Sunday, January 9, 2011

“Movie review: "The King's Speech" is, in a word, excellent - Denver Post” plus 1 more

“Movie review: "The King's Speech" is, in a word, excellent - Denver Post” plus 1 more

Movie review: "The King's Speech" is, in a word, excellent - Denver Post

Posted: 23 Dec 2010 11:55 PM PST

Colin Firth plays a stammering King George VI in "The King's Speech." (Laurie Sparham, The Weinstein Co. )

If you want to ponder what was wrong, but also what remains right about movies in 2010, "The King's Speech" is a fine place to start.

It is an intelligent, winning drama fit for a king — and the rest of us. And this year, there were far too few of those coming from Hollywood.

Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush star in this period "bromance" (as Firth winkingly called it) of King George VI and his unorthodox speech therapist, Lionel Logue.

Expertly directed by Tom Hooper and tenderly written by David Seidler, the film begins in the late 1930s. Albert (Firth), the Duke of York and second son of King George V, has a pronounced stammer.

Helena Bonham Carter portrays Elizabeth, his wife. And Rush is Logue, the Australian therapist they seek out.

"The King's Speech" is elegantly crafted and emotionally eloquent. Yet, in October, the film received an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. The distributor appealed. But the rating stands. The MPAA's reason: "language," which has to strike some as ironic and suggests just how lost the MPAA can be when it comes to context versus titillation.

The reason for the R: Tongue-thwarted Bertie drops a blitz of F-bombs during a speech exercise. Like the movie, the moment is terrifically human and true to his frustration and release.

So parents, take your tweens and teens. Few movies are as welcoming of a broader audience, as rewarding of maturity. (Even the violence wielded in the appropriately tagged PG-13 "True Grit" invites more caution.)

Firth's Bertie comes of a well-spoken lineage. King George V (Michael Gambon) used the radio deftly. Older brother Edward (Guy Pearce) was such a public charmer, he believed his nation would allow its king to marry twice- divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson (Eve Best).

For Bertie's father and brother, microphones and the radio were devices to captivate, to calm, to rule. For him, they are adversaries.

An opening scene finds him set to address a stadium. He pauses far too long. A horse neighs with what can only feel like an expression of growing impatience. Bertie speaks. It is not his finest hour.

There are plenty of such pained moments, but "The King's Speech" also is rich with underplayed humor. The most sophisticated jests come by way of Bonham Carter's Elizabeth. One therapist assures her that his ridiculous method worked for Demosthenes. Her retort is wonderfully arch.

Elizabeth is the first to meet Logue in his basement office. Their introduction doesn't go exactly swimmingly.

The film celebrates an unusual and historically significant friendship. It also honors a deeper partnership. Elizabeth is Bertie's rock. Scenes from the Logue household suggest a similar tag team.

Rush delights as the Shakespeare-adoring amateur thespian, kind father and husband. Logue insists on working with Bertie as equals. And the movie teases the relationship of monarchs to citizens and Britain's natives to their Aussie kin.

There is no shortage of royal pains to remind the increasingly important therapist of his place. Derek Jacobi portrays Archbishop Cosmo Lang, who is more embarrassed than helpful.

The film's title does double duty. When Bertie assumes the throne in 1937, Hitler is consolidating his power in Germany. A nation needs to hear from its king. Britain's lauded orator Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall) offers some choice advice.

Firth's rigor makes Bertie's misery palpable and his triumph earned. And Rush brings fine vitality to Logue's clinical doggedness.

Still, what makes all this possible is a gifted director, working with a rich script about the deep ache of a person betrayed by mind and mouth.

As a child, writer Seidler had a terrible stutter. George VI became his hero.

"The King's Speech" makes him ours as well.

Film critic Lisa Kennedy: 303-954-1567 or lkennedy@; also on blogs.denverpostcom/ madmoviegoer


R for language. 1 hour, 58 minutes. Directed by Tom Hooper; written by David Seidler. Photography by Danny Cohen. Starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pierce, Timothy Spall, Jennifer Ehle, Derek Jacobi and Michael Gambon. Opens Saturday at area theaters.

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Amanda Knox trial featured in TV movie - TheDay

Posted: 09 Jan 2011 02:57 AM PST

Pasadena, Calif. - The murder trial of American college student Amanda Knox is recreated in a television movie that had the actors debating her innocence or guilt.

"It's one of those really riveting stories where you just don't know," Hayden Panettiere, who plays Knox, told television writers on Friday. "I can't say I have an opinion. That's why the story is so interesting. I don't know that we'll ever really know."

"Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy" airs Feb. 21 on Lifetime.

The movie focuses on the trial of Knox, who was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering her British roommate in the rented house they shared in the university town of Perugia, where both were studying.

Nicknamed "Foxy Knoxy" by her Italian prosecutor and the media, Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, a verdict she is appealing. The co-defendant in the appeals trial is her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian who was convicted of the same charges and sentenced to 25 years. Both deny any wrongdoing.

"Our story tells factually what happened up to the point of her arrest," executive producer Trevor Walton said. "We feel we've done this very responsibly and should have no effect on any ongoing trial."

The movie was filmed last year in Rome and Perugia. Producers didn't talk to any of the families, and instead worked from courtroom documents, including a 400-page report written by the judge in the case, and media reports.

"We didn't want to be biased in any way," Walton said. "We wanted to tell a drama. To go to the Knox family and not the Kercher family didn't make any sense."

Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden, who plays Knox's mother Edda Mellas, said Knox's innocence or guilt was a daily topic among the cast.

"I personally found an opportunity playing her mom to find reasons to question that she wasn't guilty, to believe fiercely in her," Harden said. "It was very difficult not to stand behind a position as the character."

Harden plowed through the judge's document, which she said contains specific details about DNA and both sides' presentations.

"In the report, I found there to be conjecture," she said.

Panettiere focused on staying true to who she believes Knox was before the trial.

"This wasn't a dark, angry girl," she said. "She was a young girl with dreams and aspirations. I don't think guilty or innocent takes away from that."

Following the movie, Lifetime will air an hour-long documentary "Beyond the Headlines: Amanda Knox" that features interviews with Knox's mother, father, friends, investigators and prosecutors discussing the legal evidence and allegations.

Panettiere's credits include the TV show "Heroes," and the movie "I Love You, Beth Cooper."

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