Colin Firth

Movie Issues: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Posted by: |

Movie Issues: Kingsman: The Secret Service

With Kingsman: The Secret Service, director Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class) again proves that he is one of the best directors of the last decade. Taking the graphic novel, The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, and turning it into one hell of a “balls-to-the-walls” action flick that, from start to finish, is just awesome.kingsman-the-secret-service-taron-egerton-colin-firth Read On

The King’s Speech

Posted by: |

The King’s Speech

King’s Speech, The

Full Price Feature

What a superb film. Colin Firth plays the Duke of York, son of George V (Michael Gambon) brother of King Edward I (Guy Pearce), and future King George VI. Bertie, as his family calls him, has a life-long, debilitating stammer. I did knot know about the upbringing of the father of Queen Elizabeth II, but as you watch him with his royal family, his disability is no surprise. Firth listened to recordings of the man he plays, retraining his confident and witty vocal instrument to stick in his throat and choke him. To listen to him struggle with such labored strain, it’s almost unbelievable when he finds his voice. Firth is fantastic. He balances the childhood wounds of the forgotten, abused son with the inborn sense of entitlement and detachment of a royal. Watching him juggle his self-esteem extremes and his plosives with such facility is a wonder.

He is aided in his treatment by Australian Geoffrey Rush — esteemed and successful in his field, yet subject to the merciless dialect snobbery of that country which was depicted with such humor in My Fair Lady. Rush’s character Lionel Logue recognizes the psychological, rather than mechanical, origins of such conditions, and breaks down Firth’s not-inconsiderable barriers to achieve his goals. A wonderful aspect of this story is not just the peek of a royal into the common world, nor the intellectual joys of seeing two actors ply their craft so masterfully — it’s how very funny The King’s Speech is. With all the high stakes and deep sympathies and swinging-pipe power plays, ultimately the treatment relationship becomes a jolly friendship and meeting of minds.

Guy Pearce plays David (King Edward I to you) the dissolute heir to Gambon’s throne. Pearce looks healthier than he has in years, and I delighted in his mincing Royal elocution, particularly around his flat native Australian tendencies. Gambon pulls out a formidable tyrant from his acting toolbox, making you forget all about his sweet hippie Dumbledore, and causing you to stammer a bit yourself. Jennifer Ehle (once Elizabeth Bennett to Firth’s Mr. Darcy) plays Rush’s wife in only a few small scenes, but she reminds those of us in non-monarchist America just how different the royals always were. David Bamber, who played Mr. Collins in that same production of Pride and Prejudice, has a small role here for us geek girls out there.

The acting is fantastic. Danny Cohen’s photography is gorgeous (a fact I felt compelled to keep reminding myself of in my notes), and the period equipment is spectacular. Radio was such a new technology in the 1925-1939 period during which this story takes place, we forget in our 24-hour news cycle how vital basic showmanship is to a public figure. It’s such a given that anyone hoping to be taken seriously in the public eye be able to speak clearly, it’s nice to dip back into time when it was a rarified talent. As television kicked Nixon in his debate with Kennedy, so does the radio weaken the public’s faith in a monarch whose choked “EK” noises ring out over the hushed and embarrassed crowd. The weight of history rests on the shoulders (and diaphragm) of the man who became George VI of England, and Firth shows us every ounce. Do see it.

MPAA Rating R-language
Release date 12/17/10
Time in minutes 111
Director Tom Hooper
Studio Weinstein Company

Comments Off on Love, Actually

Love, Actually

Posted by: |

Yes, of course I know you knew I would give this movie a Full Price rating, just from the preview alone. I am not afraid to admit that my companion and I sat, long after the credits had stopped and lights had come up, not wanting to leave the theatre because it felt…too soon. We just wanted to bask in it for a while. We felt like we had had a delicious and sumptuous feast, with sweetness and tartness and even a bittersweet finish. The film is a surprise and a delight, and by all means please go see it. I could see it again and again.

Written and directed by Richard Curtis, much has been made of this writer with the bodacious chick flick pedigree of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones. However, let’s not forget the other things he has written, such as the inestimable Black Adder series and the little known but fantastic The Tall Guy. This is his directorial debut – it is probably wise for such a complex story structure to be directed by the writer. He handles the multiple plot lines with aplomb. Is it a chick flick? Oh hell yeah. But I think any sensible man who can appreciate a well-written story and some boobies as well will be happy to let his girlfriend have sex with him after they see it. Because she will want to. Hear that, fellas? (Ladies, you get Rodrigo Santoro and of course Hugh and Colin.)

Add the enormous cast of Brit wit darlings and consistently emotionally complex actors, the pedigree, what’s not to like? Oh believe you me, I was terrified that my expectations would be too high. The feel-good preview, with Hugh Grant dancing charmingly and Colin Firth smiling accessibly and Emma Thompson shrewdly seeing through husband Alan Rickman’s foolishness, Laura Linney vibrating with palpable joy…Maybe it looks glib and flip and Christmas fluffy, and you wonder, how can they tie these people together? But there are even more people to enjoy than just these! Little characters with smile-inducing plotlines and sweet, honest connections balance out the star-studded, heart-tugging bigger stories. Everyone in the film ties together in some way, either directly through being related or through friendship, or just being there to make that last second happen as it should, but it never feels forced or contrived, merely magical.

The idea is that love is everywhere, in different shapes and forms, perhaps, than we traditionally search for it in a love story type narrative, and the film is chockablock with the many flavors of love. Oh yeah, and be honest about it too. Love Actually is heartening and lovely and rich. And it’s really not all just a bunch of couples hooking up. We have the agonies of first love, the rapture of a first kiss, the stress of unexpected advances, the complexities of sibling relations, the palpable disappointment of one’s own mistakes, the terror of loss, and the anticipation and awkwardness of just asking her out. With so many characters and plotlines, still somehow Curtis makes you know and even care about every person on screen, which is a screenwriting feat to beat the band, let me tell you. After seeing a film like The Human Stain, an overly intense drama with very few people, and nary a feeling evoked, having so many people enter your consciousness so effortlessly and leave warm, sure footprints is amazing. Each story line could stand alone, but the interweaving adds so much to each story. Curtis has, with this fourth Working Title chick flick, possibly ruined it for all men by just getting what women really want in an onscreen man, but we’re not complaining. Go see it!

MPAA Rating R – sexuality, nudity and language
Release date 11/7/03
Time in minutes 129
Director Richard Curtis
Studio Universal Pictures

Coda: 20+ viewings later, I would rate this movie a legitimate classic.

Comments Off on Bridget Jones' Diary

Bridget Jones' Diary

Posted by: |

Lest my frequent readers fret, in the uncharacteristic delay between opening weekend of this film and the review, please know it was not hesitation as to my thoughts on the film! I saw BJD twice opening weekend and again just this past weekend, and I am certain it will wend its way into my DVD collection ere long. So yeah, I liked it. My constant readers know that I am not a Renee Zellweger fan, but I am a fan of the book, and so I eagerly anticipated the release regardless of my hesitations about the star. I was delighted with the result. I also hope that Colin Firth will finally get a proper following here in the States beyond all of us geeks who watch and rewatch the A&E/BBC Pride and Prejudice (now available on DVD). Thank goodness the screenplay was partially written by the book’s author Helen Fielding, because the ruination potential for such a book, with such a following, is quite high. Few are the ladies I know who have not read it and loved it. Did I mention I saw it twice opening weekend?

Never mind all the attendant press about how Miss Z (my height) bulked up to *my* weight (with considerably more prominent breasts I might add) in order to play the part – I still admire her work in this film. She’s very brave, by Hollywood standards, which means all of us who are not 5’5″ and 80 lbs. as Hollywood seems to expect are also equally brave, just for living our daily lives! Bonus points for the gals watching. Renee’s portrayal of Bridget, with all Bridget’s insecurities, faux pas, bad habits, and sad, solo comforts was humiliatingly real. She was pathetic, she was sturdy of spine, she was utterly comprehensible, and, bless her Katy, TX, heart, her accent was just fine. So if you’ve not seen it because of her, get over *that* right away.

Enough about her. She’s the star, she’s getting all the press anyway. We love her friends: not enough of them. We love her parents; lovely casting for all of the above. Excellent choices were made on when to keep the book’s content and when to utterly digress from it. Fans will be delighted by the “new” scenes, because of course they too are utterly plausible in the world of the story. My character expectations for Natasha and Sit Up Britain’s Richard were elevated too high by the spectacular book on tape, narrated by Tracie Bennett (and how funny is THAT – the Bennetts were the main family in P & P), but what twaddle to complain of in the face of such a triumph of book-to-movie. Perhaps more diary would have been fun, but I didn’t feel the film lacked for missing the “Telling self to stop obsessing v. foolish. Will do no more of same.” tone of the book. The dialogue (no doubt largely thanks to Fielding) is true, the awkwardness and tension is palpable, and Renee has duly portrayed that new literary icon of us all.

Real Bridget fans have of course been gushing hysterically to confused fellow movie audiences about the delicious irony of casting Colin Firth as Mark Darcy. Never mind that BJD is a thinly veiled update of Pride & Prejudice (much as Clueless updated Emma), and how delectable it is that Firth played Mr. Darcy in the aforementioned miniseries of the same book – it is also super-delicious that the very characters of the book would watch the miniseries on video obsessively, crooning over Firth as Darcy. It’s the best serendipitous (by design) casting since – since (multiple brains and search engines probe for an answer) – since ever! Mmmm Darcy.

I love Hugh Grant. I can’t help it. Even his detractors concede that his casting as Bridget’s charming, disarming boss Daniel Cleaver is perfect. The first shot of Grant, on the elevator, says it all. Grant non-fans should also allow that this role is utterly different than that which he had in Notting Hill, proving that he is indeed versatile. Grant fans will enjoy his chest. And even guys have enjoyed this film. Sadly, like Working Title’s last Grant foray, Notting Hill, the score is amusing, but the soundtrack is equally obvious and tiresome, taking all the fun out of running out and buying it. Go see it, as if you didn’t already.

MPAA Rating R- language, sexuality
Release date 4/13/01
Time in minutes 94
Director Sharon Maguire
Studio Miramax/Universal