Best of British

I’m fairly tardy with my reviews at the best of times, so I was quite chuffed to discover that my 3 most recent reviews had a thing in common, allowing me to knock off all 3 in one go. Righto then. Toodle-pip. On with the show, wot wot!

Nation, by Terry Pratchett

Nation, by Terry Pratchett
It might look like a Discworld book, but it ain't a Discworld book

Terry Pratchett is a prolific author by any account, with 38 Discworld novels to his name and several childrens’ books on the periphery (although I say this in the same sense that one would refer to The Hobbit and The Silmarillion as “merely” peripheral works to The Lord of the Rings). It’s a decent body of work, selling over 65 million books worldwide, so when he was diagnosed with early onset alzheimers disease he could’ve just stopped there, having left a pretty decent legacy (also, his daughter Rhianna is a distinguished writer in the interactive space; which is to say video games). But no, Sir Terry just keeps on cranking them out, and not just in his Discworld comfort zone either.

28 years spent crafting a fictional world naturally gives one respectable insight into what makes them tick, and Pratchett unleashes the full brunt of his experience in Nation. In just over 400 pages he brings to life an entirely new world (albeit based on the real one), and a roster of characters every bit as rich and ripe with potential as any he’s ever created for the Discworld.

Another great thing about seasoned authors is their efficiency with words. Pratchett doesn’t waste a single letter; the narration in the first couple of pages contains more story than lesser authors muster in an entire chapter.

The King’s Speech

The King's Speech poster
C-c-can you hear th-th-the drums, F-f-f-ernado?

If I didn’t have a self-imposed rule about writing something for every movie I see in the cinema, I’d have skipped reviewing The King’s Speech. Yeah, the movie was enjoyable and the acting was OK but it didn’t have anything I’d singled out as a “wow” factor. So Colin Firth did a good impression of a guy with a stammer – that’s what actors are paid to do. For some reason this reminds me of the scene in Tropic Thunder where Robert Downey Jr. is lecturing Ben Stiller about going “full retard” and I reckon Firth’s going to go home empty handed (my money’s on Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network).

Also, there’s something I want to ask: girls, please tell me, is Colin Firth really a good actor, or do you like him because he’s the embodiment of Anglophilia due to his having been – and remaining – the definitive “Mr. Darcy”?

To me he’s one of those actors where I can’t see the character for the man. Whenever he’s on screen I have no trouble thinking “yep, that’s Colin Firth” whereas y’know how in some movies, you get so engrossed in the character that you struggle to remember the actor or actress’s name? Yeah, he’s not one of them.

Gnomeo & Juliet

Gnomeo and Juliet poster (French)
Oui, c'est en français. J'aime mieux que la version anglaise.

What! An animated feature that isn’t from either Pixar or Dreamworks?! And it’s not half bad either, you say? Yet it’s true, I actually enjoyed this one very much.

Firstly, let me dispel what’s likely to be the biggest fear for those considering this movie: Gnomeo and Juliet isn’t a remake of Shakespeare’s play with gardening puns. Neither does it get bogged down in the seriousness of its premise of having garden gnomes that come to life when humans aren’t around – it’s not Toy Story, but in a good way.

The whole thing is played for laughs, and never takes itself seriously at all, which makes it a buckets of fun all round.

Call me strange, but my favourite thing about the whole movie was how every time the characters touched, or made contact with another object, there would be a little stony “chink!” sound that I found really satisfying for some reason.

One comment

  1. LOL on the caption for The King’s Speech!

    As for your question, I think the answer’s no. Colin Firth is a really good actor and as much as I’d love to just see him always as Mr Darcy, his roles have been too varied in the decade since the P&P was made.

    I haven’t seen but am looking forward to watching Gnomeo and Juliet.

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