Zchill in his natural habitat; animation.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oscar Bait: The King's Speech

You know all those movies that come out at the end of the year that have critics fawning all over them? The fact that they all come out at the end of the year isn't a coincidence. To be considered for an Oscar, films have to come out within the year prior to the ceremony. Since Americans have a short attention spans, there are about half a dozen well-made movies--all vying for the same awards--all coming out at the same time. These movies are called Oscar Bait.

The King's Speech is a feel-good movie and, out of the Oscar Bait, probably the one that is most accessible to mainstream audiences. This isn't a ballerina horror, self-amputating rock climber, gritty western, Boston-based boxing/heist, or modern website-founding story. It's just a simple movie about a stammering Prince who was never supposed to be King fighting everyone's favorite Hollywood bad-guy: Nazis.

Now, to be fair, I haven't seen any of those movies besides this one quite yet, but this one seems to be the one that the majority of people will like...except fascists, I suppose, but they don't seem to care for much anyway, do they?

I liked that I didn't know the history behind this story. I knew that the Queen of England has been a figurehead for quite some time, but I never knew the drama surrounding her father's coronation. I'm not really all that educated on the whole British monarchy thing. But to be fair, I'm an American, and we don't care for Kings over here. My favorite moment, apart from the title event, was the way that the King's daughters curtsied to their loving father after he became King. Colin Firth did a great job in that scene in particular; you could see that he hated the change that had occurred in the way his daughters saw him, but he maintained his bearing as King. Really, I could go on about the performances and how great they were, but we are entering awards season, and it's kind of a pain in the @*^ to watch these actors fall in love with themselves on stage. So I'll skip that bit of this blog and move to what I didn't like.

I didn't like some of the casting choices. Why did Colin Firth play Guy Pearce's younger brother? I don't mean to strike at a particularly sore spot for actors, but if you're going to sell the movie, maybe make less confusing casting choices. The audience isn't stupid, you know. I will say that Guy Pearce has aged since I last saw him; I guess they wanted to accentuate that he was older. He and Colin Firth were believable as royalty, so I forgave the odd casting choice. One last thing about the casting that bothered me was the Winston Churchill role. Timothy Spall essentially did a caricature of Winston Churchill instead of becoming the role and making it his own. It's really something that was only noticeable because the main cast really inhabited their roles. Small details though.

Watch this if you like behind-the-scenes moments like The Queen, or any other inspirational movies, like Remember the Titans. It has a pretty similar storyline to inspirational sports movies; there was even a montage. True story.

If you hate to be inspired, then skip this movie (I ran into such a person at the library, and I died a little on the inside). I guess an action movie like True Grit might suit you, but alas, I can not make that recommendation in good conscience, as I have yet to see it.

Colin Firth has been in a bunch of movies that I like to call "chick flicks". I wonder if it'll catch on.... He should probably win the Oscar for his spot-on and believable portrayal of King George VI. That, and he was passed over for an Oscar last year for A Single Man. There are serious politics involved in the Oscars.

Geoffrey Rush is famous for his role as Barbosa from the Pirates of the Carribean franchise.

Helen Bonham Carter wastes her talent in her husband Tim Burton's movies. She played a very sassy queen.

Guy Pearce has been in two of my favorite movies: L.A. Confidential and Memento. He isn't in enough movies.

That's all. This movie was great. I left the theater with high spirits. You should totally watch it. Or don't, whatever. I'm not your mom.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Year in Review

Yeah, I know that I've neglected this blog, which makes me wonder why it's so popular (it isn't). Anyway, everyone is doing a stupid top movies of the year blog, but I like to buck the trend in my own way (also, I haven't seen a lot of the "top movies" this year), so I'm going to go through the movies that I saw last year and give you my impressions of them. Just to make it interesting, I'm going to limit myself to a maximum of two sentences. I know you're psyched. Let's roll.

The Book of Eli:
Stevie Wonder meets Mad Max with a touch of Fahrenheit 451; Mila Kunis is very pretty.
See it if you're a fan of apocalyptic movies; skip it if you can clearly imagine a movie like my first sentence--it's pretty much exactly like that.

Shutter Island:
Martin Scorsese directs this story of loss and the slip into madness. If you want a companion piece to Inception, see this movie; if you don't like your stories unresolved, skip it (like I said, Inception companion piece).

Alice In Wonderland:
Tim Burton tackles a classic story--nuff said. See it if you buy a majority of your clothes at Hot Topic; if the opposite is true, skip it.

She's Out of My League:
A fun family film (false); see it with Grandma (very false). It's pretty much a slightly less intelligently written version of 40 Year Old Virgin; act accordingly.

How To Train Your Dragon:
I disagree with it being so high on the IMDb top 250 (it simply isn't that good); however, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. This movie is like Ratatouille (or Jazz Singer, or any movie that has a father and son disagreeing on the son's profession), but with dragons.

Clash of the Titans:
Avatar spent millions of dollars on their effects to create a fully involving film with breath-taking 3D; this movie spent about the equivalent of a buck fifty on special effects and rushed 3D into development. It's like Hollywood knee-ed moviegoers in the balls and took their lunch money.

Date Night:
Steve Carell and Tina Fey being funny together. It's like NBC's Thursday night lineup.

Taking comics as their inspiration, amateurs dress up as superheroes; I would say it's a pretty realistic depiction, except they used MySpace...so that's out. If you're squeamish or old, do not see this movie; if you want to see a 12 year-old girl swear, and (for lack of a better term), kick ass, see this movie.

The Losers:
Didn't actually catch that in theaters. Check out the blog.

Iron Man 2:
As good as the first one? No, but as a comic book fan, I can't help but loving it as a real life Marvel comic book adaptation, complete with comic crossovers.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time:
For a bit, my brother was hopeful that this movie would buck the trend of terrible video game adaptations. No dice.

Get Him to the Greek:
Russell Brand is an acquired taste--if you liked his character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, then you should see this movie. It may drag at times, but there are some genuinely good laughs.

Toy Story 3:
I'm a Pixar fan, so it should be no surprise that I loved this movie. This year will see Cars 2 as Pixar's major release, and I don't know how to feel about that.

A sequel to the governor-making original (Arnold and Jesse Ventura), but can this movie create the same number of future state leaders? This is pretty much the first movie, but on an alien planet.

We've come full circle: I started this blog with Inception after my co-workers kept asking for my take on movies. Check it out here.

The Other Guys:
I have seen a pattern in my movie watching habits: comedies and action. The blog on this is here.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World:
Nerdy movie. Nerdy blog.

Due Date:
Pretty much Planes Trains and Automobiles meets *insert stoner movie here*. A good strong percentage of the funny parts of the movie were in the trailers.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1:
Cash grab by Warners? Maybe, but it told the story very well and allowed for the passage of time, which is just hard to do in movies (if you think this is a drop in quality, you're wrong).

To be honest, I rented a lot of movies rather than seeing them in theaters. It's just much cheaper that way, and I am a patient man. As for the best movies of the year? I haven't seen a lot of the ones I know are good.

A side note: This is year one of the fallout of Avatar. I saw four of those movies in 3D with the quality varying. It's not worth it, at this point, to see any live action movie in 3D, and studios have taken advantage of people by charging more for the price of a ticket. Toy Story 3 was fun to see in 3D; so was How to Train Your Dragon. But Alice in Wonderland, and especially Clash of the Titans, are examples of how Hollywood can turn this remarkable technology into a fad. People will get pissed off if the quality isn't mind-blowing.

As for what movies I want to see, pick any top ten list out there and you're pretty much done. All of those.