a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Stockholm’

“Wallander 3” World-Weary & Wonderful on MHz

I have to confess that I am coming late to the Wallander party. Wallander, the character, the novels, the many, many TV films in Swedish and also in BBC English with Kenneth Branagh, no less, is more than a cottage industry. It’s pretty much a world-wide phenomenon.  After the early, tragic death of Swedish author Steig Larsson of the Millennium Trilogy, another Swedish crime novel author has emerged on the Swedish crime stage and  has survived and thrived to 66 . He is Henning Mankell and he has written a mountainous number of books, on Wallander and many other topics,  and is more than taking his place, in Sweden and in the world.

The super-quaint,  little medieval town of Ystaad, where Wallander is set and shot, has become a tourist destination! And Kurt Wallander, his world-weary, potato-like, sad sack of a Swedish detective, is underplayed in this series quite brilliantly by Krister Hendrickson,  and is almost as famous as a Swedish fictional character as Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” anti-heroine to end all anti-heroines.

Wallander (pronouced Val’-en-da) couldn’t be more different. He’s so every day, so every man, so ordinary, he’s almost invisible. But he has also taken hold of the world’s imagination, and its’ thirst for all things Swedish. That gloomy morose desire to suffer in the cold and ice was mightily filled in his lifetime by legendary Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman.

To my dismay, the younger generation does not take to Bergman or even know his work. If they know anything of Swedish note today, besides Ikea, it is Lisbeth Salander, and the American version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” And also, right behind her is Kurt Wallander.

Larson was said to have devoured Swedish crime novels and one of the authors he was most influenced by was the prolific Henning Mankell. Who wrote more Wallander books and many other books, than Larsson ever did in his brief life-time.

Larsson, and the “Girl’ movies and books have whetted the public’s appetite seemingly for Swedish noir crime. In fact, I was shocked when I went to the main library in Manhattan and found out the nothing of Wallander, DVD, film or novel was in. All were checked out, but one, which I hungrily grabbed.

The female librarian said to me “Wallander is VERY popular.” The Vox Populi! The people have spoken.

In Mankell’s “The Man Who Laughed,” there is this passage that jumped out at me.

A solitary man, presumably Wallander himself, is driving down a lonely Swedish road at night, and feels a bump. He has hit a rabbit.

“He stopped and got out. The hare was lying on the road, its’ back legs kicking. But its’ eyes stared at him….He had never forgotten those eyes and the wildly kicking legs. The memory kept coming back again and again , usually at the most unexpected times…”

That’s a very good metaphor indeed. With a kind of awful poetry that Steig Larsson’s “just the facts” Milleninum writings eschews.

I think it’s this richness of the source material, Mankell’s writing, that lifts Wallander out of the realm of the ordinary procedural, though police crime drama is what it is.

The Swedish TV series, now available in the US on MHz DVDS,  is produced by the same company that produced the “Dragon Tattoo” movies. And it shows. Those films and the Wallander TV series echo each other, not just in their topics, human trafficking, arson, pedophilia, and of course, drugs, but in their doomy Swedish atmospheres.

Wallander is the essence of the plodding policeman, who doesn’t always get it write, in the opening episode, he gets so drunk, he leaves his police gun at a bar, and is suspended, until the Ystad police find out they can’t solve a crime without him.

The terrific Krister Hendrickson makes him so endearing a chap, I can’t imagine anyone else playing him. Especially not Kenneth ham-is-my-middle-name Branagh. But we’ll see.

And sometimes this season hits it right out of the ballpark in terms of impact. One episode “The Arsonist” particularly got to me. So well done and well acted and well shot by all parties. It was gripping and the ending chilling. Bravo to Episode 5! Wallander’s pen-ultimate case.

And you better enjoy Hendrickson’s Wallander while you can, because in the last episode,  #6 in this series, “A Troubled Man,” he gets Alzheimer’s. What American series would risk that? The central figure losing it to a disease that no one ever seems to suffer from on American series television. Hendrickson becomes increasingly forgetful and lost. He gets suspended (Again!) by the Ystaad crime unit.

His daughter, Linda, a cop herself, and also a devoted mother, with a small daughter who Wallander dotes on, is marvelously played with degrees and shadings of sympathy and strength and frustrated horror by Carlotta Johnson, as she begins to notice that Kurt, her father, is getting absent-minded and gradually slipping away.

As early as episode one, “The Troubled Man”(like for instance the forgetting the gun in the bar) and culminates with him wandering the streets of picturesque small town Ystaad with his shoes untied, not knowing where he is, in “The Man Who Wept,” who is ironically is the melancholy Wallander himself. And yes, in a climatic moment, Wallander cries. The series has built so carefully to this, it’s shattering.

Shakespeare  explored this same disease in “King Lear,” which I found myself seeing right in the middle of my Wallander binge-watching.

Dementia has always been with us as a disease and a topic and continues to be the unnerving presence that turns into an absence as we watch the sun sadly set on Kurt Wallender.

Don’t miss this Swedish series! You’ll find it hard to forget, and you’ll be hooked on all of Henning Mankell’s work, too! Just like Steig Larsson was, and half the world it seems is!

 

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18 Hours of “Dragon Tattoo”! “The Girl Who Played With Fire” on Audio Books

If you’re REALLY into Steig Larson, and who, if you’re reading this blog, ISN’T, I guess I do have to recommend the 18 hour marathon I just experienced with the Audio Books version of “The Girl Who Played with Fire.” It’s the second book in his monumental Millenium Trilogy. A world-wide publishing success with film versions in Swedish and in English, and more on the way. We HOPE.

But in the meantime there’s this massive, and I mean MASSIVE 18 hour immersion into Larson and Sweden and most of all Lisbeth Salander available on Audio Books, read by one man and one man alone, the vocally versatile(he has to be) Simon Vance.He voices something like 100 different characters in the modern Swedish noir “War and Peace.”

Vance, a British actor who clearly speaks Swedish, pronounces the many, many location names in Larson’s fictional Sweden very lovingly. He’s British, so he choses to give Lisbeth Salander, a Cockney accent. Mikael Blomkvist,Larson’s hero,the intrepid, indefatigable Vance choose to speak with a British voice closer to his own.

His the Cockney Salander really floored me. Then I grew to like her, which is crucial for staying tuned for the full 18 hour version, which I unbelievably did.

It’s begun to be another frighteningly hot summer in New York and I have to think twice, if not three times about venturing out in this heat. It was better today, but by that time I’d finished the whole damn thing. It IS an endurance test for the reader, to be sure. It’s a dense book, and it’s an intense listen.

Noomi Rapace’s indelible Salander is impossible to put out of your mind when listening to this. She, of course, starred in of all three films of the Swedish cinema trilogy-to-end-all-trilogies, launching an international career in the process. Thank god! I was worried that she was going to get stuck with Lisbeth for the rest of her life, but she seems to have successfully dodged that bullet. She did get a BAFTA nomination for Best Actress, for the last of the three films, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” But she didn’t win.

Rooney Mara got an Oscar nomination to prove that she was just as good if not better in David Fincher’s film version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” two years ago.But she didn’t win either. So the Americans not having filmed the second book, one still pictures Noomi Rapace going through Lisbeth’s harrowing paces in listening to “The Girl Who Played With Fire.”

But a lot of the book is very different from the movie, and this is the book that is the best of the three, IMHO. Because Salander is in it the most. In fact, she’s front and center in the story of “The Girl Who Played with Fire.’

Listening to the bare bones of it, just as an audio experience, I was very conscious of parts of the book that I didn’t remember. In fact, the whole opening section in the Caribbean, where we find Lisbeth hiding out for chapters and chapters, ending in a climatic hurricane/tornado named Matilda, is not in the film at all.

Enough time had gone by so that I didn’t remember it clearly.But it’s there, and it grips you. Then there is a whole chapter section given almost entirely over to Furman’s theory of algebra, which I also didn’t remember, and clearly must’ve skipped over, as I had skipped over it on the disc.

But it does begin to build and it keeps you listening through all the dull police procedural details, and there are many. Mostly of course, as always, you care about Salander and want her to vanquish her various dastardly villains, like lawyer Nils Bjurman, who she was famously rapes and tattoos in Book One.

Well, he’s back, but not for long. Larsson had a real, solid, slimy villain in Advocat Bjurrman, the ultimate repulsive civil servant, who is really, as Salander tattoos on his quivering abdomen in Book,” I Am a Sadistic Pig and a Rapist.”

“The Girl Who Played with Fire”is concerned with an expose of the Russian sex/slave trade in young Slavic girls. Some of it is so sickening in its’ details that you do just want to turn off the DVD player. But I didn’t. And I had no intention of writing about it, but here I am telling all this to you.

It picks up tremendously in the second part. And of course the semi-tiresome Erika Berger, Salander’s rival for Blomkvist’s affections, and the editor of Millennium magazine, has so much more to do in book, it’s ridiculous.

In the American film, she was played by Robin Wright, and in the Swedish version by the great Lena Endre. Her flirtation with another publishing job in the middle of the whole Salander case remains a weird sub-plot.

It’s Larson straining to make that character of Erika Berger interesting, I suspect.

But she isn’t, much. Lisbeth Salander just towers over all the other characters. And try as he might, Larson couldn’t stop writing about her, and writing about her SO WELL that she jumps off the discs, as she jumped off the page and the films, into history.

I bet Larson, when he was writing the first book, did not expect or plan, for Lisbeth to so engulf him, and all his writing. She seems like a character that just took on a life of her own. She overwhelmed him, and us, and there was nothing he could do to stop her fascination to the reader and so he just went with it. Mikael Blomkvist was clearly meant to be the central character when the first book “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” started, but that soon changed. And the world is so glad it did. Mikael Blomkvist is a bit of a bore.

And I had forgotten details like her interest in micro-wave pizzas. And did not remember McDonald’s popping up so frequently in Stockholm.

And Blomkvist’s not having a car and relying on public transportation in Stockholm and in Sweden in general is an endearing trait.

And Larson’s having to introduce EVERY SINGLE ONE of Millenia magazine’s staff AND Dragan Armansky’s office staff, as well as all the police investigators is almost Tolstoyian in its’ mound of character details. But not many of them pop out as clearly defined.

The reader, the amazing Simon Vance, does very well with Dragan Armansky, Lisbeth’s loyal employer and also Office Bubble, or Bublansky, the Jewish cop who is heading the police here. Though admittedly they do sound similar. And when he gets to the aged Palmer Holgren, the former guardian of Salander, who is now in a nursing home and a recovering stroke victim, Vance really outdoes himself. Having to be intelligible and unintelligible at the same time.

My unexpected favorite scene in the Audio Book, was the fight between “The Blond Giant” Ronald Neiderman, the Brazilian celebrity/prize-fighter Paulo Roberto(who is evidently a real person!) and Miriam Wu, Salander’s half-Asian girl friend, who gets drawn into the police web, and ends up being kidnapped and mistaken for Salander. That chapter(or disc, in this case) seemed to me to contain Larson’s best, most gripping non-stop writing. I was frozen in place as I listened to it, and to Simon Vance’s terrific vocal acting out of all the parts.

It’s quite a time intensive endeavor. And I think the 18 hours I spent on listening to all 15 of the discs is longer than it took me to read the book in the first place. But it’s worth it.

It’s staying with me. And I can recommend to all you Steig/Salander-o-philes out there. Make the time and you’ll be surprised how intense and compelling it is all over again.

Oscar confusion as Xmas B.O. disappoints, but “War Horse” is still good to go…

Dear Readers, dear cineastes, I hate to be waving you off into the New Year with disappointing, confusing news…But it does look like the Grinch stole some Oscar hopefuls Christmas this year.

First, you can cross off “Extemely Loud and Incredibly Close” right off your Oscar must-see list right now. If you even had it on there in the first place. It was STRANGE how Warner Bros. held it to the last minute so that even the two New York based award-giving organizaations the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review could not even SEE it before the voted. So they didn’t.

And why? Because they probably wouldn’t’ve anyway. It’s distasteful in the Extreme in its’ depiction of the tragedy of 9/11 turning it into a Lifetime Movie Special. Ugh. It’s even worse than “The Iron Lady”. Which is a shoe that doesn’t drop until tomorrow, Dec.30.

So that the Vanity Fair cover and the Kennedy Center honors, etc. for Meryl Streep could all be for naught. WHEN IT’S REVIEWED. I know the Twin Towers weren’t BOMBed, per se. But these two films sure are bombs. The only explosions will be the bile that is unleased when the critics finally get a chance to review it/them/her.

So IOW “Extremely Loud…” is not only extremely bad, it’s being withheld from those from the NYFCC and the NBR was nothing more than a publicity stunt, in retrospect. It seems. Or one that back-fired, in any case.

So that means NO OSCAR nods for anybody in ELAIC(the useful web abbreviation), and it’s doubtful that “The Iron Lady” will grab anything except a nod of Meryl. But the baaaad reviews “The Iron Lady” is going to get may torpedo her purported Oscar front-runner status.

Also surprising to me, is the disappointing (in industry terms) Box Office of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It only made $27 million this holiday period, when it should’ve been closer to $50 million, or so thought Sony.

Anne Thompson, whom I often call St. Anne, (because she is) RRRREALLLY lays it all out VERY clearly in a great, great piece in www.indiewire.com She’s Thompson on Hollywood, and she certainly spells out the reasons why “Dragon Tattoo” is only doing so-so business.

And this is DEATH in terms of Oscar voters, who are getting their ballots as of TODAY, and in terms of Rooney Mara’s Oscar chances. She’s NOT going to rock the lock on The Five Locked and Loaded Ladies. Meryl(yes, even despite the bad press, she’s inevitably going to get. It’s a default nomination. They will ALWAYS nominate her, but she’ll never win.) Glenn Close, Tilda Swinton and the favorites Michelle Williams and Viola Davis.

It’s particularly good news for Michelle Williams, because this means that she’s the youngest and hottest BABE in competish. All the other ladies are over 44. See last year’s Babe-win. Natalie Portman v. Annette Bening, and we all know how that turned out.

More bad news for Viola Davis. She’s one of the LEADS in “Extremely Bad…” Yes, she is, though no one is blaming the failure of the film on HER. But her performance is just OK. It’s good. But not THAT good.

Me? I put “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” on my year’s ten best list I liked it so much. And the kicker is ANNE THOMPSON LIKED IT, TOO! So for her to write such an objective, strong piece about it’s Box-Office is something that attention must be paid to…

Along with the fact that the only one of the Big Last Three films of the year (ELAIC, TGWTDT and “War Horse”) the one with the Horse as the star did JUST FINE. And it, too, ended up on my Year’s Ten Best List. It’s Number 10, but still…IT’S ON THERE.

And with “TinTin” also disappointing at the B.O.( I found it unwatchable and dull, dull, dull) the fact that “The War Horse” got through the Christmas War is nothing short of miraculous. But then they call Joey “The Miracle Horse” in the movie…

So if you check out S.T.Vanairsdale’s always excellent (and accurate) Oscar Index at www.movieline.com and also see what Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone at www.awardsdaily.com says about “War Horse”s strong weekend, you’ll see that they, anyway, think that the HORSE has just galloped back into The Race.

So that leaves us with “The Artist” now perhaps unofficially at any rate versus “War Horse.” And two more different films you couldn’t imagine!

Next up, the Broadcast Film Critics Awards which are more predictive recently than almost anything else. So hold on, Oscar-ers and Oscar-ettes, it’s going to be a bumpy ride! WHOA NELLY!

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!

Noomi v. Rooney~ Take Two~ “Dragon Tattoo” FINALLY lands…

So it is with great trepidation that I look forward to Monday and the inevitable screening of the American version of “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Will I like or won’t I? I would like to THINK I am approaching this with an open mind. But I wonder…

If you saw all three brilliant, beautiful Swedish movies and read all the books and had the privilege of interviewing Noomi Rapace herself, how un-prejudiced, how objective  can you really be?

I mean, I’ve gone on record with my indignant “How dare they remake perfection?” and you can look back in this blog to find many, many posts on Steig Larsson and Lisbeth Salander and how wonderful I thought this all was…The three Swedish movies and those three great un-put-downable books…

So I didn’t REALLY press the press people behind this film. I mean, there was this EMBARGO and all, I guess Sony(who is the producer of this $125 million REMAKE) figured that they knew I probably wouldn’t like it so they didn’t pursue me and I didn’t pursue them and there was this awful embargo thingie.

And everyone kept saying “It’s not an Oscar movie.” anyway…so I took it easy…but now that the embargo is lifted and the reviews are starting to pile in and pile up…and they’re GOOD…I’m beginning to thaw towards Rooney Fincher…I think of them as one…

MAYBE I might even enjoy this.

I feel so terrible for Noomi Rapace. But maybe…just maybe…I might actually LIKE this movie….This is a pre-review. I’m “reviewing the situation” as Fagin sang so memorably in “Oliver!” another Best Picture winner of years gone by…

Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone just LOVED it to pieces. But then of course, she’s a HUGE Fincher fan. Read her moving pieces, by all means, at  www.awardsdaily.com But Stu VanAirsdale at www.movieline.com said in his ESSENTIAL Oscar Index this week that she was the only one…

But then more reviews, like Owen Gleiberman in EW www.ew.com wrote very movingly about it. And Rooney Fincher DID get a Golden Globe nomination, and then and then….

A fellow journo, a broadcast TV producer took me out to dinner tonight at my favorite place in NYC Angus McIdoe’s www.angusmcindoe.com and he told me that he had just done the “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” TV junket THIS AFTERNOON!!!??!!!

I had no idea it was TODAY! And obviously, I wasn’t invited…and well, my friend, who had read none of the books, and HAD seen the movie, liked it. He thought it was “interesting.” Hmmm…

And he said Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig were taking it VERY seriously. And Christopher Plummer and Stellan Sarsgaard were not. THEY were incredibly jolly and having the time of their lives, evidently. Stellan, who I’ve interviewed many, many times, stood up and greeted every journalist as they came in the TV junket door.

No one ever does that.

And Christopher Plummer was jovial personified, my friend said. Well, I countered “Of COURSE, he is. He’s having the biggest moment of his career. He’s in this BIG movie, and he’s going to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor this year. Of COURSE, he’s in a good mood!” And he was incredibly funny and witty as only Canadians can be when they’re on a role.

And Rooney Fincher? She said as my friend entered her suite that she was in a bad mood. Guess she was still in character…Did she say that to allll the journalists?

But in all fairness, the movie is riding on HER, and her performance, and even though she’s got Cynthia Swartz on her side, she doesn’t have Harvey Weinstein. She’s got Scott Rudin, whose dreaded EMBARGO seems to have nearly killed the buzz on this film…I mean, it’s all a tad late, isn’t it?

To open a film this late in the (Oscar) season, and to junket it TODAY when Christmas is nearly upon us…Peace on Earth. Good will towards men. The OPPOSITE philosophy of Lisbeth Salander. The Feel Bad Movie for Xmas…

Well, I guess I’m in the mood for it…Buzz is starting. People seem to have wildly divergent reactions to it.

Kristopher Tapley got into an almost-fight in his podcast with St. Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood www.indiewire.com Anne REALLY liked it. She really, REALLY liked it. Like Sasha did. And Krist HATED it…

But he admitted to liking Rooney Fincher’s performance…Hmmm…

Well, if Sasha and Anne and OWEN liked it…

But one thing’s for sure. It’s TWO HOURS AND A HALF!!!!!

Well, on Monday I’ll let you all know what I thought. Or for sure on Tuesday.

And I DID like “Se7en” and “Zodiac”…HATED “Fight Club” and “The Joy of Typing”….so…we’ll see…Is it too late-breaking for Oscar? Everyone says “Yes” but maybe I’ll like it just for itself.

My friend said they took the book very, very seriously. I liked the sound of that…

But can Rooney erase the memory of Noomi?

“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” Best Foreign Film Bafta!

And now they are coming thick and fast! “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” wins Best Foreign Film, and Nooooooomi Rapace is there, of course, since she is nominated for Best Actress, as well, in a gown made out of it looks like gold sequins.

www.guardian.co.uk is where there is a live blogging session as the awards are very much in progress now.

Melissa Leo’s BAFTA snub? A death blow to her Oscar campaign?

When BAFTA announced yesterday morn that they were putting “The King’s Speech” on top of THEIR Oscar pile (The BAFTAs are considered the British Oscars) and that Movie About Typing at the Bottom with only 6 nominations, which it may not win.

Everybody took notice.

Why? Well, yes, the traditional age-old Snob Effect on the Academy of anything limey. Well, not ANYthing. They seemed to have kicked “Another Year” to the curb, sadly. WHERE IS LESLIE MANVILLE?!? Probably in Oscar limbo forever.

Category confusion is Oscar’s most deadly disease.

After winning Best Actress from the National Board of Review, Manville turned up NOwhere in the U.S. lists,or anywhere else, until she appeared in Supporting Actress at the BAFTA awards. Surprise! There she was at last. Back in her own country, not as Best Actress, but as Best Supporting Actress.

But the BIGGEST surprise of the BAFTAS that landed with a WALLOP was the omission of Golden Globe and BFCA winner for Best Supporting Actress( I tell ya, that race is a doozy this year) MELISSA LEO?!?

HOW is this possible? Well, I guess the Brits didn’t like the “Fighter” THAT much. They didn’t nominate it for Best Picture,and though they grudingly nominated Christian Bale and Amy Adams in Supporting,  they RRRREALLLY didn’t like Melissa’s Grand Guignol Monster Mom from Massachusetts.

Shocking it was that she was riding high SUNDAY NIGHT and now Monday morning they shot her down! She’s in stark jeopardy!

Oh, she’ll be nominated all right. The nominations had to be in to be counted by Friday. But can she win without the prestige of a BAFTA nom NOT on her CV?

In such a constantly changing category as this year’s Best Supporting Actress,(and Best Actress, too, come to think of it, but more on that later) Melissa Leo can be now counted as NOT A SURE THING. But don’t worry Melissa Leo fans, she WILL be nominated! But winning, I wonder…

I think she’s a great unsung American actress, who is now being sung.

But her low-class harpie mom-ster, Alice Eklund, may not be the right tune for the snobby Academy, though Melissa herself seems to know every single member personally and everybody LOVES her.

I think she can play anything. You give her a difficult role and boy! Will she go to town with it. Like she did last year with “Frozen River,” last year’s “Winter’s Bone”, a teeny tiny Indie directed by a woman about a woman (last year Leo, this year Jennifer Lawrence) who stands up to injustice and protects her brood at all costs in a rural setting.

Oscar goddess Sasha Stone’s unremitting advocating for Melissa Leo’s out-of-left field nomination for Best Actress actually contributed to making that nomination happen, IMHO.

She’s doing the same kind of tub-thumping this year for Jennifer Lawrence, who I can’t get behind, and whose nomination, I think, is shakier than people realize she is. And Melissa Leo is becoming a kind of feminist heroine.

She’s the older actress who has mucho chops, who is still fighting her way BACK to the Oscars, now two years in a row, it seems. Melissa Leo is an actress’ actress. She kinda sorta eschews glamour, like wearing her “old tux” to the BFCA awards when she won. And then an OK gown, that was so unremarkable her picture in it appeared NOWHERE in the MANY pictures of the Golden Globe’s red carpet, and the bejeweled, be-gowned actresses upon them. And where was Melissa? Nowhere to be found. And she won! And Natalie Portman the other big winner was EVERYwhere!

The Academy looks at that and sniffs, “Well, she’s not a star.” And she isn’t. The public doesn’t know her like those in the business do. Melissa who? But she’s a constantly working, supremely talented ACTRESS. Did you recognize her THIS year in another Oscar baity film “Convinction” as the evil policewoman who wrecks Sam Rockwell’s life? YES, that dried-up, prune-faced, lying cop was Melissa Leo, too!

All of these things should ad up to Melissa Leo winning a Supporting Actress Oscar, since she’s the type of actress this category and these awards were created for in the first place…but…she was SNUBBED by BAFTA!

But the thing about BAFTA is for the first time this year, people are noticing that we have a voting body that actually OVERLAPS the American Academy it is said to the tune of 1000 members out of 6000 AMPAS voters. And each year the Academy(and the press AND the blogosphere) is paying more attention than ever. It just keeps growing and growing . In coverage. In importance. And the more coverage the BAFTAs get, the more important. And influential, they become.

So who would be the BAFTA front-runner in that tumultous BSA category? I think it’s Helen Bonham-Carter as the slam-dunk.

My esteemed colleague David Karger at Entertainment Weekly takes this Oscar business VERY seriously. I always had the ultimate respect for his opinions, insights and conclusions. And Dave, like me, is still staunchly insisting that “The King’s Speech” is the front-runner to win Best Picture, and this avalanche of BAFTA nominations seem to prove us right.

ALLLL That Typing Movie’s awards were from the press. Who, let’s face it, spend all day typing.

BAFTA is the first time we’ve heard from a large group of industry professionals. And attention must by paid.

As I said earlier today at www.Awardsdaily.com , in the section of Comments on The BAFTAS!

I think where the BAFTAS have the most impact (on Oscar) is where there is a very close race, like this year’s Supporting Actress and certainly Best Picture.

When the BAFTAS finally do their thing, and announce their winners, it’s timed astutely to be RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OSCAR VOTING PERIOD.

Personally, I think most Academy Members who are actually voting, mail their ballots (by Snail Mail, yes, that’s how they do it) immediately that they receive them.

But sometimes the BAFTAS have an impact in recent years that sways Oscar’s contests…like for instance, when it was Mickey Rourke v. Sean Penn a couple of years back for ANOTHER Pugilistic Movie “The Wrestler” v.Sean Penn’s assassinated Gay Rights leader Harvey Milk in “Milk.”

Actually, Rourke WON the BAFTA, then got up and made a truly embarassing acceptance speech dropping the F-bomb so may times on the stunned Limeys, it seemed like the Blitz was back on.

And I knew, I just knew, if there was any doubt in any Academy voters mind who STILL hadn’t mailed in their ballots, Rourke just lost it big time there. With that speech and the Academy was NOT going to let itself be embarassed by awarding him in the same way. The Snob Effect. See.

So Sean Penn won and he should’ve for his great portrayal of a complicated, but sweet crusader…who died SUCH a tragic death.

I could go on.

And I will.

Also, take the instance of Marion Cotillard’s surprise win at the Oscars the year before that. She trounced Brit legend Julie Christie in the politically correct Alzheimer’s movie “Away From Her.”

How did THAT happen? Marion a UNKNOWN foreign actress acting in her own language (French) WON for playing Edith Piaf, gave a beautiful, totally shocked, moving acceptance speech at the BAFTAs for “La Vie En Rose” and then WON at the Oscars.

It also didn’t hurt that night that at the BAFTAS that Best Actor winner Daniel Day Lewis said in HIS acceptance speech that “Marion Cotillard is acting on a different level than all of us.” And I think that sealed Marion’s deal.

Marion also MOVED to L.A. during this crucial voting period and went to EVERY Hollywood party and charmed and enchanted all her met her, as did my other unknown(at the time) actress friend Marcia Gay Harden, who appeared out of nowhere to be nominated with no precursor awards. In 2000. But “The Stephen Holt Show” had her.

And SHE won. Best Supporting Actress for “Pollock”.

So who could surprise? Who could win THIS year? Well, it looks like it’s Natalie Portman, an American princess to be sure for “Black Swan.” BAFTA, yes, has nominated her for Best Actress.

But wait! Who else popped out of nowhere at BAFTA?!? NOOOOOMI RAPACE!??

And “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” the last of the Steig Larsson Millenium Trilogy, picked up three nominations at BAFTA including Noomi’s Best Actress.

And wait, she’s foreign. But hardly unknown in London, where she has moved to escape the paparazzi-fest  that her incredible portrait of  Lisbeth Salander turned  her life into in her native Sweden.

She’s embraced London and British society totally. And they her. And I just have this feeling that the Brits feel this immense sense of injustice being done to Noomi, who endured A YEAR AND A HALF of CONSTANT filming of the three Larsson movies, all shot one right after the other after the other, since Noomi has been replaced by an unknown American girl Rooney Mara. And that these beloved, hugely successful movies are being now remade IN ENGLISH by David Fincher….He who directed The Typing Movie…

Well, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear Noomi Rapace’s name called on BAFTA night.

And how will that impact the Oscar race for Best Actress? Well, if she’s not nominated, not a bit.

But I think people in England are enraged by these remakes by the presumptous Americans who have the NERVE to redo those beautiful Swedish movies! And watch they give their best director to home town boy Tom Hooper for “The King’s Speech.” NOT to David Fincher, who has the temerity to remake these Larsson/Salander movies! The NERVE of him!

 This would really set those Yankees back a few steps, if it was then to be recorded by all the journos in the world press, who are bound to write about these great Swedish films V. the trashy American re-makes. Well, the Swedish movies starred the BAFTA AWARD WINNING BEST ACTRESS NOOMI RAPACE. Then every time someone wrote about these new American versions,they’d HAVE to mention BAFTA. Not that Noomi could upset Natalie in the U.S. ,but in Britain she certainly could.

And Noomi would give a beautiful, charming,moving acceptance speech. You know she would.

And also, now that I think of it Noomi’s Lisbeth GETS A GUNSHOT WOUND TO THE BRAIN AT POINT BLANK RANGE !!! AND SURVIVES!!! There’s also that political parallel to be raised…so I’m raising it. Gaby Giffords is a heroine, but so is Lisbeth. Especially to Europeans. She’s a fictional character, but who can forget her first entrance in “Hornet’s Nest” where they are cutting open her skull, and are showing REMOVING A BULLET from her brain! And she SURVIVES!

And oh, Melissa Leo…back to her…

What has the BAFTA done to HER Oscar race? Well, I think it’s stopped it dead in its’ tracks, I’m sorry to say.

I think she and co-star Amy Adams will BOTH be nominated and cancel each other out and Helena Bonham-Carter will sweep in and win as she certainly will the BAFTAS for “The King’s Speech.”

However, what does Dave Karger think this does? Check out his updated lists at www.ew.com

But I’ll tell you who Dave has picked to win Best Supporting Actress now. AMY ADAMS!?!?

It could happen. She’s been nominated twice before. They know her. They love her. And she’s still young and beautiful and she’s wonderful in “The Fighter” too. Playing something she’s never played before. A tough, working class chick, a bartender no less.

So THAT’S what the BAFTAs have done with their snubbing of Melissa Leo, they’ve HELPED Amy Adams BIG TIME!

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