Welcome

Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Monday, 28 February 2011

There's Something About Mary


****

Thirteen years after blowing his chances with the gorgeous Mary (Cameron Diaz), lovestruck Ted (Ben Stiller) hires Private Eye Patrick Healy (Matt Dillon) to track her down. However, Patrick falls in love at first sight with her, and this starts off a web of lies, deceit and many more people declaring their love for Mary.

As a comedy, this film's screenplay has everything needed to make it hilarious. The plot of the love (erm...) octagon (?) is a situation that could only be done in comedy, and a farce at that, yet despite being quite farcical there is always a sense of sophistication about it, which comes from the fact that all the men vying for Mary's attention are just lovestruck, and doing stupid things, which comes naturally from being lovestruck, so in a way you can somewhat relate to it.
To make it even more farcical there is also toilet, gross and sexual humour that is actually quite outrageous. The p**is caught in the zipper gag is played so well by Stiller, and the fact he makes it funny is an attribute to his talent as an actor, as that is something most blokes wouldn't even want to have nightmares about. Although it is also slightly outrageous, thanks to that vivid shot of the p**is caught in the zipper. Yikes! And of course, who could forget that "hair gel" gag? That is a piece of successful gross humour, made all the more funny by Diaz's well done obliviousness to what the "hair gel" actually is.
There is also a sense of maturity and seriousness occasionally within the film, which stems from Warren (W. Earl Brown), Mary's mentally disabled brother. Having a mentally disabled character is always a sensitive area to tackle in a film, particularly in a comedy, but Brown plays it successfully and Warren's scenes are generally a break from the laugh a minute comedy.

Ultimately the screenplay is brought to wonderful life by the cast. In the first half hour Stiller plays the awkward 16-year-old role perfectly, making him really dorky, but for the rest of the film plays the lovesick Ted very well. Diaz is also very good, her turmoil over the blokes falling at her feet and which means the most to her at the end packed full of feeling, and the love for her mentally disabled brother is very heartfelt and kind. Matt Dillon makes Healy a very creepy and slightly unnerving character, but one can't help but laugh at his foolishness. Lee Evans however steals the show as pizza boy Norm, who poses as British Architect Dr Tucker in order to win Mary. He is so deliciously over the top, and he times his physical movements and lines perfectly for full comic impact. He is the one you will remember the most by the end.

In short a very well written comedy, played superbly by a top notch cast. But one has to question the film's "morals" as such. Is this film trying to encourage us to make a play for a beautiful woman we have only met once or twice, and try to sabotage anybody else trying to win her affections? Is it telling us to just drop our pants for a beautiful girl who smiles at us once? That is only the start of what Norm and Healy do. One could say that is what the film is trying to tell us, however, it is a comedy so that's most likely not the case. I think it's basically saying kick back, relax, forget about the real world for a couple of hours, and laugh you head off.


1998.
15.
Stars:
Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, Lee Evans, Chris Elliott, Lin Shaye, Jeffrey Tambor, W. Earl Brown, Markie Post, Keith David, Sarah Silverman, Khandi Alexander, Brett Favre, Jonathan Richman, Willie Garson, Harland Williams.

Golden Globe nominations: Best Picture - Musical/Comedy, Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy (Cameron Diaz).

Saturday, 26 February 2011

"Toy Story 3"'s superb Best Picture Oscar Campaign

With less than 24 hours till the Oscars allow me to look at Toy Story 3's campaign for Best Picture, which is a series of "Not Since..." posters, which reference previous Best Picture winners.


Here are the two which work the least. The Annie Hall (1977) doesn't work as there is virtually no similarity between Annie Hall and Jessie, other than the fact they are both female. If the shot of Jessie fighting off Sparks and Chunk had been used they could just about get away with Not Since Million Dollar Baby (2004), but alas not. The Titanic (1997) doesn't work as, although it is a similar looking shot, it screams out "People who drown", and comparing 10 toys who only just avoid dying to an incinerator to the 1500 people who perished when RMS Titanic sank does seem a bit tasteless. Titanic is a very good film, while Toy Story 3 is fantastic, but they both deal with totally different things.


These two work a little better. The Slumdog Millionaire (2008) comparison isn't fantastic, as Buzz is furious where as Jamal was cool in their respective interrogations, and Buzz's interrogation was a lot more powerful than Jamal's. However, the similarity of the shots is superb. The French Connection (1971) works thanks to Woody's expression as he listens to what Chatter Telephone tells him, although when you think of The French Connection it is the car chases you think of.


These work much better. Here we see American Beauty (1999) using American Icon Barbie, which works, as Barbie has often been referred to as the first beautiful toy. As for On the Waterfront (1954) we have a piece of literal toilet humour, which we forgive, as this is only the third time a Pixar film has done toilet humour - the first being Mike falling in the toilet in Monsters, Inc. (2001), while hiding from Randall; the second being Nemo getting flushed to freedom in Finding Nemo (2003) - and also because Woody spinning on the loo roll was some great slapstick. Plus here Woody is literally On the Waterfront.

The Platoon (1986) works as it is a simple shot of two soldiers saying their farewells before leaving, which happened in both films, and also R. Lee Ermey - the voice of Sarge - fought in Vietnam himself so that's another reason it can be justified. The Rocky (1976) is quite ingenious as it is not a direct reference, but rather an image of "Last Man Standing".


These two are excellent. Having Big Baby and Lotso subbing for Clark Gable and Charles Naughton in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) looks wonderful, and also it works as you can't help but cheer at the original mutiny, similarly to how you could not help but cheer when Big Baby finally rebelled against Lotso. The Sting (1973) works so well just because of the excellent shot, an attribute to Pixar, who always include some interesting shots in their films.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) works so well, simply because the Mr Potato Head tortilla gag was one of the most memorably weird images in the film, although it has no blood, unlike most images that were in Lambs.


The Godfather Part II (1974) works well thanks to the bold colours, and also the fact that Lotso scares the Sunnyside toys almost as much as Don Michael Corleone scared just about everyone. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) works as well as it does due to the fact it is such a strong replica of such a powerful and bold image, and both these films are major threequels that earned over $1 billion at the worldwide box office.


Here are possibly the two best. The Shakespeare in Love (1998) works as brilliantly as it does as, let's face it, thespian hedgehog Mr Pricklepants was a truly brilliant part of Toy Story 3, and like with William Shakespeare he does play Romeo in a performance of Romeo and Juliet. The Sound of Music (1965) works as the first thing you think when you see Ken in his German outfit is "He looks like a Von Trapp child". Classic! Though, to be fair, no Von Trapp child could ever be as camp as Ken.


Both Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Toy Story 3 are powerful films featuring emotional endings and goodbyes as well as deep friendships, which is why the final "Not Since" works. As for the final poster, it simply says to the Academy "You've seen our campaign, now consider us when you cast your votes for the awards we have been nomiated for."


Ultimately has this superb campaign all been a waste of time? On the one hand, yes, as animated features never stand a chance, no matter how brilliant they are. The Academy don't take them that seriously and there is so much snobbery as well. The two favourites for Best Picture are The Social Network and The King's Speech, both fantastic films. Network became the major favourite for the award when released in September 2010, but when Speech was released three months later it immediately became Network's major rival, and none of the other eight nominees (Toy Story 3, Inception, True Grit, Black Swan, 127 Hours, The Kids are All Right, The Fighter and Winter's Bone) are getting a look in. On the other hand, no. The Academy don't take Animated Features that seriously, but with this fantastic campaign Pixar is showing them that they are not making family entertainment on a computer, but powerful films better than almost everything churned out on a yearly basis by Hollywood. They have shown that they are serious, passionate film makers, and I take my hat off too them, and as the biggest Pixar fan ever wish them every success in the future. If they keep making such fantastic films then hopefully they will win their Best Picture Oscar by the end of the decade.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1


****

Following Dumbledore's (Michael Gambon) death, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) go out into the real world to find and destroy Voldemort's (Ralph Fiennes) Horcruxes and defeat him as Dumbledore had intended. But with the Death Eaters taking over the Ministry of Magic and declaring Harry Undesirable Number One nowhere is safe.

After almost ten years of dominating the box office, this marks the beginning of the end of the series. As a die hard Potter nut I was naturally devastated when the books came to an end in 2007, but it didn't quite feel like the end as there were still more films to come. But now it is with a sense of sadness that I come to review this penultimate in the series. Harry Potter has been a big thing for my generation and one feels that they have grown up with Harry, like he is a relative of some sort so one does feel a bond for him, Ron and Hermione. Even though the series went down hill when David Yates took over with Order of the Phoenix (2007), this is definetly the beginning of an excellent conclusion, and the magic is most certainly back!

What works so well with this installment in both the book and film is the fact that unlike the first six installments (2001-9) the three leads are not within the boundaries of Hogwarts. No matter how bleak it all seemed, you always knew that they would be safe as they have Hogwarts, and numerous protectors, such as Dumbledore, Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), 'Mad-Eye' Moody (Brendan Gleeson), Remus Lupin (David Thewlis) and Mr Weasley (Mark Williams). But with Dumbledore dead, and the rest of their protectors miles away and in grave danger themselves - *SPOILER ALERT* 'Mad-Eye' is killed early in the story - the sense of danger is greatly increased, as they are in the middle of nowhere, which is greatly heightened by the shots of fields and forests which they find themselves in the middle of, and really creates a sense of in the middle of nowhere type of danger.

The editing and special effects also really make this a successful piece of fantasy. The highlight in the editing department sees Ron, Hermione, Fred (James Phelps), George (Oliver Phelps), Fleur (Clemence Poesy) and Mundungus (Andy Linden) take on the form of Harry using Polyjuice Potion. This is a really clever piece of editing that sees several takes overlapping each other to make the six transformations smooth and believable, as well as rather detailed (some grow taller, some grow shorter, some lose hair, some grow hair, faces change shape, et cetera) making it the most convincing Polyjuice Potion transformation of the entire film series - the transformations of Chamber of Secrets (2002) and Goblet of Fire (2005) looked good but seemed too rushed.
The highlight in the special effects department is an airbourne battle that Harry and Hagrid have with Voldemort and some Death Eaters. With quick, vivid blasts off spells from wands, the images are bold and memorable, and culminate with a golden explosion as such between Harry's wand and Lucius Malfoy's (Jason Isaacs), which Voldemort is using, which is a truly dazzling piece of special effects that steals the entire scene. The fact that this all happens hundreds of feet above the ground is also very eye catching, and could cause a slight sense of vertigo when watched on a big screen, as it also really makes you aware of just how dangerous this film's events will be for Harry very early on (this scene happens about 20 minutes in).

As for the performances of the three leads this film really does show them on top form, which after the last two films (2007/9) is something I never thought I would be saying. The first film (2001) the three generally were not impressive, but with the next three films (2002/4/5) you felt they were slowly but surely improving. Radcliffe did some scenes in Order of the Phoenix very well, but generally, he, Grint and Watson were not impressive, and were ever less so in Half-Blood Prince and it just felt as though they couldn't be bothered anymore now that they had made their millions. However, this film sees them carrying almost every scene on their own and they do finally stand out. Radcliffe brings great weight to Harry's mission, and you can really feel the turmoil, guilt and inner struggles that the mission has on Harry. As well as this, Radcliffe creates some deep poignancy when Harry sees his parents' (Adrian Rawlins, Geraldine Somerville) grave for the first time, and we finally see just how much having been orphaned has truly hurt Harry, in a scene full of powerful emotion. Having been the comic relief in the last two films Grint gives a serious and deep performance full of emotion. Being away from comfort and not knowing whether or not his family are alive makes Ron a much angrier, much more aggresive character, and Grint does this with such heartfelt emotion that it really is a most triumphant performance for him. Watson is also quite moving as Hermione, making her fear and despair over what is happening to the Wizarding World very deep, and the character's love for Harry and Ron quite emotionally touching.
Unlike the previous films none of the supporting cast get a vast amount of screen time, but what screen time they get is used as best as they possibly can. Fiennes ultimately steals the show as Voldemort, making the character very cold, cunning and emotionless. His performance really sends tingles down the spine and you can't help but feel the sort of fear of the character that the Wizarding World fears as the total lack of emotion never fails to shock. This is no surprise as Fiennes is always a fantastic antagonist and is a genuinely talented actor - just look at his performance as Amon Goth in Schindler's List (1993). Helena Bonham Carter is as good as ever as the unstable and sadistic Bellatrix Lestrange, her cruelty and love for torture made quite unnerving and creepy. This film also sees the return of Imelda Staunton as sadistic Ministry worker Dolores Umbridge, and what a performance she gives in her 15 minutes or so, making Umbridge just as cruel and heartless as in Order of the Phoenix, and creating such a gut-wrenchingly false sweet character as before.

In short this is a deep, powerful and strong penultimate film in the series, with great visuals, a superb sense of danger and strong performances, and the film really builds up to the conclusion, out in cinemas this summer!


2010.
12.
Stars:
Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Toby Jones, Rhys Ifans, Tom Felton, Imelda Staunton, Robbie Coltrane, David Thewlis, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, Alan Rickman, Jason Isaacs, Bill Nighy, Timothy Spall, John Hurt, Andy Linden, Simon McBurney, Domhnall Gleeson, Clemence Poesy, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Helen McCrory, Warwick Davis, Dave Legeno, Brendan Gleeson, Guy Henry, Peter Mullan, George Harris, Natalia Tena, Nick Moran, David O'Hara, Steffan Rhodri, Sophie Thompson, Oliver Phelps, James Phelps, Michael Gambon, David Ryall, Matyelok Gibbs, Hazel Douglas, Kate Fleetwood.

Oscar nominations: Best Art Direction (Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan), Best Visual Effects (Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz, Nicolas Aithadi).

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Christian Themes within 'The Village' (2004)


As a Christian there are four things to look at within The Village (2004)...

ONE

The titular Village is designed to look like puritan New England, and until the shocking revelations of the climax that is what we assume it is. Puritan New England was the early Christian settlers within America, just in case you were unsure. Now, a quiet life away from evil, living simply is what M. Night Shyamalan seems to be saying Christianity is like. On the one hand that is true, because, as a Christian, I ultimately don't need Earthly things, as I have such a phenomenal eternity promised to me. On the other hand that is false, because the Bible says that we cannot escape evil, but we must fight it, just like Moses fought Pharoah.

TWO

Secrecy and Lies. Now the whole Village is based on a lie, yet it is seen as a "good lie", one which the villagers seem to benefit from. Many Atheists look at Christianity in such a way, as they feel that the "lies" of the Bible make us Christians happy and that is surely a good thing. Jesus, however, said "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." As a Christian I believe every word Jesus spoke, even if I have trouble understanding at times. Knowing the truth of how God sent Jesus to die for us has set me free from feeling I have to live a perfect life, as there is nothing I can do to save myself, it is all in God's control. Although this is not on the same scale as the Christian message, the basis is the similar. If the villagers knew the truth then they would be set free from living in the ways of the Village, the restrictions of living such a pure, basic life.

THREE

Evil is Outside. If the Village can avoid evil then they will avoid suffering. Some Atheists look at Christianity like this, basing their opinions on nuns, semi shut off from the rest of the world, or the Christian kid at the houseparty who turns down every offer of alcohol and/or drugs. The world is full of suffering and the more Christians seem to shut themselves away from the evils of the world, they're less likely to suffer is what a lot of Atheists say. WRONG!!! You could lock yourself in a padded cell with a single chemical toilet, and three meals a day shoved through a cat flap for the rest of your life to avoid evils and sufferings of the world, but Jesus emphasised that evil comes from within the hearts of everyone, and that "no man is pure, all are evil within." In The Village, the character of Noah highlights this. A 4-year-old in a 22-year-old's body, he is most definetly as innocent as they get, yet the jealousy he feels when Lucius and Ivy are engaged leads him to commit evil acts which have repercussions on the entire Village. The evil comes from within, leading to evil actions.

FOUR

Fear. The Village is made and sealed off from the rest of the world, due to fear of everything bad in the outside world. A number of Atheists believe Christianity is based on fear, fear of an Almighty God, who could condemn anybody and everybody to Hell, therefore, people are scared by the prospect of Hell and become Christians. That is completely and utterly wrong!!! John 3: 16-17 says: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. God is graceful and loving, and it is the Holy Spirit working within my heart that makes me a Christian, and the same applies to every other genuine Christian. We do not submit to God out of fear, but out of love born from the Holy Spirit. If God were not pure then it would be out of fear, but he is a pure and loving God and it is his Grace that gives us Christians faith.

That is my four points on how to look at The Village from a Christian perspective. If you are a Christian who has not seen The Village then I recommend you watch it. If you are a non-Christian who has seen the film then I suggest you rewatch it, bearing in mind my four points.

God Bless!

Friday, 11 February 2011

The Village


****

Set in a village of settlers, the film sees Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard), the blind daughter of a village Elder (William Hurt), set off into woods supposedly filled with deadly, almost demonic, monsters, as she heads for a town where she can get medicine for fiancee Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix), after stab wounds he recieves get infected. However, her journey has some shocking revelations about the truth of her "village".

Throughout, this is a tense and gripping piece of cinema. The film's titular village live in fear of the red cloaked creatures/monsters which supposedly live in the woods, and one of the most tense scenes sees one come into the village. Through careful cinematography, with sharp editing, strongly focused areas and a tense score on the violin, tension is really built up within the heart of the viewer, a kind of creeping dread one could call it; and the fact that a scene such as this is so dimly lit means you don't know where the monster will come from, which only serves to make it more tense. Clever cinematography, dim lighting and a tense score on the violin are used throughout in order to make this film consistently eerie and dark, so much so one does occasionally question the 12 rating.

The film also boasts an excellent cast, whom all give very strong performances. Bryce Dallas Howard gives a superb performance as Ivy. It is always hard for an actress with 20:20 vision to play a blind character, but Howard steps up to the role, neither over exaggerating, nor understating the character's blindness. As for the character's emotions, Howard unleashes on screen a powerful and passionate performance making wholly convincing raw emotion, and one is really taken in by her. Joaquin Phoenix makes Lucius very heartfelt, and has great on screen chemistry with Howard, making a powerful on screen relationship.
However, the most powerful performance comes from Adrien Brody, as Ivy's (well) retarded, best friend Noah. Brody puts great energy into creating the childlike character, making the child in a man's body so scarily convincing and heartfelt. His performance creats comedy when Noah plays, pathos when Noah is scared and/or upset, and shock is when evil and jealousy take over the character's heart.

As strong a film as this is due to the above mentioned elements, this film is ultimately a representation of the human heart and how man follows his heart's desire. The Elders who formed the village are a powerful representation of how man's desire to live a simple, generally carefree life, free of evil, can be focused on a bit too much; Ivy represents somebody driven forwards, motivated by love, and how this drive would help her break free of the boundaries within her life; Noah is an example of somebody who can't control his emotions at all, and commits evil as a result; to name some. It is this which makes The Village such a humane film, which shows just how deep the human heart and human psychology goes.


2004.
12.
Stars:
Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Brendan Gleeson, Sigourney Weaver, Cherry Jones, Celia Weston, Frank Collison, Jayne Atkinson, Jesse Eisenberg, Judy Greer, Fran Kranz, Liz Stauber, Michael Pitt, Charlie Hofheimer.

Oscar nomination: Best Original Score (James Newton Howard).

Mallrats


**

After being dumped by their respective girlfriends (Shannen Doherty, Claire Forlani), Brodie (Jason Lee) and T.S. (Jeremy London), go to the mall where they go to Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) for help in sabotaging a live episode of Truth or Date - a TV show created by Brandi's (Forlani) father (Michael Rooker) - in their bids to get back with Rene (Doherty) and Brandi.

Another of the installments in The Adventures of Jay and Silent Bob - as I refer to it as - it is quite easy for me to say they are the best component of this film. Bumbling, over-the-top and stupid they make a good double act thanks to some excellent comic timing and delivery of gags on Jay's part, which Mewes delivers so coolly, and so matter of factly, which makes his ultimate stupidity all the funnier. Silent Bob provides some great physical comedy, which makes up for the fact he has one line at most in this film. Smith makes the character so big that he dominates his scenes and the amount of energy he brings to the role is very noticable. Smith also successfully conveys Silent Bob's stupidity through a wide variety of facial expressions that really do make the character look as thick as he is, without over exaggerating it as well.

Ultimately, however, the rest of the film is rather weak and too stupid to be that funny. What we are offered is almost non-stop sexual humour, gross comedy, toilet humour and stupid characters that are so unbold and rather bland that the comedic quality that could be found in them just isn't there, unlike with Jay and Silent Bob. Even a brief appearance from the legend that is Stan Lee is disappointing, because his scene is dominated by Brodie asking him about superhero sex organs, which would be funny if there hadn't been a huge barrage of sex references and jokes leading up to this scene. Also, a scene dominated by questions about superhero sex organs meant Lee didn't get a chance to be memorable, and all the charm and warmth that supposedly comes from the man, that magical quality that created some of the greatest superheroes of all time, just isn't there. As for the gross humour I'm all for a little, as small, subtle amounts always prove to be funny, but the stuff here that centres around "s**t hands" is just so bland and overdone, you actually feel the need to puke watching it, as they just write it to be so disgusting.
As such I am sure that the bland, far too crude a screenplay is the reason why there are almost nothing but one-sided, wooden performances by almost the entire cast, making this the kind of film where you can raise the odd chuckle outside of the Jay and Silent Bob scenes, but are more likely to cringe in said scenes.


1995.
18.
Stars:
Jeremy London, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Shannen Doherty, Claire Forlani, Michael Rooker, Ben Affleck, Renee Humphrey, Stan Lee, Priscilla Barnes, Walt Flanagan, Ethan Suplee, Bryan Johnson, Scott Mosier, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Brian O'Halloran, Art James.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The King's Speech


*****

The film tells the true story of Prince Albert, or "Bertie" (Colin Firth), second son of King George V (Michael Gambon), who struggles in the Royal duty of public speaking due to a stutter, so visits speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who helps him break through the boundaries his stutter causes. However, after his father dies and his older brother Edward (Guy Pearce) abdicates the throne, Bertie is crowned King George VI, and with war against Germany set to begin any day now, the King's nerves may put him back at square one, just when he has to make the most important speech of his life.

The film has a number of very powerful elements, four of which I shall write about within this review.

Firstly, is the fantastic cast. Together the work perfectly in sync to create a powerful ensemble. Colin Firth gives the best performance of his career as Bertie, truly creating a character we feel for. His turmoil, embarrasment and hate for the stutter are created with such heartfelt emotion, and one could even forget he is an actor portraying a stutterer, as he neither milks it nor understates it, Firth really captures it spot on. Working together perfectly with Firth to create an incredible on screen bond/friendship is Geoffrey Rush, who makes Lionel a strong, determined soul, somebody unafraid to wind up and offend to get through the barriers that Bertie's stutter creates, which results in some great comic relief/banter from the two character's bond. It is this down to Earth, rather realistic stance which made Bertie and Lionel's bond so powerful and Lionel's work so successful both on and off screen. The other really memorable performance is Helena Bonham Carter as Bertie's wife Elizabeth - better known to my generation as The Queen Mother, who died March 2002. Bonham Carter gives a very sympathetic performance, making Elizabeth's worry and despair over being unable to help Bertie very heartfelt and packed full of emotion.

Secondly, is the set and costume designs, which are absolutely stunning. The homes owned by the various Royals are all grand in design - chandeliers, beautifully carved walls and ceilings, long red carpets - making them almost as beautiful and majestic to look at/watch as the Royals themselves. In terms of the exterior sets, not a vast amount of '30s London is shown, but what is seen is excellent in design. The old fashioned lamp posts, the cobbles, the (now) vintage cars, all come together so well to make '30s London feel very authentic and eye-catching - in terms of the authenticity I'm going by what I've seen in old black and white photographs. Likewise the costumes are all superb in design. The Royal uniform Bertie wears for his speech at the end of the film is bold and grand in design, and cries out power and authority. The suits and dresses worn by both characters and extras are all very accurate of the period, especially the suit worn by Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall), which is an almost exact replica of the ones he wore for all of the photographs. Clearly the costume department for this film went all out in getting it just right.

Thirdly, allow me to write about the screenplay. The screenplay offers us a very emotional journey, very personal to the real life Bertie, displaying self doubt, self hate, a sometimes short temper, but also love for his family and respect for Lionel and his work. It even delves into the behind closed doors relationships Bertie had with his daughters (Freya Wilson, Ramona Marquez), his father, his mother (Claire Bloom) and his brother. The emotional journey is very powerful and heart gripping, and so well written that you will find yourself completely moved and engrossed by it; while the side of the screenplay showing Bertie's family relationships makes us take into account that behind the palace walls and armed guards is an every day family who love each other, and also bicker and have heated emotions when they struggle to see eye to eye. In the relationship between Bertie and his daughters we see a loving father, uncaring about looking foolish if it means he and his children enjoy some time together.
A scene of genuine poignancy is created when King George V passes away, and the grief washes over Edward and Bertie, with the grief displayed and the tenseness of the scene around George's death bed hitting hard and making this a truly moving and poignant scene.
Although, the screenplay is a powerful and very serious one, it does offer some very welcome comic relief as well. The most memorable moment of comic relief comes during one of Bertie's sessions with Lionel, where Lionel pursuades him to forget his dignified manner and swear, which shows Bertie unleash a rant of swear words. This is such a wonderful moment of comic relief due to the fact that it is such a surprise to think of Royalty swearing so; as well as the fact Firth times Bertie's initial reluctance, and his stammering of the profanities perfectly, and really makes this wonderful moment of comic relief his.

Fourth and finally, is the film's triumphant ending. The film all builds up to a recreation of Bertie/King George VI's first War Time Speech, September 1939, announcing the start of World War II. Word for word, this is truly the most powerful, triumphant moment of the film. Firth packs so much heartfelt emotion into every single word of the speech, making it very deep and moving to watch. Combine this with the various shots of the listeners - regular cuts from Bertie's various family members and the Government, to thousands outside Buckingham Palace, to the working class sitting in the pub mulling over Bertie's words over a pint - and not only is it powerful and triumphant, but also a true representation of a nation come together by something as awful as war.

Outstanding design, a phenomenally powerful screenplay with a triumphant finale, and a fantastic cast lead by spectacular performances from Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter, make this not just a superb film, but a piece of art.


2010.
12.
Stars:
Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Michal Gambon, Claire Bloom, Eve Best, Jennifer Ehle, Freya Wilson, Ramona Marquez, Derek Jacobi, Anthony Andrews.

Oscars: Best Picture (Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin), Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Actor (Colin Firth), Best Screenplay (David Seidler).
Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actor (Geoffrey Rush), Best Supporting Actress (Helena Bonham Carter), Best Art Direction (Eve Stewart, Judy Farr), Best Editing (Tariq Anwar), Best Cinematography (Danny Cohen), Best Sound Mixing (Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen, John Midgley), Best Costume Design (Jenny Beavan), Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat).