The King’s Speech

It’s been a while since I did a movie recap, hasn’t it? My lucky husband has just spent the last week in Edinburgh (on a job interview—fingers crossed!), leaving me behind in Douglasville with the dogs. Loneliness and jealousy set in pretty quickly, so I decided the best thing to do was to fill the house with English accents. And it worked! After catching up with Law and Order: UK OnDemand, I turned to The King’s Speech, and I thought: “oh, what the hell, let’s recap it.” So, here we are.

We start off with an ominous close-up of a giant, menacing microphone just waiting for someone to feed words into it for broadcast to the British Empire, which comprised a quarter of the world’s population at the time, according to the lead-in, which also informs us it’s 1925. Once we get a few camera angles on the microphone, we see Bertie and Elizabeth waiting for him to go out and give the closing speech at the Empire Exhibition. With them are Derek Jacobi, playing the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a few Palace suits, all of whom look tense. It’s kind of funny to see Derek Jacobi in this movie, considering he’s played a stammerer himself at least three times. Bertie looks like he wants to throw up. In a room somewhere, Adrian Scarborough, here playing a BBC announcer, introduces Bertie’s speech, as Bertie makes his way toward his own microphone like he’s hiking to his own funeral. Adrian informs us all that Bertie’s dad and older brother have already spoken on the wireless, and now it’s his turn. Bertie emerges into the stadium, which is packed with people, and he stares at the menacing red cue light as it flashes, then stays on to tell him it’s time to get started. He stares at the microphone and struggles to begin. The silence is long and awkward. He finally manages to get started, but before long he hits a troublesome “K” sound when he has to say “King” and it gets uncomfortable all over again. Elizabeth looks like her heart’s breaking for him, and the crowd starts to get restless. In reality, this speech didn’t go quite so badly, and Elizabeth wasn’t even there, but that’s less dramatic.

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Gosford Park: Murder, Mayhem, and Manors

It’s a new year, which means that Masterpiece Classic is kicking off a new season of costume porn. This year, they’re getting the ball rolling with Downton Abbey. A recap of the first part of DA will be up later this week, but until that goes live, you can fill the void with Gosford Park, a movie that has quite a lot in common with DA, including a) a screenwriter (Julian Fellowes), b) similar house-themed titles, c) upstairs/downstairs-style storylines, and d) a star (Maggie Smith, who appears to basically play the same character in both GP and DA). From the sound of it, DA even has a murder mystery subplot, which I’m guessing will end up being somewhat superfluous to the actual story, just as it was in GP, but I may be wrong about that.

Normally, I’d be annoyed by two stories that are so similar, but in this case I’m fine with it because I have a particular soft spot for GP. There’s something incredibly addictive about this movie, for me. Maybe it’s the fact that I notice something new every time I watch it, because there’s so much going on in the ensemble cast, so I never get tired of watching this. And speaking of that cast, it’s fun to watch GP because it’s a veritable parade of familiar faces and “hey, look who it is!” moments. Margaret Schroeder’s Professor McGonagall’s lady’s maid! And McGonagall’s Harry Potter’s mom’s aunt! Queen Elizabeth (I and II!) is the housekeeper! And this whole thing was written by the Duke of Richmond! It kind of proves my mother’s theory that there are only about 30 British actors out there who regularly get work, so you see them all the time. Because of this movie, Love Actually, and the Harry Potter films, you can connect pretty much every single one of those actors to any other in a crazy British version of “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. And you’d probably only need two or three degrees to do it.

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