To Tell the Truth, It’s “The King’s Speech”

By Bill Caton

I was a panelist at the monthly meeting of the Sidewalk Salon in January and someone from the audience asked what movies not nominated for a Best Picture Oscar were our favorites. I mentioned “The American,” which I think is wonderful, but I inexplicably left out one of my favorite movies of the year: “Secretariat.”

Ann and I saw it the week of its release and loved it. I was talking about it with my son and nephew and they laughed. One of them said: “I’ve seen enough movies about horses; I saw ‘Seabiscuit.’” I told them the same thing I should have told the Salon members: “Secretariat” isn’t about horses, it’s about greatness. I watched this wonderful movie again last night and again, it brought tears to my eyes.

When Secretariat is en route to a stunning 31-length victory in the Belmont Stakes, his owner, Penny (Diane Lane), who literally bet the farm on the horse, yells joyfully from the stands to “let him run.” It’s a wonderful moment in the film because this woman who risked everything understands how dangerous and rare a gift is greatness.

And after watching “Secretariat” the other night, I was reminded how rarely we are gifted with great movies. We certainly had some in 2010 and 10 of those – “Inception,” “The King’s Speech,” “True Grit,” “The Social Network,” “The Fighter,” “127 Hours,” “Winter’s Bone,” “The Kid’s Are All Right,” “Toy Story 3” and “Black Swan” — have received Best Picture nominations.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to see all of these, but I did catch “Inception,” “The King’s Speech,” “True Grit” and “The Social Network.”

“Inception” was amazing to watch, visually stunning. The story about invading dreams was told with images that evoke the physical nature of a dream.  I saw it only once, soon after its release, but the original excitement I felt for it is fading. Now, at some distance, “Inception” seems like an extremely good episode of the Twilight Zone. Is that coin still spinning?

“True Grit,” “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” all have something in common that “Inception,” with its visual acrobatics, lacks: great dialogue, and as a result, unforgettable, fully developed characters. In each of these, the cinematography, sets and music add to the whole to create an experience in storytelling that can only be found in a movie.

In “True Grit” Jeff Bridges’ Rooster Cogburn is perfect, as are Matt Damon’s LaBoeuf and Hailee Steinfeld’s Mattie Ross. This is a brilliant adaptation of a good novel. Here, the orchestra is well conducted and the pieces fit together perfectly to tell the story. We know a lot more about these characters in the Coens’ adaptation than we ever could watching John Wayne fill the screen. A great story about our imperfect nature and redemption.

“The Social Network” does not deal with redemption, only our baser nature, I think. Jesse Eisenberg’s characterization of Mark Zuckerman, the Facebook founder/inventor, is beautiful. This vindictive little genius is a billionaire, but he is friendless, petty and miserable. This movie is a wonder, telling a story in three different time frames simultaneously while never slipping. And I love the irony of this socially stunted man building a business empire by creating a vehicle for socially overactive folks to connect in cyberspace.

A bit of controversy seems to building about the veracity of the story portrayed in “The King’s Speech.” Seems King George VI (played masterfully by Colin Firth) was really an ill-tempered dimwitted man and his relationship with speech therapist Lionel Logue (also played masterfully by Geoffrey Rush) was not as cozy as the story is told on the screen. Who cares? The costumes, the music, the cinematography, the writing all work seamlessly to tell a story of courage, determination and faith that is timeless, whether it is historically accurate or not. I believe it was Hamlet who said, “The play’s the thing.” I think he had something else in mind, but I’m sure you catch my drift.

And to be absolutely truthful, “The King’s Speech” is my pick for best picture of the pictures I saw in 2010.

One Response to “To Tell the Truth, It’s “The King’s Speech””

  1. jacob caton says:

    ive seen enough movies about lame ass horses

Leave a Reply