Cinepub


Review: The King’s Speech by Jamie

Royalty. As a British person I spend at least twenty-three hours a day thinking about it, even whilst sleeping. My morning begins by sorting out my pound notes by denomination and saluting the picture of the Queen on each one before singing the national anthem to the government issued poster of her that comes in a variety of different versions including a tasteful swimsuit edition.

As such it was my duty to go and watch The King’s Speech, a film about our current monarch’s father, George VI (Played by Colin Firth in the film) , who took over the position of King of England after his brother (Guy Pearce) abdicated the throne to marry a twice divorced American woman. The story of the film begins long before the abdication crisis, though it certainly plays a pivotal part in the plot, at the 1925 Empire Exhibition where the then Prince Albert, Duke of York has to give a speech at exhibition’s closing. Unfortunately the speech is a bit of a failure thanks to the Prince’s severe stutter.

After several unsuccessful attempts to try and fix the problem with various different treatments, his wife Elizabeth, the Duchess of York (Helena Bonham Carter) gets him an appointment with an Australian speech therapist by the name of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). The film then follows the two as they try and fix Prince Albert’s condition both through exercises and trying to get to the psychological root of the problem. It also charts the growing friendship between the two, overcoming difficulties together such as the aforementioned abdication of Edward VIII, the Prince becoming a King and just what such a position means in a time when the title doesn’t really denote any kind of real political power.

That’s pretty much all of the synopsis I really feel like going into because I honestly want to spoil as little of this film as possible. I know some will say that you can’t spoil a film based on a true story but fuck you. Not everyone knows the story. I knew elements of it like the whole abdication thing but I didn’t even know that George VI had a stammer so that was new. It’s not really the kind of thing that’s taught in history class.

So how was the film? Well, I was honestly surprised by just how much I enjoyed it. Everything just seemed to come together. The acting was of the highest order, though I’ll concede the fact that there were times when Colin Firth could have reigned things in a little bit better but that’s a very, very small criticism of an otherwise near perfect performance. It was certainly nice to see Helena Bonham Carter playing someone who wasn’t bats hit insane or just weird for the sake of being weird and Geoffrey Rush was insanely likeable as the Australian who started of as a simple speech therapist and became the friend of a King.

It was also shot and directed wonderfully as well. There are a lot of shots of people just talking without much else going on but that’s fine for me. I’ve always been someone who has valued good story telling over flashy visuals and this film was put together in exactly the right way for the story being told. Not that there aren’t some interesting things going on. There are two scenes in particular that stand out, one where Albert is talking to his brother about Hitler during a party and another when Logue and the Prince are walking through a park in an incredibly foggy London discussing the possibility of Albert becoming King.

Also I don’t if it’s simply because I am British but found the subject matter far, far more interesting than I thought I would. I’ve always been interested by history but when I first heard about what the film was about I’ll admit it sounded a bit boring but I was very, very wrong. It’s fascinating to see the days of Britain gone by, back when we still had the last remnants of an Empire, so-called ‘colonials’ were looked down upon somewhat and things in Europe were starting to take a turn for the worst. It was also interesting to see get a glimpse into the private lives of the Royal Family, even one from the past. Of course, some things are changed for dramatic or artistic reasons. For example I did think it was a bit odd just how involved Winston Churchill was during the films climactic scenes considering he wasn’t Prime Minister yet and, indeed, wikipedia reveals that he wouldn’t have been involved at all but he’s a historical character that the audience would recognise far better than most of the people who were actually there so I can understand his inclusion.

If I have one criticism, and to be honest it’s not really this films fault, it’s just how many good British actors have been involved with the Harry Potter franchise and therefore show up in this film as well. I suppose it’s not really a criticism but it was somewhat distracting and it just took me out of the film a bit. I mean you’ve got Dumbledore, Bellatrix and that dude who turned into a rat all in this film and yeah… I suppose it’s my problem, not the film. At one point I was half expecting a flash back to the King’s younger years where he was being played by Daniel Radcliffe or something. Again, just a thing that bugged me personally.

Oh, and one final thing before I forget, the film is very, very funny. A hell of a lot funnier then I was expecting but it also has a lot of heart and at no point is the stammer itself ever really used for a cheap laugh, though some of the techniques used to attempt to cure it certainly are. Well, not cheap laughs. Good, awesome and I assume expensive laughs or something.

So yeah, when all’s said and done, I really, really enjoyed this film and heartily recommend it to everyone. Everyone. And the Queen enjoyed it as well saying she was “touched by a moving portrayal of her father” so I am literally duty bound to give this film five pints out of five. Laterz.



Review: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 by Jamie

Well the end is nigh for the Harry Potter series and it begins with this film, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1’ or Harry Potter 7 for brevity’s sake. Yes it’s been a long, strange trip with it’s ups and its down but how does this film fare as the opening of the close? Let’s find out.

So the basic story is that of Harry, Hermione and Ron roaming Britain trying to find and destroy the horcruxes that contain Voldermort’s soul and the effects that the Dark Lord’s return are having on the wizarding world in general. That’s pretty much it. It’s a pretty simple story and yet it manages to be complex in it’s simplicity. Wow, that might be the wankiest thing I’ve ever written.

Wanky or not, it’s true. The film manages to be both incredibly simple yet deep and complex at the same time. The biggest change from earlier films is that all of the action takes place outside of Hogwarts. Gone are the little whimsical touches that were littered throughout that school in general. Instead what you get is a far more realistically grounded film. Yes, you still have people using magic and that but there’s no keys with insect wings or talking portraits. It’s much more serious fare.

And with good reason. This is a very, very dark film compared to others in the series. For one thing, there’s a very fascistic overtone to Voldermort’s overtaking of the Ministry of Magic. The parallels are obvious with Nazi Germany. There’s a scene where they are actually creating propaganda entitled ‘Mudbloods And The Danger They Pose To A Perfect Pure Blood Society.’ So yeah, you don’t really need to scratch the surface too much to find the analogy.

What I am surprised by is just how far they’re willing to take everything for what is still technically a kids film. There are scenes of Hermione screaming as she’s tortured by having the word ‘mudblood’ scrawled into her skin, an opening scene where someone is killed because they promote the ideas of muggles and wizards ‘mating’ (as Voldermort puts it) and a beautifully animated sequence about three wizards and their encounters with Death himself. Beautiful but dark.

There’s been much talk about the number of scenes where the trio are just camping with some saying that the film is basically just that but I honestly didn’t feel as if that was dragged out at all. In fact the film seemed to be paced relatively well, perhaps a little slow here and there but not egregiously so. Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some problems with the film. For example, one of the horcruxes they find is a locket which, when worn, turns the person wearing it into a bit of a douche bag so my question is why wear it? Hermione had a magical Mary Poppins-esque bag so why not just keep it in there?

Importantly, this is also the first film where the story of the kids was the most interesting part of the film. In earlier instalments I found myself not really caring what the youngest generation of wizards and witches got up to, caring far more about the story of the adults. In fact I really wouldn’t mind a prequel that told the story of Voldermort’s rise to power the first time around and the death of Harry’s parents/ This time round, however, it was all about kids without much input from the adults at all and I went into the film thinking I might have some problems but the story was engaging enough that I didn’t really mind at all.

Still over all, it is a highly, highly enjoyable film. Just don’t see it if you haven’t seen the films that came before it because you really do need to know the story up to this point in order to follow it. I also have to say I wouldn’t recommend it for younger children, no matter how much they beg. Seriously, that scene with Hermione screaming continuously for what seemed like forever was almost too much for me and I like dark shit. Oh and thank fuck there’s no fucking Quidditch. That’s gotta make it one of the best in the series so far. Anyway, overall 4 pints out of five. Laterz.



Review: Alice In Wonderland by Jamie

Spoilers ahead.

No long, extended set up to this review. My head hurts again. You all know the basic history of Alice in Wonderland, especially the Disney version and if you don’t then where the hell have you been hiding all of your life?

Alright fine, quick summary. Little blonde girl called Alice ends up falling down a rabbit hole and ends up in a surreal nightmare world called Wonderland where everything is crazy as shit, cats disappear, people celebrate days that aren’t their birthdays and people play golf with flamingos. After all the craziness she finds her way back home.

There are we all caught up now? Good. Anyway, earlier this year saw the release of Tim Burton’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’ which I guess you could call a kind of pseudo-sequel to the Disney cartoon version. The film takes place when Alice is nineteen years old and, after running away from her engagement party, once again she finds herself following the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole and ending up in Wonderland again. Well, sort of anyway. For some reason Tim Burton has decided to rename Wonderland to Underland, explaining that Wonderland is what Alice mistakenly called it when she was there when she was a little girl.

I’d just like to know why? Why would you change the name of Wonderland. I’ve never read the books but a quick search of Wikipedia, guardian of all human knowledge, implies that the lands real name was never Underland in the books, it was always Wonderland. It’s the same problem that the recent ‘Last Airbender’ suffered from. Why would M. Night change the way the names are pronounced? More comparisons to the Last Airbender to come later.

Like right now. The main problem with this film is the first half. Much like the Last Airbender, scenes seem to skip through without any real character development at all. It seems as though Burton is just trying to hit notes and include as many familiar things from Wonderland as he can before getting where he really wants to be, the Tea Party scene with Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter. Thankfully after that things seem to calm down a bit and things develop a little more like a film should. Still keep in mind that the Tea Part scene doesn’t occur until half an hour into the film so that’s a lot of time spent on stuff that Burton doesn’t seem that bothered about.

To be fair, things do become a bit more entertaining after that scene and the story seems to come together with the characters involved becoming a lot more fleshed out, particularly The Mad Hatter who, from what I can recall of the Disney film wasn’t that big of a character. Still I haven’t read the book so maybe I can’t judge.

Still, whilst the film does come together a bit more towards the end, it never really seems to deal that much with Alice until the films very final scene. Sure, what comes before does build her character up a little and influence the way in which she acts in the final scene but it’s not really clear how. You see, the entire point of the film is that you should take charge of your own life and do what you want to do. Alice does this in the end by deciding not to marry the man who had been set up for her, instead deciding to go into the opium trade or something. I’m not sure if that’s exactly the case but it’s the Victorian era and she goes to China on business so I’m assuming opium is involved somehow.

The point is, I’m not sure where she has gotten the idea to be in control of her life. Upon reaching Wonderland she is told that an ancient prophecy says that she will slay the Jabberwocky, defeating the Red Queen and allowing the White Queen to reclaim her throne. She then does this which essentially means she has done exactly what everyone has told her to do. In fact, whilst a little hesitant, she seems far more willing to do what other people have told her in Wonderland than she did on the surface before going there so the whole sudden realisation that she has to be her own master (Or mistress, I suppose but that just seems oddly sexual for some reason… possibly my depraved mind) seems to come completely out of left field.

All in all, the film isn’t bad. The special effects are beautiful and Tim Burton doesn’t seem to go into full kooky gothic Burton mode. You know what I’m talking about. Well, I guess now that I think about it again, he does but it seems a little more subtle some how. The acting is all pretty good, no one stood out as particularly bad and Stephen Fry is awesome as the Cheshire Cat. His performance just seems to convey exactly the way a cat with magical powers would be. Johnny Depp is pretty much as good as you’d expect him to be as well though he does look eerily like an insane, ginger Elijah Wood. Still, the film isn’t particularly good either. It’s just lacking something somewhere and it’s hard to put my finger on exactly what which is a shame because I really wish I could tell you what it was. Maybe it‘s just another case of style over substance from Tim Burton. Yep, that‘s probably it.

All in all, I suppose it’s worth a watch if there’s nothing else on, maybe a rental but I’d definitely watch it first before deciding whether or not to buy it. Still, I bet it looks good on Blu-Ray. Two and a half pints out of five. Laterz.




%d bloggers like this: