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Monday, April 18, 2011

The King's Speech, Gulliver's Travels, and Others on DVD This Week

Fuckin' ass and blap blap

Yes, that's the "f" word above. It's okay, though - the Weinstein brothers will edit this post down after its release. 

If you're confused by the joke above, The Weinstein Company, who produced The King's Speech, had the film edited down from an R rating, taking out the scene where Bertie swears comfortably, and several times, in front of his speech therapist. The film is now available as a PG-13 release and an R release, but only one of them is actually worth money. It's the R one. That scene is a key scene, and there was no reason for it to be cut out. Especially after so few people gave a damn about it in the first place. It isn't the movie that's offensive, not by a long shot, but the MPAA's rating system. 

But, a bitter rant on the MPAA isn't what this post is about. It's about the DVD releases for the week. So I'll stay on topic. The King's Speech, Gulliver's Travels, Rabbit Hole, and Somewhere. I've seen all four. So I can give a fair assessment. Let's get down to it. 

More after the cut--

It's hard to write about a film like The King's Speech. Maybe just for me, as other bloggers didn't have a problem with it during last year's Oscar race (except Sasha Stone, maybe). But, to write about a film like The King's Speech, you almost have to include its Best Picture/Best Director wins. And to do that, you have to include The Social Network and its unfortunate snub in those categories. I'd like to try and get away from that, though, and just discuss, for a minute, the film as it stands - tampered with. excellent. 

You can look at it as a high brow British drama, because it is. You can also call it a buddy movie, you can call it many things. I prefer to call it a storyteller's film - despite not being the best film of 2010 (though, it's up there), it does have the best of the original screenplays. And perhaps what makes that screenplay so magical is how performable it is - Colin Firth is our stammering Prince Albert (poised to become King George) who must undergo elocution lessons from Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), whilst at his side sits the calm and collected Helena Bonham Carter as the future Queen Elizabeth. In retrospect, it's her performance that stands out the most to me, though all of them are fantastic. And in a film filled with so many fantastic things, you can imagine how bright she must have to be to stand out. For a full review, click here.

The DVD's special features, according to Amazon - 

Audio Commentary, Making Of Featurette, Deleted Scenes

Also on DVD tomorrow is Robert Letterman's modernized take on Jonathon Swift's timeless novel Gullver's Travels. It's not the most complete or magical adaptation of the book (there has yet to be a film version that satisfies the text), but it's fun enough for kids. Take for example a scene where giant Jack Black pees on a village that's on fire. 

Let that sink in. That's the kind of movie this is. 

The screenplay is smart, but deliriously thin. What it basically boils down to is this - probably about 1/3 of Swift's novel is modernized (read: Apatow-ized) for little kids today. And while that third of the novel is undoubtedly the best and most famous third of the novel, it's not the full story. The film is fun for what it is, but it isn't ever what it could have been. For a full review, click here

The film's long list of special features, per - 

  • Gag Reel

  • Deleted Scenes

  • I Don't Know...with Lemuel Gulliver

  • Little and Large

  • Jack Black Thinks Big

  • Down Time

  • Gulliver's Foosball Challenge

  • War Song Dance

  • Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character Jack Black

  • Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character Jason Segel

  • Life After Film School Rob Letterman of Gulliver’s Travels

  • World Premiere

  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Also on DVD this week - 

    Rabbit Hole - John Cameron Mitchell's examination of life after loss. Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart star as grieving parents, mourning the loss of their young son after a car accident. The tragedy threatens to tear the remainder of their marraige apart. Kidman bounces back after a string of letdown films with an incredibly strong performance, but the real star of the film is Aaron Eckhart. His performance is deep, brooding, and restrained without ever losing touch of the melodrama. The only downside of the film is John Cameron Mitchell being restrained with his direction. He's fantastic with what he does, but he doesn't give himself the chance to expand anything with the screenplay, which is excellent. Overall, though, the film is strong, and surprisingly easy to watch given the subject matter.

    Somewhere - In what was probably the most distressing letdown of last year, Sofia Coppola's film is mostly a companion piece to her masterpiece Lost in Translation. Stephen Dorff stars as a fading action star dealing with joint custody of his little girl, played by Elle Fanning. It's interesting that the biggest surprise of the film is how gentle Jackass alum Chris Pontius' performance is. It's awesome, in a way, to watch him interact with Elle Fanning and be so paternal. Somewhere's all too languid screenplay is met with extreme admiration by Sofia Coppola's all too languid direction, which hinders the film in a way that I'm not used to with her filmography. But, Dorff's performance is strong and thoughtful, and pulls the film out of "horrid and unwatchable" because of its pace. 

    Go get a movie this week. See something new. I can definitely recommend The King's Speech and Rabbit Hole. Gulliver's Travels is strictly for the kids, and Somewhere is for the auteur lover in all of us, even if it's not too enjoyable.