Love the title. Love the trailer. It opens next spring.
Voice talent includes Joan Cusack, Seth Green, and Billy Dee Williams. Can’t wait.
Talk about happily ever after! “Shrek Forever After” is the best Shrek since the first one.
After a third episode that proved they couldn’t take it much further by going forward, they’ve found a clever way to reboot the story with an “It’s a Wonderful Life”-style look at what Shrek’s life would be like if none of the events in the first movie ever happened.
As the movie begins, Shrek the big green ogre (voice of Mike Myers) is feeling a little suffocated with his fairy tale ending in the land of Far Far Away. He loves Fiona (voice of Cameron Diaz) and their triplets but the daily grind of caring for them and the constant scrutiny of being a celebrity is making him feel uncomfortably domesticated. His most fearsome roar is turned into a party trick. He longs for “just one day to feel like a real ogre again,” to go back to a time “when I could do what I wanted…when the world made sense.”
And that is just the opening that Rumpelstiltskin (voice of writer Walt Dohrn) has been waiting for. Rump wants to be King and came very close once before when Fiona’s parents, the King (voice of John Cleese) and Queen (voice of Julie Andrews) have come to Rumpelstiltskin as a desperate last resort. He can break the curse that condemns their daughter Fiona to be human by day and an ogre at night. But he always insists on something of value in exchange. They are just about to sign over their kingdom when they get word that the spell has been broken.
Rumpy gets his revenge when Shrek impulsively agrees to an exchange — if he can have just one more day as an unencumbered ogre, he will give up a day of his life in return, any day of Rumpy’s choice. But just as in real life, people in fairy tales never read the fine print. After about an hour of fun scaring villagers (to the cheery accompaniment of The Carpenters’ “Top of the World”), Shrek begins to feel lonely, especially when he starts to understand that his best friend Donkey (voice of Eddie Murphy) and Fiona have never met him. And then he begins to feel dread when he realizes that it will be much harder than he thought to find his way back home.
The first Shrek was a wonderful surprise, a post-modern fairy tale. Shrek 2 was a lot of fun but a bit noisy and crowded. Shrek 3 was over-clever, self-referential, and snarky. This one restores the balance between humor and heart. And it gives Fiona a chance at center stage as the confident and courageous leader of a rebel band of outlaw ogres. Shrek falls in love with her all over again, and we do, too.
We meet up with some great new characters, especially ogres Cookie (voice of Craig Robinson of “The Office”) and Gretched (voice of “Glee’s” Jane Lynch). Our giant green hero enjoys being with his own kind but is nonplussed to find himself something of a runt among his fellow ogres. The bounty hunter Rumpy sends to round up Shrek and Fiona is the legendary Pied Piper. It turns out his famous pipe has a special ogre setting that has the huge green folk helplessly shaking their groove things as they boogie off to the dungeon. And there are some big changes in those we already know. Speaking of big, Puss is far, far away from the dashing swashbuckler; here he is Fiona’s ultra-pampered pet.
The film makes superb use of the 3D effects with action sequences that involve a huge pendulum swinging through Rumpelstiltskin’s palace. There’s also a 3D diaper joke, though thankfully not what you’d think. The spit take, on the other hand, is. Dorhn is a bit of a weak spot in the voice talent but the film’s expert balance of humor, heart, and excitement is real movie magic.
They were “the heir and the spare.” Bertie’s brother was the Prince of Wales, destined to be king. Bertie was the Duke of York.
Their father died and the Prince of Wales became King Edward VIII. But he fell in love with an American divorcee and he could not marry her and keep the crown. He became the first British king in history to abdicate the throne. He made the announcement over the radio, telling his subjects that he could not serve “as I would have wished” without the support of “the woman I love.”
And that is how Bertie, his younger brother, who had hoped to live a relatively quiet life, became King George VI in 1936. He knew that the United Kingdom needed to hear his voice, to reassure them that despite the abdication and the threat of war, they had a leader they could depend on. But King George had a bad stuttering problem and none of the experts of his time had been able to help. His work with an unconventional speech therapist is the subject of the acclaimed new film, “The King’s Speech.”
Here is audio of the real speech portrayed in the film, delivered on the radio in 1939.
And here King George VI says goodbye at the airport to his daughter, the current Queen Elizabeth, just a week before his death in 1952.
Stop right now. I mean it, stop reading. If you have not already seen “Inception,” there is nothing I can tell you that would not diminish your experience of this film. The less you know going in, the better you will appreciate the unfolding, doubling-back, and overall mind-bending stories within stories in one of the year’s best films. So, go see it and then come back and read what I have to say and share your thoughts about what you think it is all about.
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Okay, welcome back.
Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight,” “Memento”) has written and directed that rarest of movie pleasures, a fantasy action movie for people who like to think. It’s kind of, sort of, “The Matrix” crossed with “The Sting,” “Fantastic Voyage,” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” On crack. It’s the kind of movie people will argue about all the way home, go see again, and argue about some more. Nolan understands that the power of movies is that they allow the audience to plug into a kind of Jungian collective dream and he takes that idea to the meta-level, and then metas it a couple more times.
Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is part of a renegade team that has taken corporate espionage to the next level. They do not steal secrets from the offices and memos of corporate executives. They steal secrets from their minds. Cobb has taken techniques developed by his professor father (Michael Caine) and come up with a way to enter into the subconscious of these people by literally entering and manipulating their dreams. This, of course, has led to the development of a whole new industry of counter-dream espionage through bolstering the subject’s psychological defenses. Within a dream, as with other abstract concepts, they are made explicit and concrete as armed assassins. Being shot by them affects the physical reality of the avatar-like representation of the person entering the subject’s dream. It can hurtle them out of the dream entirely. Or, it can push them into an endless mental limbo.
Audiences may feel (enjoyably) as though they have toppled into an endless mental limbo as the characters’ journey takes them into dreams within dreams, each with its own setting, time (moments in one dream level equal weeks in a deeper one), and properties. Sometimes those properties seep across dream boundaries, with vertiginous shifts in physical properties. In one extraordinary sequence, characters in an otherwise-standard-looking hotel become weightless and fights take place as though they are all under water.
The team knows how to extract thoughts from dreams, even the subjects’ most guarded secrets, made material within the minds’ fortresses and vaults. “Create something secure and the mind automatically fills it with something it wants to protect,” explains a character.
A new client insists that they must do something far more difficult — implant an idea, and do it so quietly that the subject will believe he thought it up himself. All of this is in the context of a slyly chosen, well-worn set-up, the last big heist. Dom wants out. He wants to go home. He wants to see the faces of his children. And this is his last chance.
The visual razzle-dazzle is breathtaking, especially as new member of the team Ariadne (“Juno’s” Ellen Page) is introduced to the world of dream architecture. But what makes the film so enthralling is its own fully-realized intellectual architecture, the rules and consequences of its world view that seem so complete they extend far beyond the borders of the story. This is a film that will reward repeated viewings. It will be the subject of late-night dorm discussions, application essays, and possibly some scholarly exegesis because of the way it poses provocative concepts of identity, responsibility, and consciousness. “Reality is not going to be enough for her, now,” Dom says as Ariadne explores an architect’s ultimate fantasy of creation. Yes, and that’s why we have movies. After all, dreams and reality feed each other. As Humphrey Bogart said in “The Maltese Falcon” and Shakespeare said long before that, they’re “the stuff that dreams are made of.”