The Oscars are drawing closer and I am proud to say, I actually have seen two of the contenders for the first time ever!  I recently watched ‘The King’s Speech’ and ‘The Black Swan’ with friends and thought I would share my opinions on these 2 well-made movies.

The King’s Speech:

A 2010 British historical drama, directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler.  The plot revolves around King George VI who suffers from a debilitating stutter, played fantastically by Colin Firth.  He goes to an unconventional speech therapist, Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush.   The movie is about their unconventional friendship and the success of King George VI who overcomes his stutter.

Colin Firth deservedly won the Golden Globe for “Best Actor”. 

Helena Bonham Carter who plays Queen Elizabeth (aka the Queen Mother, mother of the current Queen Elizabeth II)  proves her versatility.  What a difference from the evil and beautiful Bellatrix of Harry Potter!

The onscreen chemistry between therapist and patient is excellent! The story heats up after King George V dies, and his older son who inherits the throne (King Edward VIII) abdicates to marry American socialite, Wallis.  Albert (called ‘Bertie’ by family and Logue) is forced to take the throne and works with Logue to overcome his speech impediment.  Their friendship grows and is portrayed very well! His first speech during WW II is electrifying and made me wonder if the days of inspiring the masses by speech alone are gone forever!

Geoffrey Rush, an Australian, has played his part wonderfully! 

I am fascinated by British royalty (well for that matter royalty in general) and totally enjoyed the movie.  It was interesting to hear the king’s doctor advising him to smoke to relax!  Logue, on the other hand,  absolutely refuses to let the king smoke as long as he was with him!  It was truly moving to watch the king struggle and succeed with Logue at his side. 

Trivia:  The author asked the Queen Mother for permission to make this move a few years ago, but was told not to do it in her lifetime as it was too painful.  So he respected the wish and waited to make the movie.

This movie is worth watching!  Hope it wins some Oscars!

The Black Swan

This movie is NOT for the faint of heart!  I knew it was an intense movie but was really not prepared for the degree of intensity!  My daughter, who knows me well, advised me not to watch it but did I listen?

 The plot:   Nina (I keep wanting to listen to Nina, pretty ballerina by ‘Abba’ everytime I think about it) has just been given the coveted Swan queen part in her dance company’s ‘Swan Lake’ production, replacing the aging Beth played by Winona Ryder.   The part involves her  portraying the White Swan – pure, angelic, fearful which all come naturally to her and the Black Swan, who seduces the devil to obtain freedom. 

The ballet director is initially reluctant to cast her in the role as he thinks she is too technical, rigid, and frigid to play the sensuous Black Swan.  But she gets it and struggles to bring out the sensuality in her..this is complicated by Lily, a beautiful dancer in the company, who also wants and part, and who embodies the Black Swan perfectly.   In addition,   Nina suffers from hallucinations (my daughter told me what she has is ‘dissociative identity disorder’ aka split/multiple personality) and has a strange and equally distrubed mother who was also a ballet dancer but quit to have Nina and is living vicariously through her daughter’s ballet career.   The movie is about how she brings out the seductress lurking inside of her, and succeeds in her role as the Swan Queen, but at what cost?

The visuals are absolutely stunning, although disturbing at times.  As I said,  this movie is not for the faint-hearted!  Very graphic in nature, I was cringing for about half the movie!  I couldn’t have watched it alone – had my psychiatrist friend on one side, and Raj on the other side – who was eating popcorn as usual.  The movie was so intense that for once, as my friend pointed out, the popcorn crunching didn’t really bother me! 

Very artistically done – the colors are very muted,  lot of grays and light pinks.   Music scored by Clint Mansell, who’s adopted Tchaikovsky’s ballet with radical changes.  For this reason, the movie cannot compete for the ‘Best Original Score’ at the Oscars.

Raj felt I had tricked him into going to this movie.   At first he thought it was a children’s fairy tale version of the Swan Lake and absolutely refused to go, but I told him it was a thriller.  So I think he envisioned some kind of action ballet with ballerinas taking off on missiles and killing the bad guys…midway thru the movie, he says, his eyes riveted on the screen, “What kind of a movie did you bring me to?”  He said the same thing when I took him to “Life is Beautiful”…again, he probably was misled by the title and expected a happy cheerful movie, and not the story of a Jewish Italian played so wonderfully by Roberto Benigni during the holocaust!

What can I say? Buyer beware, right?

Natalie Portman who plays Nina, is BRILLIANT!  She has lived the part and deserves to win many awards for her portrayal of the sad, disturbed ballerina.   Winona Ryder who appears very briefly as the aging swan queen has done well.  Mila Kunis who plays Lily also embodies the character of the black swan so well – in fact, in their real lives in the movie, both Nina and Lily really live the parts.

Anyway,  we both felt heavy and sad after the movie.  My psychiatrist friend absolutely loved it.  I am not saying I didn’t like it – it is beautiful, stunning, but also very disturbing.  But we did end up watching some comedy to get rid of the sadness after we got home!




Looks promising – documentary on PBS about Buddha


“The Buddha”, a two-hour documentary for PBS by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin, premieres on PBS on April 7, 2010 at 8 PM EST (check local listing).


Release Date:

April 7th, 2010



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