Archive for February 1st, 2011

by Allan Fish

(UK 2010 118m) DVD1/2 

To suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

p  Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin  d  Tom Hooper  w  David Seidler  ph  Danny Cohen  ed  Tariq Anwar  m  Alexandre Desplat  art  Eve Stewart  cos  Jenny Beavan

Colin Firth (George VI), Helena Bonham Carter (Queen Elizabeth), Geoffrey Rush (Lionel Logue), Michael Gambon (George V), Guy Pearce (Edward VIII), Derek Jacobi (Archbishop Cosmo Lang), Jennifer Ehle (Myrtle Logue), Claire Bloom (Queen Mary), Timothy Spall (Winston Churchill), Anthony Andrews (Stanley Baldwin),

It’s only fair that this entry begins with an admission; I didn’t expect much from The King’s Speech.  Oh, I expected technical excellence and the strong directorial control that Tom Hooper brought to those TV successes Elizabeth I, Longford and John Adams.  And of course I knew the performances would be exceptional, as the work of Helen Mirren, Jim Broadbent, Samantha Morton, Andy Serkis, Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson and David Morse will testify (and Michael Sheen, whose Brian Clough impersonation in Hooper’s The Damned United must be added).  And note the two names book-ending that roll call, for it was another film to whom I expected The King’s Speech to be compared the most, one written by Hooper’s Longford and Damned collaborator Peter Morgan; Stephen Frears’ The Queen.  I admired that film, but found it Oscar bait, designed to win awards and cash in the popularity of any sort of peep behind closed doors at the royal family.  Tom Hooper’s film is, I’m not ashamed to admit, very much its superior. 

            The King in question, of course, is Helen Mirren’s Queen’s father, George VI, and the speech in question is the first given by George as king announcing his country and empire’s taking a stand against Nazism.  In actuality, it was the third king’s speech we hear in the film and the second to come from George after his disastrous attempt in his only previous public speech in 1925, where his stammer, a handicap since childhood, showcased a potential problem.  Needless to say, when his elder brother does what we know he does, it’s only a matter of time before George is left to stand in front of the microphone.  The king’s voice must be heard to represent his people, and where doctors have failed, an unqualified would-be actor from Australia would succeed. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(France 1932 73m) not on DVD

Aka. The Night at the Crossroads

All those foreigners should be deported

p Jean Renoir  d/w Jean Renoir  novel Georges Simenon  ph Georges Asselin, Marcel Lucien  ed Marguerite Renoir  art William Aguet

Pierre Renoir (Inspector Jules Maigret), Georges Térof (Lucas), Winna Winifried (Else Andersen), Georges Koudria (Carl Andersen), Dignimont (Oscar), G.A.Martin (Granjean), Jean Mitry (Arsène), Michel Duran (Jojo), Jean Gehret (Emile Michonnet), Jane Pierson (Madame Michonnet), Manuel Raaby (Guido), Lucie Vallat (Michelle),

Jonathan Rosenbaum called it “the sexiest film Renoir ever made.”  At first Renoir disowned it, referring to how he deliberately left things vague and often incomprehensible, and yet that’s the very reason we love The Big Sleep and one of the reasons we would love this.  Sadly, however, it’s another one of those gems that exist in a permanent fog, hardly ever seen in an English friendly print, and generally forgotten in English testimonies to Renoir and dismissed as the pot-boiler he made between La Chienne and Boudu, the two seminal Michel Simon movies.  While Jean Gabin (and later Rupert Davies and Bruno Cremer on TV) would make the role their own, this remains the best single Maigret film and one of the pivotal pre-noir noirs, predating even the poetic realists by a few years.

The crossroads in the title is at the sleepy by-water of Avrainville 30 miles or so from Paris.  At the crossroads there are three houses and a garage and nothing else but the crossed-roads themselves, lined by rows of trees and acres of deserted farmland.  One morning, a local insurance agent finds his car has been replaced by another and, believing it to be a swindle perpetrated by the local Andersens (Danes who the agent, Michonnet, is bigoted towards) opens their garage door and, sure enough, finds his six cylinder car inside.  One problem, there’s a stiff at the wheel.  (more…)

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