a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Daniel Craig’

Oscar Nomination Voting Closes! They BETTER nominate Samuel L.Jackson! Supp. Actor Predix!


“Bourne Legacy” I Go Back Into a Movie House.

Yes, yes, I finally am conquering my fears of being in a big ole movie house and I returned to the cinema, AMC’s Lincoln Square, the one of the biggest movie complexes in NYC and I saw, much to my great surprise, “The Bourne Legacy” and even more surprising, I liked it!

I have been resisting the impulse to return to a public movie house since the tragedy in Colorado. ANOTHER one….And yes, for a while, a short while to some, but not to a film critic, I overcame my fear, and returned. And yes, things have changed.

Two policemen next to the press desk. Burly body-guard types checking bags more thoroughly, it seemed, than before. Taking people’s cell phones. But this was an all media screening, and except for the policemen, it was usual procedure.

Not having a cell phone, I just breezed on through and got an aisle seat. But I found myself checking the emergency exits as I sat there and waited and waited for the film to begin. And when it finally DID begin, I actually enjoyed it!

“The Bourne Legacy” was not my cup of tea, but I came out really quite thrilled and was totally engrossed in this terrific, highly paced, very well done actioner, starring Jeremy Renner now as Aaron Cross. No Matt Damon. He’s referred to obliquely, but not seen, except in passport file photos. And the stupendous Rachel Weisz, proves she’s just as much an action hero as her husband James Bond, Daniel Craig, of course. This film reveals that the duo have more in common than I ever imagined.

You can totally see them kicking ass together and foiling arch-villains in their future in tandem. And I was enjoying it so much, it took me totally by surprise, that I forgot whatever fears had kept me away from seeing anything in the past few weeks.

I love movies. I still love movies, and I am still capable of having them overwhelm me and absorb me, and RELAX me, in the most unexpected ways. “Bourne Legacy” really has it all, and Jeremy Renner, whom I’ve interviewed really comes through, once again, as simply somebody you care about. He brings to the “Bourne” franchise the same relatability that he brought to “The Hurt Locker.” He involves you. He’s not the handsomest movie star ever, but boy can those huge baby blue eyes pull you in. And Rachel Weisz! She kicks ass and karate chops and runs like a demon with the best of them. And the two of them together! POWERHOUSE! A new screen POWER COUPLE! And they rocked and owned “The Bourne Legacy” totally.
And I was very glad they did.

Oscar on its’ way to being “Tattoo”-ed? Fincher’s GREAT re-do nails it!

I can’t begin to tell you what a wonderful experience it was to be soooo totally surprised, stupefied and blind-sided, and deee-lighted to be so, by David Fincher’s re-do of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” I’m kinda hog-wild about it. I think it’s an instant classic.

Shocked that material I knew so well ~ I saw all three Swedish movies and read all three blockbuster books and was totally entranced by all of them, and I  could not BELIEVE that a director whose work has been so notoriously uneven, really could re-invent, in a completely NEW, a startling way, a movie we’ve actually already seen. As recently as last year. Which is when I caught up with it.

I mean, really! Quelle shock! Quelle surprise! And how wonderful to suddenly see David Fincher turn into Alfred Hitchcock, in all of the best possible ways. I mean, Fincher has really done the IMPOSSIBLE. He re-thought and re-shot a re-make and made it all utterly, entirely entertaining.engrossing and WATCHABLE. All nearly three hours of it! Yes, it’s that long, dear readers, dear cineastes.

Fincher wants you to go through an epic, an ORDEAL, as his Viking goddess, Lisbeth Salander, becomes a true immortal Norse Mythological Heroine in his hands, and in Rooney Mara’s equally stunning performance ~ It’s a SAGA! An Icelandic SAGA! Or in this case Swedish.

Lisbeth Salander is  on par with Brunnhilde, these days. But, oh wait! That’s German! But yes, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” has that on its’ mind, too. Nazis. And there’s a lot of them. And they populate Sweden and esp. this film (and the book, too. No Fincher didn’t ADD them. But he did ad a cat… )

And there’s a LOT of Swedish politics and rage against the supposedly perfect Swedish social machine. Where corruption exists on all levels, mostly high, but mid-range, too, as exemplified by the beaurocrat Bjurman(a really slimy pig of a politico played here Yorick Van Wageningen.) His rape of Salander jump-starts the film into hyper-space, if the film’s opening five minutes of INCREDIBLY dark and oily, inky black  titles  with pounding music by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, that turn into blood and then into fire, didn’t already blow you there.  I don’t ever remember Opening titles getting applause!

How DID he do this???

Welllll, there is a biiiiiig difference between a $15 million budget which is what all THREE Swedish films had, and the something upwards of $150 milllion that this “Tattoo” was inked with.

Quelle difference! But it’s not just the money. It’s how Fincher USED the money, wisely. It’s superbly shot in a de-saturated, almost black and white tone, by his great cinematographer, who makes Sweden look black and BLUE.  There are snowscapes upon snowscapes of incredible beauty. Some thing the original Swedish version directed by Niels Arden Oplev did NOT do.

Oplev’s Stockholm looked glamorous, beautiful, colorful, intriguing, inviting. It made you want to go there. It was a celebration of Stockholm. It was if we’d never seen it before. Oplev WANTED you to go there.

There is no color whatsoever in Fincher’s version. It’s all chilly, foreboding, FREEZING. Everything seems like it’s happening in a new Ice Age. And he’s more interested in frightening the living daylights out of you by the winter gloom. It’s as though the two “Tattoos” were filmed in two totally different cities. One you’d want to go to and one you wanted to run from.

And there is a LOT of darkness in Lisbeth Salander’s world, the world that Steig Larsson created for her. It’s a Nordic vision of hell, and it’s so rotten you can also smell the stench of decaying souls. Lisbeth’s last scene takes place, metaphorically, next to a dumpster, as once again, it’s snowing.

And the suspense! Not since Hitchcock, as I said. My hero. He was the greatest of great filmmakers IMHO. And that Fincher is able to sustain this for NEARLY three hours is absolutely astonishing.

There are SOME bright lights shining in this land of the midnight sun, and it’s all in the casting. The excellent ensemble boasts a rubicund Christopher Plummer as the rich guy who hires the down-on-his-luck Blomkvist. And Blomkvist is magnificently played by none-other than James Bond himself, Daniel Craig. He’s the hero and we all know it. And a helluva nice guy. A journalist who’s a crusader against corruption in all forms, Henrik Vanger (no, not WAGNER, but you get the drift) hires the hapless Blomkvist to track down the disappearance many years prior of a beloved neice, Harriet.

Add a perfectly cast Robin Wright, Stellan Skarsgard and Joely Richardson, who’s never been better and you’ve yourself got a superb group of players. Down to the smallest bit part, Fincher has assembled a great, an historic ensemble of actor’s actors. One of the best ever for his kind of thriller-diller shockeroo. But that’s what Hitchcock did, too. He always had THE BEST actors, and by doing so elevated the genre.

That’s ONE plot, the Harriet plot. Then there’s an Agatha Christie-esque mystery-within-the-mystery, which is the real core of the story. THEN there’s the great love story that develops between Blomkvist and Salander and SHE’S definitely the one on top here.

One of the great successes of Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy is his reversal, his up-ending of the usual sexual expectations in a genre like this. And both Mara and Craig are totally up to and under it. They were hot together when their relationship starts to turn carnal. And it does! We suddenly see what is keeping all those Swedish nights so warm!  And like in Ingmar Bergman’s great cinematic ouevre, it was always about the women.

And Lisbeth Salander is one of the great fictional heroines of our time, and Noomi Rapace in the Swedish films did a beautiful, mystifying job. She was as glamorous and intriguing and complicated as the Sweden that was depicted in the previous films.

Rooney Mara has large, almost gigantic blue eyes, They seem to dwarf her completely. Noomi had dark, impenetrable, almost black eyes. What WAS going on behind them in all those intense close-ups of her throughout the first three films?

With Mara’s enormous orbs, we SEE what is going on inside her much, much more clearly, and yes, there is ultimately a vulnerability that Fincher finally reveals in the film’s last scene which was like a cinematic sucker punch.

And Rooney and Oscar? Well, I’ll write more about that tomorrow!

Upcoming! Me & Noomi! And a FOURTH volume of Steig for Xmas!

Newsflash! I’m going to be interviewing the great Swedish actress Noomi Rapace(still don’t know how to pronounce her name, but on Wed. I’ll find out!) who has played the ASTOUNDING, maybe the most ASTOUNDING and original female character, well, perhaps EVAH in the noir genre. She’s captured world-wide attention in the three Steig Larson crime novels, “The Girl With the Snake Tattoo”, “The Girl who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” A.K.A. The Millenial Trilogy.

And as you know, dear readers, dear cineastes, I just saw the “Hornet’s Nest” movie a few weeks ago and was TOTALLY blown away by it! It was my first Lisbeth Salander/Noomi Rapace/Steig Larson encounter, and it’s not going to be my last!

I now am starting at the beginning of the Trilogy with the first book and am totally gripped by it. Lisbeth and the Swedish setting are all so new for a Whodunit, which the first book is turning out to be…In this volume, she’s sort of a sullen coffee girl at a Private Investigator’s office, who quickly works her way up to a Private Eye herself. From seeing the third movie FIRST, who knew? In the third movie, she’s a criminal herself! So it starts with her in a hospital recovering from gunshot wounds to the head and abdomen…How she got from here to there is quite the thrillerdillerchiller ~It’s now becoming clearer and just who and what her relationship is with this writer Mikael and his magazine that she gets herself involved with is!…You do need to read all three books to get the depths and the layers of the plots and the characters he’s laying out…

Starting at the end, I was indeed very confused by the back story, and it really is an epic . A Nordic saga. Sort of a Swedish War and Peace. And there’s plenty more characters that need explication, like for instance the ubiquitous co-lead Michael Blomkvist, who is going to be played in the movie by the great Daniel Craig, and he really is a terrific actor, when challenged -that David Fincher is now currently shooting with Craig and Rooney Mara (“The Social Network”s only woman to make an impact, and she’s TERRIFIC in it!) So Fincher and Rooney are going at it again and how good will these American films be? 

Well, she’s very talented and intense and Fincher’s great with creeped-out atmopherics(“Zodiac”, “Se7en”) but how good will the script be is my question? It always comes down to that.

But at any rate, you will have the REAL Swedish DEAL to relish very, very soon “With the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” AND!

Coming out in time for Christmas, Knopf is issuing a FOURTH volume!

YES! A boxed set containing Essays and Memories and his EMAILS (yes, it’s come to that, friends) with his publishers…Plus the three hardcover novels! What a Christmas present! I’m already reading the manuscript of that fourth volume now. And it’s necessary. Essential reading.

And his untimely death JUST before the books began to be published is one of the most tragic backstories in recent literary history…And makes the whole series even more eerie, scary, disturbing, poignant…As Lisbeth Salander herself is…

More soon on this ongoing literary phenomenon! And why are they re-making it soooo quickly as an American version? Simple answer. It’s a license to print money….

And he never lived to see any of it…It IS a Swedish War and Peace! And fulfills that crazy unsatiated craving for a dark Swedish delight to that left us when Ingmar Bergman died…And now Steig Larson is gone, too! But Lizbeth Salander LIVES!

And could Noomi Rapace be nominated for a Best Actress in a very crowded field. I say, GO FOR IT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMI!

Update! Up til 2 in the morning, not able to put “The Girl with the Snake Tattoo” down! And still trying to figure out how to work with Brave New World called WordPress! The trackback “Noomi Rapace’s Blog” excellent little bio and pic! And my goodness gracious, does she look differnt in the picture!

And she’s worked with R. Gunlaugsson, who is supposed to be one of the most difficult directors in Icelandic film! I know! Cuz I was there doing my show TWICE in the winter of ’99 for Christmas, then again the following June of 2000! Loved it there! So this makes her the most famous female to come out of Iceland since Byork!

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