Monday, April 4, 2011

All The King's Men

 Bugger!! Daylight savings has ended here in NZ and the nights are gradually getting colder. Not very conducive to sitting up late into the wee hours watching DVDs when a nice warm bed is an option instead!! I have spent the last few nights with my woolly hat and leather jacket on!! It isn't quite cold enough to warrant a fire so some extra padding is just enough to do the trick instead.
 The major problem with having to watch movies late at night is that my hearing is not as good as it used to be. I worked in the logging industry for a number of years and the subsequent chainsaw use has irreperably damaged my hearing. 
Earmuffs are good but don't stop all the racket. All I  hear 100% of the time these days is a constant ringing noise. I'm going deaf and have to turn the volume up on the tele just to hear it. In the middle of the night when all else is quiet the other occupants of the house also get to hear it!! Thing is if the volume is too low I don't have a hope in hell of hearing anything.
 It is actually a major problem because I can't get near the tele any other time. I like the flicks as the surround sound is just loud enough to blot out the ringing and I can hear everything fine. Ah the joys of life and getting older! We sure pay physically for all our sins in younger years!
 Unfortunately with All the King's Men the volume had to stay low and I really struggled to hear anything. It was a real pain as this is a fine film with an absolutely stella cast. I don't think this played here in Napier and yet I have heard of it. I had looked at it several times in my local video store but never felt like taking it home until last Wednesday. I looked it up on Wikipedia but the synopsis was rather short and didn't give much of impression on the movie. I just had to sit down and find out for myself!
 All the King's Men is loosely based on a novel and a former Louisiana gouvenor, Huey Long. Unfortunately I haven't read the first and know nothing of the second. The novel was awarded a Pulitzer so it can't have been too bad. The whole premise of the movie is politics, and not the good side of politics ( if there is actually a good one!!! ). Sean Penn plays a mayor of a small town who has attmepted to bring to the state of Louisiana's attention the corruption running through its politicians. He is ignored as he is really small fry in the scheme of things. He is then given the chance to run for govenor himself and he eagerly grabs it. Before long though he his told by those closet to him that he is being used to split the vote and take a fall. His voicing of the state bigwigs corruption sees them wanting to shut him up for good.
 Penn's character turns on those who have put him the position of fall guy and runs for the govenorship by himself. He canvases the poor and makes them all sorts of promises that get him elected by a landslide. The power of the people had spoken and Penn is an extremely unpopular man with the rich and powerful of the state. He has to fight their prejudices and self serving ways in an attempt to get money out of them to implement his promises to the poor.
 The movie then quickly delves into the seedy side of politics. We have seen it all in film, novels, television, and in the news, all too often. Politics is a dirty game and King's Men doesn't hold back. We see the smear campaigns, the bribes, the behind closed doors wheeling and dealing, and general dirtiness associated with the rich and powerful. The poor who elected Penn are quickly forgotten about in his quest for political survival and the harsh realities of being a bigtime politician come home to roost.
 This movie has a core moral message about ploitics and polticians. It is that no matter how clean you are or how high and honest your motives, the higher you move up the political chain the more you become corrupted by it. After all it is not called the demon profession for nothing. Penn's character genuinely wanted to help the poor. But as the realities of the state's politics hit home he either had to become one of those he despised to survive, or suffer ignominious defeat at the next elections.
 Penn plays these roles extremely well. When he becomes govenor his whole demeanor changes and his dirty side comes out. Penn to a tee as an actor and person!! We watch his character break down from moral crusader to one who has to play the game and ends up being no different from those he had campaigned against. It is a sad indictment of the political system where money, the rich, the powerful, all squabble, push, shove, and jockey each other, for their own personal ends at the expense of those at the bottom of the food chain. Penn's character becomes no different to them and resorts to using the govenorship for his own private ends.
 It is a great plot and Penn is excellent. The only thing though was his character waved and flapped his arms around alot when he spoke, which started to annoy me before too long. The speeches I couldn't hear properly so missed, but I caught enough of the dialogue to figure it all out. This is a movie that the viewer must pay attention to all the way through as there is never any quiet moments. It is a very dialogue driven film. It is a stella cast and there is no real stand out. The cast gel extremely well which adds that extra  punch to the movie and it's message. Anthony Hopkins, like Penn, is incapable of putting in a poor performance, and his scenes with Penn are superb as these two extremely talented and professional actors battle it out politics wise.
 The movie really centres around Penn and Jude Law, who himself puts in a good, solid supporting role. He is the quiet thoughtful foil to Penn's character. He knows what is happening to Penn and is disgusted, and yet unable to get of the train as it has brought him to prominence and he doeasn't want to let it go. Clarkson, Winslet, Gandofini, Ruffalo, it is almost like a whos who!!  It is a good cast but the afore mentioned have very subdued roles whilst remaining excellent. The cast, with a fine script, plot, and moral message, means this is a quality movie. I would suggest you watch this one when your mind is really awake. It is way beyond a rainy day movie. If you have even a remote interest in politics and politicians this movie is for you. It will absolutely reinforce your disgust at politicians, the lies, the arrogance, and betrayals they perform in your name, and you'll end up wanting to kick the telly as you recognise it all!
 All the King's Men is a good movie. The cast is a very good one and there are no dud performances by any of them. The message is clear and a sad indictment on politics. It is very dialogue driven so to get the most out of it you have to be listening attentively. I missed alot because I couldn't have it too loud but I still heard enough. I recommend it to all who want something above the average, and thought provoking over visual style or mindless entertainmnet.
Click here for a synopsis and more:
And her for the official site:

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