Knee-jerk review: "The King's Speech"

1. We won't be too disappointed when this wins Best Picture tomorrow night. But we still prefer The Kids Are All Right and The Social Network. Those films fresh and urgent. This one more familiar.
2. It's exceedingly well-done and at times subtly brilliant, but much of the film's power (and helps it transcend that BBC/Film Four familiarity) comes from Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.
3. We never really liked Rush, mostly because of his greasy, squinty, over-the-top, look-at-me performance in Shine. Hard to shake that first impression. But here he is magnetic, albeit in a much showier role.
4. It took us a while to recognize Guy Pearce.
5. We went into this movie considering it medicinal. We didn't really want to see it, but figured it would be "good" for us. Critics loved it, lots of Oscar nominations. It's our duty to see it. But it's a movie about a king with a stutter. Not exactly high-concept.
6. It's definitely a film that seems designed to win awards, what with its period setting (look at the old cars!) and British class conflict (the rich treat the poor so terribly!). One of these gets onto Best Film lists every year, it seems.
7. Without question, there's something about period English stories that appeals to a certain American audience. Is it a morbid curiosity about the culture from which this country came? Is it envy for all of those great clothes and plush country mansions?
8. Unpopular truth: it's always fun to see a pompous clergyman get taken down a peg.
9. Helena Bonham Carter watch: this is the frumpy, stolid HBC, not the sexy freewheeling HBC on display in Fight Club or as a bad guy in the Harry Potter movies.
10. Hard to imagine a time when radio was a novel invention that went by the title "wireless" and changed the way politics was conducted.
11. Love the wide-angle lenses and the overall muted blues of the cinematography. Why? Not sure.
12. Overall, it is pretty amazing that the filmmakers wring so much sympathy for a millionaire king who wants for nothing and whose biggest problem involves public speaking.

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