REVIEW: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: Steve Zaillian (screenplay), Stieg Larsson (novel)
Starring: Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Stellan Skarsgard and Christopher Plummer

Everything surrounding this American adaptation of a best-selling Swedish book seemed like a perfect fit.  Who better to chronicle a dark story about a serial killer that involves a clever computer nerd than David Fincher?  It’s a combination of everything he’s done so well as a director, from Zodiac to last year’s The Social Network.

Add in a cast full of talented character actors and a breakthrough star performance from the unknown actress Rooney Mara, and it sounds like a filmmaking and financial grand slam.  Though Fincher weaves his distinct visual pleasures through Steve Zaillian’s condensed/slightly altered version of Stieg Larsson’s bulky narrative, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a long movie filled with many names, twists and bursts of violence.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire
Directed by: Daniel Alfredson
Written by: Jonas Frykberg (screenplay), Sieg Larsson (book)
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Georgi Staykov, and Lena Endre

Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is one with her computer, an ideal that this Swedish adaptation of the Swedish bestseller makes all too clear by framing a close-up of her eyes and projecting the screen she sees over them.  It’s an indelible, near-iconic image, and the film’s sole upstaging of the book.

The weak link in the adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s first book in The Millennium Trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, was that it broke the suspense of the serial killer investigation by becoming almost as emotionally detached as its troubled heroine.  Salander is the undeniable strength of both the books and the movies.  Larsson has noticeably more invested in penning her part of the story, and both directors (Daniel Alfredson in this movie) have clearly had a ball unraveling her tale.

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Eleven movies to watch for in ’11

Sure, there will be plenty of crap released this year just like any other.  We all have another delightful Transformers installment to look forward to in the summer, and the coming winter months are when Hollywood dumps its crap that wouldn’t make money during prime Christmas season.  So, while the award contenders from last year and the buzz-kills duke it out in January and February, here are our picks for what to watch for the rest of the year.

The Tree of Life (May 27)– Terrence Malick has made some of the most visually stunning movies ever to grace the screen.  Film-wise, he hasn’t made as many as other auteurs his age, but his mark is no less indelible.  With The Tree of Life, he will most likely twist audience expectation for what a “summer blockbuster” with A-list stars is.  Brad Pitt and Sean Penn are headlining in this tale about a young boy in the 50s who “witnesses the loss of innocence.”  The hypnotic trailer is almost as vague as that description, but infinitely more beautiful.  It draws you in without ruining it.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (December 21)- Fresh off his hot streak with The Social Network, David Fincher attempts to Americanize the already explosively popular book series and its Swedish film adaptations.  It will be hard for him to do worse than the original Dragon Tattoo movie, which captured the atmosphere but gutted the story of Stieg Larssonn’s original.  The story, about a hacker and a disgraced journalist teaming up to hunt down a serial killer, is the perfect fit for Fincher.  Here’s hoping Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara are also up for the dark twists and brooding revelations.

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If they were in television… David Fincher

Notable films: The Social Network, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fight Club, and Se7en.

Famous for: Dark, beautiful visuals, perfectionism, masculine codes of honor, violence as a part of human DNA, social outcasts, and using famous actors in unexpected ways.

Hypothetical title: Blackout

Hypothetical premise: The show follows a career man plagued by boredom.  On his routine walk home from work one day, he stumbles on the aftermath of a brutal assault against a woman.  He becomes weirdly obsessed with the case when the police shove it aside, and as she lays in a coma in the hospital, he takes it upon himself to uncover what happened to her.  After discovering she was a journalist hot on the trail of a violent secret society that has infiltrated every crack of the local government, he begins to realize that he’ll need her help to uncover all the intricacies of the plot.  The woman wakes up from her coma, only to be abducted 20 minutes after being back on the streets.  As the season reaches its conclusion, the man tracks down the woman, only to discover that she leads the society, and that the assault was an attempt by a vigilante to remove her from power.

Cross between: Zodiac, Fight Club, Blue Velvet, and Sin City.

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