I'm not a movie watcher and never have been, but on Friday night I found myself watching The King's Speech. It had been given to me as an afterthought birthday present after I'd casually remarked during an advert for the DVD that I'd be interested in seeing it.
Films don't do it for me, but if it is based on fact, and throws in modern English history to boot, then I'm perked up a bit. I would never go and watch a movie at the cinema - it would take something extra, extra special (and I don't necessarily mean the film) to force me into a movie house these days - but I can cope with one at home if the settee is comfortable and beer is on hand.
I did enjoy it, I must say. I thought Geoffrey Rush was brilliant as the therapist, paying no lip service to royalty at all and treating his regal patient as another stammerer who assumes he doesn't have a problem (or believes his problem is insurmountable). I did struggle with Helena Bonham-Carter though. Yes, it's a great privilege, I'm sure, to be asked to play the (future) Queen Mother, so why make the part so small? I was under the impression that the then Duchess of York was a formidable lady, and yet most of the time the role seemed too polite and deferential. With such a small supporting role they could have given a break to an unknown, gifted actress rather than play it safe. Also, Guy "Edward VIII" Pearce - well, he's certainly come quite a distance since having to raise his eyebrows and open his mouth simultaneously when Jane Harris took her glasses off...
As you can tell, my difficulty with films extends to reviewing them. This is not something you can say of Mark Kermode, who along with Simon Mayo has just marked a tenth anniversary of Wittertainment on 5 Live, for which there was a "look back at the best bits" compilation broadcast on the network for the Bank Holiday yesterday.
Not a film fan, not a film goer, not a great film reviewer, and yet I am perennially transfixed by Kermode. He is a bit too right-on for my liking at times, but his passion for the medium, fearlessness in both criticism and praise, and extraordinary capacity to talk very quickly while thinking on his feet and maintaining lucidity, makes him a marvellous listen. And yet, at times, nothing quite becomes Kermode as muh as when Mayo, the foremost communicator on the radio of his generation, interrupts him with a question or catty comment that stops his companion completely in his tracks. It's absolutely compelling listening.
I probably missed the edition when Kermode reviewed The King's Speech. I expect, however, he too said they could have saved a fortune on Helena Bonham-Carter.