6 March 2011

Guest Post: The Kings Speech

“It’s £2 to go the cinema if you get The Times paper today, lets go and see the King’s Speech” my friend who knew my penchant for a bargain beguiled. Never one to turn my nose up at a deal I went in search of the Times paper only to be stupefied by the obscene reality of a newspaper costing £2.20 (note to self – stick to the Guardian online for free). What kind of madness is this?! I recall vividly (meaning it could have been anytime in the last fifteen years – sometimes I loose track of time) when the Sunday Times was £1.50. Not able to contain my mirth I mumbled something to the shop keeper, who shared my derision. “This country is going to the dog’s” he chided in a distinct, Indian come Cockney lilt, beautiful on the ear. “We live in London, just for the accolade – to say to our brothers and sisters at home that we’ve made it. They think we live like the Queen. The reality is, other than the rich, the aristocrats with no concept of how the poor man lives - we are not living, we are simply dying slowly with bills”. How fitting his words were as the irony and futility of that great socio economic divide was to be shown in all its glory in the King’s Speech.  

“Oscar who? Who’s Oscar? Oscar Worth? What? Do I know him?” The look of utter bewilderment on my friend’s face was unmistakable, even against the backdrop of pitch black that one finds comfort in only in a cinema and where oddly the only permissible sounds are the actors and the incessant unruly crumple of a popcorn bag from some boisterous teenagers, still unschooled in cinema etiquette. So absorbed in the film, her shrill whispers, growing tenser with every outburst (about her new buddy ‘Oscar’), seemed ill placed in the presence of such a great script and performance that I felt no guilt in brushing her off with my most perplexed face and a patronising smile.


I’d be lying if I denied my genetic disposition towards the Royal family. It stems from my mother, an unashamed royalist (although she’s quick to condemn them for colonisation in Africa) and possibly one of Prince Harry’s (the rebel without a cause) biggest fans. I recall when Princess Diana was tragically killed, not only did my mother join the nation in weeping for a week but she attempted to manifest her pain by making me cancel my 16th birthday party out of ‘respect’, as it fell on the same day as the funeral. Needless to say my mother’s ‘respect’ was trumped by my pubescent whining and threat of ‘dying of shame’ (said dead pan to a woman mourning the ‘actual’ death of the nation’s Princess – teenagers can be cruel) should I have to face my friends having cancelled what was promised to be the party of the year. She permitted the party but grudgingly and as punishment the family sat through the entire funeral procession and the copious programmes that dogged every channel in homage of her life.   
 
I’d read the reviews of the King’s Speech and despite unanimous support from both the Mirror and the Sun (newspapers that traditionally slander anything credible in the arts and herald the likes of Sylvester Stallone’s, The Expendables, as some kind of cultural revolution) I was intrigued by the performance Mr Firth would muster. Following the masterpiece he delivered in Tom Ford’s A Single Man, not to mention the vision of him emerging from the lake as Mr Darcy, which elevated Pride and Prejudice to one of my all time favourite books/ films, there was all to play for  in the King’s Speech - And with a stellar supporting cast including the weird and wonderful Bonham Carter (should I have enough money I plan to emulate her family structure – including a separate house from my husband and kids – how very enlightened!) and the charismatic Aussie, Geoffrey Rush, who does ‘working man’ with dignity and charisma like no other, even amid the pomp and ceremony of the aristocracy, the scene was set for a classic.



Just as the final credits rolled and my usual clarity returned, the cogs began to turn and in a blink I awoke to the deluded ‘Oscar’ ramblings of my friend. “Ohhhhhh I see”, I said giggling to myself like a deranged psychiatric patient on day release….. “Yes that really was an Oscar Worthy performance” – delivered without the slightest embarrassment or regard for my friend’s pained expression. Rush and Firth were exquisite.

Four Oscar’s later, including best actor and best director; how right she was… 

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