The King’s Speech (2010) Review

15 06 2011

Copyright See-Saw Films 2010

★ ★ ★ ★

Where to start?  Well, I think Academy Award winners and nominees might be a good place to freshen up the new stock of reviews to come from the back log.  Why not start here with last year’s Best Picture winner The King’s Speech? Sounds like a plan to me.

This was one of the few films last year I actually made it to the theater for.  I hate to say it, but with Netflix, I have become increasingly lazy with the idea of driving to the theater and paying $7 to $8 to watch a picture, but some films are worth seeing on the big screen.  After the well-referred reviews and Oscar nominations this film garnered, I figured it’d be worth the admission.  In the end, it was.

The film revolves around King George VI’s (Colin Firth) reign as monarch of the British Empire beginning in 1936 and primarily focusing on his rule through World War II.  Bertie, as he is referred by friends and family, assumes the throne following the abdication by his elder brother Edward VIII.  Though well brought up to be king, the newly named monarch is worried about his noticeable stammer.  Having been to many specialists for correction over the years, he is quite reluctant to try another; however, at his wife’s behest, he begins sessions with Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a speech therapist with unique methods.  Their tumultuous relationship as “doctor” and patient, result in a lasting friendship and new found courage for the king.

Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Writing, Directly for the Screen, this is a solid film.  Firth and Rush are brilliant in their respective roles, as is Helena Bonham Carter as the Queen Mother.  The direction by Tom Hooper is stagy and textbook, but works for the picture which is driven by performance.  A bit tailored for its eventual Oscar glory, being that it is exactly what the Academy likes to see (historical, period piece, drama), it is still an interesting telling of a truly inspiring story.

Freakonomics (2010) Review

9 05 2011

Copyright 2010 Cold Fusion Media Group

★ ★

Apparently the book that this documentary is based on by economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner sold nearly 4 million copies.  For the sake of reader’s interest, I hope the book was more entertaining and informative than this movie was.

As an interesting concept, the film was divided into four segments and written and directed by several different well-known documentarians including: Morgan Spurlock, Eugene Jarecki, Alex Gibney and Rachel Grady, among others.  There were four major sections overall: one segment on names entitled “A Roshanda By Any Other Name”; one segment on cheating entitled “Pure Corruption”; one segment on crime called “It’s Not Always a Wonderful Life”; and one segment on incentives entitled “Can a Ninth Grader be Bribed to Succeed?”

Going in order that they appeared, I found the first segment on naming to be marginally interesting and somewhat entertaining.  However, the majority of the information provided could have been summed up in a sentence rather than 25 minutes of screen time.  The second segment, which featured information on cheating in sumo wrestling, was the worst and it was the longest segment!  I didn’t care at all about sumo wrestling, the economic data they presented or anything else this segment had to offer.  To be honest, I fast forwarded through about 20 minutes of this segment because it was brutal.  The third segment, which dealt with crime in early 1990s, was by far the most interesting of the entire film.  If this segment would have been a stand alone short film, it would have probably won some awards and gotten rave reviews because it was very well presented.  Then, like the first, the fourth segment was only marginal.

Interspersed between the four segments are various interviews with the two authors, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.  Both of them seem really arrogant and condescending in how they present their information.  It’s a shame, because some of the material seemed like it could be really interesting.  After seeing the guys who came up with it, however, it makes it feel like it could loose validity.

I would not recommend wasting your time with this film.  The only part I can recommend would be the third segment.  So, if you are interested in this film, just go to Netflix instant watch and fast forward to about an hour in for that and then just be done with this movie after that.  There are too many other good documentaries to waste your time on this one.

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