a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Snow storm’

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!

The Blizzard of 2010, Scary stuff on the Great WHITE Way!

And how did I a native New Yorker cope? Well, as you all know, who’ve read the previous post I went to see a Broadway show! “Lombardi” and amazingly the audience turned up, all Football fans, seemingly, as I described previously, and also amazingly the stars turned up too!

All the lights were ON on Broadway last night and today now that the heaviest snowfall I’ve ever been trapped in is over, the shows that are scheduled for Monday night performances will all go on as planned. All the stars must live within walking distance is all I can say.

It was snowing so heavily and the wind was so high I was literally blown down into the subway when I was first attempting to go out to see “Lombardi” last night. I staggered up to the nearest bus stop with a scarf wrapped around my head, but there was NO BUS or any traffic at all for that matter in sight, so I continued staggering this way and that, nearly being blown down by the gale force wind, and into the nice warm subway.

I have never felt the subways were so welcoming IN MY LIFE. But first I had to negotiate the snow-ladden steps.

There was a subway worker below me,  shoveling the steps like crazy, but this particular station had three flights going down. I guess most do now that I am counting subway flights and I could see the two lower flights, enclosed as they were by the subway station itself, were pretty clear.

I was going so slowly taking only one step at a time that a man offered to help me.  And he said, “Do you need help getting down, sir?”

I was astonished that I looked so shaky that I needed help, but also was surprised that he said “Sir” and not “Ma’am” as that’s what I usually get when I’m all bundled up and with a scarf wrapped around my head!

The subway came right away and it was pleasantly, if not almost tropically warm. It was jammed though and I couldn’t get a seat. People must have been waiting a long time for this one. But since it came almost right away, I didn’t mind.

Getting off, getting out and getting UP the subway steps was much easier and faster and now I could see above me that the storm had increased ferociously even though I had been underground for a very short time.

I left the house at 6pm for a 7pm curtain and boy, was I glad I did! Since the subway had come so quickly, I got there in a very timely fashion. It was hell crossing the street to the Circle in the Square theater and I wondered if indeed there was going to be a performance that night. I didn’t call ahead to check.

But the TV news shows said that all the shows on Broadway were open tonight, so I assumed “Lombardi” was, too.

And indeed it was. The lobby was not exactly packed, but it was quite full and I managed to find a seat on a lobby radiator to sit down on before the house opened. It seemed like everyone who had bought  a ticket before this monster storm happened had indeed turned up.

Then once ensconced inside, it was all business as usual, except for the rather stunned, credulous expressions on most audience members’ faces. Like they were as surprised as I was that we had all gotten out in a BLIZZARD to see a Broadway show! But we did!

And the show did go on with the entire star-studded cast intact and performing their hearts out!

See previous post~

Ah! The delights and dangers of being a dedicated New York theater-goer! Ah, Broadway! Ah, Wilderness!

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