I'm disappointed that 'The King's Speech' didn't make best picture. I agree with Colin Firth as Best Actor and Christian Bale as Best Supporting Actor. Can't comment on Natalie Portman in 'The Black Swan' as I haven't seen it yet. Melissa Leo in 'The Fighter' probably deserved Best Supporting Actress. In my opinion, 'How to Train Your Dragon' was the best of the animated films I've seen.
Monday, January 17, 2011
If you like a good, intelligent crime read, look no further than John Verdon’s excellent, fresh Think of A Number: A Novel.
Dave Gurney is a retired detective, famous for solving of a number of high profile serial killer cases. An acquaintance he hasn’t seen for many years contacts him requesting some assistance with an issue troubling him. He has received a letter from an anonymous person asking him to think of a number. When he opens the accompanying small envelope, it reveals the number he was thinking of. The writer of the letter, using verse, suggests that the writer knows the recipient intimately and hints at some nasty things to come! Of course, the letter’s recipient is terrified and calls on Gurney to help solve the mystery.
There’s a lot of crime fiction out there and a good deal of it revolves around serial killers – and they all start to look a bit the same after a while. But Vernon has given us a very fresh story that is intellectually intriguing and challenging. The story is well-paced, characters are rich and nuanced, and the resolution of the mystery is clever and believable. Bad language is minimal but some of the violence is a bit gruesome.
As I was reading this, I was reminded of the classic Sherlock Holmes plots that were not just a straightforward story but also presented insights into problem solving and thinking. Vernon does this and writes in a straightforward narrative style that is engaging and sustains momentum.
Some of the issues explored are also significant – grief, marriage, friendship, retirement, meaning of work, and many others. There is food for thought here as well as high entertainment value.
If you are trying to think of a good crime read, then Think of a Number.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
The must-see-movie of 2010 has to be The King’s Speech. It’s a stunningly accomplished production with a gripping story of two men absolutely determined to overcome the profound speech impediment of one of them.
The Duke of York, ‘Bertie’ (Colin Firth), has been thrust into power at almost a moment’s notice after his brother (a surprisingly good Guy Pearce) abdicates rather than give up his relationship with a divorced woman. Like all regents, a great deal of public speaking is required as part of the office. But King George VI suffers from a very serious speech impediment that makes it almost impossible for him to string a sentence together making for some very embarrassing moments – especially in the new era of radio that made mass communication possible. The serious stammer began when Bertie was 4 or 5 years old and plagued him ever since. As a result, Bertie is not considered suitable to be king. So Bertie engages the assistance of an unorthodox speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), to help him overcome his impediment. Together, during an unexpected and enduring friendship, the two men work on Bertie’s problem with some very funny, sad, terrifying, dramatic moments. The King’s Speech is the story of this friendship and the incredible perseverance that helped King George become the king he needed to be.
The King’s Speech is an almost perfect movie. Everything about it is brilliant. It is a deeply moving human story. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter (who plays Queen Elizabeth, Bertie’s wife), and Derek Jacobi (playing Archbishop Cosmo Lang) are superb in their roles. Firth, Rush, and Carter are very real contenders for Oscars and it wouldn’t be a surprise to me if the movie took out Best Picture. The script is smart as a whip and the sets and costumes superb.
The King’s Speech is a stunning piece of story-telling and is one movie you must not miss!
'It's a fine, absorbing work, built with brilliance and without excessive showiness or flash. It feels, in fact, like a classic virtually upon its arrival.' – Shawn Levy/Portland Oregan
'Obvious, though, is the word for Hopper's direction. It amplifies to rock-concert level every pained plosive in Bertie's speech, forces certain characters dangerously close to caricature.’ – Richard Corliss/Time
AUS: M (coarse language)
USA: R (some language)