Reviewed by Mister Critic

Rarely, if ever, do I feel bad for a king. There are those movies that attempt to tug at my heart strings with the, “Oh, look at the poor royals, with their big castles, and all their money. They must be so lonely and miserable.” Rubbish. You want to talk about miserable? Try going out and shopping at a major retail store (pick one, any one), especially during the holiday season. The crush of the mob trying to horde the last Snuggie, the screams of a child which pierce your soul, the pain of that cart slammed into your backside. Now, that is misery.

But leave it to Colin Firth to make me care. In The King’s Speech he portrays a sympathetic monarch with a speech impediment. I’ve already sung the praises of Firth in a prior post, so it is no surprise to me that he is a wonderful actor, but in this movie he goes that extra mile, especially in pulling off a very believable stutter.

Based on actual events, Prince Albert, who goes on to become King George VI, works with a speech therapist, played by Geoffry Rush, in order to overcome his hesitation when speaking. The movie is set during a time that leaders are adjusting to the new form of mass media, the radio, and they must compete with charismatic leaders like Hitler. The film shows how important our words and delivery of those words can be. It is something we take for granted in today’s world given the barrage of performances we see every day on television.  The process to overcome his affliction requires exploration of the past, and confronting demons and doubts. It is a process that bonds two people that would never had met under any other circumstances, and gives us a glimpse into the heart of both these men.

This movie deserves every nomination it received this year. Firth is nominated for Best Actor. As I said before he should have won last year for A Single Man, and there is no doubt in my mind he will win this year. Rush is also excellent in his role. He steals the scene every time and it is no wonder he is nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Helena Bonham Carter is also fabulous as the supporting wife of the king, earning her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Although she has very few scenes or lines, she conveys so much with just a look.  Actually, there is not one poor performance from anyone in this movie. As a best picture nominee, every actor gave their finest performance, and maybe just this one time it is okay feel for a king.

UPDATE 2/24/11

I was just sent this new infograhic made by the folks at www.fffmovieposters.com regarding The King’s Speech. It sets forth his famous address, pauses and all.  Also, stop  by their site and check out their vintage movie posters. Very cool.

<a href=”http://blog.fffmovieposters.com/2011/02/revised-kings-speech.html”><img src=”http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-9LMAt27Y10U/TWaGlGlU74I/AAAAAAAAAAc/PRJUDAPCd1Q/s1600/GS_FFFKS_002-2_CENTERED.jpg” alt=”The Art of the Pause – The King’s Speech” width=”500″  border=”0″ /></a><br />Via: <a href=”http://blog.fffmovieposters.com/”>Original Movie Posters Blog</a>


 

Reviewed by Mister Critic

When I was young, I once tried to read the dictionary all the way through from A to Z. I don’t know why I thought that was a good idea. I made it a couple words into the As before I died from boredom. Had the dictionary been written like David Levithan’s, The Lover’s Dictionary, I know I would have been much more successful.

Levithan, known for writing Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, tells the story of a couple’s romantic relationship by using words related to their life together. In dictionary format, he proceeds A through Z to define and describe the couple’s journey. From the first date to, well, I don’t want to spoil it for you, so you’ll just have to read and find out. He describes experiences and emotions most of us have all had during a relationship. There are funny moments, quirky moments and romantic moments. He shares the ups and downs of the relationship. The book was so extremely entertaining I flew through the book and I still want more.

This book shows me why I never made it through the dictionary. I think one must experience a word before one can understand the true meaning of that word. When I was young, the words in the dictionary were mostly just words, they didn’t mean anything to me. But now those words describe my life, my wife, my kids . . . my experiences. And The Lover’s Dictionary does a perfect job illustrating those experiences, as well as the emotions behind those words. All the words that make up life and love.

Music Monday: You & I by Ingrid Michaelson

Posted: 14th February 2011 by Mister Critic in Random
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Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Today’s song is dedicated to my sweetheart. She is the one who introduced me to both this song and Ingrid. She plays it for our family on the ukulele (correction: the electric uke), and it is one of my favorite songs she plays.

She is so supportive of Mister Critic and his alter ego, and they both appreciate all that she does. And I know right now she thinking I’m being sappy and she’s thinking in her head, “Whatever.” But it is true. I love her very much. Happy Valentine’s Day.

This song is set to illustrations by tinydoodlez.

Glengarry Glen Ross

Posted: 12th February 2011 by Mister Critic in Movies
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by Mister Critic

“A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing, always be closing.”

Based on the play by David Mamet, this movie gives a glimpse into the world of real estate sales. It is a perfect depiction of the trials and tribulations felt by most in the workplace. That struggle to be the best, the frustration with your boss, and the constant worry that you might be fired. And mostly, how money will make people do the slimiest things. In today’s society, it is so easy to come to hate telephone solicitors, but we can’t forget there is a human being trying to survive on the other end of the line.

I love how Mamet’s dialogue is like poetry . . . poetry with swears, but poetry nonetheless. He has a unique syncopation and rhythm that is equally interesting to listen to as it is to watch. And the movie has perfect performances from all the greats…Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacy, Alan Arkin and the best soliloquy ever written, performed by Alec Baldwin. You will find a clip of that performance below.

If ever you find yourself in need of motivating people, say a commencement speech at a graduation, I highly suggest giving this speech. I believe it would work wonders.

(Be advised. Strong language…very strong language. Not appropriate for children…and probably not for adults either.)

Reviewed by Mister Critic

Well it is Academy Awards time soon, and although we here at Mister Critic don’t get out much to see very many of the chosen ones, I’m trying to review as many as I can by show time. I will post em as I see em.

Also I want to announce an upcoming contest giveaway. Join me Sunday, February 27th during the Academy Awards show here at mistercritic.com for a chance to win a free Mister Critic shirt! Stay tuned to the site for details. Never miss a post by subscribing to my RSS or signing up for posts to be delivered by e-mail or become a fan of Mister Critic on Facebook.

Okay, on to the review of another nominee, The Kids Are All Right.

In this world where some struggle to define what a family should be, this movie shows us that family can transcend definition. Nominated for Best Picture, this is the story of a married lesbian couple who has each had a baby from an anonymous sperm donor. Unbeknownst to their mothers, the children  seek out their father, and the drama ensues as the family struggles to figure out how he fits into the definition of their family.

Annette Bening is nominated for Best Actress, for the role of the more down-to-earth mother who is very cautious about letting the father in as he is a more free spirit type. Bening does a wonderful job of portraying so many of the complex emotions in the film and her nomination is very well deserved. Perhaps I liked her so much because I identified with her character.

Mark Ruffalo is nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the father of the children. I felt like we’ve seen him play this type of character before, like in the movie, You Can Count on Me. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Ruffalo as an actor and thought he did his job in this role. But I wanted more from this character, and I would really like to see Ruffalo in a different type of role in the future.

Ultimately, families should be about love. Pure and simple. All families have their ups and downs, their good times and their bad. But at the end of the day, this film shows us that love is what defines a family.

Toy Story 3

Posted: 9th February 2011 by Mister Critic in Movies
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Reviewed by Mister Critic

According to The Cure, “Boys don’t cry.” However,  The Cure didn’t  see Toy Story 3.

Buzz and Woody and all the toys we love are back again. This time with themes surrounding the end of childhood and moving on to a new purpose in life. The child we have known since the first Toy Story, Andy, has grown up, and is off to college. Now a decision has to be made: Do the toys go into the attic not to see the light of day, or do they move on to a new life with new children?

Our family rarely sees Academy Award nominated movies, but we were not going to miss this one.  New characters, combine with the old, for some hilarious scenes. We finally get to see Ken and Barbie together at last.  And this kid’s movie is able to portray a one of greatest examples of the dangers of an oppressive totalitarian state I’ve seen on film. Highly recommended for kids of any age.

However, there is something about the opening sequence that reaches right into a man’s heart and twists it until he’s reduced to tears. Tears that he hopes no one can see through the darkness of the theater. His wife keeps turning to him, asking if he’s alright. He says he’s fine, just choking on popcorn, but deep down inside he knows the truth. His childhood is over.

We watch as Andy is the young boy who can imagine and play for hours on end, being able to envision an entire world that these toys (nay, real live beings) are able to play out entire lifetimes of storylines. And then something happens. He grows up into the young adult who no longer has time for those kind of toys anymore, and can’t make the magic of imagination work anymore.

I think back to my days of being able to imagine and I wonder what happened. When I think back, I can picture the battles GI Joe and He-Man had, bustin’ really did feel good when I was a Ghostbuster, and don’t even get me started on playing store. Now I see my kids, and they are so great at improvisation with very creative situations. I try to join them but after five minutes, 1.) my back and knees are killing me from being on the floor, and 2.) I don’t fit in forts anymore and 3.) I just can’t see what they see. Instead I spend most of my time trying to explain that Batman has to wait for the Joker to actually do something bad before Batman can bust into the villain’s secret lair, without a warrant mind you, and beat a confession out of him.

But the message that I take from Toy Story 3 is that all is not lost, I can get my groove back.

That man in the theater looks over at his two great kids having a blast during the prime of their childhood and he knows with time spent with them his childhood is not over. They can teach him to imagine again. His wife is looking at him again…. he “tries to laugh about it, with tears in my eyes . . . ’cause boys don’t cry.”


 

Reviewed by Mister Critic

I will confess something if you promise not to make fun. Okay, I’m a little freaked out by old movies.  You know, old like black and white, silent movies old. There is something about the double time speed combined with the grainy picture so you’re not sure what you’re seeing. I get the feeling like I’m watching The Ring video and something really creepy is about to happen, like the persons going to turn and talk directly to me. But I won’t know what they’re saying because there’s no sound. And you know those actors are doing their own stunts, so the lawyer in me is no okay with that. At least tell me you got a waiver. And above of all the home made special effects haunt me the most…case in point this picture of the man in the moon. And that’s the still version. It is even worse when it is moving. You have to Google it yourself because I’m not going to chance seeing that.

I read somewhere that a reviewer is supposed to tell you how a book changed your soul. I think that is a pretty big hurdle for any book to accomplish, but The Invention of Hugo Cabret at least changed my perceptive on  those early movies.

The story is about a 12 year old boy living alone in train station in Paris in the 1930s,  trying to repair a broken automaton. What is an automaton? Guess you’ll have to read the book to find out, but I’ll give you a little sneek peek. Way back when, magicians would make these machines as part of their act, so you can just imagine what they might do. The boy’s path crosses with an old toy maker and a young girl and everyone has a secret that they don’t want to share. How does all this relate to early film making? Well, the story is actually inspired by true events surrounding the life of early film maker, Georges Méliès, who made the movie, Le Voyage dans la lune, or A Trip to the Moon, the movie  portrayed in the man in the moon picture above. And in fact, Mr. Méliès actually owned several automatrons.

The book is told through both written story and illustrations. The drawings are amazing and there are times you feel like you are watching a movie. One of the magical parts of the book is a chase scene portrayed by drawings and it makes you feel like you’re part of the action.

Martin Scorsese is directing a film adaptation of the book which may be released in December of 2011. Keep your eyes out for it, but in the meantime check out the book.

My daughter found the book by my bed, and was immediately drawn to the pictures. I loved it when she got to the picture of the man in the moon, she had to find me and tell me how creepy that picture was. I guess, like father, like daughter. But I know once she hears the story, she’ll appreciate the magic behind those movies, as I do now. And I know you will too.

Cortez the Killer Cover

Posted: 7th February 2011 by Mister Critic in Random
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Here is one of my favorite covers of one of my favorite Neil Young songs. I like this song because it’s like a history lesson made into a poem set to music. Would have made a very interesting School House Rock episode.

I love this video because you can tell this group of very talented musicians are having a great time performing together and you can sense the magic being made. I really want that. I felt that high once jamming with a band, but I’ve been chasing the dragon ever since. “Still can’t remember how or when I lost my way.” Love that line.

Let me know about some other songs where you can sense that magic in the performance.


 

Love & Marriage…& Zombies

Posted: 6th February 2011 by Mister Critic in Games
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Review of Left 4 Dead Xbox 360 by Mister Critic

To those of you new to the world of Mister Critic, let me first say, welcome. I hope you enjoy the reviews of books, movies, TV, games and random stuff. I’m joined by several contributors, including my wife, Ms. Critic and my kids, Kid Critics.

And second, let me ask you, what have you done to prepare for the apocalypse? Regardless of your answer, I’m glad you found your way to Mister Critic.  Because either you’ve done nothing to prepare and in that case, you’ve got a lot of hording supplies, weapons training, and reading Mister Critic blog posts ahead of you.  Or you understand the importance of preparation, and Mister Critic can be a companion that you pick up on your way out of town so we can travel through the wasteland together. Hopefully either way, you’ll find a welcoming place here at Mister Critic.

In reviewing my past posts, you may notice that I have an interest in (some may say obsession with) zombies and apocalyptic themes. I’m not exactly sure why. Perhaps that’s something for my therapist to figure out (if he actually read my blog, and if I actually had a therapist). But I think it comes down to one simple premise: You gotta prepare for the worst…and I think we can all agree, a zombie outbreak would be pretty close to the worst thing ever. Just below thermonuclear war, and just slightly above running out of TP while on the toilet.

So one of the best ways to prepare ourselves would be to experience an actual zombie attack. And because that would involve both unleashing a horrible plague upon the earth, as well as a lot of running…the second best thing would be to play a videogame of it! Enter Left 4 Dead by Valve on the Xbox 360.

In Left 4 Dead, you choose one of four typical zombie movie characters, and you must work as a team in order to survive from checkpoint to checkpoint. The emphasis is on teamwork. One character cannot go off on their own and expect to make it. There are times that you will be surrounded by a mob of zombies or knocked to the ground with one on top of you, you will need your team to save you. Relying on other is very hard, yet important, concept to learn.

Because teamwork is key, my favorite part of this game is playing cooperatively with up to four “real life” players. So one night, I finally convinced my wife to join me in putting the game, and our marriage, to the test. We shipped kids off to grandma’s house and got down to the business of killing zombies.

The game was an intense experience for my wife. Mainly because she had a hard time with the controller so she seldom knew where she was looking, or who she was shooting. Long story short, I’m not sure our relationship could survive me being shot in the back, so we still have some prep work to do before the actual big day.

The makers of this game have developed a very intelligent engine that controls when and where the zombies will generate. It creates a very dramatic flow to the game so you are not constantly bombarded, but you still have to stay on your toes. The game decides the right point to set a climatic zombie rush. And no matter how many times you play through the levels, you will never be able to anticipate where the zombies will come from.

However, perhaps the game was too good at the dramatics. My wife was freaked. Once we made to the first safety point, she was willing to set up camp in that small supply closet and make a life of it right there. Never mind the hordes of zombies clawing to get in. She’d make it work. Just needs some nice curtains, and new coat of paint.

Ultimately, I would say the experience brought us closer. I would highly recommend that any couple needing a little bonding time play this game. Ideally, you’ll end up with a marriage that will withstand the end of days, or if it doesn’t work out, you can get that demented pleasure you can only get from standing back and watching as your spouse is mobbed by zombies, as you yell: “That’s for not taking out the garbage!” Either way, you’ll have a good time.

So while we’re busy decorating our family’s survival supply closet, check out Left 4 Dead. And I look forward to seeing you around Mister Critic both pre, and post, apocalypse.


 

Travels Through Twitter

Posted: 5th February 2011 by Mister Critic in Random
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Please join @mister_critic during the Super Bowl for your daily humor allowance.

And in the meantime enjoy this tweet from Micheal Ian Black: “Listening to 80’s music is great for an hour or so. Not sure how we did it for a decade.”

So true, Micheal, so true.