A Regal Afternoon

As a film aficionado I’m the go-to-guy in my family for movie advice, or this actor’s name, or this actor’s filmography, or who starred in what with who, and on and on and on, and I’m happy to dispense the useless information that has somehow filled the nooks and crannies of my superbrain with the trivialist of celebrity trivia. Sometimes I’m proud of my encyclopedic ability to retain film fact (mostly horror stuff, but I’m goood across a variety of genres), other times, it’s kind of embarrassing. It’s a geeky quality for sure. I can satisfy curiosities, and it feels good to be of use and when Jeopardy has a pop culture category, I slay, but in the end, it’s an empty skill. When things mean the most, pop culture trivia usually means the very least. I’d probably do awesome against the SCREAM killer(s) should my life depend upon horror factoids and if VH1 brought back The World Series of Pop Culture and cast me, I’d bring home the big money (come on VH1, try me), but in a real world crisis, nobody cares that Fred Dekker directed 1986’s NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (awesome fun, BTW). In the end, year after year after year of reading movie magazines amounts to very little.

(Screw you, Ogre! Quick – Name me three Stuart Gordon films! Can’t do it, can ya, you big buffon?)

Fortunately, we are not locked in any particular crisis situation and my gift is still of use (sometimes). For instance, as of this afternoon, I can now tell you that THE KING’S SPEECH, last year’s Academy Award winning feature, was NOT the best film of the year. I spent a regal afternoon watching a kingly double feature (KING paired with an episode of ANTIQUES ROAD SHOW) with my wife and daughter and while I enjoyed my time with the family, I found the film to be…um…I guess a resounding meh sum it up.

Look, it’s a decent movie. It’s well directed (Tom Hooper), edited, and acted, but it doesn’t really do much more than plod along and tell its simple tale. Which is fine. More movies should simply do just that, but an Academy Award winner should do something, it should work on you in someway or another and by the time the credits rolled, well, I wasn’t moved. I didn’t feel anything. There’s no denying Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are fine actors, but can you really argue that the film is better than TOY STORY 3 or BLACK SWAN or INCEPTION or THE FIGHTER? I think I chuckled once or twice. The art direction was nice. But TOY STORY 3 made me tear up! BLACK SWAN had me recoiling with disgust! INCEPTION tickled my brain and got it to marvel over time. And THE FIGHTER, well, it cracked me up with its wild over-acting (not an Academy Award winning quality, but the film is memorable and funny to boot). THE KING’S SPEECH kind of just lays there. It tells its story, touches on a bit of interesting history, doles out inspirational cheese, and that’s about it. It is one of the most unremarkable, well-made films I’ve ever sat through. I enjoyed it, but my brain is already making space for stuff that’ll stick whereas THE KING’S SPEECH is stuttering for a foothold. Ask me next year and I’ll  be able to list some nerdy facts about the film’s production, (Hooper also directed the HBO mini-series JOHN ADAMS, or, though Hooper is two years older than me, he directs like an old man) but as a story, as a compelling narrative, it’s about as affecting and weighty as Kevin James’ ZOOKEEPER (which I actually liked more).

(Note: There’s more of a connection between these two movies than you might imagine. Both films are ultimately about friendship and confidence. They follow very different paths, but theme-wise, they are basically trying to say the same thing. Though, that I’d rather watch poo jokes and Kevin James’ pratfalls is purely personal preference)

Anyway, if you happened to fall in love with THE KING’S SPEECH during its award-winning run, no offense, we can still get along, we just like different sorts of art. One thing we can probably all agree upon is that THE ANTIQUES ROAD SHOW is the best thing on TV. Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Come on! Don’t roll your eyes. The Roadshow rocks like nothing else! Talk about drama. The appraisal! The nervous chatter! The big reveal!

A woman on this evening’s particular episode had a beautiful diamond necklace that turned out to be worth $250,000! Another lady had a chintzy painting she paid $500 bucks for twenty years back. Turns out, the well-preserved watercolor was worth $30,000 at auction! I don’t know why this show thrills me so, but it seems to work on my wife and kid as well, so it’s not just one of my weirdo quirks (of which there are many). If you’re not watching, tune in to PBS and check it out. Play guessing games. Is the old, dinged up chest of drawers worth anything? Are those little, ugly, porcelin figurines junk or treasure? Even more exciting – is the item’s owner gonna sell or keep a particularly pricey heirloom in the family? It’s an easy call when we’re talking a thrift store painting brought on a whim for fifty bucks. Why not auction it off for thousands? But, what if you owned a brooch, or taurine, or a dress or something that has been passed down from generation to generation? What if it’s worth thousands? Do you sell out and go for the cash, or respect familial obligation and hang on to it? The Roadshow never tells, but then, that’s part of the fun.

Check out this 1,000,000 appraisal. Oh yeah, she’s selling…

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