Posts Tagged ‘Colin Firth’

The DVD Geek: The King’s Speech

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Based upon a stageplay that serves as a showcase for some juicy acting, the 2010 Oscar-winner, The King’s Speech, released by Anchor Bay Entertainment, preserves the engaging byplay between Colin Firth, as a member of the British royal family impaired by stuttering, and Geoffrey Rush, as the therapist who oversees his adjustments to the condition.  The film also serves as a fine historical drama and, in essence, a prequel to The Queen (Helena Bonham Carter portrays the spirited character that Sylvia Syms embodied in the latter).  The script falls short in a couple of spots—the early part of the decision making process by Firth’s character is not as satisfying as it could have been—and whether out of royal discretion or an inability to break away entirely from the story’s stage beginnings, the director, Tom Hooper, does not always get as close to the characters as filmmaking could enable him to, but the material is so rich in drama and character interaction that such minor flaws are easily eclipsed by the joys of its discoveries and the excitements of its milestones. 

The picture on the feature is presented in letterboxed format only, with an aspect ratio of about 1.85:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback.  Near the beginning, there is a clever audio metaphor employed, as Firth’s character makes an embarrassingly halting speech over a cavernous public address system, and while it is perfectly effective on the DVD’s 5.1-channel Dolby Digital track, the moment is chillingly enhanced by the detail afforded through the DTS track on Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray.  While on the whole, the 119-minute film is not the sort one rushes to the Blu-ray shelves to obtain, particularly when the DVD is at a lower price point and the supplements are identical, the enhanced quality of the image and sound delivery creates some subtle improvements to the play of the film.  The crisper, sharper colors bring out the luxurious details of the production designs surrounding Firth’s character, but they also magnify the oddly uncomfortable tightness of the living quarters of Rush’s character, and his dungeon-like office.  The film’s one other daring audio mix is to overlay the dramatic climax—the movie’s title can refer to how Firth’s character talks in general, but also specifically to the radio broadcast he makes after Germany invades Poland, which serves as the film’s emotional conclusion—with Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.  In a purer world, Hooper’s choice (actually, it was editor Tariq Anwar’s idea) would be the subject of grand debates, since it is a rather absurd distraction and yet one that nevertheless underscores the hero’s struggle and triumph with an unbound emotional precision (with bonus points for using a German composer), and on the Blu-ray, jacked up as high as you dare, it becomes even more of a triumph.

There are optional English and Spanish subtitles.  The story is also the sort of material that can be greatly enhanced by a smart set of supplements, and Anchor Bay does not disappoint.  Along with a decent 24-minute promotional documentary and another 22 minutes of interviews with Hooper and some members of the cast (including Claire Bloom, who once met the character she is portraying), another informative 11-minute interview with the grandson of Rush’s character (who, in terms of production time, revealed at the very last moment to the movie’s creators that his grandfather had left  a diary, which subsequently informed numerous scenes), there is a 2-minute newsreel clip of the real George VI giving a speech at the end of WWII, and a complete audio-only presentation of the real 6-minute title speech (it is only because you’ve seen the movie that you realize his pauses are in very odd places).  Hooper also provides a commentary for the feature, going into more details about staging the film and about the history it is depicting.

After Oscar

Sunday, February 27th, 2011
Award And the Oscar Goes to … Who I Said WOULD win Who I said SHOULD win Neve’s Picks And the Gurus Picks
Best Picture

The King’s Speech

The King’s Speech

Inception

The Social Network

The King’s Speech
Best Director

Tom Hooper

Tom Hooper

Darren Aronofsky

David Fincher

Davd Fincher
Best Actor

Colin Firth

Colin Firth

Javier Bardem

Jesse Eisenberg

Colin Firth
Supporting Actor

Christian Bale

Geoffrey Rush

John Hawkes

Christian Bale

Christian Bale
Best Actress

Natalie Portman

Annette Bening

Michelle Williams

Annette Bening

Natalie Portman
Supporting Actress

Melissa Leo

Helena Bonham-Carter

Hailee Steinfeld

Melissa Leo

Melissa Leo
Animated

Toy Story 3

n/a

n/a

n/a

Toy Story 3
Documentary

Inside Job

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Inside Job

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Foreign

In a Better World

n/a

n/a

n/a

In a Better World
Adapted Screenplay

Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

The Social Network

Winter’s Bone

Toy Story 3

Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Original Screenplay

David Seidler, The King’s Speech

The Kids Are All Right

Inception

Inception

The King’s Speech

The King’s Speech was fine, I guess…but Best Picture, really?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

I was pretty shocked when I read that The King’s Speech had gotten the most nominations (12) at the Oscars this year.  For me, it was really nothing more than a middling film that I felt like I had seen countless times before: poor little rich prince needs to overcome hurdles in order to succeed.  But this time, it seemed like the hurdle was fairly silly.  I don’t mean to belittle folks who have speech impediments, as I understand that they can make life difficult for those who suffer from those afflictions, but it’s not like the guy was dealing with a fatal disease or anything.  The fact that King George VI stammered is a sad foot-note, I suppose, but it’s hard for me to really get behind the guy in a meaningful way when I know that the stakes are not that high.  World War II and Adolf Hitler are sort of looming in the background, but I’m not really that terrified that the future safety of the planet is at stake just because one of the tangential figures involved in that war had a speech impediment.

I really enjoyed the performances of the cast for the most part, but I was fairly underwhelmed by Colin Firth’s portrayal of the titular king.  It’s not that he didn’t do a good job stammering, but rather that I didn’t feel like I knew him all that well by the end of the film.  It’s partly the fault of the script, but what do I really know about this man besides the fact that he has a speech impediment?  The script keeps telling me he’s noble and Geoffrey Rush’s character tells him that “he’s the bravest man” he’s ever met, but why exactly is he brave?  It seems like he’s quite willing to walk away from therapy and help several times throughout the film because it doesn’t suit his royal blood to discuss trivial matters with his therapist.  That doesn’t really strike me as bravery.  Also, Firth comes off as being whiny quite often in his therapy sessions, which doesn’t fit into my definition of “brave.”

I thought Rush and Helena Bonham Carter were good, as they almost always are.  Guy Pearce seemed to relish playing the caddish older brother.  But the film as a whole didn’t really feel all that vital to me.  When we finally get the speech at the end, it’s really not such a great speech.  So, we’re just supposed to look at this as a victory because he didn’t stutter much, but what about the content of the speech?  It’s another example of the film telling me to feel something because other characters feel it rather than making me feel that emotion.

There is also a decided lack of tension in the film, even if you don’t know the history of what happened, because there’s no other possible way for the film to end.  Every single time Firth and Rush part ways, we know they are going to come together again to finish out the therapy session because the film is firmly entrenched in a certain genre with a certain plot.  The subplots don’t inform the characters any more than when we first meet them, there is no great change besides the speech of one particular character, and the film slowly comes to the only logical conclusion.  Some films are about seeing the puzzle pieces come together in the way that you imagine it, but there are no puzzle pieces here, there is nothing to put together.  If you hadn’t seen the film and just pictured what it would be about and what would happen, you could probably safely say that you’ve seen the movie.

Look, I don’t have the energy to mount some big take-down of the film because it’s not an awful movie.  It’s just a pedestrian one that is handsomely mounted, like a decent HBO biopic.  If it won Best Picture, it would be more like Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan (although in my eyes, the winner that year should have been The Thin Red Line) than Crash over Brokeback Mountain (although in my eyes, the winner that year should have been Munich).  Still, I do think we’ll find it laughable in ten years if somehow The King’s Speech beats out the obviously superior The Social Network or Black Swan.

I think the Academy Awards should always, always, always be about rewarding the best film of the year and often, that’s not the case because of political jockeying.  But, I would sincerely hope that the Academy members look at their ballots and think about which film will age the best, which film defines the year it came out, and which one they won’t be embarrassed about in ten years.  I don’t see how it could be The King’s Speech.

Nominee Reactions

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

“It’s a nice sound to wake up to the phone ringing on Oscar day.”
– Amy Adams, nominated for The Fighter

“It is with great honor and humility that I receive my Oscar nomination. I have been included with a group of top-notch actors who I respect and admire. I am humbled to be in their presence. I also would like to acknowledge the power of ensemble acting. The kind of acting that happened in this movie does not exist in a bubble. Any honor that I receive must be shared with Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Josh Hutcherson, Mia Wasikowska, the rest of the cast, and of course the inimitable Lisa Cholodenko. Thank you to the Academy. This nomination is a win for Marriage Equality and that is the most I could hope for.”
– Mark Ruffalo, nominated for The Kids Are All Right

“This is a big surprise. I don’t agree with the concept of awards ceremonies, but I’m prepared to make an exception for the ones I’m nominated for. The last time there was a naked man covered in gold paint in my house, it was me.”
– Banksy, nominated for Exit Through the Gift Shop

“One thing I know is I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and it’s taken me 20 to get here. In another 20, I may be dead. I’ve been really trying to enjoy it and soak it up and really be grateful for it.”
– Mark Ruffalo, nominated for The Kids Are All Right

“I could not have shot The Fighter (two years ago) without Amy in that freaking hotel. We had a ball and a blast, I can’t wait to see what she’s wearing, and yes, Amy, I AM going to to wear high heels!”
– Melissa Leo, nominated for The Fighter

4 nominations and 4 kids.  I am damn proud!”
– Annette Bening, nominated for The Kids Are All Right

“As my 3-year-old daughter said, ‘Yay!’ I couldn’t put it any better myself.”
– Helena Bonham Carter, nominated for The King’s Speech

“[The nomination] is just wonderful. It was a labor of love for all of us. It was a wonderful film to be involved with. It broke all the rules … We’re very happy with being the underdogs. We’ll have a much better evening, actually. We’ll have a lot of fun. With Slumdog, there was a lot of pressure on us to win. And this time, we’re not the frontrunner, and we’re incredibly happy participants in the race, and we’ll watch everyone else get very tense.”
— Simon Beaufoy, Benomianted for 127 Hours

“What honor it is to be nominated for an Academy Award!  I’m actually on my way to the Van Nuys immigration and naturalization office for a  biometrics (fingerprinting) appointment.   I’m looking at the Oscar nom as a good sign!  Maybe they’ll let me stick around and become a citizen now!”
– Dean DeBlois, writer/director of How to Train Your Dragon

“For Toy Story 3 to be recognized by the Academy as not only one of the best animated films of the year, but also as one of the ten best pictures of the year, is both humbling and overwhelming. I’m speechless; I feel like I’ve been blasted to infinity and beyond.”
— Lee Unkrich, director of Toy Story 3

“Try as I could to act cool and not care, as soon as I heard our names called, I started crying like a little kid. Pardon the cliché, but this truly is a dream come true. I want to thank the Academy for this most phenomenal honor.”
– Stuart Blumberg, nominated for The Kids Are All Right

“It’s so fantastic. I was up most of the night but nodded off and missed my actual announcement. But I got a call right away and lots of text messages from my ex-husband and my family and friends. I knew we were doing good work all along, but I had no idea it would get this kind of affection.”
— Jackie Weaver, Best Supporting Actress nominee, Animal Kingdom

“It seems like I was fired out of a cannon this time last year, and now it’s like I’m orbiting Pluto.”
– Colin Firth, nominated for The King’s Speech

“It’s a testament to the skill and the dedication devoted to this film by a very talented team of artists. And of course I sincerely hope that Jacques Tati would be proud of what we have achieved with his marvellous story.”
— Sylvain Chomet, nominated for The Illusionist

“As an Australian, I’m as excited to be recognized and honored by the Academy as my character must have been when his London speech therapy business flourished when the future King Of England happened to pop by one day. This story has struck such a rich resonant chord with audiences of all ages, which is very exciting — to have your work honored by your industry peers is even better.”
– Geoffrey Rush, nominated for The King’s Speech

“I was building Lego with my son and lost track of the time. Then the phone started ringing and I realized it must be good news. I’m incredibly touched and humbled. I grew up watching the awards and never thought this would be my reality. I’m thrilled for Natalie who trained tirelessly for a year and then trusted me with her soul and spirit.  And I’m so thankful the academy recognized my long time collaborators Matty, Andy and Scott. They are such focused and committed artists and their work inspired me every day.”
– Darren Aronofsky, nominated for Black Swan

“I think that what resonated is that it’s not a timely story, I think what resonated is that it is a timeless story, one with themes as old as storytelling itself: of friendship and loyalty, of betrayal, power, class, jealousy. These are things that Aeschylus would have written about or Shakespeare would have written about. And it’s just lucky for me that neither of those guys were available so I got to write about it.”
– Aaron Sorkin, nominated for The Social Network

“Currently celebrating with my colleagues three feet above the ground.  Not used to this much joy, or this much champagne at this hour.”
– Colin Firth, nominated for The King’s Speech

“I’m very honored and humbled to be recognized by the Academy with two nominations. Working with Danny Boyle is such a remarkable experience, and I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with him again. I’m immensely grateful to Fox Searchlight for their efforts on this incredible film based on the courageous story of Aaron Rolston.”
– A.R. Rahman, nominated for 127 Hours

“We are overjoyed that the Academy gave our film four nominations — what a journey, from years getting the movie together to Sundance last year to the Kodak Theatre next month! We made the film because we had something to say about the power of love, and I want to thank the Academy members from the bottom of my heart for showing us their love!”
– Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, nominated for The Kids Are All Right

“I’m celebrating with the people who helped get me there — you and your colleagues in the various forms of press and media that have long witnessed my work and long written and spoken beautiful things about it and really, truly helped me get to this day. Everyone asks about celebrations and glasses of champagne. That I get the opportunity to talk to all of you and say: ‘We did it! This is awesome! Look at us now!'”
– Melissa Leo, nominated for The Fighter

“To be nominated in the animated feature film category is is an unbelievable thrill and honor.  I honestly couldn’t sleep last night in anticipation of the announcement.  When I was a kid I watched the Oscars with my grandmother – we never missed a broadcast.  I could never have imagined that as kid growing up in Colorado I would have a  chance to be a part of this amazing thing.    DreamWorks gave us a  place where we were free to create and pushed us to never ever stop short of the best we could do.”
Chris Sanders, writer/director of How to Train Your Dragon

“If you get six nominations, including best picture and best actor — I’d go see that movie. So I think it’s enormously important for the film.”
– Christian Colson, producer of 127 Hours

“I had no idea they were announcing today. I swear! I was totally taken by surprise. I just dropped the kids off at carpool. I was about five minutes from the school with a car full of kids. With so many kids, I didn’t even realize it was today. I’m glad I forgot about it. It’s made it all the more — I don’t know, just sweet and poignant and unexpected, you know?”
— Mark Ruffalo, nominated for The Kids Are All Right

“My cup runneth over. This is my tenth film musical, and Disney’s 50th animated film. An Oscar nomination puts the whole experience beyond words for me.” 
– Alan Menken, nominated for Tangled

“I am so honored and grateful to the Academy for this recognition,” Us Weekly magazine quoted Portman as saying in a statement. ‘It is a wonderful culmination of the ten-year journey with Darren to make this film. Making ‘Black Swan’ is already the most meaningful experience of my career, and the passion shown for the film has completed the process of communication between artists and audience. I am so thankful for the support we have received and I share this honor with the entire cast and crew of the film, especially Darren Aronofsky.”
– Natalie Portman, nominated for Black Swan

“I am truly overwhelmed with gratitude by this recognition by the Academy this morning.  I’m smiling from ear to ear knowing that lightning can strike twice and it feels electrifying.  I’m thrilled to be amongst these tremendously talented artists. A big congratulations to all the nominees!”
– Jeremy Renner, nominated for The Town

“It took us seven years, 13 financiers, and a 23-day shoot to make our film a reality. By recognizing Kids, the Academy has not only honored us but has given us hope and inspiration to the independent film community.” 
– Celine Rattray, producer, The Kids Are All Right

‘Playing Charlene was truly an inspiring experience and I’m so proud and grateful to have been a part of this movie. It’s an honor to be nominated in the same category as Melissa, and alongside such incredible actresses.’
– Amy Adams, nominated for The Fighter

“What an extraordinary journey this film has taken me on! ‘Rabbit Hole’ has been a labor of love and I’m so thankful to John Cameron Mitchell, David Lindsay-Abaire and the brilliant cast. This nomination reflects all of the heart and soul that these people have put into it and I can’t thank them enough.”
– Nicole Kidman, nominated for Rabbit Hole

“It has been such an incredible journey with ‘The Fighter’ and one that I am grateful to share with David O. Russell, Christian, Melissa, Amy, my fellow producers and the Ward and Eklund families, who are the heart and soul of the film.  Thank you to the Academy for this tremendous honor.”
Mark Wahlberg, producer, The Fighter

“Ten seems like an awful lot. We don’t want to take anyone else’s.”
– Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, True Grit

“On behalf of everyone associated with ‘The Fighter,’ we are deeply honored by The Academy’s recognition of our film.  This has been a labor of love for us and an incredible, rewarding  journey that continues with this nomination.”
— David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, producers of The Fighter

“To have ‘Toy Story 3′ represented in the Best Picture category is a great honor, and a fitting tribute to director Lee Unkrich, producer Darla Anderson, screenwriter Michael Arndt, and all of the talented people at Pixar, who worked so hard to live up to and exceed the standards and expectations of Toy Story fans and moviegoers all over the world.”
– John Lasseter, on behalf of Toy Story 3

 “It’s incredible to think that this morning’s Oscar nominations go back 7 years to the fateful day Stuart Blumberg and I crossed paths in a Los Angeles coffee shop and agreed to write KIDS together. If luck is preparation meeting opportunity, then that was the opportunity, hands down! I’m thrilled that I’ll be at the Kodak Theatre next month with Stuart, Mark Ruffalo, Annette Bening, Jeff Levy-Hinte, and my other producers who worked so hard to get this film made. I only regret that Julianne Moore didn’t get the acting nomination she so richly deserved. But the Picture nomination is as much hers as ours. We couldn’t have made this film without her heart, smarts and loyalty, not to mention her outstanding performance.”
– Lisa Cholodenko, nomianted for The Kids Are All Right

“The nomination is wonderful because working on ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was one of the best creative experiences of my entire career. Tim Burton trusted us with his vision and the work on the screen is the result of an amazing collaboration with hundreds of brilliant artists, including my fellow nominees and a great team on set. You hope to have an experience like this at least once in career and I am so happy that our peers recognized the extraordinary complexity, detail and accomplishment that the visual effects in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ represent.”
– Ken Ralston, nominated for Alice in Wonderland

“I had a really hard time sleeping last night — for several reasons, but knowing this thing was happening in the morning is really nervewracking. You never can tell. I certainly knew it was a flashy role. It was electric on the page. But there’s so many things that can go wrong when making a film, who knows what it will turn out to be. And it certainly pulled together a fantastic film and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
– Jeremy Renner, nominated for The Town

“I’ve got a pretty full day coming up. I’ll stop by Mark’s house, I’ll stop by David’s house, give ’em both a big hug. [I’ll] try and stop by Christian’s house although he’s probably holed up and won’t even turn on the TV until 10 a.m.”
– Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity Media, on The Fighter nominations

“We felt this film was an important movie for our time because it describes our time. And in so many ways this is kind of timeless. And what an incredible pairing of a director and a journalist and a writer, in Aaron Sorkin. And what an incredible thing for Sony Pictures to have stepped up and produced this film and believed in it and gotten it out there.”
— Kevin Spacey, executive producer, The Social Network

Oscars, Already?

Monday, October 11th, 2010

We have the new Gurus O’ Gold chart up, and in taking a look at the consensus votes du jour, I had a couple thoughts. I missed The King’s Speech at Toronto, so I’ll have to wait until screeners come in/Seattle screenings get set to weigh in on it. Could be the Oscar-bee’s knees like I heard from a lot of folks at Toronto, could be Colin Firth‘s year to win a statue. Or not. Time will tell.

Of the Best Pic-contending movies I have seen, I wouldn’t rank The Social Network as highly as it’s sitting right now. It’s very early for that film to be peaking, I think, and I still just don’t see its subject matter and cynicism as broadly appealing to the Academy voters. But we’ll see. Hereafter? Not so much. I wouldn’t even have that one on my Oscar radar at all except that it’s directed by Eastwood — but I personally found it to be maybe on par with Invictus, which wasn’t great, and maybe a tad below Million Dollar Baby (NOT my favorite movie) in terms of emotional manipulation.

Right now, I think my personal top Best Picture pics would be True Grit (haven’t seen that one yet either, but it’s the Coens and the trailer looks great), Black Swan, 127 Hours, Another Year, The King’s Speech (based on the buzz alone at this point) and Winter’s Bone OR The Kids Are All Right as strong outsiders.

I’m more interested at this point in the Adapted Screenplay race, where we have 127 Hours, True Grit and The Social Network as probably leaders of the pack. To this I would add Never Let Me Go, which I think, after reading the book, is a really solid adaptation — more on that one later. Unfortunately, I missed seeing Rabbit Hole (darn that weighty Toronto slate and its surprises), and I’ve heard so many things on that one (mostly positive) that I’m hoping to get to check it out soon.

Right now I’m also interested in the Best Actor and Actress races as well. For Best Actor, everyone (ah yes, the ever-mysterious, yet oddly influential “they”) came out of Toronto saying James Franco is a “lock” for a nomination, and Firth virtually a “lock” for a nom and probable win. I’ve seen Duvall in Get Low and it’s a good performance, no doubt, and one that may appeal to the Academy. Not my personal top o’ the actor heap, but I have no idea what the Academy’s temperature reading is on that film, and no one’s counting my votes anyhow.

Bridges in True Grit may (will probably be) Oscar worthy, but he’s coming off a win last year for Crazy Heart. Personally (and again, not having seen True Grit or King’s Speech yet) my sentimental favorite is Javier Bardem for Biutiful, which I think is the best performance in a career of great performances. But the artfulness of Biutiful may not be enough to lift it up above the rather bleak subject matter to put it up there in the hearts of voters.

As for Best Actress, maybe it’s just me but this feels like a slightly less competitive field this year. After barely missing out on a Best Actress nom for Happy-Go-Lucky a couple years ago, this may be Sally Hawkins year with Made in Dagenham, the kind of uplifting Brit-flick that may be appealing to the Academy. I would probably put Lesley Manville‘s really solid turn in Another Year right up there with Hawkins. and if it were me, Jennifer Lawrence would be right in the mix for Winter’s Bone. I heard really amazing things about Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole out of Toronto, too, and I am a fan of Black Swan and Portman’s performance in it. I wouldn’t count her out completely yet.

The Oscar race will start to take shape more as screeners get sent out and buzz starts to bubble up for this film and peter out for that one. This is a fall with a lot of exciting movies to look forward to and it should be an interesting awards season to watch as well. Much as we all get sick of reading and writing about Oscars, our collective obsession with it drives this business to one extent or another.

I don’t plan to write as much about Oscars as the “Oscar pundits,” more to focus narrowly on specific bits and pieces — screenplay adaptations, docs, maybe foreigns depending on what’s nominated there. After years of having my kids do their Oscar picks randomly using everything from Magic 8-Ball to Twister to Pin the Tail on the Donkey (usually with surprising accuracy) I’ve come to believe that it’s really a crap shoot anyhow.

Fun to talk about and argue about and make charts about, but at the end of the day, I don’t know that any one person’s guesses are actually more accurate or better than the randomness of the Magic 8-Ball. So it goes, let the speculating begin.

The King’s Speech actor Colin Firth

Monday, September 27th, 2010



Trailer: The King’s Speech

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

DP/30 Sneak iPhone Peek – The King’s Speech: Firth & Rush

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Sneak Peeks of DP/30 conversations (here via iPhone/coming in hi-def) with Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush of The King’s Speech.