God Save the Queen’s Movies
My Oscar prediction record was besmirched last year by the dismal showing of Avatar -- while not my favorite film, it felt like the frontrunner nonetheless.
However, I’ll go out on a limb before next month’s Academy Awards to give my wholehearted plus for the annual Anglophile’s pick, The King’s Speech.
I am one of those strange American birds who still glances at People magazine in the grocery store line if one of the (now balding) Princes is on the cover. (I would only buy it, however, back in the day of Lady/Princess Di). It also helps that lineage is half Brit, my religion Episcopalian, and I have a weakness for proper British accents, good manners and white tie and tails.
I admired the Merchant and Ivory era of British movies – flicks like Passage to India, Chariots of Fire and Howard’s End and the more spunky Room with a View and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Evelyn Waugh’s Handful of Dust was a classic in the best of Brideshead Revisited tradition.
The modern day version of the good British film is either goofier or much darker – Pirate Radio, and its early predecessor Local Hero are the anti-establishment films, and last year’s An Education adeptly dissects class, wealth and education and leaves us wondering what’s what.
Somewhere in between, the adaptation of Ian McEwan’s Atonement bridged the old style film of war, love and loss and the modern day psychological exploration of relationship dysfunction (aka Sam Mendes’ American Beauty and Revolutionary Road). Few other movies have succeeded in translating the writer’s own vivid experience from page to film: the sound of the frenetic typewriter transplanted in the memorable soundtrack, ending with a disturbing vision of a submerged subway.
And then there is the latest spurt of hearty English fare, first with the inimitable Helen Mirren in The Queen and now The King’s Speech. (Yes, I know I have left out a myriad of other period options including Elizabeth, Shakespeare in Love, etc. but those are another topic entirely methinks). The King’s Speech sports a great cast, solid screenplay, valuable parenting messages (Tiger Moms watch out) and historical relevance, topped off by award-deserving acting by Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter.
So here’s to Jolly Old England, merry movie making and March Madness at the cinema!
Moderated by Wendell Collins.
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