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Posts tagged ‘Millenium Trilogy’

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!

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Noomi v. Rooney ~ The Dragon Tattoo Battle begins!

With the release of an unusually long trailer for the upcoming American re-make of Steig Larsson’s great “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” various sites on the web have started REVIEWING it AS IT WERE THE WHOLE NEW MOVIE. So I will, too.

You can see it at www.awardsdaily.com It’s on the first page now, but in a very short while it will be page two.

And there was also another “teaser trailer” released(or was it pirated? Or both?) a while back. And that’s somewhere on Awardsdaily, too.

The first trailer was very quick and had a definite throbbing pace and was scored to excite and provoke interest as early as this past summer. It ended with the tags of  “The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas” and “She’s Back” and showed virtually NOTHING of the unknown Rooney Mara’s performance as Lisbeth Salander, one of the greatest female fictional characters ever created.

I’ve read all the books as you dear readers, dear cineastes know. And reviewed them all here in this blog. And even got to have a fantastic interview with Noomi Rapace herself, which is still up on my channel www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

I loved the movies and the books and was overwhelmed and thrilled with Noomi Rapace’s great performance as Lisbeth.

But now comes the American re-make of it. Produced by Sony and directed by David Fincher, who brought you that bummer of a non-movie about the Internet & Facebook, who I still can only refer to as “The Joy of Typing.”

Don’t get me wrong I don’t totally HATE David Fincher, but I did HATE that movie. I really did like his “Zodiac” I saw it twice. And also enjoyed “se7en” quite a few years ago.

And yes, he does seem the right “fit” as a director for this dark crime novel. But the question is – WHY REMAKE IT AT ALL????? Answer – Money.

Noomi Rapace’s performance is an astounding screen performance. And I certainly didn’t think it could be duplicated or surpassed.

And the long-ish, just released trailer just confirms this to me. Rooney Mara’s interpretation of Lisbeth, as it is revealed in this trailer (and yes, it’s JUST  a trailer) was very disappointing to me. She plays Lisbeth as a Swedish accented recalcitrant lesbian. Yes, she’s very, very dyke-like in this trailer.

And Noomi Rapace always exhibited a kind of glamour and sex-appeal despite her outlandish hairstyles and outre garments. And she seemed tough, for sure. But never simply a lesbian.

NOT that I have anything against lesbians! I LOVE THEM! Some of my best friends are. And as I gay man, an out gay man, I am very sensitive to these issues.

And this is going to be one of the big ones come Christmas.

Does Rooney Mara’s interpretation(which is Fincher’s direction all the way) justify or carry a big movie like this one certainly seems to be shaping up as?

Steig Larsson’s millennium Trilogy is an astounding successful literary phenomenon. And the movies were beautiful, haunting. And Noomi was sensational, unforgettable as Lisbeth.

This trailer, which astoundingly gives away A LOT of the movie’s plot, shows her in a very bad light, I feel. She looks anorexic, and while Noomi’s multiple piercings made her look sexy, Rooney’s in the nose, eye-brow and lip make her grotesque, and difficult to watch. And she’s SUCH a dyke that it seems impossible that she is going to be believable in the heterosexual section of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” What they’re left with here, then, is a BIG GAY MOVIE. Which is great. We can’t have enough of them. But I don’t think they realize that’s what they’ve got here. And more importantly I don’t think that’s what the late Stieg Larsson meant.

BUT thank goodness! The plot thickens with the news that Music Box, the original trilogy’s distributors, are going to put out a boxed set of the original Swedish films, PLUS something like two hours of unseen footage. Just in time for Christmas! So we’ll be able to see and own all of those beautiful Swedish movies and see what was cut. You can read all about it at www.indiewire.com in Anne Thompson’s Thompson on Hollywood section.

Noomi evidently has the female lead in the sequel to the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes actioner. Also out around Christmas. So she’s employed.

And don’t tell me her not getting cast in the American remake as the role she made world-famous, Lisbeth Salander, didn’t break her heart. Because I think it did.

But if Rooney Mara’s performance is as weak and enervated and mannish as it seems in the trailer, well, Noomi Rapace may have the last laugh if the film tanks. It looks like it’s going to make money, but is it going to be an Oscar favorite? Judging by this trailer, I don’t think so.

But of course a trailer is not an entire film. We have to wait and see. But since everybody and his brother is reviewing this spoiler-filled trailer as if it WERE the movie, then I just HAD to tell my readers what I thought of it which was…not much.

“King’s Speech” Breaking Box-Office records!

I’m oh so happy to report that the brilliant, moving, unforgettable “King’s Speech” is breaking box-office records this holiday weekend in VERY limited release. Check out just how much, where et alia at www.indiewire.com The inimitable Scott Feinberg also talks about this and many other fabulous things at www.ScottFeinberg.com

He used to call it com.www.And the Winners Is…com

And he’s got an actual Academy member to write about everything Awardsworthy under the name of Deep Voice. It’s a member of the Writer’s Branch and is he cantakerous! But interesting. He thinks for example that “The Kids Are All Right” has got no nominations in its’ future, just Mark Ruffalo!(?!) And I agree that “The Social Network” doesn’t “make you care. It doesn’t move me.” But that nevertheless he’d nominate Justin Timberlake as Best Supporting Actor. That’s TWO nominations in that category, gone, from this guy, who can’t even vote for the Actors UNTIL they are nominated by the Actor’s Branch, come nomination announcing day. He can however nominate WRITERS in the two categories that the Academy has, Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay. EVERYone in all the Branches gets to nominate the Ten Best Pictures… but I digress…

Also this the coming Awards Avalanche week. Tomorrow night is the Gothams, where, probably “A Winter’s Bone” is going to clean up, and then later this week, on Thursday, the National Board of Review is set to announce its’ winners.

Update: It did. It got Best Feature and Best Ensemble, but no Jennifer Lawrence as Breakout Performer, which she was nominated for, but didn’t win. Does this help the film get into the Year’s Ten Best at the Oscars? Hmmm..(Sound of Oscar…thinking…) Hmmm….

The National Board of Review are a New York-based awards-giving group that has a LARGE portion of females in their membership, a rarity in this male-dominated business, believe it or not, and also many, many gay members. More so than most groups.

And judging by that, I’d say “The King’s Speech” is going to sweep. It’ll get Best Picture from them, and Colin Firth will win the first, but not the last of his many, many, much deserved awards that are going to be coming at him like, well, gangbusters. Mixed metaphor? But hey that’s what I do!

Helena Bonham-Carter should also score here where they consider a year’s work not just one performance like the Academy. So HBC should qualify for not just her shy, sly Queen Elizabeth in “The King’s Speech”, but also her mad Red Queen in “Alice in Wonderful” and her 15 min.(or less) turn as Bellatrix La Strange, the witchiest witch who witch there was more of in the latest “Harry Potter.” Now playing…

Best Supporting Actor…I think they are also going to go for Geoffrey Rush, here. And maybe also for Best Director, Tom Hooper. If they go for Hooper over David Fincher(who’s shooting the Milennium Trilogy in Sweden, and may not get back for the ceremonies in Jan. You wouldn’t think this would count against him, but the NBR wants all its’ winners present and accounted for. Yes, they do.)

Best Actress may very well be Natalie Portman, starting her awards march. She, along with Firth, well, the two of them are going to be seeing A LOT of each other as the awards season rolls out like a juggernaut over all our Oscar-filled lives…

Breakthrough Performance by an Actor could be the only award that “The Social Network” wins….Will they give it to New York native Jesse Irritatingberg? They like Native New Yorkers. So that’s what Natalie Portman, from Long Island, has going for her, too.

Or it could be someone else from “The Social Network” Even Justin Timberlake could score here.

I’d be very surprised if Jennifer Lawrence (who totally doesn’t deserve it) will find her week bracketed by awards. First from the Gothams on Monday as Best Breakthrough then by the NBR later this week. She’s got that blonde teenage mojo working…Whether I like it or not…And I don’t…

Update: She didn’t win the BreakOut/Breakthrough category tonight at the Gothams…and with all this hype, she certainly SHOULD have…but the NBR may fall for it…

Best Adapted Screenplay would be the first Aaron Sorkin win and start his line dance to the Podium at the Kodak.

And now they’ve just announced that Anne Hathaway and James Franco are gonna c0-host the Oscars!?!?! Sounds like a big mistake. Also this may eliminate BOTH of them from the race.

Personally, I LOVED “Love and Other Drugs” but it’s a zesty, sexy Rom Com, with a dash of Parksinson’s Disease thrown in…as an Oscar grabber… for Annie, which I don’t think it’s going to be. Rom Com’s almost NEVER rank with the Academy, especially in this crowded year for females!

And can Annie and Jimmy pull off hosting duties? I’m of the mind that yes, SHE can. Annie can do anything. Great inner resources as a performer. Comes from growing up with Mom as a actress and a gay brother. Talk about Drama!

But James is soooo laid back…I keep thinking of him in “Pineapple Express…

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