Sat Feb 05, 2011 3:40 am

From Variety:

PORKY SET TO BE HIGH ON THE HOG AGAIN
by James Bacon (02/05/2011)

The surprise success of The King's Speech has not just shaken up this year's Oscar race. It has also set the stage for the return of a legendary film veteran.

Variety has learned that final negotiations are being made for Porky Pig to return to the screen in a new adaptation of William Golding's classic novel, Lord of the Flies. The Richard and Lili Zanuck production has already inked teen sensation Justin Bieber to essay hero Ralph and Alexander Gould, the creepy Shane from Showtime's Weeds, to play the insidious Jack. Mr. Pig will be taking the role of Piggy.

"I know it's type casting," the star of such classics as Porky's Pig Feat and the Oscar-nominated Swooner Crooner admitted, "but I'm just happy to be back in the game. For years they said I was 'politically incorrect' and they put me out to pasture in Oxnard, so I'm thrilled to be able to show them I still have what it takes."

Mr. Pig added, "I'm indebted to the filmmakers behind The King's Speech for showing that stuttering is not just fun, it's also boffo box office."

After retiring from films. Porky Pig turned entrepreneuer, owning a chain of vegetarian restaurants called Soy Boy, the slogan for which is "Soy Chops, Boy Oh Boy, Better Than Pork Chops!"

Porky Pig is in negotiations with Audio Books to do a volume of "Great Speeches of British Monarchs."




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Postby Big Magilla » Sat Feb 05, 2011 2:15 am

The shameless promotion continues:

By LINDSEY TANNER, AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner, Ap Medical Writer – Fri Feb 4, 11:47 am ET

CHICAGO – A movie about a stuttering monarch, without sex, car chases or sinewy super heroes, hardly sounds like blockbuster box-office fare.

But in a less flashy way, "The King's Speech" is about a hero, one who battles an invisible enemy that torments nearly 70 million people around the world. In demystifying the little-understood speech impediment, the award-winning film reveals myths and fascinating truths about stuttering, and has won praise from stutterers of all ages.

For Erik Yehl, an 11-year-old Chicago boy who began stuttering in preschool, the movie's powerful message is, "I'm not stupid."

It's a stigma all people who stutter contend with — the notion that because their words sometimes sputter or fail to come out at all, their minds must be somehow mixed up.

"People who stutter — their minds are perfectly good, and they're not deaf, and they don't need to be told to breathe. They know how to breathe. What they need ... is to be listened to," said Susan Hardy, who saw the film with her son Aidan, a 14-year-old Chicago eighth-grader who also stutters.

Aidan's mini-review? "It was great!" he said.

The film depicts King George VI, father of England's Queen Elizabeth II, as a reluctant leader tortured by his stuttering. But with a sense of duty as England confronts a second world war, he musters the courage to seek speech therapy so he can address and calm an anxious nation.

The movie and its actors have already won Golden Globes and other honors, including 12 Oscar nominations. The Academy Awards ceremony is Feb. 27.




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Postby Big Magilla » Sat Feb 05, 2011 1:58 am

Lou Lumenick in the N.Y. Post 2/3/2011:

I'm fairly ambivalent about the prospect of the inevitable "Black Swan'' sequel that I wrote about here yesterday. But I would love to see a sequel/spinoff of another Best Picture nominee -- "The King's Speech.''

"The King's Brother,'' as it would likely be called, would focus not on King George VI but his shallow, Nazi-sympathizing brother, who preceded him on the throne for most of 1936 as Edward VIII.

Critics of "The King's Speech'' have praised Guy Pearce's terrific performance in this supporting role, even as they complain that the movie barely hints at Edward's coziness with Adolf Hitler.

A sequel -- with Colin Firth's George returning in a key supporting role -- could focus on Edward, known for most of his life as the Duke of Windsor.

There have been a slew of TV projects about his brief reign, abdication and romance with American divorcee Wallis Simpson. In some ways, that's probably the least interesting part of the story.

A glance at Edward's Wikipedia page reveals that Edward continued making trouble for his younger brother after he became George VI, visiting with and expressing admiration for Hitler. The Duke and Dutchess' house in Paris was guarded by the collaboratonist French government after he and Wallis fled the country.

The Duke and the Dutchess of Windsor spent most of the war in the Bahamas, where he was installed as governor -- reportedly because the British government decided he could do the least damage there. There were rumors that if Hitler won the war, he planned to re-install Edward on the English throne with Wallis as his queen.

The deposed monarch is said to have never forgiven his brother for not allowing any member of the royal family to attend his wedding. The bitterness continued well after George died in 1952 and his daughter Elizabeth acended the throne without her uncle on hand. The Duke of Windsor was best known as a French-based, empty-headed jet setter when he died 20 years later.

It could make a great movie, a worthy followup to "The King's Speech.'' And it's got an even heavier Nazi theme, something Oscar voters can't resist. Harvey, are you listening?
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Postby Big Magilla » Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:56 pm

Press release:

"The Weinstein Company (TWC) is honored to learn that Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth, has enjoyed a private screening of THE KING’S SPEECH, as reported by Duncan Larcombe, Royal Editor, in today’s edition of The Sun. The film, directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler, tells the story of Her Majesty’s father, King George VI, as he struggles to overcome a crippling speech impediment while grappling with his sudden, unexpected ascension to throne and the mounting danger of Nazi Germany."
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Postby Sabin » Wed Feb 02, 2011 3:02 pm

So, I watched The King's Speech again. It plays much better at home. Because it's television. It has no lofty ambitions stylistically or thematically. It's just a sweet little movie content to bobble along. There is more in Inception and 127 Hour that aggravates, but The King's Speech is just so uneven and dull that it still might be my least favorite of the nominees.

The scenes between Firth and Rush are still the film's highlights. Sonic is right when he says that these actors have done their research and bounce off each other like pros. I found more to enjoy in Geoffrey Rush's performance this time. At first I found his performance to be laden with still vanity, but there's more going on here that he underplays. I can't say it's deserving of an Oscar or a nomination, but he's better than I had originally estimated. Helena Bonham Carter also finds quite a bit of nuance to fit between the cracks of every scene. I actually found myself wanting a bit more of her. There's a line in the trailer that was cut "I should be a very good queen to a very good king" that I can't imagine why they cut. It had me thinking how much more of the film was cut down. There is a certain choppiness leading up to the break between Bertie and Lionel. And now the Weinsteins want to cut out some of the few laughs in the film in watching Bertie spout an utterly botched stream of profanities? That's some weak sauce.

My biggest problem with The King's Speech is that there's not much to like outside of the sense of self-delight you project onto the screen. There is no scene of real inspiration. The narrative is woefully uneven with the abdication as deathly boring as the wall is deathly ugly. I feel like The King's Speech is the movie that haters accused Shakespeare in Love of being, ie an unsubstantial, innocuous, marketing campaign of a movie. It's so strange that David Seidler was victim of a stammer growing up because this is a film that could easily be written by someone with no knowledge whatsoever about such an affliction. I'm not asking for the dullest of minutiae, mind you, but how much of the film is devoted to curing his stammer? Three scenes? Four scenes? Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush bring immeasurable warmth to their scenes, but the script lets them down.
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Postby ITALIANO » Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:55 pm

Sabin wrote:I think the litmus test should go as follows:
1) The film cannot feel like a total fabrication.
2) What is ultimately revealed to have been omitted cannot be more interesting than the entirety of what was left in.

Right, though these belong to the subjective - what one finds more or less interesting, I mean.

Obviously filmmakers can't make a historical character the opposite that he was in real life - but it's not like The King's Speech makes George VI an ardent anti-Nazi (and by the way, appeasement of Hitler - a policy which England wasn't the only country to adopt for a while - didnt mean being pro-Hitler, of course). Plus, let's face it, the movie doesn't have any political ambition - trying to attack it on these grounds only make it more important than it even wants to be.

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Postby Sabin » Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:01 pm

Films don't have to be accurate unless they feel like a lie. The King's Speech never felt to me like a lie. Some films are so over-the-top ridiculous in their fabricated narratives that they can't be taken seriously. The Hurricane for example never felt a moment like the truth. On the other hand, the more the lies of A Beautiful Mind come to light it just feels wrong, especially considering how much more interesting what was omitted would prove to be:

I think the litmus test should go as follows:
1) The film cannot feel like a total fabrication.
2) What is ultimately revealed to have been omitted cannot be more interesting than the entirety of what was left in.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby Big Magilla » Wed Feb 02, 2011 12:11 pm

I don't think the New Yorker guy is part of the campaign. He's more in the tradition of the New Yorker's "love it or hate it" Pauline Kael.

I don't buy into the argument that we should hate The King's Speech because it doesn't give us the full picture of George VI. It wasn't meant to. If anything, its lies are lies of omission. On the other hand, The Social Network really misrepresents the persona of Mark Zuckerberg, painting him as lonely and forelorn when he is rather upbeat in real life whether or not his motivations had anything to do with all that money.

Both Colin Firth and Jesse Eisenberg give good performances even if neither is a carbon copy of the real life character they play. It's only in modern times that we are able to make such comparisons. We couldn't do it with, say, Charles Laughton in The Private Life of Henry VIII or Rembrandt. It was enough that he looked like the real life characters he was playing.

I think the detractors of The King's Speech are going down the wrong path in these attacks. But I also think it's in retaliation to Harvey Weinstein's bag of tricks. He knows just how to manipulate Academy members as noted in the previous article which Reza posted and Damien referenced in another thread.

If only it was as simple as people watching the movies and judging them on their own merits.
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Postby mlrg » Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:42 am

This negative campaign is just plain stupid

Now I'm really really rooting that it wins best picture

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Postby ITALIANO » Wed Feb 02, 2011 6:49 am

I've never shared this American obsession for exposing a movie's supposed lies, maybe because I never expect a movie to "tell the truth" - even history books often don't, or at best they only try to say the truth, so why should cinema?

Still, I don't understand this moral difference between "positive" lies and "negative" lies - in both cases (and I repeat, I don't find anything wrong with it) it's done to make the movie more effective, more clear in the points it wants to make, so I find this article quite absurd.

I must admit it - the more I read The Social network fans' scared reactions to what's happening lately, the more I love The King's Speech (and I know even too well that it's not a masterpiece!).

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Postby Big Magilla » Wed Feb 02, 2011 4:58 am

From the New Yorker

February 1, 2011
Royal Pains
Posted by Richard Brody

Michael Cieply reports in the Times about recent challenges (as from Christopher Hitchens and Martin Filler) to the accuracy of the depiction of historical events in “The King’s Speech”—in particular, regarding its whitewashing of King George VI’s support for the appeasement of Hitler’s Germany and Winston Churchill’s support for that king’s predecessor and brother, Edward VIII. Cieply thinks that the dispute is merely a matter of pre-Oscar jousting, adding that it is lost on few here that a primary competitor, “The Social Network,” has also faced questions about the veracity of its portrayal of the Facebook entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg, so any showdown between that film and “The King’s Speech” over matters of fact and fiction might end in a draw.

It might, but it shouldn’t. “The King’s Speech” is an anesthetic movie, “The Social Network” an invigorating one—and their scripts’ departures from the historical record serve utterly divergent purposes. The tale of royal triumph through a commoner’s efforts expurgates the story in order to render its characters more sympathetic, whereas the depiction of Mark Zuckerberg as a lonely and friendless genius (when, in fact, he has long been in a relationship with one woman) serves the opposite purpose: to render him more ambiguous, to challenge the audience to overcome antipathy for a character twice damned, by reasonable women, as an “asshole.” (David Kirkpatrick’s article at the Daily Beast about the film’s supposed inaccuracies dwells mainly on trivial nuances—“The real Sean Parker…is certainly high-strung. But nobody would ever call him mean.”)

Imagine if George VI, working to overcome his stammer, were seen at his balcony endorsing Neville Chamberlain’s Munich agreement (as, in fact, happened), or had expressed a preference, as Filler writes, for “the appeaser Lord Halifax to Churchill as [Chamberlain’s] replacement.” It might have made the movie more surprising and more complex than the pap that’s currently enjoying an outpouring of undeserved honors. The inaccuracies in “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” are as different in kind as the movies are different in quality.

P.S. My colleague Nancy Franklin tweeted a link to a recording of King George VI’s actual speech of September 3, 1939. It shows up the bland prowess of Colin Firth’s performance. Listen to the exotic, perhaps now-extinct tang of the actual king’s vowels, and his hint of vibrato, and compare them to Firth’s dulled-down inflections. There’s as little flavor to his speech as to the movie itself.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online....nGFzCh5
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Postby Reza » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:58 am

Harvey Weinstein’s Five Talking Points to Guarantee a King’s Speech Oscar Win

A little over a week ago, it seemed like the Best Picture chances for The King's Speech were dimming in the face of The Social Network's unstoppable awards juggernaut, but now that Speech has pulled out unexpected wins at the PGA, DGA, and SAG ceremonies, the old-fashioned movie looks poised to triumph. Still, producer Harvey Weinstein is not going to leave anything to chance, and that's why he cleverly debuted all of Speech's new, post-nomination talking points in a new chat with Deadlne's Mike Fleming. Though Weinstein appeared to be generous and vaguely conciliatory toward Oscar rival The Social Network, Vulture went through and parsed the interview to figure out what he really meant. Here are the five stealth narratives that Weinstein is trying to advance.

The Social Network is an expensive bully.
"The King's Speech cost $14 million. How can we compete against movies that cost three times what we spent?" asks Weinstein, not even bothering to go bigger with his comparison by pointing out megabudget Best Picture nominees like Inception and Toy Story 3. Nope, the wealthy bully in this race is the $40 million-budgeted The Social Network, though Weinstein notes, "We haven't even gone really wide yet. We will overtake The Social Network. The movie will outgross The Social Network." So you see, The King's Speech is a more profitable movie, too.

Don't let critics tell you whom to vote for.
Remember that ubiquitous Peter Travers pull quote for The Social Network: "This film is better than the movie of the year. The Social Network also defines the decade"? Why, Harvey Weinstein is offended that you would even go there, Mr. Travers. "Putting tags on these movies, or finding the zeitgeist, is an insult to Academy members," Weinstein said, effectively placing all the other critics' groups who toppled for The Social Network on blast, too. "And I'm hearing the backlash and them say, 'I'm sick of being told what is relevant or what will get ratings for the network special.'" Instead, "We just have to give Academy members permission to vote their heart, as opposed to what somebody else is voting."

Instead, let movie stars tell you whom to vote for.
Watch out, Harvey, you just dropped a name: "John Travolta said it best — I don't know if he's allowing me to say this — but he said the reason I'm voting for The King's Speech is because it inspired me and we need inspiration." In fact, Weinstein has so many A-listers on retainer that he brags, "I once asked Warren Beatty to judge between Shakespeare in Love and Saving Private Ryan, because everyone said we were outspending them. He did something phenomenal, counted the ads. And, not by much, but Private Ryan did outspend us." Really, just give Weinstein the Oscar for the visual of Beatty peering over his reading glasses at ads his assistant clipped from two months' worth of Variety.

You're too smart to listen to this appeasement thing.
In recent weeks, there's been chatter that the titular king of The King's Speech wasn't quite as Nazi-averse as the movie portrays him to have been. "I think the Academy is so sophisticated that when those kinds of whispers happen, everybody yawns, and moves on," says Weinstein. "It doesn't mean anything. When we did The English Patient, they said the guy has Nazi sympathies. We weren't making a documentary. We had a story that came from a novel ... It's clear to them that's a publicist scraping the bottom of the barrel. And then it just goes away."

At least he's nicer than Scott Rudin.
Lest you think that Weinstein is still feuding with rival producer Scott Rudin, he would like to assure you that it's not the case. "Scott and I have worked this whole thing out," Weinstein joked. "I've gone to dinner with him three times this week ... I said, 'Scott, you win the critics' awards. I'll win the big one.'" But if you're wondering which one is meaner, perhaps you recall a very specific acceptance speech Rudin gave for The Hours back in 2003? "Scott left me out of the Golden Globe acceptance speech that year, but I'm sure that was unintentional," says Weinstein. "At least, I'd like to think so. I'm hoping. He told me it was. Maybe he got nervous."


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