28 January 2011

The King's Speech

Colin Firth, left, and Helena Bonham Carter are shown in a scene from "The King's Speech."
"The King's Speech" tells the story of a monarch left virtually impotent by democracy and, even more so, his own insecurities.

"If I am king, where is my power?" asks King George VI of Britain (Colin Firth). "Can I declare war? Form a government? Levy a tax? No! And yet I am the seat of all authority because (the people) think that when I speak, I speak for them. But I can't speak, because I have no voice."

When we meet the king in 1925, he is Prince Albert, "Bertie" to those close to him, the Duke of York, and he is about to speak at the closing of the 1925 Empire Exhibition at Wembley Stadium. What comes out, though, hardly could be called a speech, plagued as it is by Bertie's uncontrollable stammer.

07 January 2011

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Annika Hallin, left, and Noomi Rapace are shown in a scene from "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest."
Late in "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest," Noomi Rapace, as Lisbeth Salander, the brilliant, misfit computer hacker recently recovered from taking a bullet to the brain, wrongly accused of three murders and abused throughout her life by officials within the Swedish government, cracks just a hint of a smile. There is nothing that speaks more to the greatness of Rapace's performance than the fact that this small moment, one that might go unnoticed by some viewers, serves as an emotional release for not just this film but the entire "Millennium" trilogy.

A young woman hardened by the hand life dealt her, Salander has gone to great lengths to guard not just the secrets of her past but the emotions of her day-to-day life. Her distrust extends beyond authority figures to include virtually everyone she meets. She doesn't have friends so much as a handful of people whose presence she can tolerate—but only in small doses and on her terms. She has been a victim, and more than anything, she wants those who prey on others—specifically, men who commit acts of violence toward women—to know what it means to be victimized.