Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: The Uber Version .... My take on the movie

We saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at the Directors Guild the other night. Had an amazing burger at the Counter across the street from the DGA on Sunset, first. In case you don't know, at The Counter you 'build' your own burger, that is, you select your burger - beef, turkey, veggie, etc, cheese type, bun, variety of toppings. They also have great sweet potato fries and skinny skinny onion rings. Delish! Anyway we got to the DGA about an hour before showtime. We got there early because we knew it was going to be a popular screening and wanted to make sure we got good seats. There were already 2 dozen people in line! At least it was indoors and soon enough we were followed by a long snaky line of industry people all who wanted to see the film before it opened, quite a few who ultimately didn't get in.

Okay, so the movie. Don't miss the 5 minute featurette at the bottom of this post!

First, the credits, including the score by Trent Rosner who, along with Atticus Rose, did the entire film score, were a work of art in their own right. In fact the transition from credits to opening frame was a little jarring but there he was, Daniel Craig, a sexy, grizzled, intelligent looking Mikael Blomquist.
Superficial stuff - loved his look. His black overcoat, dark jeans turned up at the bottom, messenger bag, the glasses he dangles off one ear (I have worn glasses for 50 years and never dangled them like that. BUT I'm going to start practicing ha ha!) he just exuded the vibe of a tres hip, intellectual journalist working for one of those uber cool oversized European magazines. Don't talk to me about his lack of Swedish accent; I didn't miss it. I could care less.
When the Golden Globe nominations came out I said I would give Best Performance by an Actress to Tillda Swinton - based only on the trailer - but would reconsider if Rooney Mara's performance merited it. Her performance merits it. She is amazing. And HER accent was perfect - at least to my American ears so please correct me if I'm wrong. While Noomi Rapace was brilliant, so was Mara. She and Fincher created a character that wasn't just a copycat. Rooney made the part her own. I don't think you can say who was better. The question is irrelevant!

I am a HUGE fan of the Swedish film in general but I think this was a foreign film begging to be remade in the English language for that huge audience who will just never see a subtitled movie. And everyone in this version - many of whom were Swedish actors - was as real and authentic as the cool and crisp writing by Steven Zaillian. ( And Stieg Larsson of course.)
Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger, who starts the action with his obsession with the disappearance of his niece, 40 years ago was masterful. The reunion utterly emotional. Stellan Stargaard, as Martin Vanger,couldn't have been better. He is so nice, open hearted, reasonable and normal. And then the switch. The suspense was palpable, the creepiness factor turned up to high. Ugh! And Robin Wright as the publisher/love interest? It took me a bit to realize it was her, I took it for granted she was a Swedish actress!


Neils Arden Oplev's film was wonderful, exciting, thoroughly engaging. Fincher's film is that too but in overdrive. If Oplev's film was the "unplugged" version, Fincher's was plugged in, very!  I absolutely loved it. Fincher doesn't just capture action with his camera, he really creates a visceral reaction with it. His sweeps and pans, cuts and closeups, all the visionary tools he brings to bear, made it a strong, thrilling and emotional ride. A ride I am absolutely looking forward to taking again and that is something that we have to also give credit where credit is due. Steig Larsson. I mean, I've read the book. I've seen the Swedish film twice. I just saw the new Daniel Craig/Rooney Mara version and I can't wait to see it again.

That's powerful writing, a riveting story and completely compelling characters. Kudos to a master at work and how sorry the world is that he was taken from it. I'm grateful we have his two follow up novels which have already been made into films, and excited to hear that Fincher has agreed to do their English language counterparts. I just hope it's true! I don't know how many directors could make internet searches interesting - David Fincher does it!

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