Posts tagged ‘Jeff Bridges’

January 31, 2011

The King and I

The King’s Speech, produced and distributed by the Weinsteins, is yet another film that will have perceptive audience members whispering, “I’ve seen this before.”  It seems that the overwhelming majority of movies today, even those of the so-called “indie” scene, follow an ample of amount of rules in regards to casting, pacing, and familiar plot lines.  The King’s Speech features a protagonist facing a daunting challenge that he must overcome.  He has a strong-for-her-time wife who employs an unorthodox specialist to help out.  Despite failures, frustrations, questions about the strange methods of the hired help, declarations of giving up, and mounting pressure, the protagonist turns out just fine in the end.  Run-time: 118 minutes.

Emerging as an Academy Award front-runner, The King’s Speech features the biggest British stars-Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, and Guy Pierce-giving some of their biggest performances.  Though I favor Bridges this year, should Firth win the Best Actor Oscar, I doubt I’ll find myself shattering my coffee table with a sledgehammer before the exit cue music begins to roll.  He is masterful in this work and we all know that when actors undertake roles of characters that possess some kind of physical or mental handicap, mounted and molded gold will almost invariably find itself on said actor’s mantle.

However, Firth would earn the trophy for hatching the truly endearing aspect of this film for the viewer’s eyes.  Perhaps the reason this piece is gaining such critical and mass acclaim, even with all of the rehashed, hackneyed ploys to make it appealing, is that it is about all of us.  Be it a king, a president (I noticed an ironic correlation between the unfortunate King’s forced pauses and FDR’s rehearsed ones, both creating a dramatic effect), or any person propped up on a pedestal, the theme of this movie is that we all share the traits, experiences, and challenges of simply being human.  The best moments in the movie are when “Bertie” (Firth) and Lionel (I also wouldn’t be floored if Rush won too) are together on screen, sharing their thoughts, feelings, and pasts with each other.  These scenes along with the climactic speech bring out the humanity in the King.  In many ways, Bertie is brought down to the level of the common man, but, most ironically, it is his bravery that makes him worthy of being called “Your Majesty” by Lionel in the film’s closing moments; this after Bertie recognizes he has a “friend” in Lionel, the first of his life.

I refuse to put a “spoiler alert” at the top of this column because if you’ve seen maybe ten movies in your life, little of this film’s outcome will be remotely surprising.  With that said, this film will entertain and have you rooting for it come Oscar night in a few weeks.  It explores the surprising lack of power a British monarch actually has, but in an effort to have watchers of the film relate to a king.  It even displays a king relating to one of us.  I’m not sure that many others besides Firth and Rush, regardless of their resumes and recognizable faces (“It’s a big-budget British movie, I guess they have to put these guys in it.”) could have pulled this off so well.

December 23, 2010

True Grit – I Told Ya So

The latest of the Brothers Coen was released nationwide today and it did not disappoint.  True Grit had a lot in it that was expected, but some very pleasant surprises as well, the first being Matt Damon’s performance.  The LaBoeuf character presented a lot of challenges for him; there’s a paradoxical confidence about him, trimmed with an awkward dorkiness due to his pride in being a Texas Ranger.  But Damon pulls this off wonderfully.  If you see the film, you’ll find it shocking that I’d list Damon’s part here over the newbie Hailee Steinfeld’s offering as Mattie.  She is perhaps more impressive than Damon considering, obviously, her age and the fact that she took on what is essentially the lead role in the film.  However, Damon’s character could have easily been a throw-away and he saw to enrich the piece as much as the script would possibly allow with a high degree of success.

Then there’s Bridges.  He is the main reason why viewers will call this movie “character-driven.”  He won the Oscar for his role in Crazy Heart-a great performance in a not-so-great movie-just last year.  I wish the Academy had waited 12 more months though.  I doubt they will give him back-to-back statues and I argue that he would be more deserving of one this season as opposed to last.  Bridges masterfully mixes subtle movements and one-eyed looks with blatant comedic timing, bringing Cogburn’s flawed, yet heroic character to life.  I’ve heard some commentary on how well-written the film is, but that Bridges delivers a lot of great dialogue with an excessive garble.  Not so.  Just pay attention and you’ll catch some lines that could turn out to be legendary.  And Bridges’ speech patterns are there for a reason: to characterize Cogburn, which he does most deftly.

Lastly, as anticipated, and without giving too much away, Mattie’s character (maybe all the characters, come to think of it) certainly does find herself embattled with excessive desire.  I was in awe of her strength of character (again, incredibly well-delivered by the actress).  The Coens make this overtly apparent in the opening sequences of the film.  This made me a bit anxious to see if my prediction from my previous article on this film and filmmakers would prove correct.  I’ll simply say that it does.  To find out how, go see the flick.  I would strongly urge you to do so.