Crowing a New King of Cinema
Director Tom Hooper's heavily buzzed and much anticipated new film “The King's Speech” opened this past Friday in New York and Los Angeles in limited release to staggering numbers. The film, which is about King George VI, a man with a nervous stutter, has received a lofty amount of praise from the Toronto International Film Festival and early reviews (the Village Voice's J. Hoberman called it, "a well-wrought, enjoyably amusing inspirational drama that successfully humanizes, even as it pokes fun at the House of Windsor.") We even have two Brits (Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter) and an Australian (Geoffrey Rush) in the lead roles, an almost sure sign that we're guaranteed a quality production... right? After all, I'm told that actors from other countries are better than ours (read: the Kate Winslets and Daniel Day-Lewises). This is end of the year awards material, folks.
Going by the rousing trailer, which uses overbearing statements to describe the relationship between the King and his speech therapist such as, “When his nation needed a leader, when the people needed a voice, an ordinary man would help him find the courage” (ughhh, can’t we ever get an extraordinary man doing commendable things?), the film will be a big Oscar contender in the coming weeks. Colin Firth, underrated and under the radar for years, is now properly rated and on the radar after having garnered much acclaim for his work in the artsy “A Single Man” last year. That film, like “The King’s Speech,” had the royal luxury of having the Weinstein brothers at the helm of its distribution. We all know how good Bob and Harvey are at getting their films' stars publicity when awards season swings around, spending millions of dollars on ritzy, attention-grabbing "For Your Consideration" ads in trade papers like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Last year they were able to garner a plethora of nominations for “Inglourious Basterds,” “Nine,” and “A Single Man” (although I have a hunch that the quality had something to do with their various successes as well). A prime Thanksgiving weekend release date only helps to further its chances.
Tom Hooper, of no relation to Tobe Hooper (you know, the director whom, depending on which horror geek you ask, may or may not have directed the 1982 fright flick “Poltergeist”), is at the helm of this production. If that name rings a bell, you must be his mother. Nevertheless, Hooper has had many recent hits on the television circuit after directing several HBO miniseries, such as "Elizabeth I” and “John Adams,” along with dabbling in the film world with “Red Dust” and “The Damned United.” Reciting his filmography, I realize that I haven’t seen any of his works. Forgive me Brits, for I have sinned. The excessive length and weekly airings of many miniseries tends to frighten me away. With “The King’s Speech,” I will give ole’ Tom a try and let his voice be heard. After all, I'm just an ordinary man trying to help a leader out.