THE QUEEN’S SPEECH – REVIEW – Yesterday saw the release in streaming of the sequel to Tom Hooper’s Oscar winning The King’s Speech, entitled The Queen’s Speech and starring Elizabeth Windsor.

The King’s Speech was a hugely successful film, both commercially and critically and many had high hopes for the sequel The Queen’s Speech, but unfortunately this pedestrian drama is plagued by an uninspiring screenplay, a wooden central performance and an embarrassingly short running time. So where to start? First of all the decision to cast Elizabeth Windsor as ‘herself’ has to be seen now as a huge error. Obviously one that the producers were forced to make after Dame Helen Mirren proved more expensive than simply getting the real thing but as good a monarch as Elizabeth is, she is not a great actress. her line readings were without any kind of emotional warmth and her eyes took on a shark like sheen as she spoke about light and darkness. Gone was Colin Firth’s fragility as the stuttering King George and in was the icy self-confidence of a ruler who has not once doubted her own right or capacity to reign. The script was a jumble of cliches without a single hint at tension, interiority or drama. What might have saved this woeful one note drama would have been the introduction of a Geoffrey Rush kind of character – perhaps played by Ray Winstone – someone called Ralph or Dennis, someone whose everyday normality would contrast and humanize the regal and give us a renewed sense of respect and obedience to the Crown. As it is, The Queen’s Speech feels thin and under-written, emotionally torpid and woefully simplistic. One can only hope that the third projected film in the trilogy Charles in Charged will produce something more stimulating or at least funny.

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THE IMITATION GAME: REVIEW – Maths boffin Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) invents the computer, wins World War Two and escapes marriage with Keira Knightley.

The problem with posthumous fame is you’re f*cking dead. Turing was a genius, a genuine innovator and thinker whose ability to solve problems was instrumental in cracking the Enigma code and bringing the war to an early close, saving millions of lives. It is difficult to overstate his achievements, especially in a society which chooses to deify a marketing wonk like Steve Jobs. Of course, he didn’t expect a medal, such is the nature of espionage and he knew the territory. The secrecy continued because MI6 carefully captured as many Enigma machines as it could following the war and doled them out to allies who – unaware that the code had been broken – used them for sensitive communications to the delight of MI6. Turing’s lack of fame was turned to infamy when he was charged with gross indecency – homosexuality – (BTW can we appropriate ‘gross indecency’; I like the ring of it) and offered the choice of two years in jail or chemical castration. His death soon after was shrouded in some suspicion – was he bumped off, or was it suicide? One way or another there has been a lingering sense of injustice, that a man who gave so much to his country was let down by that same country.

No Google doodle can redress such wrong, nor even the royal pardon he received from Queen Elizabeth II (and doesn’t a pardon still recognize the legitimacy of the unjust law?), but what about a Benedict Cumberbatch movie?

Well, first of this is a handsomely made, well acted and entertaining drama in on-going series to show how Great Britain won the war, overcoming speech impediments, social embarrassment and floppy hair along the way. It’s like The King’s Speech with hard sums. Cumberbatch is proving himself the genuine article, a fine character actor and Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke, as a colleague and confidant, is not annoying! Matthew Goode as the more socially able boffin Hugh Alexander. It’s a pity that Charles Dance’s Admiral Dennison becomes the villain, considering he also was responsible for facilitating the success of the code-breakers and the antagonism is an invention of the filmmakers. More seriously, an invented subplot featuring Soviet mole John Cairncross is poorly thought out. Cairncross never worked with Turing and the suggestion that Turing knew of his activity both does a gross disservice to Turing (making him in effect party to treachery) and enforcing the prejudice that homosexuals are open to just such blackmail and therefore shouldn’t be employed in the service of the country.

These objections are not trivial, especially for a man who was so maligned and shabbily treated. However, that said,

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HOLLYWOOD – In an ongoing campaign to drown out the dissonance of stupidity, Studio Exec sings lead vocals of sense and truth, battling a dense cacophony of dumb with a rousing aria of 5 FACTs.

1.      Tom Hooper started his career making a series of porn films called Byker Grove from which all the sex was later removed. The far shorter films were shown on British television and horrified the nation, leading to legislation banning the city of Newcastle from ever being shown on screen again.
2.      While preparing The King’s Speech Hooper insisted on an audience with the Queen to go over various incidents that would be covered in the film. He then insisted on sitting on the Queen’s lap, ‘to see how it felt’. He also changed the race of the main character from German to English because Colin Firth couldn’t do a German accent.
3.      While on a press tour to promote The Damned United, Mr Hooper admitted to never having actually watched a game of football and being unsure what it entailed. It became clear that early in production he had mixed it up with polo and the budget had gone up on account of all the horses he had bought. ‘I sold them to Pete Jackson,’ he boasted, eating a cheese and onion pie (who had them killed).
4.      In a daring move, Tom decided that the cast of Les Miserables should all sing live during filming. For the most part this worked, but if you listen very carefully to the scenes involving Russell Crowe Tom Hooper’s voice can clearly be heard off camera saying, ‘Oh God make him stop, oh no please, what have I done? Sweet Jesus, no!’
5.      Tom Hooper comes from a famous theatrical family steeped in the traditions of English music hall. However, Tom is ashamed of this and changer his name to Hooper from Cooper in order to avoid the association.  His facial features are also a little bit too small for his head. 

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