A Quickie With Lisa Marie: The Guard (directed by John Michael McDonagh)

Have you seen The Guard yet?  If you haven’t, you need to.  This deceptively simple (and violent) Irish film is one of the best films of the year so far.  It’s also one of my personal favorites.

Boyle (played by the great Brendan Gleeson) is a casually corrupt but well-meaning Irish policeman who appears to have settled into a life of quiet complacency.  He spends his time caring for his aging mother, bragging (and perhaps lying) about his past career as a competitive swimmer, entertaining prostitutes, and taking the occasional acid trip.  As there’s little real crime taking place in the small coastal village that he calls home, Boyle is free to spend his workday playing video games and ignoring his far more serious partner, a rookie named McBride (played by Rory Keenan).  McBride is married to a mail order bride and, beneath his straight-laced exterior, has a secret of his own.  Things start to pick up for Boyle and McBride when an unidentified man is brutally murdered in a manner that suggests he fell victim to Satanists.  Meanwhile, cocky FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) is in the village, searching for three viscous drug smugglers (played by Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong, and David Wilmot).  Despite Wendell’s condescending attitude and Boyle’s own casual racism, the two of them soon discover that their two cases are connected and that there’s more to Boyle than originally meets the eyes…

In almost every way, The Guard is a triumph.  Director John Michael McDonagh (whose brother Martin directed Gleeson in In Bruges)  finds a perfect balance between comedy and tension and manages to maintain it throughout the entire film.  McDonagh has a wonderful eye for detail and the entire film is full of memorable characters who are quirky without ever being silly.  Though the villains (and their ultimate evil scheme) will be familiar to anyone who has ever seen an action film, Cunningham, Strong, and Wilmot are all believably ruthless and intimidating.  Don Cheadle is perfectly cast as the straight-laced Wendell and the film has a lot of fun with his “fish-out-of-water” attempts to bring American justice to the Irish coast. 

However, ultimately, this film is all about Brendan Gleeson.  For decades, Gleeson has been one of the most dependable character actors in the movies.  Whether he was playing a villain or a hero and regardless of the size of his role, Gleeson has always made an impression and he’s always left filmgoers like me wanting to see more of him.  Well, in The Guard, Gleeson gets to show us exactly what he can do and the result is one of the best performances of the year.  Whether he’s greeting a prostitute in an immaculate three-piece suit or having a secret meeting with the local representative of the IRA, Gleeson dominates the entire film and, most importantly, keeps us guessing about just who Boyle is.  Gleeson triumphs in The Guard and the end result is one of the best films of 2011.

David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: Trailer #2

Here’s the 2nd trailer for David Fincher’s bastadization rip-off remake version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

I’m just going to make just a few general comments:

1) This trailer is obviously a lot more plot-specific than the 1st trailer.  It’s also a lot less interesting.  The snow-filled landscapes still look impressive but the 1st trailer seemed to be fueled by an unstoppable force.  The 2nd trailer seems to be fueled by test groups.

2) I’ve always been honest about how much I loved Noomi Rapace’s performance in the original film.  Rooney Mara has some big shoes to fill.  In the scenes selected for this trailer, she looks like a little girl playing dress up.

3) Not surprisingly Daniel Craig’s Mikael seems to be a much more active and straight forward hero than Michael Nyqvist’s interpretation.  In fact, this trailer could just as easily be for the next James Bond film. 

4) Of course, this would be great if not for the fact that the best thing about both the original novel and the original film was that Lisbeth was nobody’s sidekick.

5) Christopher Plummer.  Again.

And finally,

6) The 1st trailer had a true grindhouse feel to it and that feeling is sadly missing from the 2nd.  Here’s the 1st trailer.  Watch and compare: