The King’s Speech (2010) IMDB Top 250 Review

The King’s Speech (2010)

Directed by Tom Hooper

Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 160 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The story of King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne of the British Empire in 1936, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch overcome his stammer.

My Opinion:

Happy Boxing Day! I love this day. I prefer this day to Christmas Day. Far less stressful! Which is why I’ve decided to do a mega quick & lazy review of The King’s Speech, which was one of only three movies I managed to watch for my IMDb Top 250 Project in 2018. I’m seriously slacking on that! (The other two were Citizen Kane & Metropolis, which I’ll review tomorrow).

I didn’t get around to this review as I don’t have much to say about this movie. I hate that. I mean, it’s a good film but I find my reviews only get wordy when I really love or really hate a film (I ramble on for ages when I really hate something). Too many films are somewhere in between: Enjoyable enough while watching them but somewhat forgettable. The King’s Speech is like that. And it won Best Picture at the Oscars! Hmm. Here’s what it beat:

127 Hours (not seen it – there’s that arm bit – ew)
Black Swan (certainly more memorable than The King’s Speech)
The Fighter (meh)
Inception (Nolan is overrated)
The Kids Are All Right (meh)
The Social Network (decent film but also meh)
Toy Story 3 (yeah, I prefer this to The King’s Speech)
True Grit (not seen it)
Winter’s Bone (meh)

Okay – it looks like it was a weak year for films. Now I’m wondering what wasn’t nominated at all that may have been better than these (I’m too lazy to bother looking into that).

I remember that I watched this just after watching Darkest Hour so it was interesting seeing that same time period in English history. Movies are the only way I gain any knowledge of history – I have such a Hollywood version of world history in my head. Pathetic, I know. What can I say? I prefer sci-fi & fantasy. I remember thinking Timothy Spall made for a terrible Winston Churchill in this compared to Gary Oldman’s brilliant performance. Not that it matters – it was a very small part since this movie is about King George VI. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter were all truly fantastic in their roles. That’s why it won Best Picture. Those Academy voters love historical dramas with English accents. Well, Rush isn’t English but Americans can’t tell the difference anyway…

Colin Firth won Best Actor for this, which I think was fair enough. He’s very good in this but I find him rather boring. He plays this stuffy sort of role so often (which is why I guess it was kind of fun seeing him in Kingsman: The Secret Service). I really enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter’s performance and think she deserved an Oscar as well instead of Melissa Leo in The Fighter. Hell, I don’t even remember Leo’s performance – I only remember her swearing in her acceptance speech. To be fair, Bonham Carter plays these stuffy sort of roles more often than Firth but I don’t find her boring. She’s damn good. I’ve never considered myself a fan but I think she always gives a great performance. Maybe I am a fan?? I’ve not watched her stuffiest stuff, though. Maybe I should check out some of that Merchant Ivory shit?? As for Geoffrey Rush, he’s fantastic in this too and also deserved an Oscar (instead of Christian Bale in The Fighter – I hate Bale). But I think Geoffrey Rush is the latest celeb in trouble for some sex stuff from the past so I’ll say no more. At this rate, I’ll have to delete half my blog if I have to get rid of any mention of certain actors…

I said I’d keep this short. The King’s Speech is a good film with fantastic performances. It’s one of those “one-time watch” movies, though. I’m glad I’ve seen it and I did actually enjoy it but I can’t imagine ever watching it again for any reason. It’s certainly weak compared to all the other Best Picture winners & nominees in the history of the Oscars. It’s certainly not the worst, though (I’m looking at you, The English F*%king Patient!). Since I’m a sad & pathetic list maniac, I did rank every Best Picture Oscar Winner I’ve seen HERE and I’ve now added The King’s Speech. It’s toward the bottom but I did enjoy it. I feel like I’m being too harsh on this one! It’s just not all-time classic “Best Picture” material. Or IMDb Top 250 material, which is why I think this has actually now dropped out of that list (I started this project in 2013 so I’m still working off the list from that time).

My Rating: 7/10

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Family Film: Cinderella (2015) & Frozen Fever Reviews

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Cinderella (2015)

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Starring:
Lily James
Cate Blanchett
Richard Madden
Stellan Skarsgård
Holliday Grainger
Derek Jacobi
Ben Chaplin
Sophie McShera
Hayley Atwell
Helena Bonham Carter

Running time: 113 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Don’t be a bitch & you might snag a prince. It helps if you’re really pretty, though.

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Okay – I’m going to review family films in a slightly different way from now on so that you don’t think I’m taking them too seriously. Would I watch as many kids movies if I didn’t have a kid? Of course not! But I’d still watch some, especially from Disney/Pixar. I may be all grown-up (physically, at least) but I do still love the Disney classics & I see Pixar movies such as Toy Story & WALL-E (an all-time favorite movie of mine) as brilliant filmmaking just as worthy of recognition, not just “movies for kids”. So here are my thoughts as well as my daughter’s & husband’s thoughts on the live-action Cinderella remake (and the Frozen Fever short).

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My (Mommy’s) Opinion:

I enjoyed Cinderella much more than I was expecting. I was happy that Branagh kept this very traditional instead of trying to make it more “modern” (the big, puffy blue dress is as fairytale as you can get!) & he stayed quite faithful to the 1950 Disney film. There were only a couple of changes: one involving the slipper, which I think worked better in the 1950 film & one involving the addition of Cinderella’s mother, which I really liked about this adaptation – it was great to see Cinderella’s relationship with her mother as well as with her father.

I’m not going to go much into that whole argument of “are Disney Princess movies damaging to young girls as they’ll think that all that’s important in life is being pretty & snagging a rich guy?”. Absolute bullshit. As long as you teach your kids right from wrong & reality from fantasy, they won’t be forever damaged by watching a harmless Disney film. The original Disney Princess movies are OLD (like me!) and I & other women my age grew up with them and most of us have ended up pretty well adjusted (well, I have my crazy moments but Disney certainly isn’t to blame). Let’s worry more about the boys playing Grand Theft Auto & girls thinking that The Kardashians are “reality” and that that’s the way they should live life. At least Cinderella actually worked. While singing! And making cute outfits for mice. And keeping her ass covered. And not being a superficial bitch even though she was hot. I’m going off on one of my tangents now so, my point is, CHILL. I’d love to live in a world where Disney movies were the biggest thing we had to worry about when it came to raising our kids. Some of their values may be outdated, especially when it comes to the roles of women, but they always tried to teach kids the right sort of morals & had their heart in the right place.

The unfortunate thing with this Cinderella remake is that I think they managed to make Cinderella herself have even less personality than she did in the 1950 film. I know they’re really pushing the “always be kind & brave” thing in this one so I AM glad that she stays kind-hearted & true to herself but, taking out the classic songs from the original (especially the amazing “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo“, one of My Top Ten Disney Songs), leaves this live action remake far inferior as it’s basically the same movie again but without the catchy songs. (FYI – Helena Bonham Carter does at least sing the song through the credits). Oh! And can I just point out that that big, puffy, ostentatious blue dress may get all the attention in this movie but Cinderella’s wedding dress is absolutely stunning! Wow. SPOILER if you’d like the dress to be a surprise but I have to include a picture of it:

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Anything Inappropriate/Scary?:
No. As I said, I’m not one of these “this movie gives girls unrealistic expectations blah blah blah!” moms. Everyone knows this story & it stays very faithful to the original Disney film. Nothing in it will do anyone any harm (in my opinion) but my kid did loudly proclaim “That’s THREE people who died now!” toward the end so, as usual with a typical Disney movie, you may get some “death talk” with your kid but every parent has to deal with death questions from their kids anyway.

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Would I Watch This If I Didn’t Have To?:
Yes. I like all the Disney classics & wanted to see how they’d handle this live adaptation. However, if it wasn’t for the Frozen Fever short before the film, I’d probably have waited to watch it at home instead of in the cinema/theater.

My Rating: 7/10

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The Kid’s Opinion:

My daughter really liked this. Of course she did – she’s six. She loves Disney movies, as to be expected. However, she’s never been too overly crazy about any of the Disney Princess movies until the phenomenon that is FROZEN came along. (Her two favorite movies are Frozen and Star Wars so you can’t accuse me of just raising a Disney Princess). She currently claims to like this live-action version of Cinderella better than the original because she “liked the lizards and the golden carriage” but you know kids – she’s just saying that since it’s more recent in her mind. Trust me – the original is far superior. 😉

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Favorite Part:
The entire Fairy Godmother “transformation” scene & the bit where Cinderella first meets the prince in the forest.

Least Favorite Part:
Slight Spoiler:
“When the stepmother smashed the glass slipper.”

Overall Attention Level:
85%. She seemed very tired, though, so I think it could have been higher. However, her attention level was at 100% during the Cinderella transformation scene with the Fairy Godmother.

The Kid’s Rating: 8/10

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Daddy’s Opinion:

Did Cinderella’s hair, shoulders and chest REALLY need vajazzling? It would have been more timeless without…

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Frozen Fever (2015)

Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

Starring:
Kristen Bell
Idina Menzel
Jonathan Groff
Josh Gad

Running time: 7 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Elsa overcompensates by preparing to throw Anna the best birthday party ever since she was such a cold-hearted bitch for years & didn’t even want to build a snowman with her. But she refuses to invite Hans or John Travolta.

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My (Mommy’s) Opinion:

I loved Frozen Fever! It’s totally adorable plus, of course, I loved seeing how happy it made my daughter which always makes me have extra affection for something. I’m not really going to say anything more about this short, however, as I enjoyed it FAR more not knowing anything about it beforehand. Unfortunately, I think loads of pictures have been released online anyway, spoiling the short’s most adorably sneezy surprise. Avoid knowing anything about this one beforehand if you can. It’s very sweet & maintains the same sense of humor as the original film.

Anything Inappropriate/Scary?:
No. Unless you’re offended by adorable cuteness.

Would I Watch This If I Didn’t Have To?:
YES! I personally really like Frozen & wanted to see this more than I wanted to see Cinderella.

My Rating: 8/10

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The Kid’s Opinion:

She’s a young girl so, duh – she absolutely loved this. Those who don’t have kids may not realize just how crazy little girls are for Frozen. It’s bizarre! They’ve latched onto Frozen in a way far beyond other girl-aimed films of recent years such as Tangled or Brave. Elsa mania is everywhere!!! And I’m okay with that – I think it’s the strongest Disney film in years & more deserving of the hysteria than a lot of other kids films for girls lately. This is just like the movie with all the favorite characters included so there’s no way that kids who love Frozen won’t love Frozen Fever.

Overall Attention Level:
100%.

The Kid’s Rating: 10/10

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Daddy’s Opinion:
“What happens when she sharts?”

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Gladiator (2000) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Niall of Raging Fluff. He also reviewed North By Northwest HERE. Thanks so much for the reviews, Niall! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Gladiator, IMDB rank 63 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

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Gladiator (2000)

*Spoilers That Echo In Eternity

What’s it about? Maximus is a Roman general who’s rather good at decimating bands of Goths (the tribe, not the pale waifs who listen to depressing music). Frail old Emperor Marcus Aurelius loves him like a son, which pisses off his actual son, evil Commodus (inventor of the toilet?). Commodus kills Marcus, betrays Maximus, and for good measure kills his wife and child. Maximus escapes, wanders the earth for a bit (you know, like Kane in Kung Fu), then becomes a gladiator – a gladiator who’s very popular with the mob; his fans are Maximaniacs. He makes his way to Rome for the Superbowl World Series Cup Final Bloody Slaughter Championship and plots his revenge.

In a Tagline? It’s Spartacus meets Wrestlemania.

Number of Times Watched? IV or V (see what I did there?)

Verdict? Duos Pollices (Two Thumbs Up)

Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Richard Harris, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, David Hemmings.

For a film generally remembered as a rather shouty, violent, and gory sword and sandals revenge tale, it is worth noting that Ridley Scott’s Gladiator begins with a shot that wouldn’t be out of place in Little House on the Prairie: a hand moving across a field of wheat. The pastoral image – bathed in gold – will return at the film’s end when the hero is killed. Is it a memory of his beloved farm that he has not seen for many years or a premonition of his death? Is it, in fact, a vision of the Elysian Fields?

Gladiator was bestowed with all sorts of critical and commercial praise when it was released in 2000, and the film was a high watermark for most of those involved. It remains the biggest box-office success of Scott`s career; it marked the beginning of a working relationship between director Scott and actor Russell Crowe; it made Crowe a star and earned him an Oscar; it confirmed Joaquin Phoenix as a fierce talent; it introduced audiences to Djimon Hounsou; and it provided Oliver Reed with one of the best roles he ever had, and was his swansong.

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I have no idea how accurate Gladiator is as history, but I`m not sure I care. I`ve watched it several times and let myself be caught up in its sweep and enjoyed it for what it is. It`s no Spartacus, but it`s a whole lot better than most films of this type, mainly due to the performances and the craft with which it`s put together. Scriptwise, it`s a bit daft: it`s a rather simple tale that perhaps takes itself a little too seriously, and has a protagonist seemingly incapable of smiling (usually a bad thing). In fact, the film really only has one good joke, and it`s a film-trivia inside one: Maximus has the figures of two horses on his breastplate, and he tells young Lucius they are called Scarto and Argentio: that`s Trigger and Silver.

The film chiefly concerns fathers and sons, and much of the dialogue is rather ripe but would earn an A+ at the Hollywood School of Greco-Roman Studies. Luckily, it has actors who know how to nibble at the scenery rather than devour it: take note, Gerard Butler.

As Maximus, the betrayed general turned gladiator, Crowe had to carry most of the film and got most of the attention. I found him less interesting here than in his previous films – watch Romper Stomper and Proof  if you want to see him young and bursting with talent – in spite of the whole “Are you not entertained?” bit. He adopts the plummy voice he would use in other roles when he wishes to sound dignifed, and he falls back on his acting trick of staring into middle distance and frowning (it’s his go-to expression for sorrow, confusion, grief, and despair). Mind you, when he’s hacking off limbs and heads, he has a grand old time of it. He has become such a stodgy old fart these days, it’s worth seeing him here when he was young and in good shape and hungry.

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Phoenix gives the standout performance of the film for me. His Commodus is psychotic, vain, petty, childish, and cruel. Another actor might have played it over the top, but he manages the difficult trick of being a soft-spoken, sexually confused tyrant, and finds the tragedy in the character. Watch how he plays the scene where he kills his father, Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), and you can see the self-loathing in his face (the scene is very reminiscent of Roy Batty killing Tyrell in Blade Runner).

And then there is Oliver Reed as Proximo, the former gladiator who buys and then mentors Maximus. Reed was twice -blessed as a young actor in the 1960s; he had a foot in the door by virtue of being the nephew of Carol Reed, and he had an earthy, brutal sexiness at a time when many of his peers were fey. He squandered his talent in booze and many shitty films, but he is magnificent here: he plays the part as an old athlete on the sidelines – a coach who still yearns for the thrill of going on to the pitch (“win the crowd, and you’ll win your freedom”) – and when Reed drops his voice to a whisper, it’s haunting.

The action scenes are very well done, even if the tiger special effects look a bit naff at this point. Hans Zimmer’s score owes a bit of a debt to Gustav Holst, but it’s still one of his best, helped largely by his choice of instruments and by the ethereal voice of Lisa Gerrard.

As with anything by Scott, the film looks incredible, with detail and lighting that other directors seem incapable of. Scott has been criticised often for his poor storytelling, and of being more interested in the surface aesthetics than in any depth of character, but here I think he did a great job of delivering a grand old-style sword and sandals epic.

Niall McArdle

http://www.ragingfluff.wordpress.com

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