Monday, June 6, 2011

The King's Speech

In case you hadn't noticed I skipped the Oscar Countdown for this past year. My lack of interest in movies kept me from seeing some fine pieces of work. And so with my change of heart, I am catching up on the Best Movie contenders. My first choice was the Best Movie, The King's Speech, starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter.I had heard so many mixed reviews that I stayed away from this wonderful gem - I'm so glad I watched it. It was a wonderful human story about a tragic time in history--the brink of WWII--and the monarchy of England. Specifically, following the death of King George V, his son ascends to the throne only to abdicate to marry Wallis Simpson, leaving the throne to his younger brother Albert. Afflicted with a terrible lifelong stammer, Albert must take the inner journey to find confidence in himself and overcome the impediment as the country joins the war against Germany.
Wonderful performances by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush as King and irreverant speech therapist. Interesting history with poignant human interest and a dash of humor kept me engaged for the whole 118 minutes.  SEE IT!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Water for Elephants

I like to read. I admit I don't own an E-reader and probably won't anytime soon. I like the feel of a book, turning the pages, hearing the spine crack as I move to the next fresh chapter. So I always approach a book-turned-movie with a bit of trepidation.  I believe the story images in our minds are always better than anything that Hollywood could possibly produce. And sometimes the casting isn't what I thought of a particular character and I think that's the worst. And so I was really surprised with "Water for Elephants" -- the wonderful novel by Sara Gruen about life in the circus during the 1930s Depression and Prohibition era.

The movie really stayed true to the book, the characters were well cast, and it moved along with no wasted frames.  I didn't know how I would feel about Reese Witherspoon in the part of Marlena, but she did pull it off. Robert Pattinson was wonderful as the gentle animal vet, Jacob Jankowski, who loses his innocence about life during the 1930s depression. The best role was played by Christoph Waltz as August, the brutal circus owner and animal trainer. 
I admit watching the animal abuse was harder than reading about it (I studied my coffee cup a little too long) but the story was wonderful and interesting.  Good choice - movie theater or DVD, which I assume won't be too long coming.

X-Men - First Class

It's really no surprise that I am a comic book fan and am truly enjoying the past few years' resurgence in Super Hero movies.   The X-Men are one of my favorites in the Marvel world and I was very curious to see the "pre-quel"  to the franchise, X-Men First Class.  I was not disappointed.  The movie explained the early years of the first characters, Professor Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto), the origins of the friendship and ultimate parting of ways.  Other characters are also introduced, like Mystique and Beast. Kevin Bacon plays the wonderfully awful Sebastian Shaw.   The special effects were awesome, but the cameos and one-liner references were even better.  There were even some well-placed laughs. I didn't even mind being the only female in the theater.