The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

tn_girlwiththedragonThey say THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is an international phenomenon. The whole world has Dragon Tattoo Fever and Steig Larssonmania. This is a Swedish mystery thriller, the first in an already completed trilogy adapted from the hugely popular books written by this guy Larsson and published after he died. Some people die and their family is horrified to find their porno stash, this guy dies and they find 3 (three) smash hit mystery novels. It’s ridiculous. Like anything that’s popular around the world (cursed videotapes, drifting, Lambada, quiet preteen Swedish vampire dramas) the Americans want in on that action, so they’re already working on an American version. I’d be annoyed, except it’s David Fincher directing, so let him do what he wants.

Anyway, this review here is of the original movie version that no matter what will be preferred by Swedes and by Americans who want to rebel against The Man by rejecting his popular entertainment in favor of foreign product.

mp_girlwiththedragonMikael Blomkvist is a magazine publisher and investigative reporter who gets set up and sued for libel. He decides not to appeal and steps down from the magazine he founded, innocent, but defeated and disgraced. But in the few months before he has to report to lockup he gets a gig working for an old rich guy on a secluded island. This guy’s teenage niece disappeared 40 years ago, and nobody ever figured out what happened. There’s lots of weird details, like he thinks someone in his family did it, he thinks the killer sends him a framed flower every year on his birthday, there’s a piece of film where the girl can be seen sitting in a window, her diary has some unexplained numbers jotted down in it, and Mikael remembers being babysat by her one time when he was real young. The police and family members try to discourage him from even trying, but he needs something to distract him so he takes the job.

What Mikael doesn’t know at first is that he’s under surveillance by a security firm. A pouty, pierced young woman named Lisbeth Salander reads everything on his computer and even figures out leads to follow before he does. The movie is very deliberately paced, so it’s an hour in before he finds out about her and convinces her to be his Robin, his Ponch or his Tennille.

Lisbeth is the titular girl with said ink. Don’t worry, it’s on her upper back, it’s not one of those lower back tattoos they all got now. More Yakuza than bachelorette party. I got no clue why the tattoo is significant enough to be the title – they only show it once and it doesn’t seem important to me. Actually, the original title translates to Men Who Hate Women, which makes alot more sense. By far the most memorable part of this movie is its characterization of Lisbeth as this girl who’s been abused by men her whole life and developed a cut throat survivor instinct, which you see early on when a bunch of dudes try to attack her in the subway station. She shows them who’s bad.

Man, I gotta tell you, this is not the DA VINCI CODE. There is some brutal and seriously fucked up shit in this movie. Lisbeth goes through a mini-I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE arc in the first section. I’m not gonna give away the details, but jesus, man. Ouch. A sleazy motherfucker in authority tries to press his advantage, and you gotta endure a few real harsh scenes. But this isn’t PRECIOUS or nothin, she’s not gonna be a victim for most of the movie. She not only outsmarts this prick, she goes so much further than expected in exacting her revenge on him that you gotta 1. take your hat off to her and 2. get the shivers. It’s a real good character moment because it shows you that she’s alot more messed up than you first realized, but it also makes you think okay, this girl can handle herself. Whatever some sicko throws at her, she’s gonna have a strong rebuttal. After that I was ready to follow her anywhere, and she happened to be going to this island to solve the 40 year old cold case, so that’s where I followed her.

(By the way, Swedes, I’ve seen a few of your movies: THE VIRGIN SPRING, THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN… I was wondering, you guys got anything without rapists and pedophiles in it? You don’t have a reputation for being sickos but I’m starting to worry.)

Lisbeth’s not just tough, she’s seriously talented, even has a photographic memory. She uses a computer enough to be what Hollywood calls a “hacker,” but she’s really a researcher, she goes through books and physical files and shit too. She makes a real good partner to this guy, although sometimes she wakes him up in the middle of the night to fuck him and then refuses to cuddle. And he just sits there and asks, “Are you sure this is a good idea?” Doesn’t put up any resistance or nothin, just plays innocent.

The actress who plays Lisbeth, Noomi Rapace, is real good, and I was surprised to find out she’s a normal pretty actress, because she doesn’t come across as a poser. She seems genuinely scary and angry at the world and looks comfortable wearing a spiked dog collar. In fact, it should maybe be called THE GIRL WITH THE SPIKED DOG COLLAR, that actually seems like a more notable feature than the tattoo.

The mystery itself is very complex and involved, even reminded me of ZODIAC a little so you can see where Fincher comes in. One part that’s kinda weird, there are three members of the Vanger family that were Nazis, and when he goes to one of their houses the fuckin guy has Nazi certificates and shit displayed openly in his house! Is that really something you can do in Sweden? People just figure, “Ah, he’s old, let him hang up his Nazi stuff”? So you can go to jail for insulting an industrialist in a magazine but it’s socially acceptable to be proud of your Nazi past. I hope that part wasn’t realistic.

Anyway, it’s a well made thriller, a good yarn, but it’s the characters that make it special. I like the weird relationship between these two, and their successful mystery solving team. I like that that poor girl is a little messed up in the head and that her old man doesn’t agree with some of the things she does but understands why she does them and tries to be supportive. It’s kinda sweet, kinda badass, kinda creepy.

In my opinion Lisbeth Salander is a better female detective character than even Jessica Fletcher. She’s unpredictable, and she rides a motorcycle. That’s why these books are so popular.


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93 Responses to “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”

  1. my mom is a huge fan of the books and wants me to read them, I am now a little creeped out to hear they have rape and stuff, oh well

    I plan to read them before the end of the year, but I’m currently too busy playing video games (I do like to read however)

  2. also, has anyone noticed that Steig Larsson looks almost exactly like John Hughes?

  3. So this is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo? I keep hearing this title for months, but was too lazy to look up what movie exactly Fincher wants to remake (Judging by the name I thought it was a 70’s martial arts movie) and for any reason never linked it to STIEG LARSSON’S SPECTACULAR MILLENIUM TRILOGY that every feuilleton critic keeps talking about these days. Mostly because the German titles are just “Infatuation”, “Damnation” and “Forgiveness”, which makes them sound pretty unspectacular, despite the tattooed goth girl on the DVD cover. But I guess I have to check them out, now that I know what they are about.

  4. The guy with the Nazi stuff hanging up in his house is a recluse – they say so explicitly early on and then we only see inside his house when the protagonist breaks in.

    I think this is a great film, up there with the classier modern Hollywood thrillers. A comfortable 8/10. I think it has a 10/10 reputation because it is foreign and it has those scenes at the start that scream “harrowing festival movie” which it really isn’t once it actually gets going.

    But hey, the cinema market seems to be dominated by wish-fulfillment-craving 12 year old girls right now, and if this is what they graduate to in a few months when they become rebel teens it will certainly be a step up from Twilight and Harry Potter. Maybe they will even turn into a generation of teens capable of critically assessing the artistic value of a film and then Michael Bay films will stop making money…. sorry, got a bit carried away there…

  5. Does anyone else have female friends that absolutely will not watch a film that has you-know-what scenes? How does that gel with the success of this film? Do they not have those kind of girls in Sweden?

  6. We (swedes) don’t make too much interesting film, but the pop-genre is murder mystery. And since you have to have some sleaze in there too, I guess that explains some of the other stuff you mentioned being unnaturally popular. Only in recent film though, I guess the others were just flukes. Modern swedish film is also very small-scale and … uninteresting, so it’s awkward to recommend unless you know someone personally.

    Other swedish films with not-too-much rape that I think you might enjoy, based on the types of films you and I both seem to enjoy, are:
    The Emigrants (Utvandrarna, 1971) – Epic about moving to “Amerika”.
    The Hunters (Jägarna, 1996) – Policeman moves to small town up north, etc. (contains just a little rape).
    Slim Sussie (Smala Sussie, 2003) – Half-absurd comedy with some references to american film.

    That’s actually about it.

    And no, about the nazi stuff commonly being publicly displayed. That was supposed to show that this house was a creepy place, I think. I think it was part of some half-failed twist. (But I believe your legal analysis was correct – I highly doubt that collectors of WW2-memorabilia can go to jail for having it up in their homes, for example.)

    You can count me in among the few swedes who actually anxiously await Fincher’s take on this. The film was good (The 3h cut even worked pacing-wise), but it can be a lot better if you don’t have all of sweden breathing down your neck, demanding it to be “true to the book”.

  7. “Together” (2000) is another good not-too-rapey Swedish film. No ex wrestlers or anything, but funny and well made.

  8. Yeah, the books are excellent and the first movie is a pretty good realistic take on a SILENCE OF THE LAMBS-type of story (it even has the same closing shot but with Salander instead of Hannibal).
    Too bad the other two MILLENIUM movies are cheap made-for-TV crap with awful directors.

  9. Can find a few good laughs in ‘Kopps’.
    Comedy about a small town police station threatened to be closed down so the cops start their own crime wave to validate their existence.
    Not a classic in any sense of the word but I laugh so hard I cry at a few scenes, especially the ones involving the cop daydreaming about hollywood style action


    Think there was talk about an american version of that one too a few years ago, but I have no idea whatever happened there

  10. Yep, Kopps is pretty funny. It gets a little bit too ridiculous towards the end, but I like it!

  11. Although I’m european I’m waiting anxiously for the Fincher version. After reading the books I was a bit dissapointed with the movie. The firts one is about 600 pages long (the second is about 800 pages long and the third nearly a 1000 pages long) so I understand that there are many things that have to be cut out and simplified for the movie, but anyway I didn’t get hook by the movie the way I was hooked by the books.

    If anyone can make Men who hate women (the original title) into a really good thriller is David Fincher. Zodiac is one of my favourite movies.

    For people who doesn’t know the books: the first is a neo noir with social denunciation, the second is a kind of/sort of revenge story and the third is a noir with a touch of spy story. The link between the three is Lisbeth’s past.

    Larsson wrote a fourth book (he was going to do a series not a trilogy), but his girlfriend has it and is waiting to make it public because she didn’t any royalties because she and Larsson weren’t married although they lived together for decades. Or so they said.

  12. I thought this was a very good movie, but I’m also looking forward to Fincher’s version, because he might turn it into a great film. Oh and the books are insanely popular around Europe, this movie actually has already made over 100 million worldwide, thanks to the massive reader fanbase.

    Interestingly, I think Sweden generall produces a lot of really good movies, considering how small their output it. And for some reason Swedes always seem to disagree. Maybe they are just more critical towards movies made back home.

    Like others said, Together and Cops are both very good and distinctive movies. The first one is a realistic dramedy about a socialist commune, the second one a clever cop-movie parody which I think Vern would like a lot. Also I would recommend two other movies by Lucas Moodysson (Director of Together): Fucking Åmal and Lilja-4-ever. I think these all are available as DVD’s with english subtitles. Lilja-4-ever even has some rape and pedophilia in it!

  13. Fucking Åmal is a lovely little film, and doesn’t have any rape scenes in it. It’s a bit like Let The Right One In, but with lesbians instead of vampires, and no-one gets dumped in ice ponds, burned alive or drained of blood (as far as I remember).

  14. I don’t want to read the review because I’ve been meaning to see the film, but I skimmed the comments and want to give a shout out to a Swedish film I saw and liked at the film festival last year called THE GIRL that I found touching. It’s kind of like the Swedish version of HOME ALONE, but it has no rape, vampires, Joe Pesci or any other business like that in it so your mileage may vary. It was directed by the DOP of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.

  15. I love both Fincher and remakes generally, but this is one film I don’t think really needs to be remade.

  16. My bad, THE GIRL just shares DOPs (Hoyte Van Hoytema) with LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, the director is someone else. This is what I get for getting out of bed at 6 am.

  17. Jareth Cutestory

    July 7th, 2010 at 7:06 am

    Yeah, the material seems a bit beneath Fincher, or at least beneath Fincher’s reputation (a reputation that tends to ignore that this is the guy who did the decidely middlebrow PANIC ROOM and the utterly goofy THE GAME).

    I’m not sure what Fincher would do with the sprawl of DRAGON TATTOO that he didn’t do better with ZODIAC.

    Hopefully the first thing Fincher would do would be to cut DRAGON TATTOO’s incessant big dramatic chase scene music whenever
    someone is performing a google search or waiting for a jpeg to download. I find it difficult to take that shit seriously.

  18. I like THE GAME! It’s very goofy that they planned all that stuff down to a T but I can roll with it.

  19. Agree that PANIC ROOM is middlebrow though.

  20. This was a good movie that I very much enjoyed, but I’m a little baffled by the whole international phenomena thing. I haven’t read the books, so maybe they are amazing or something, but the GWTDT movie was a well-made but mostly pretty standard mystery (with maybe a little more character work that usual) that turns into a SPOILER well-made but run-of-the-mill serial killer movie.

    Maybe that’s what it is… it’s a very mainstream thriller in a lot of ways, but a few offbeat and dark details thrown in to trick people into thinking its maybe a little artsy than it really is.

    The worst part is probably the last 10 or 15 minutes. I don’t want to say much, but it goes to great pains to tie up ever last little plot thread, whether they needed to be tied up or not, and to give all the leads the happiest possible ending. It was so pat, I thought, that it kinda of negated the more disturbing elements of the film. Everything works out too perfectly in the end. And now that I think about it, most of the truly horrific things in the film (except the bad things that happen to Lisbeth early on that Vern alluded to) either happened before the movie takes place, or are only implied or happen offscreen.

    I don’t know, I’m sure a lot of people find the ending satisfied… but would anyone else have liked it more if, say, Mikael went to jail at the end, or at least if that was left unresolved? At the very least, I could have done without the filmmakers explicitly showing exactly what happens with Lisbeth.

  21. Jareth Cutestory

    July 7th, 2010 at 7:25 am

    Gwai Lo: I can see why people like THE GAME, even though I don’t like it.

    But what really bothers me is that THE GAME is the exact movie everyone is always accusing Shyamalan of making. In fact, I’d say early Fincher is as much in love with gimmicky twists as early Shyamalan.

    Dan Prestwich: I agree with you that the character work was the best part of GWTDT. It was well cast, too. And I just felt worn down by the end. The film suffers a bit from a lot of pomp over nothing.

    I think I would have preferred the film if Tattoo Girl never joined up with Sulky
    Journalist; she could have just played with her social worker in various inventive ways for the rest of the film, like what was done to Dabney Coleman in 9 TO 5.

  22. The analogy between the Game and Shymalan’s movie is a good one. I really enjoyed The Game until the “twist” at the end, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense (how the hell did they know where he would jump?). I liked Seven, but until Zodiac I’ve always thought of Fincher as a lesser director. I like the old baby movie, too.

  23. I can buy that they set up the jump at the end of THE GAME. His Dad committed suicide that way, if they can orchestrate him storming their HQ, taking a hostage, getting up to the roof, and then accidentally shooting his brother… well the most logical way to end it all after that would be to jump. I can’t remember the way they shot it but it’s not too much of a stretch that he just jumped off the most accessible side. Who knows. I just think it’s all a bit mean. Like how could they be certain he’d brush himself off and be OK with everything? They pushed him to the brink of mental collapse, to the point he imitated his own father’s method of suicide! Happy birthday, Michael Douglas!

  24. Jareth Cutestory

    July 7th, 2010 at 8:09 am

    Gwai Lo: I like your point about Douglas brushing the whole thing off. Unless, of course, THE GAME is a prequel to FALLING DOWN. Then we see the sad result of all those macho head games.

  25. Also, how did they know he wouldn’t get mugged, killed and dumped in a ditch while working his way back from Mexico(wouldn’t they have have to illegally smuggled him over the border to leave him there as well)? And just because that gun was filled with blanks doesn’t mean it wasn’t still dangerous. Supposing it went off while he was waving it in someone’s face, such as the guy who tries to carjack him? Not to mention he could have tried to kill himself by just shooting himself in the head rather than jumping.
    Despite all those questions, I do like most of THE GAME, though.

  26. Come on hollywood, take out all the interesting parts and just make another boring movie full of cliches!! We are waiting for you!!

  27. I really enjoyed The Game, far fetched though it may be, I thought it was a really well done thriller with some pretty creepy moments (like when everyone leaves the “hospital”)

  28. I get a kick out of the Game. It’s amazing to think that there exists a studio movie where the main character is driven to hurl himself off the top of a building, and this then leads to an unbelievably happy and upbeat ending.

  29. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is the most glossy, ugly, pointless and drawn-out redux of I Spit on Your Grave ever produced. Discuss.

  30. Brendan – Movie would have been even more ridiculously awesome if Jodie Foster indeed played the niece/daughter whatever part, even though it would have made no sense. Except to her apparently.

    Anyone dissing THE GAME will get my boot up their ass.

    camil – Well there is always SALT.

  31. RRA: You can’t deny that The Game HAS one of thee dumbest endings in movie history. (Maybe even Top 3 dumb) But when you turn off the TV as soon as Michael Douglas jumps, it’s a very good movie.

  32. I never got when people said that about THE GAME… there is no movie without the ending. It’s the perfect ending that brings everything together. Why would you like it better if you chopped off the meaning behind the entire story you just watched? Yes, it’s a far-fetched explanation, but so was anything else you could imagine was happening. You gotta give it a little reality leeway in exchange for emotional perfection.

  33. The particulars of the ending might be absurd, but I agree with Vern that the movie is nothing without it. It’s also interesting for having many of the same themes and motifs as a lot of Fincher’s other work. For one, it has a character attempting suicide, which is how his first four films all ended (I’m counting SEVEN’s suicide-by-cop). The theme of achieving enlightenment via the destruction of self-perceived identity and the tearing away of extraneous societal residue continued in FIGHT CLUB as well, although he seemed to be a lot more ambivalent about it than he was in THE GAME, which was way more “Throw out all your shit and have an adventure and you will be a better man.”

  34. CJ – So was FIGHT CLUB, but I don’t hear anyone complaining about it.

    Within the context of the movie, THE GAME makes sense. Hell I think at one of those dumb AFI tributes they did to Doulgas they did a whole sketch referencing GAME, so its remembered well.

    Of course THE GAME is a thriller, not a realistic one but that’s besides the point. I mean seriously CJ, the rest of the movie is silly if one tries to put on the logical condom before ejaculating. GAME is much more fun bareback riding.

  35. The thing is, that the ending of The Game is a little bit too far fetched to ignore it. It’s like “It was just a dream”. I mean, compare it to the big twist in Fight Club. It’s another ridiculous ending, but a.) it fits the satirical and surreal style of the movie and even more important b.) they found a way to sell it believable (enough) AND as the intense climax of the movie! They didn’t bother with any of that in The Game. They just say: “Well, nothing was real, you are a better man now” and leave it that way.
    It’s a strange thing, but I can’t come up with a justification for an ending like that, doesn’t matter if I turn my brain on or off. Even unrealistic endings must make sense to a degree. Just yesterday I watched an old episode of Get Smart, that ends with Max’s head stuck in a guillotine. Then the villain drops it and we see Max’s headless body suddenly get up and fighting against the villain. After that Max’s real head comes up underneath his shirt and he explains to 99 that it’s “The old inflatable head in the guillotine trick”. Okay, sounds like a typical Get Smart joke, but before this inflatable head got cut off, there was a long scene where Max was stuck in the guillotine, moving and talking like it was really his head (because it was Don Adams’ head, of course). And the point is, it’s just a dumb ending, even if it was just an episode of Get Smart, which is not just a comedy, but also one of the deliberately unrealistic one and lives from crazy, cartoony gadgets. But even my sister and I, who are willing to shrug any kind of illogical stuff in a Get Smart episode off, becaus it is what to expect from Get Smart, agree that this was the lamest thing that ever happened in that show! (And from what I’ve heard, pretty much every other fan agrees.)
    See, just as you can’t pull any crazy shit at the end of Get Smart and justify it with “It’s Get Smart, it’s a cartoony comedy”, you can’t pull any unrealstic shit at the end of a thriller like The Game and justifiy it with: “Everything else in it was a little bit far fetched too.”

  36. Movies only have to make sense within their own established universe. The ending for Game was in line with everything that happened before it. Is it an unrealistic and preposterous ending? Yeah, sure. But so was the whole movie, and so are most movies.

  37. CJ, I think you are talking about a different kind of problem. I don’t think your problem is necessarily that the ending for Game is too far-fetched.

    I think the problem is, as you put it, that it’s “It was just a dream” ending. You feel that the ending for the Game is too much of a cheat, and it negates too much of the story that came before it. Which I think are valid claims.

  38. Tuukka: That, and of course that even with my brain turned off I can’t figure out how they were able to come up with such an exact psychological profile to precisely predict when he would jump from which point on the roof. I’m not the guy who needs anything explained in a movie, but if they had just given us any kind of explaination or at least hints at a back-up plan, in case he jumps from somewhere else or the wind gets too strong and blows him away from the pillow.
    For me is “We knew at every second what you were gonna do, even that you would land right here” a typical “inflatable head in a guillotine”. Too dumb and illogical, even for something that deliberately played with logic before.

  39. Jareth Cutestory

    July 7th, 2010 at 11:19 am

    I agree with Vern about the logic of the ending of THE GAME, but I disagree if he thinks Michael Douglas sold the “emotion” of that ending. In fact, I think it is one of his more smarmy, charmless performances.

    I think the whole trial-by-ordeal-makes-you-a-man thing is silly, but the mechanics of the film make sense, however absurd and overblown they may be in this particular instance.

    Actually, I guess THE GAME is proposing not so much a trial-by-ordeal so much as it is a staged-trial-by-ordeal-for-rich-people’s-amusement. Or something.

    Well shot film, though.

  40. I don’t think the ending of THE GAME is dumb. I thought the issue was that it just takes the established conceit to absurd lengths, not that it’s employing a “it’s all a dream” level deus ex machina. The whole movie basically plays with two possible outcomes: either the company is screwing him over, or they’re taking the concept of a game waaaaay farther than you thought they would. The thrills come from trying to figure out how it’s all going to turn out, and second guessing yourself along the way. But I get the impulse to turn it off once he jumps, because indeed it seems like they could continue to pile on “it’s a game, wait no it’s real, no just kidding it’s a game” into oblivion if the viewer is willing to put up with escalating ridiculousness. You need to be at a certain level of inherent structural cleverness to pull that off. But I don’t think it’s dumb, or that the existing ending colors outside of the lines. It’s just that there will be a subjective line in the sand for certain viewers where the events become to implausible for something that’s supposedly planned.

  41. This is why every comments section is worth reading. Here’s a Swedish movie that I’m not really interested in and yet in the comments section there’s a logical discussion about the The Game (the movie not the rapper) going on. I really like how they take a rich, powerful, always in control guy and strip him of everything that makes him who he is. It’s a self discovery movie wrapped in a awesome thriller. Sometimes we need some adventure. Sometimes we need to be tested and thats what The Game provides.

    Also, the ending rocks. I can buy that they were able to analyze all of the psychological research they did on him to figure out exactly what he would do (I mean, the analyzed hime for entire day). Yeah, if you wanna nitpick, this movie can be torn to shreds but I don’t think it deserves the nitpicking. This also might be the only movie I ever liked Sean Penn in.

  42. Yeah, I thought that psychological analysis they did gave the plot a lot of leeway as well. You can attribute a lot of the “how did they know?” questions to “he got, like, analyzed yo!”

    Where I think the logic strains a bit is what Stu mentioned… situations like crossing a border into Mexico and whatnot that seem like they’d be outside an (admittedly powerful) corporation’s control. Or just the random whims of fate, there was nothing to prevent some freak accident at any stage of the game. But then there are scenes like that one where they go to the apartment and he discovers all the books are fake, that the lamp still has a price tag on it, etc. That show you sometimes the planning looks a bit improvised and they may have just hastily thrown something together. The other slightly tangential thing that comes to mind is a show on TV (probably not on anymore, I wouldn’t know as I don’t have cable) called SCARE TACTICS (I think?). Shannon Doherty hosted. They basically put people in these ridiculous high pressure situations to see how they reacted. But I always wondered… Confront a certain type of person with a bank robber, staging a fake bank robbery with a fake gun etc. What’s to stop that person from breaking the person’s neck in a split second? Or stomping them into marinara sauce? That person would have to live with the guilt, even if they were technically not as responsible for their actions as the stupid TV show that figured it would be funny to confront them with life or death…

  43. Oh and ThomasCrown442 — What about Spicoli?

  44. Jareth Cutestory

    July 7th, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Gwai Lo: Your previous post neatly demonstrates what a thin line it is that a movie like this has to tread; one mis-step and the movie becomes THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO LITTLE.

    Also, The Game (the rapper) has that line “you going to need more than 50 Cent to play this Game,” which would make a really bad tagline for the poster of Fincher’s film. Maybe something from Big Money would be better.

  45. Jareth Cutestory

    July 7th, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Oh and ThomasCrown442 — Penn was the only performance I liked in CARLITO’S WAY.

  46. I think treading that thin line also depends a lot on tone. For example: that scene from NORTH BY NORTHWEST in the UN building, where Cary Grant is talking to the diplomat. The heavy who’s been following him throws a knife into the diplomat’s back, and in a chance bit of rotten luck Cary Grant happens to grab the knife just as everyone turns around to look. Next thing he knows people are snapping pictures, literally catching him red-handed. It’s silly, but Hitchcock just breezes right through and next thing you know the hero is running from aggressive crop dusters and who cares what events led him to such an awesome setpiece? Of course, that whole movie trades in chance and whimsy, Cary Grant is only framed in the first place because he happens to stick his hand up at the exact time someone else’s name is uttered in a restaurant.

  47. Whoa whoa whoa are you guys kidding me? Some of you chaps with a straight face defended Renny Harlin, but Fincher is too ridiculous?

  48. For those who don’t understand the hooplah over this film and say its just a decent mystery with a few great characters… I say that’s exactly the reason for all the hooplah.

    I realize its kinda hard to appreciate the little things when a film has been hyped as much as this one, but characters as great as Lisbeth don’t come along every day. In fact, creating a truly great, unique character is one of the rarest things in all fiction, IMHO. Think Sherlock Holmes, the Dude, Charles Foster Kane, Frank Booth, even Jack Sparrow. Characters who come vividly to life and give us a glimpse into the mind of a character we’ve simply never encountered before. There’s a huge difference between this sort of character and merely good charictarization. Lots of fiction has smartly written, well-drawn characters. Not much fiction has characters as memorable and unique as Lisbeth (and especially, not much fiction has female characters like that). Really, Lisbeth isn’t even a particularly well-developed or realistic character (I mean, in a lot of ways she’s completely pulpy and ill-defined). But what the fuck does that matter when she’s so compelling and simply DIFFERENT from the standard tropes?

    Now, I’ll warrent that without Lisbeth, all thats left is a fairly good mystery with a somewhat overwrought ending. But who cares? The fun is getting to spend time with the character and seeing how she reacts when we put her in different situations. That’s why a lot of these characters (Holmes, for instance) are really what we keep coming back for. It may not seem like much, but it happens surprisingly rarely — and I think when it does, its worth sitting up and taking notice. To their credit, a lot of reviewers and cultural commentators do correctly point out that its the character, not the plot, which really makes this a noteworthy artistic phenomena.

    So, anyway. I think its all pretty great. Could hardly care less about an American remake, though, even if it is Fincher. There’s not much room for story or style improvement over the original except a few quibbles about the end, and Lisabeth/Noomi is such a great combination of role and actress I can only imagine any remake will suffer by comparison. I wish Fincher would put his talent to something which hadn’t already been done so competently.

  49. ThomasCrown442

    July 7th, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Oh yeah, forgot about Spicoli. My hatred of Sean Penn blinded me lol. Spicoli was so long ago though and deviates so much from the characters that he’s played the last 10-15 years, that it’s almost like I don’t even associate Penn with the character. Spicoli is just Spicoli. Besides, when I think about Fast Times at Ridgemont High I think of Phoebe Cates (for obvious reasons). But thanks for the Spicoli reminder. In Carlito’s way, he was good but I can’t say that I liked him in it (if that makes any sense).

    As far as Michael Douglas walking through Mexico, I’d like to think that the corporation was watching him the entire time and if something serioius came up they would’ve stepped in. Then again, there was an attempted carjacking later on. Maybe, the carjacker was an employee of theirs?

  50. Higharolla Kockamamie

    July 7th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Didn’t one of the guys tell Michael Douglas that if he hadn’t jumped he’d have thrown him off the roof? So there was a sort of back-up plan in place, kind of.

  51. Higharolla Kockamamie – I always kind of interpreted that as a joke. But who’s to say they didn’t have landing pads set up on every side? (that kind of ignores the party in progress I guess) Or obstacles on all the other sides that would prevent a jump (like window-washing scaffolding)?

    The funny thing is that Michael Douglas probably saw that he wasn’t going to fall directly onto pavement. Isn’t it just like a rich prick to commit suicide in the showiest way possible. If the landing pad wasn’t there he would have destroyed an expensive glass ceiling and made a mess in someone’s fancy dining hall. Maybe even landed on another person. I don’t think he learned any important lessons about being a better person AT ALL.

  52. Subtlety,

    SPOILERS for those who haven’t seen it.

    Maybe my thing is that while I enjoyed the character of Lisbeth, I don’t think she’s some sort of all time great iconic character that I’ll cherish forever. Granted, I haven’t read the books where presumably the audience gets in her head more, or spends more time with her. But in the film I think she’s sympathetic, reasonably compelling and a little intriguing… but not in any all time classic sense.

    Some of it may be that, while the character is definitely badass (what with her revenge early in the film, or saving Mikael later on), the film focuses, even fetishizes, a lot of cosmetic attributes that didn’t do much for me (She dresses all gothy! She has a tattoo! She’s sexy and bisexual!)

    But more of it may be that I think the filmmakers botched the reveal of her potentially interesting backstory. The prime example I can think of, if I recall correctly (it was a couple months ago when I saw it), there’s something of a flashback reveal of her burning her father alive during the sequence where she lets the killer burn in his car instead of saving him. And the context isn’t explained for a few more scenes. I understand the thematic relevance of Lisbeth’s repeated abuse at the hands of men, how that changed who she was and effects her decision to let the guy burn. But I feel like it might have been more effective if we had learned some of the information earlier. Its presented almost like a plot twist during the final act. That’s great if you’re a Keyser Soze or a Tyler Durden or whatever, and your a tricky little filmmaker who wants the audience to reconsider everything that came before. But if its information crucial to me understanding a character that I’m theoretically supposed to care about, I’d rather not have it presented that way.

    Which isn’t to say I’d have liked it if they spelled it all out in some exposition-heavy scene in the first act. It just would have had more resonance if they revealed it sooner. Or better yet, shelved the flashback stuff entirely and simply implied it clearly enough that the audience could fill in the blanks.

    Which maybe gets at my problems with the last act of the film. Once they caught the killer, the movie kind of deflated for me, and I was left watching a bunch of subplots that I wasn’t as curious about tie themselves up. Especially Lisbeth’s absurdly pat and overly explained conclusion (I think we all knew who took the money, did we really need the gratuitous shots of the security cam footage?) It glosses over all the darkness of the character; I guess her deep seated issues stemming from her life of abuse and turmoil are resolved because she’s rich now!

  53. Dan — I definitely see what you’re saying about the fetishization of some of Lisabeth’s more silly, extreme icons and traits. But the thing I loved about her what that she ends up being more than a collection of those tropes (we’ve seen tons of waifish, gothy hackers in other films). Lisabeth’s character isn’t just a collection of badass female cosmetics, but a complex and quite uniquely realized character. She’s badass, but also deeply damaged. She is brazen, but can also be quite shy and even sensetive (take a look at the expression on her face when Mikael confronts her at her apartment for the first time. She is genuinely thrown off to see this guy, and almost embarassed. She doesn’t know what to do with him at all — she’s not afraid of him, she just has no idea how to handle this weird human situation. The film is full of little details like that which make her a really great an unique character. Even the rape-revenge angle is full of little complexities. Sure, she eventually gets the upper hand, but we can also pretty plainly see that this isn’t something she’s just going to be able to shrug off.

    To me, the whole nazi murders thing is basically a subplot, and the main point of the story is Lisabeth letting someone into her life a little. She’s been completely in control of their relationship (since she’s been watching him) and carefully avoids any other human contact which she can’t be completely in control of. With Mikael, she very slightly allows the balance of power to shift to something a little more even over the course of the film, allowing a little of her humanity to rise to the surface again in the process. That’s the uniqueness, and the care and sensetivity with which it happens set the character and the story apart from the pack in a way which I think you can see a lot of people are responding too right now.

    On the other hand, I agree completely that the reveal of her backstory is handled kind of awkwardly — we don’t really find out enough to add much to what we can already guess, and revealing it like a twist while still not really giving us any specifics seems kind of pointless. Even more pointless is the pat ending — you’re 100% correct that it should have ended with Lisbeth visiting Mikael in jail. The whole story between them had already been told at that point and none of the MacGuffin stuff needed to be resolved. Even so, it felt to me like small potatoes when faced with a character so engrossing.

  54. Jareth Cutestory

    July 7th, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Mr. Sublety: I’m guessing you haven’t seen THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES.

  55. Subtlety,

    Okay, I can see where you’re coming from. I actually liked the movie quite a bit (enough so that I’m hoping to catch the sequel when it comes to DC this weekend), so if and when I watch it again some day, I’ll focus a little less on the story and more on the characters. I thought the characters were very well done, but perhaps I’m underrated the extent to which the film delves in.

    For now though, I’d just rank it as an excellent crime/thriller/mystery type movie (let’s call it 3 1/2 out of 4), but not an all time classic.

    Perhaps it suffered because I saw it in close proximity to another foreign arthouse mystery/thriller/drama that I think is a modern classic and felt really DID have an indelible, unforgettable lead character: Bong Joon-Ho’s MOTHER, which I wish had the fervent following that DRAGON TATTOO has.

  56. MOTHER is sooooo fucking good.

  57. In a sort-of related topic, I’ve been really enjoying the Swedish TV cop Wallander on BBC 4 in the UK (not the Kenneth Branagh one, the Krister Henricksen(sp) one). Sweden seems pretty downbeat and low keay and it’s all really subtly acted. Them Swedes are a fatalistic bunch, though.

  58. Jareth — sadly, I haven’t, though its on my list. I actually went to see DRAGON TATOO early, figuring that it would be gone before SECRET. That, ah, did not turn out to be the case. What’s the connection?

    Dan — I’ve heard PLAYED WITH FIRE is not as good, which would be a shame, but its made the reviews I’ve read seem to focus a little more on the fact that the characters are the main attraction, which I felt all along. I’ll pretty much always enjoy watching them do their thing, regardless of the story.

  59. Wallander part 3 is good enough to have made me completely re-evaluate Kenneth Branagh, for whom I no longer had any hope. Jesus that scene with his daughter after you-know-what kicks ass.

    DRAGON TATTOO will not benefit from U.S.isation: we’ll end up with a car chase through busy streets, crashing into carts and patio furniture. We’ll end up with two or three shoot-outs with automatic weapons. We’ll end up with the journalist being some kind of ex-cop/CIA/FBI agent with martial arts training. We will *never* – ever! – see either scenes in the P.O.’s apt: the very soul of Lisbeth’s character is bared in those two moments.

    They’ll cast Shia Leboeuf as the journo and JUNO as the girl cause, you know, she was in HARD CANDY.

    And it’ll be PG13. Mark my words.

    I can only hope the Swedes make the next two books.

  60. The weird thing about Hollywood remaking this one is that it’s already so accessible. I mean, except for the rape scene I just don’t know what part of it they feel is so inaccessible to US audiences. Is it just the language barrier? Do they really think there are tons of people who would have gone to see it but decided to boycott it because it wasn’t in English?

  61. Yeah, I don’t agree with SirVincelot that Fincher & co are going to throw in a bunch of shoot outs and shit. The whole reason that they want to remake it here is because the book have built up such a following… and if there is one thing book fans are obsessive about, it’s fidelity to the source material. Especially in this age of nerd fueled obsessiveness.

    Frankly, I’d rather them make drastic changes for the American version, as I’ve already seen the Swedish version and don’t know if I care to see the same exact film done twice. But mark my words, the filmmakers are going to hew fairly close to the source.

  62. Jareth Cutestory

    July 10th, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Mr. Subtlety: I agree with you; for a European production, they seemed to have gone out of their way to construct the film in an American idiom. My local indie newspaper described DRAGON TATTOO as “the kind of film Ingmar Bergman would have made if forced to do so at gunpoint by Dino de Laurentis.” That about says it all.

    The reason I mentioned THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES is because it is a far superior popular thriller, with more heart and brains, and made with more skill. Also, the female protagonist embodies many of the qualities you identify in Tattoo Girl upthread, but Soledad Villamil’s performance takes an entirely quieter, and in my opinion more successful, route.

    It’s probably better you saw DRAGON TATTOO first; seeing THE SECRET a week before TATTOO completely ruined TATTOO for me.

    SirVince: The second book was made into a tv series in Sweden; the movie version was released here in Toronto yesterday to middling reviews.

  63. Sir Vincealot: The Swedes already DID the other two books. Part three has just started here in theatres and part 2 just came out on DVD. And from what I’ve heard, they also edited the whole trilogy to a TV series, where every part is an extended 3 hours version, split into each 90 minutes.


    Indeed. I’m watching Part2 in a few moments and Part3 is on its way to me, as is book 1.

    I’m a happy mofo. As for Fincher: he will NOT make the film(s).

    Now do I know this? Well, I don’t. What I *do* know is that the studio bean counters will do what they do best and market-research the hell out of this thing, learning that their target audience made up of a LOT of teenage girls.

    At which point they will request a PG13 movie.

    At which point Fincher will lose interest and step down as director (but probably keep his name in there for publicity purpose). At which point . . .

    . . . I’m already past caring; see above.

  65. I like to think Fincher is just going to sit on it so no one else can remake it and will then abandon it at an opportune time. It’s weird they’re even remaking it, it seems to have crossed the threshold into popular consciousness in a way that most foreign films can’t manage. It’s been playing steadily in my city since April, and the second one just came out yesterday so I expect it will have similar legs. They also seem to have made an effort to market these movies in a way that might trick the subtitle-averse into the theater. The trailers have no dialogue/subtitles, just Movie Voice Guy doing his usual routine.

  66. Subtlety et al.,

    So’s I saw GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE over the weekend, and though reasonably enjoyable, I have to join the choir that it’s a significant step down from the original. For one, the new director doesn’t seem nearly as slick as the original’s. He moves the film along at a brisk pace (maybe too much so), so interested never flags, and a few well crafted suspense sequences, but then also some weirdly mishandled parts (like an awkwardly shot fight sequence between one of the main villains and two kickboxers who barely figure into the plot… a strange tangent in a movie that seems to cut out the rest of the fat). Like everyone else, I agree that the mystery is interesting enough, but unsatisfying and anticlimactic, with the whole thing feeling like little more than setup for the third film.

    The reason I wanted to mention the film here is because of the general consensus, and Mr. Subtlety’s comments in particular, about how the best part of the first film were the characters. I’m curious, if and when he sees the film, if that element is enough to keep him on board for this one. On the one hand, there’s more than enough Lisbeth material; they deepen her back story, and she’s involved in all sorts of action/excitement/etc in this on. On the other hand, Mikael is ineffectual to the point of obsolescence this time. He is involved in none of the action/thrills, his character is not further developed in any way, he helps unravel the mystery somewhat but comes off as little more than a delivery system for exposition. There’s no reason he should be a main character in this story, except for the fact that he was in the last film.

    Worse, and you can consider this a SPOILER I guess, Mikael and Lisbeth spend the entire movie apart, and with the exception of a few e-mail exchanges during the film, don’t meet up again until literally the final scene. So there are no further developments in their relationship, despite the fact that it was presumably the most interesting part of the first film.

    I reckon that some of this might work better once HORNET’S NEST comes out, considering how FIRE often seems like little more than prelude to a bigger story. So maybe once I’ve seen that one, this will just feel like the first half of a longer, better story.

  67. Dan — I was kinda worried about that. It sounds like the PIRATES films in a way… they’ve got a truly great character in the form of Depp’s Sparrow, and then after integrating him organically into the first film they cram him into this huge convoluted story with a cast of thousands for the second one, when all anyone really wants to see is Depp fucking around.

    I always thought it was kinda a shame that the X-files ended up being all about Mulder — not just that he was the protagonist, but then it ends up the whole plot is about his father, they need his DNA, the smoking man is related to him, his baby may or may not be the Christ child, blah blah blah (X-files spoilers). I mean, it’s not like it wasn’t enough that he just had amazing adventures — why’s everyone have to end up being the chosen one, you know? I was likewise dissapointed that they took this route with Lisbeth. She’s awesome as she is, just a unique, damaged badass going around solving mysteries with her Watson-esque sidekick/partner. Why you gotta go and make the whole thing personal and have her be the center of some cornball Davici code, break up the team, have this big convoluted escalation when I’da happily watched her and Mikael solve murder mysteries for the next 6 movies? I think the critics have done a pretty decent job of identifying the characters as the heart of the series — Im somewhat less sure their creator did.

    On the other hand, I ain’t seen it yet, so maybe all will be forgiven. Unfortunately, I still need to see SOUTH OF THE BORDER, WINTER BONE, TOY STORY 3, PREDTAORS, SECRET IS IN THEIR EYES and ONDINE before I get back to Lisbeth. Hopefully it lasts as long in theaters as the first one, or I get to the theater more often.

  68. WINTER’S BONE is phenomenal, FYI, and PLAYED WITH FIRE could probably wait for DVD. So you’re making the right call.

  69. Well, ended up seeing ONDINE first on the list. I have a terrible soft spot for Neil Jordan and always make a point of seeing his films in the theater, since I appear to be the last person on Earth still interested (a point bourne out by the fact that I was literally sitting alone in an empty theater).

    Its a small little film but kind of an interesting one the more I think about it. It has virtually all the most grating ingredients of a cheesy rom-com (precocious child, ridiculously attractive mystery woman, hunky but down-on-his-luck male lead, major pop song featured, scenic local color) but the particulars of the script actually end up justifying all these things so neatly that it almost seems like a kind of cute excersize to see if a real filmmaker can take every single cliche in the genre and make them believable again. Colin Ferrell continues his streak of noticably fantastic performances, this time turning the hunky lead into a real unique little portrait. He’s awkward and weird, half-shouting and half-mumbling, his eyes darting about constantly and always seeming on the verge of total panic. At first it seems like he’s trying to just conjure some indie cred, but as the story unfolds everything that seems forced about it begins to make more sense. It’s pretty nice.

    On the other hand, the whole enterprise just seems so slight that I can hardly demand anyone rush to the theater except Neil fans (that’s Neil Jordan, obviously) and Indie Irish Magical Dramedy Completists. It’s a nice bit of filmmaking (despite stumbling slightly at the end, when it tries to milk a dramatic climax out of a minor subplot) filled with the subtle touches only a master like Jordan would think of, but let’s see a little more ambition next time, fellah.

  70. Subtlety,

    I can’t justify going to see it with all the other stuff out I haven’t caught yet… I didn’t even know Neil Jordan had a new mvoie out until you mentioned it. But I will save it on my Netflix queue.

    Jordan is, in my opinion, terribly inconsistent, but when he’s on, he’s on, and both THE CRYING GAME and BREAKFAST ON PLUTO are fantastic movies. So I guess what I’m saying is that I love Jordan when he makes movies about trannies.

    Even though it doesn’t have any cross-dressers, would you say ONDINE is similar to those films in any way?

  71. Dan — can’t deny that Jordan’s had a few that simply didn’t work, but I’m thrilled to hear someone besides me thought BREAKFAST ON PLUTO was fantastic. ONDINE is nowhere near as good as that one and not up there with his best (BUTCHER BOY, MONA LISA, CRYING GAME) but closer to THE GOOD THEIF in that it’s a small, unambitious but impeccably made film with strong performances and a deft balance between sharp-eyed realism and pure hollywood cheese.

    Though it doesn’t have any cross-dressers, it does have a great deal of Jordan’s trademark sensuality. There’s an extremely… memorable… scene where Alicja Bachleda emerges from the ocean after swimming in a thin green dress. Its cool because it’s not blatantly sexualized like an American filmmaker would do… in fact, there’s no men around to appreciate it. It’s just sensual. Jordan’s camera is obviously in awe of her beauty, but its sort of unabashed about it and doesn’t feel the need to do much more than observe the interplay between her body and the fabric and the light. Jordan’s a pro, but its the little things like this that reveal his discipline and mastery of the craft.

  72. Jareth — OK, went out and saw SECRET as per your suggestion and jesus fucking christ, thats a damn fantastic creation. The scene at the stadium is the single most impressive film sequence I can remember since CHILDREN OF MEN, worth the price of admission (7 bucks — student thursday, bitches!) by itself. It’s pretty much note-perfect.

    HOWEVER, even after seeing it, I’m still willing to defend Lisbeth as a classic character. Here’s the thing: she’s nowhere near as real, multi-faceted, and complex as the characters in SECRET. It’s a different thing altogether. Classic characters are usually a little larger-than-life, more fantasty than reality. Classic characters are broad but they’re compelling because they engage us on a sort of mythic level– they represent not people, but extreme states of being. Complex, realistic characters are about story– classic characters are about personality. That’s why while I’d happily watch just about any story with Lisbeth, I don’t particularly care to see the continuing adventures of Esposito, Morales, Sandoval, and company (well, maybe Sandoval. But then again, you see he is kind of an extreme character). Sherlock Holmes, Captain Nemo, Don Corleone, Jon McClane, Jack Sparrow… not a single realistic character in the lot. But they’re classic because they appeal to us as archytipical heros, not ordinary slobs. They’re unique and offer us some new perspective on what we can imagine and dream for ourselves. It takes an unusual imagination to give us something compelling enough and unique enough that we find new ways of imagining ourselves, of transposing our greatest fears and desires… and I would argue that Stieg Larsson gave us that with Lisbeth (a particularly notable achievement since women are so shamefully poorly represented in this catagory).

    Which is not to say that DRAGON TATOO is anywhere near as good a film as SECRET. It ain’t. But I’m willing to bet that years from now, people will still remember Lisbeth when they’ve fogotten the details of the much better SECRET. And I don’t necessarily consider that to be a terrible injustice — just an excuse to revisit an excellent film and add another entry to the classic movie characters pantheon.

  73. Jareth Cutestory

    July 19th, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Mr. Subtlety: I have a better idea now what you mean when you talk about “classic” characters. The Jack Sparrow comparison helps. I guess I was confusing strong, complex characters like Clarice Starling or Ilsa Lund with something more iconic, like Annie Hall or Norma Desmond. It’s not that the latter characters aren’t complex, it’s just that they’re firmly and deliberately situated in the language of cinema, and as such become enmeshed with our dreams and fantasies, while the former characters exist in the more modest concept of the director’s idea of the real world. Or something like that.

    As for SECRET IN THEIR EYES, I’ll copy my comments from the JAWS thread below. But don’t tell AU ARMAGEDDON; he hates that shit.

    – deft handling of unreliable narration; the film undercuts Espósito’s motives for writing his book in a purely visual way, without the big dumb expository scene you’d find in almost any other Oscar winner.

    – the tension between the two timelines in the film has some powerful stuff to communicate about the possibility of knowing the truth about anything.

    – the way the script refuses to explicitly mention the 1974 coup and its resulting brutality, but hints at it throughout the film, creates a really ominous atmosphere, and the way this teases out a bleak message about the effectiveness of law is really skillfully done.

    – Soledad Villamil’s facial expressions are sublime.

  74. Yes, very good movie. Saw it over a year ago and have been trying to figure out why everyone is only talking about it now. The 2nd movie is pretty good too, not as good as the first. Had to abort the 3rd because the subtitles sucked too much.

  75. Here are some great swedish thrillers (actually theya are pretty actionpacked!). A trilogy of movies that centers around a rogue cop named Johan Falk waging a on-man war (more or less) against different forms of organized crime.
    Here are the trailers for the movies in the order they are meant to be seen

    ZERO TOLERANCE; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T09oFnucXgE (this is a german trailer, by the way)

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000EHK734?associateTag=gametraidata-20&camp=0&creative=0&linkCode=bn1 (ok, fuck!couldn´t find a trailer for this asskicking movie. it´s cool, it´s kind of like SEVEN SAMURAI a little bit but here is the product description on amazon.com)

    THE THIRD WAVE:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqOADLQl3yo

    An interesting note, the director of these movies were taught by Mats Helge Olsson,Swedens Roger Corman and the director of the cult classic NINJA MISSION, a very bad movie.But fun in it´s silly way.
    I can recommend you guys giving them atry. They are not what you expect from Swedish cinema.

  76. There’s also six television movies with the hero from these three (Johan Falk), and they’re all worth checking out.

  77. Yeah,but it´s the first three movies about Johan Falk that newcomers should start with since characters from the first movies will reoccur in later ones. So it´s good to see them fromthe beginning. The television movies suffers from being hastly produced.That said they are not bad at all and.

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  80. Having seen both the Swedish movie, which was worth a watch, and now the Fincher Swedish-accented movie, I still don’t know why I’m supposed to care about this evil Nazi rapey incestuous mystery, which remains muddled, thin, and artificial. The story’s popularity & draw bewilders me. Maybe I’m stupid, maybe I’m not in on the cinema zeitgeist of this one, b/c I can barely keep up with all the names & old photos & family back history in these movies, and I damn sure ain’t excited to see scenes of breathless library research & web browsing.

    One compliment I have for the remake is that we see more clearly the dawn of Lisbeth’s superheroinism — she can literally do anything with a laptop or similar mobile device, even if it’s never plugged into an outlet, even if she’s at a remote island cabin where the best US Army 18E would have trouble setting up wi-fi. She could even teach that nerd (Justin Long) in DIE HARD 4 a thing or 2, and that’s saying something.

    Fincher’s movie’s sound design & editing is excellent. I’m glad the old music video director was unleashed for the opening credits, a fine sequence. Trent Reznor & the music guys do great things, and the shot of Lisbeth’s first use of the taser is hauntingly delicious for one’s ears to behold.

  81. “One compliment I have for the remake is that we see more clearly the dawn of Lisbeth’s superheroinism — she can literally do anything with a laptop or similar mobile device, even if it’s never plugged into an outlet, even if she’s at a remote island cabin where the best US Army 18E would have trouble setting up wi-fi.”
    I think it’s reasonable to assume they’re set up for internet access on that island since it’s home to a number of corporate executives, including a CEO who as far as I can tell works entirely from home.

  82. I’m referring more to her being a one-woman PATRIOT Act overreacher.

    She controls bank accounts, ghost-reads e-mails in real time, performs forgery & embezzlement across international borders effortlessly, hooks up a multi-camera security apparatus presumably on a different frequency than any of the estate’s online capabilities, etc..

  83. Oh yeah, I almost forgot the most frustrating thing — at the very end

    SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER for something that happens at the end of a mystery-thriller SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

    — offscreen she somehow bypasses a rather elaborate, seemingly well-secured series of keycard or password entry points to the guy’s basement lair. He doesn’t hear her, and I guess this means either she’s brilliantly hacked his security or it means he left all his doors open en route to his basement, which seems odd for a guy who’s been meticulously leading a double- or triple-life and getting away with murder & torture & rape for decades.

  84. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    January 5th, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    “In my opinion Lisbeth Salander is a better female detective character than even Jessica Fletcher.”


    I’ve seen her in “The Manchurian Candidate”. She would eat you for breakfast, spit out your bones, and use your sinews for dental floss.

    Anyway… haven’t seen this film but will do so at some point. It’s probably not going to be as good as the Fincher version (actually, that one twelve-word phrase pretty much defines the term “redundant”) but I enjoyed the books – I agree with Mouth to a point, but then this is pure good vs. evil fantasy of the most black-and-white kind, you either dig it or you don’t – and could definitely enjoy a third dose of this one.

  85. I imagine the books do a better job of describing & including in a non-perfunctory way & making interesting the unfortunate narrative sequences that are nothing but sifting through old library materials and investigating stuff online and watching perfectly conveniently timed, apt television news segments.

    Call me crazy, but googling & tersely asserting authority over an indignant librarian & watching fuzzy photo slideshows do not make for exciting cinema to me.

  86. Mouth, I’m right there with you. Boring mystery all exposition. And the thematic connection… So she’s raped, and then she solves a mystery about rape. That’s lazy.

    It’s not even a cyber thriller. She does research. Long sections of looking through library stacks. Not even as exciting as those old microfiche scenes in old mysteries.

  87. The director of this is doing a film with Noomi and Colin Farrell, and if IMDB is to be believed it’s being distributed by…(wait for it)…WWE Films.

  88. WTF, man? Apparently even spambots slack off during the four-day Thanksgiving weekend.

    That pitiful missive should’ve read something more like this:

    “Your resplendent blog has ensured that we may offer inordinate fornication for movie fandom nerds who cannot afford our affordably priced phantom athletic shoes, now yours for shopping pleasure and limited time attention span enjoyment”.

    Seriously, how hard is it to master that “All your base are belong to us” gibberish that characterizes the more diligent spambots? Fucking amateurs.

    I AM the unsponsored spambot adversary all up in this mug, and I WILL bust up on all of you, one at a time, every time.

    That said— Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

    I AM the unsponsored spambot thwarter all up in this mug, and I WILL fuck each & every one of you in turn

  89. Amazing Larry – be kind to the spambots. They need love too.

  90. Paul— I cannot, in good conscience, argue with your sense of compassion.

    Still, how cool would it be if a spambot showed up with a Haley Joel Osment (as David from A.I.) gravatar? Oh, SNAP!

  91. Dammit again:

    Michael Nyqvist, 'Dragon Tattoo' Star, Dies at 56

    The Swedish actor also starred in 'John Wick' and 'Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol.'

  92. Yeah wait, what the hell? I literally just finished a movie on Netflix called I.T. which is basically a glorified Lifetime thriller with Pierce Brosnan. (They should have just called it “The I.T. guy from Hell”) Nyqvist has a small supporting role and he’s absolutely fantastic – easily the best thing about the movie and I actually thought “well, that movie wasn’t great but I’d totally watch a spinoff about Nyqvist’s character”.

    I didn’t really care for his villains in MI:4 and Abduction, but a rewatch of John Wick really made me appreciate his interesting performance there. There’s usually only a handful of ways you can play a main villain in a movie like this – maybe badass, maybe cowardly, maybe sympathetic. Nyqvist tries a combination of all the above and somehow made something new. He was surprisingly my favorite part of my John Wick rewatch, and it’s a shame he can’t grace us with any more performances like this. RIP.

  93. Oh shit that is a celebrity death that is one to be sad about.

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