Quick Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (dir. by David Fincher)


Addendum: Leonth3duke has added his own thoughts on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which are worth reading. Lisa Marie has also added her own viewpoint on the film.

I think had I not seen the Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, this would be a far easier review to write, really. I tried reading the book a number of times, and found it really tough with Larsson’s exposition to stay with it. As such, this review is somewhat biased, perhaps heavily so, and it may be a little spoiler-ish. My assumption here is that with the novel having been available for some time now, and a separate movie to watch, there are very few people who don’t know what the story’s about.

A funny thing happened while watching David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo the other night.  In the middle of the film, the projector turned off. After I calmed down, eyeing the exits and thinking the Blob might have made it’s way into my theatre, the audience had fifteen minutes of quiet to wait and give their thoughts on the movie.

One fellow stepped down from the seats, ready to ask for his money back when he stopped and turned around.

“Does anyone know what the F this movie is about? ‘Cause I’m frickin’ confused!” he raised his arms to the audience, pleading for reason.

“It’s about a girl with a Dragon Tattoo.”, Someone yelled back.

“What is supposed to mean!?” The angry man replied, sounding a lot like Rooney Mara in The Social Network. “All I’ve seen is Bond shiver his butt off and this chick type away on her laptop. This is garbage.” And with that, he left.”

“Yeah, this is some bulls—.”, Another fellow said as he left.

Needless to say, the movie resumed. There was a problem that caused their fire alarm to shut off and it stopped every film in the theatre. I’m not sure how much I may have missed, but I’ll probably see this again during the weekend.  I know, it’s not the best of review lead ins.

The simplest thing I can say about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is this:

– If you read the book and saw the Swedish film, this version only puts on a coat of Fincher Paint on the story. From the opening credits that rival the one in Se7en to the fade to black, it’s all distinctly Fincher’s touch on things.  You could almost argue that it feels like a Bond film, the way they did it. This basically means that the lighting might be dimmer in some places and the film may be more stylized. It comes across feeling more like a motion picture than the Swedish version, which to me felt a little more like a tv movie.

If you never read the book, I would highly recommend the Swedish version first. It’s on Netflix, and as some of the material is delicate, doing so would give you the freedom to hit the pause or fast forward button should you find yourself uncomfortable. That’s kind of hard to do in a movie theatre without walking out on the money you spent on a movie ticket.

And if you saw the Swedish Version, missed the book and are wondering if you should spend your money on this, Rooney Mara really is the only reason to give this a try. It’s essentially the same story, but with a different ending that’s tighter and closer to the book than the Swedish Film. While Rooney’s Salander may not be hard hitting as Noomi Rapace’s Salander , she deserves so much credit for throwing herself into this as deep as she did, and helping to create her own version of Lisbeth.  Daniel Craig, on the other hand, seems to be more restrained here.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the story of Mikael Blomkvist, an editor in chief of a magazine called Millenium in Sweden who is dealing with a mishap on a libel case against a magnate named Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. His recent notoriety catches the attention of Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer, who’s really having a great year), who asks him to investigate the 40 year old murder of his niece, Harriet. Of course, prior to asking Blomkvist to take on the case, Vanger’s lawyers perform a background check on him with the help of Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). Salander happens to be both an ace Hacker and sports a photographic memory, which makes snooping into Blomkvist’s files a cinch.

Eventually, through his investigation of the Vanger Family on their private island, it becomes apparent that Blomkvist needs a little assistance, so he asks the lawyers if Salander can be brought on to work with him. It’s when the two characters meet that the story really picks up some steam.

While I loved it (I’m going back to see it again over the weekend, I think), there was the odd feeling that something was really off. At one point in the film, I find myself quirking my brow, because it occurred to me that there was just a little too much sex in the movie. I understand that’s not something one should complain about, but the Swedish version of the film led me to believe that Salander’s motives for any kind of passion were just a “want, need, have” and move on. In this version, she came across almost needy. It’s not even the right word. Where Rapace’s Salander felt cold and calculating even though the later parts of the story, Mara’s Salander feels like she’s warming up to Blomkvist emotionally. Of course, this could be attributed to screenwriter Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, Searching for Bobby Fischer) playing the story closer to the book than the other film, but it was strange for me in that sense. Fincher, who is notorious for control over his scenes may also be to blame here. If you have access to the behind the scenes for The Social Network, you can watch some of his interviews on the behind the scenes to get an idea of just how much he likes to control where a scene goes.

I don’t hate Fincher. I own Se7en, Fight Club and The Social Network and love all three of these, but even I have to admit that as cool and as stylish as the film is, something’s just off. I loved the film, but it’s just different.

The movie was advertised as the ‘feel bad film of the year’, and in that sense, they’re not lying. Keep the kids home, please. All three versions of the story contained a rape scene. Fincher and Co. Don’t pull any punches here, making it all a little disturbing for anyone not actually prepared for it. One standout to the film has to be the score, developed by Oscar Winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (something I’ll never be fully able to handle saying, having been a Nine Inch Nails fan since the mid ‘90s). The movie has no clear-cut theme to it, but the music that fuels the scene add an extra layer to things. That I really enjoyed.

So, overall, the remake didn’t really need to be made, but it does make me interested to see what Fincher and Zaillian have in store if they decide to continue the Millenium Trilogy. My hopes are that they give Lisbeth Salander a bit of a sharper edge than she already has. Mara herself, they don’t have to worry about. She’s a definite lock as Salander, and I’m happy for her on that. It’s where they choose to take her that I’m concerned about.

Here Are The 2012 Critics’ Choice Movie Award Nominees


Earlier today, the Broadcast Film Critics Association announced their nominations for the 17th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards.  The BFCA is the largest of the so-called “major” critics’ groups (and, interestingly enough, it’s also the newest and the least prestigious) and it has a fairly good track record of predicting the actual Oscar nominations.  The awards themselves will be handed out on January 12th, 2012 in a self-important, kinda seedy ceremony that will be broadcast on VH-1.   

BEST PICTURE
The Artist
The Descendants
Drive
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
Moneyball
The Tree of Life
War Horse

BEST ACTOR
George Clooney – The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio – J. Edgar
Jean Dujardin – The Artist
Michael Fassbender – Shame
Ryan Gosling – Drive
Brad Pitt – Moneyball

BEST ACTRESS
Viola Davis – The Help
Elizabeth Olsen – Martha Marcy May Marlene
Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton – We Need to Talk About Kevin
Charlize Theron – Young Adult
Michelle Williams – My Week With Marilyn

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh – My Week With Marilyn
Albert Brooks – Drive
Nick Nolte – Warrior
Patton Oswalt – Young Adult
Christopher Plummer – Beginners
Sir Andrew Serkis – Rise of the Planet of the Apes

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Berenice Bejo – The Artist
Jessica Chastain – The Help
Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids
Carey Mulligan – Shame
Octavia Spencer – The Help
Shailene Woodley – The Descendants

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Asa Butterfield – Hugo
Elle Fanning – Super 8
Thomas Horn – Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Ezra Miller – We Need to Talk About Kevin
Saoirse Ronan – Hanna
Shailene Woodley – The Descendants

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
The Artist
Bridesmaids
The Descendants
The Help
The Ides of March

BEST DIRECTOR
Stephen Daldry – Extreme Loud & Incredibly Close
Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Alexander Payne – The Descendants
Nicolas Winding Refn – Drive
Martin Scorsese – Hugo
Steven Spielberg – War Horse

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius
50/50 – Will Reiser
Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen
Win Win – Screenplay by Tom McCarthy, Story by Tom McCarthy & Joe Tiboni
Young Adult – Diablo Cody

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Descendants – Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – Eric Roth
The Help – Tate Taylor
Hugo – John Logan
Moneyball – Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Story by Stan Chervin

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
The Artist – Guillaume Schiffman
Drive – Newton Thomas Sigel
Hugo – Robert Richardson
Tree of Life – Emmanuel Lubezki
War Horse – Janusz Kaminski

BEST ART DIRECTION
The Artist – Production Designer: Laurence Bennett, Art Director: Gregory S. Hooper
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – Production Designer: Stuart Craig, Set Decorator: Stephenie McMillan
Hugo – Production Designer: Dante Ferretti, Set Decorator: Francesca Lo Schiavo
The Tree of Life – Production Designer: Jack Fisk, Art Director: David Crank
War Horse – Production Designer: Rick Carter, Set Decorator: Lee Sandales

BEST EDITING
The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius and Anne-Sophie Bion
Drive – Matthew Newman
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
Hugo – Thelma Schoonmaker
War Horse – Michael Kahn

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
The Artist – Mark Bridges
The Help – Sharen Davis
Hugo – Sandy Powell
Jane Eyre – Michael O’Connor
My Week With Marilyn – Jill Taylor

BEST MAKEUP
Albert Nobbs
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The Iron Lady
J. Edgar
My Week With Marilyn

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Hugo
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Super 8
The Tree of Life

BEST SOUND
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Hugo
Super 8
The Tree of Life
War Horse

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The Adventures of Tintin
Arthur Christmas
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
Rango

BEST ACTION MOVIE
Drive
Fast Five
Hanna
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Super 8

BEST COMEDY
Bridesmaids
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Horrible Bosses
Midnight in Paris
The Muppets

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
In Darkness
Le Havre
A Separation
The Skin I Live In
Where Do We Go Now

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Buck
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Page One: Inside the New York Times
Project Nim
Undefeated

BEST SONG
“Hello Hello” – performed by Elton John and Lady Gaga/written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin – Gnomeo & Juliet
“Life’s a Happy Song” – performed by Jason Segel, Amy Adams and Walter/written by Bret McKenzie – The Muppets
“The Living Proof” – performed by Mary J. Blige/written by Mary J. Blige, Thomas Newman and Harvey Mason, Jr. – The Help
“Man or Muppet” – performed by Jason Segel and Walter/written by Bret McKenzie – The Muppets
“Pictures in My Head” – performed by Kermit and the Muppets/written by Jeannie Lurie, Aris Archontis and Chen Neeman – The Muppets

BEST SCORE
The Artist – Ludovic Bource
Drive – Cliff Martinez
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Hugo – Howard Shore
War Horse – John Williams

The BFCA has obviously made a lot of nominations and some of them are interesting but I have to be honest: the BFCA as an organization annoys me with how they’re always bragging about how big they are and how they’re so good at celebrating the conventional establishment wisdom.  So, I’ll just say that its nice to see Hanna getting at least some sort of recognition (even if that recognition is kinda minor.)

Boston Demands To Be Heard


The Los Angeles film critics weren’t the only ones to vote on their favorites of 2011 today.  The Boston Society of Film Critics voted today as well.  Now, as I’ve stated quite a few times on this site, I’m a Southern girl and I have a feeling that if I ever went up to Boston, everyone up there would ignore the fact that I’m an Irish Catholic and would probably just make fun of my accent.  Eventually, the conversation would turn to politics and I would let slip the fact that not only am I not a Democrat but I didn’t even vote for Barack Obama in 2008.  A big fight would follow and I imagine we wouldn’t even get around to talking about our favorite movies…

Sorry, I lost my train of thought there.  Anyway, the BSFC voted and here’s what they came up with:

Best Picture: “The Artist”

     Runners-up: “Hugo” and “Margaret”

Best Director: Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”

     Runner-up: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”

Best Actor: Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”

     Runners-up: George Clooney, “The Descendants” and Michael Fassbender, “Shame”

Best Actress: Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”

     Runner-up: Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”

Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, “Drive”

     Runner-up: Max Von Sydow, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”

     Runner-up: Jeannie Berlin, “Margaret”

Best Screenplay: Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin, “Moneyball”

     Runner-up: Kenneth Lonergan, “Margaret”

(If I was writing for AwardsDaily.com, I guess this is where I would say, NO MOVIE HAD A BETTER SCREENPLAY THAN THE SOCIAL NETWORK)

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, “The Tree of Life”

     Runner-up: Robert Richardson, “Hugo”

Best Documentary: “Project Nim”

     Runner-up: “Bill Cunningham New York”

Best Foreign-Language Film: “Incendies”

     Runners-up: “A Separation” and “Poetry”

Best Animated Film: “Rango”

Best Film Editing:  Christian Marclay, “The Clock”

     Runner-up: Thelma Schoonmaker, “Hugo”

Best New Filmmaker: Sean Durkin, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”

     Runner-up: J.C. Chandor, “Margin Call”

Best Ensemble Cast: “Carnage”

     Runner-up: “Margaret”

Best Use of Music in a Film: (tie) “Drive” and “The Artist”

     Runner-up: “The Descendants”

Special Commendations:

Ben Fowlie, Sara Archambault and Sean Flynn of DocYard

The Museum of Fine Arts for “The Clock”

The Brattle Film Foundation

Best Rediscoveries:

“The Shooting” at the Harvard Film Achive

“The Makota Sisters” at the Museum of Fine Arts

“Deep End” at the HFA

“Days and Nights in the Forest” at the HFA

“Children of Hiroshima” at the HFA

Obviously, the Boston Film Critics were big fans of Kenneth Lonergan’s film MargaretMargaret was actually filmed in 2007 but, because of various lawsuits between Longergan and the film’s producers, it was not actually released until September of this year.  Unfortunately, it only played down here for about a week and I didn’t get a chance to see it but hopefully, I will in the future.  If nothing else, I want to see it so I can have something other than politics to talk about if I ever go up to Boston.