Multiplex - a comic strip about life at the movies

Archive for December, 2010


Review: The King’s Speech

Directed by Tom Hooper.
Written by David Seidler.
Starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, and Derek Jacobi.

The King’s Speech is the tale of the not-yet-crowned King George VI and his speech therapist. I know, it sounds extraordinarily dull, right? Except that it’s not.

Crackling dialogue and an absolutely stunning performance by Colin Firth make this a English production a riveting crowd-pleaser in the best sense of the term. Firth’s work masterfully sidesteps any cynical “poor little rich boy” resistance you might have, utterly humanizing Prince Albert, the Duke of York, who was born second in line to the throne and unexpectedly crowned after a royal scandal — just in time for England to get pulled into World War II. (The trailer is all you need in the way of plot synopsis.) As you can imagine, a Duke needs to speak publicly every now and then (and certainly a King does), so — speech therapy to the rescue!

“Bertie” and his therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush, who also produced) are the warm, fuzzy heart of the film, and its their interactions that make The King’s Speech such a joy to watch, but a host of ace supporting players fill out the film beautifully, most notably Helena Bonham Carter as Bertie’s wife.

History buffs may smirk a bit at the seriousness of “Bertie’s” stammer; by most of the accounts I could find online, his stammer was never so bad as depicted in the film, and even so, Logue’s treatment had allowed him to speak publicly without a stammer (or without much of one) within a couple of years. Most of the facts behind the film do, in some loose sense or another, seem to be faithful to the truth, but it is more than a bit exaggerated in the dramatization. It’s a movie, after all, not a documentary.

Movie buffs will definitely smirk at the slightly too familiar story points: the set-up, treatment, growing friendship, a setback and a falling out, and then, of course, patching things up just before the critical moment (the titular King’s speech). Whether these are based on real events or simply dramatic inventions, I can’t say for sure, but the strength of the dialogue and the performances make it all ring true, at least for the duration of the film.

The King’s Speech is rated R for a bit of language (the S-word and the F-bomb are dropped multiple times, mostly in one scene related to the Duke’s therapy). There is no sex or violence in the film, and even just a bit of implied impropriety. Frankly, it’s absurd that this film is rated R; it’s absolutely a family film on every level. If the film isn’t playing near you yet, it will be soon.

Review: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Written and directed by Jalmari Helander.
Starring Jorma Tommila, Onni Tommila and Peeter Jakobi.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is fucking weird, man. This Finnish feature is based on two popular and equally weird short films by the same team from 2003 and 2005, but it’s sort of an origin story behind those shorts, so you don’t need to be familiar with them at all (in fact, I hadn’t heard of them until after I saw the film).

Here’s how it goes: Up in the arctic circle, in the Korvatunturi Mountains, a team of archaeologists has just dug up what they were looking for: Santa Claus. Except this isn’t the Santa Claus we know and love… For some reason, this Santa is a child-eating killer. Or something like that. (The film brilliantly portrays this as drawn from the true origins of the Santa Claus story; it’s not, but a few critics seem to have fallen for it.)

Anyway, children in the nearby village start disappearing; a team of hunters capture him (or have they?) and try to sell him back to the corporation that sponsored the dig; and the story takes a couple of hilarious, movie cliché-inspired left-turns along the way.

Rare Exports is charmingly, disturbingly weird, and yet… in the end, it’s not nearly as dark as you might expect from the trailer. I certainly wouldn’t call it a horror movie, or really even a thriller. It’s just one messed up little adventure story — very much in the Christmas movie tradition… except for, you know, the psycho Santa thing. The lead child (Onni Tommila) is an adorable scene-stealer who centers the film admirably.

Unfortunately, the storytelling is a little messed up, too — when the hunters discover the body of “Santa,” for instance, they initially think he’s dead. Only after entirely too much time has passed, do these hunters realize he isn’t. But the few eye-rolling moments like that aren’t enough to outweigh the film’s bizarro charm.

If you can, see in theaters this Christmas, or on video next year. Better yet, see it with an impressionable kid.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is rated R because there’s a lot of naked Santa in it and a bit of language. There’s not really a lot of violence in it; parents okay with their kids getting an eyeful of old-man schlong (mostly from a distance) shouldn’t find anything too objectionable in the violence. It opens in Chicago at the Music Box Theatre on Christmas Eve.

A Friend In Need

This quickie hand-drawn comic was originally posted as a TopWebComics vote incentive on December 2nd. The news Becky mentions is, of course, true (although since then, doubts have been raised.) If you’re WAY behind, here’s some background about the lost Metropolis footage.

Yes, I will do more hand-drawn Multiplex comics as time permits. No, I will not start drawing the regular updates by hand, except in the same sorts of instances I have before: imaginary scenes, flashbacks, and such.