Posts tagged with “danny boyle”
THE KING’S SPEECH (2010/IN THEATERS) Remember this? The People’s Choice from the 2008 Toronto Film Festival was Slumdog Millionaire, which went on to be the big Oscar winner in 2009. 2010’s People’s Choice is The King’s Speech, which tells the true story of King George VI (Colin Firth) and his battle to overcome a severe stutter. The movie is very solid and holds a 97% Rotten Tomatoes rating among top critics. It’s a crowd-pleaser also and can be enjoyed by the entire family, exhibiting all the best aspects of British Monarchy films—gorgeous sets, period costumes, real world details combined with strong casting. Firth is seriously impressive in the role; he is the logical Oscar winner this year, unless James Franco takes it for 127 Hours, ironically directed by Slumdog’s Danny Boyle. Firth was up last year for his incredible work in A Single Man so King’s Speech marks two in a row—thank heavens Firth is getting these great roles. Enough of Bridget Jones sequels and fluff like What a Girl Wants. Equally strong are Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother to the current reigning Queen Elizabeth, not so favorably presented in The Queen as we may recall) and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, the real life Australian who enables the King to overcome (or at least manage) his affliction. Also lovely in small parts are Guy Pearce as Edward VIII who famously abdicated the throne to marry a thrice divorced American (Wallis Simpson—played as a horrific socialite here by Eve Best). And in a lovely touch, Derek Jacoby, who stuttered so well in I, Claudius, is cast as the Archbishop of Canterbury. King’s Speech has already won 5 British Indpendent Film Awards (Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Actor for Firth, Supporting Actor for Rush and Supporting Actress for Bonham Carter). On to the Oscars!
Grade: A Solid.
BTW: Yesterday’s Talk of the Nation on NPR featured a discussion of stuttering and some very complimentary remarks about the film from Kristin Chmela, a Speech Pathologist. I found the following most interesting:
“And the other one that I loved was how they filmed it. When he was stuttering and they put the camera as if the viewer of the movie was the person stuttering so that you could watch the reactions of the people listening, that look in their eye, the shift in their body language. That is something I think all stutterers recognize. And I thought that was extremely powerful to get a sense of what that might feel like when you’re watching people watching you, and you cannot speak.”
To hear the rest of the show, follow the link.
127 HOURS (2010/SLIFF: PREVIEW) Oh, Danny Boy(le)! What has that horrible destroyer of quality cinema “Oscar” done to you? It certainly hasn’t dampened your relatively newfound affection for manipulative cheezeball OTT synth-rock score, or for your new fave composer and Slumdog Millionaire alum A.R. Rahman, who seems to have been under the impression that this was indeed a sequel to that misguided, overrated, Oscar-sweeping crapsterpiece with this samey collection of bombastic beats. Exhibit A: Your soon-to-be released and much buzzed about Oscar bait grossout adventure 127 Hours. It’s source material is a true story, however slight: Our oddball (read: dumbass) fitness adventure nut hero goes run-hiking ALONE through treacherous canyons in Utah when he suddenly finds himself trapped under a boulder in a remote crevasse. He struggles in vain for 127 hours or theareabouts, eventually freeing himself (SPOILER, SORTA) via chopping off his arm just under the elbow with a dull pocketknife. But while you succeeded in stretching this 20 minute, tops, story into an engaging full-length feature—much to the credit of a game and funny James Franco in the challenging role of the self-amputee—what ultimately knocked your film down a couple of letter grades for me was your Slumdog-esqe ham-fisted, overcooked visuals (Oh, split screens of office drones scored by Coldplay-in-overdrive-type tunes, etc, go fuck yourselves) and the aforementioned crap score. MIND YOU: This film will be a huge audience-pleasing hit, let there be no doubt about that. And it will likely be a Best Picture contender. *Sigh* I do hope that this is just the inevitable keep-making-what-the-people-want phase of your post-Oscar career that will eventually run its course, allowing you to tone down your current 30 Seconds to Mars music video treatment M.O. and move your focus from the flash-pots and blood bags into creating something a little subtler and hopefully a bit more resonant. Something more like your creepy sci-fi masterpiece Sunshine.
Don’t get me wrong here—127 Hours isn’t a terrible movie. And the scene with Franco taking his arm off will indeed stick with you. As for the rest, it’s certainly just as rousing as any other energy-drink-infused popcorn thriller. Aw, Danny. You break my heart.
My grade: C+
The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead (by Max Brooks) & 28 Days Later (directed by Danny Boyle)/28 Weeks Later (directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo) – If you feel like you’ve been getting too much restful sleep, or have fallen behind in stocking your basement with end-of-days supplies (may I suggest loads of bottled water, a machete, and delicious MRE entrees?), take in a back-to-back viewing of these bleak, humorless tales of zombie mayhem. Feel empowered by following up with The Zombie Survival Guide, a straight (yet often hilarious) how-to for those of us who choose to fight the undead menace. I may or may not have a confirmed Zombie Safe Zone, and no, there isn’t any room for you and your noisy grandma. Gluttons for punishment can also check out World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, also by Brooks, and plan on sleeping with a dense, zombie-bashing flashlight by the side of their bed for the rest of their adult lives. Safety first.
The World Without Us (by Alan Weisman) & Children of Men (directed by Alfonso Cuarón) – Up for an optimism-shattering, heartbreaking, yet entirely plausible vision of the world we may have experienced with a McCain/Palin administration? (You know it’s true.) Gorgeously shot and almost unbearably tense, Children of Men is my favorite film that I will never, ever watch again. But not to worry, nervous nellies—Weisman assures us that we can go ahead and blow ourselves to smithereens, but our planet and many types of algae and disgusting insects will survive. Comforting? Uh, only if you’re the type who thinks you’ll be too busy hangin’ in the clouds with Einstein and Bea Arthur to care. You weirdo.