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Laurie Sparham/The Weinstein Company

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The King's Speech
Directed by Tom Hooper
The Weinstein Company
Opens November 26

The Grapes of Wrath
Directed by John Ford
November 26 through December 2
Film Forum

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Ford celebrates family values and emphasizes the innate goodness of the American people, or at least most of them. Tea Party types may reach for their coats the second time honest working folk are hornswoggled by exploitative entrepreneurs and be out the door even before the Joads stumble upon a federal campsite run by a miniature FDR and someone who introduces himself as “head of the Central Committee.” There’s no missing Fonda’s annoyed response to right-wing vigilante demagoguery (“What is these Reds anyway?” he wonders when somebody calls him one). Not even Ma’s celebrated curtain-closer (“We’ll go on forever, ’cause we’re the people”) can efface the hero’s philosophical assertion that we’re each “a little piece of a big soul.” Hard times, migrant workers, and homespun rhetoric notwithstanding, The Grapes of Wrath is itself a bit homeless—amazingly irrelevant to the present moment.

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