Two films – The King’s Speech and Black Swan

The King's SpeechFinally got round to seeing “The King’s Speech” the other day. I’m not a great cinema buff – I used to be, but frankly the promise of live theatre is always so much more rewarding to me that I will always choose it first. So this is the first film I have seen since “Toy Story 3” (which I loved) and the one before that was “Slumdog Millionaire” (which I hated).

Colin FirthI enjoyed “The King’s Speech” very much. It’s my kind of film – one that you could imagine being on a stage. No violence. No special effects. Calm storytelling. A simple tale told clearly. The relationship between the King and his Speech Adviser grew very nicely and credibly and I also liked the little digs throughout at the class system – the Archbishop doing his best to discredit Logue and the King fighting against being called Bertie by someone outside The Family.

Geoffrey Rush What also stood out was how much smoking went on! Now that it’s banned from so many places I find it quite shocking to witness sometimes. Why did we ever think it would look cool to be a smoker.

Both Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush played their parts admirably. Helena Bonham Carter did an excellent posh-bird-with-a-heart-of-gold routine. Littered with mini star turns it was like bathing in honey.

And no sooner had we seen The King’s Speech, we saw Black Swan! This must be the shortest time between our seeing two films since the 1980s, I kid you not.

Black SwanVery glad we did see it though as it’s a creepy story that you can’t really categorise as psychological/ supernatural thriller/ drama because it’s a bit of everything including a lot of ballet. What really impressed me was how, as the film progressed, the barriers between reality and imagination got steadily blurred. By the end of the film it is quite impossible to say exactly what really happened throughout and what was in Natalie Portman’s mind.

Natalie PortmanAs I am so out of the cinema-loop, this was the first time I have seen Natalie Portman in a film. She’s very good. You never for one second doubted that she was that frigid ballet virgin for whom every nuance had to be perfect, not at all suited to the role of the Black Swan. She was convincingly ill at ease with all around her – the pushy gifted choreographer, the soubrette waiting to take her place, the overprotective parent who put the “mother” into “smother”. Plus she danced. How much was clever camera work I’m not sure, but she sure took the role seriously!

I was really impressed with the score too, as it took Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and sometimes played it straight, sometimes teased with it a little, occasionally took extreme liberties with it. Very effective.

So are all films like this? Am I going to have to start going every week?