the girl with the dragon tattoo

Movie Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

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David Fincher did wonders turning nothing into something with THE SOCIAL NETWORK. In many ways he accomplishes many of the same things in his adaptation of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO in that the film depicts scenes where people are doing nothing but reading and doing Google searches into something that is oddly compelling. However, as compelling as stuff felt I also couldn’t help but feel somewhat disconnected with the mystery at the heart of the film, but blown away by Rooney Mara’s performance as Lisbeth Salander.

The film is an adaptation of the popular book which is the first of a trilogy and the American remake of the original Swedish film. It stars Daniel Craig as Mikael, a journalist that has been hired to solve a forty year old mystery as to the location of a woman said to have vanished without a trace. Mikael also enlists the skills of a very talented hacker but strange hacker, Lisbeth to help him crack the case.

My first impression of David Fincher’s film is that it’s good looking and interesting but long. Having never read the book I can’t coherently comment on who well it was adapted or if there’s a lot of content that makes the book hard to adapt and that it has to be incredibly long in order to bring the story to life. I will say though that at one point I was getting ready to shut it off because I assumed the credits were about to roll but there ended up being another 20 to 25 minutes left in the movie. I wasn’t necessarily bored during that final 20 minutes but I was indeed ready for the film to end before that point.

Fincher really does have an eye for making extremely boring activities seem exciting on screen. This time around though where I was fully entertained by that fact in THE SOCIAL NETWORK I was a little less impressed during THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO although I still enjoyed watching it. I attribute my slight lack of interest to the fact that for the first half of the movie I just didn’t care about the mystery that Craig’s character is researching and it wasn’t until Lisbeth joined forces with Mikael that it picked up for me. Even with the duo working together I was more connected with their scenes interacting with one another or off doing their own thing than their actual research about the case. When they both finally thought they cracked the case though I finally snapped back in and remembered that there was a reason the two were working together in the first place.

No one really gives a bad performance but Rooney Mara is the only one that really makes a lasting impression. She injects life into each scene she’s in due either to her peculiar personality that comes with the character or her fragile yet aggressive persona. Daniel Craig is decent but he doesn’t quite take his performance to the next level although the character doesn’t really beg him to do so- he does have a few good one liners that gave me a good laugh though.

The score is once again very good by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross although not quite as memorable as their work in THE SOCIAL NETWORK. The opening credits are a very nice touch albeit strange transition from the opening scene to the rest of the film, but visually striking and a nice way to get the blood flowing for what’s to come.

As a follow-up to THE SOCIAL NETWORK Fincher continues to put forth great work from challenging material even though I didn’t love THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO quite as much as his tackling of the Facebook saga. Rooney Mara stuns as the peculiar Lisbeth Salander and outshines all of her co-stars- for many scenes I was stuck watching and waiting for her to appear back on screen. My biggest complaint is that I didn’t feel the film did enough to make me care about the mystery the film is built upon and that it eventually stayed passed its welcome. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO however a great looking film that pulls attention in with its strong female lead and the promise of its premise even if it never really lives up to it. It’s a film that could benefit from subsequent viewing where the subtle parts of the mystery a bit easier to spot and connect with when you know what you’re looking for. From the opposite spectrum once you know where it ends some might find revisiting the film a waste of time, but like many films such as SHUTTER ISLAND, once you know how it ends that makes multiple viewing a more fruitful endeavor to pick up intricacies of the plot- not to mention you can appreciate Mara’s performance all over again.

Rating: 7/10

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2012 Oscar Nominations

Like them or not the 2012 Oscar nominations are in and there are a number of surprises both in what got nominated and movies as well as actors that got snubbed. The sad thing for me is that I really wanted to be able to give detailed insight on what I feel could and should win in every category but every year it always ends up being that I haven’t been able to see every movie that often gets nominated.

You can check out the nominations below and as a bonus if I felt inclined enough to put in my two cents on a category I’ve included some of my own commentary on the nominations. The selections in bold are my personal favorites of the nominations and the selections in italics are the nominations I’m giving my best guess as far as what may actually win. Make no mistake that these are purely based on my own opinion and since I have yet to see a lot of titles it’s based only on speculation. In fact if you see a title that has no commentary or a bolder or italic selection then I chose not to weigh in on that category. The Oscars will air on February 26, 2012.

Best Picture

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
Moneyball
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Luke says: Having only seen a few select titles on this list I have very little input outside of the fact that I loved MONEYBALL and the THE DESCENDANTS pick is riding its win at the Golden Globes. The shocker seems to be EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE given its very mixed reaction critically- in fact I’ve read lots of very harsh criticism in regards to that film so I have to go out on a limb and say that is a questionable call. THE ARTIST seems to be somewhat of a sleeper pick given the tremendous reception and the use of classic cinema technique, but lots of opinions rest on more appreciation than calling it an outright best picture of the year option.

Best Director

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist Alexdander Payne, The Descendants Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

Best Actor In a Supporting Role

Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Mellisa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

Luke says: I loved BRIDESMAIDS and Mellisa McCarthy was hilarious, but enough so for an Oscar nomination, I don’t know about that.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Demian Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Luke says: I have heard a lot about Michael Shannon’s performance in TAKE SHELTER so I’m even a little surprised to see his name missing from this category.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Animated Feature Film

A Cat in Paris, Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
Chico & Rita, Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
Kung Fu Panda 2, Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Puss in Boots, Chris Miller
Rango, Gore Verbinski

Luke says: I will give props to RANGO for the gorgeous visuals and incredible animation but overall it just didn’t click with me. I really dug the story behind KUNG FU PANDA 2 and the animation again is quite good and overall the film is a lot of fun. It’s a shame HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON couldn’t be released in a year like this instead of opposite TOY STORY 3 then it could have walked away an Oscar winner as it should have been. Sort of shocked that TINTIN didn’t even get a nomination here.

Cinematography

The Artist, Guillaume Schiffman
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Jeff Cronenweth
Hugo, Robert Richardson
The Tree of Life, Emmanuel Lubezki
War Horse, Janusz Kaminski

Foreign Language Film

Belgium, “Bullhead”, Michael R. Roskam, director
Canada, “Monsieur Lazhar”, Philippe Falardeau, director
Iran, “A Separation”, Asghar Farhadi, director
Israel, “Footnote”, Joseph Cedar, director
Poland, “In Darkness”, Agnieszka Holland, director

Music (Original Song)

“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets, Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
“Real in Rio” from Rio, Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Luke says: THE MUPPETS I feel really deserve some sort of win at the Oscars and if any this is the one. I love this song but even more so I would have liked to see “Life’s a Happy Song.”

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

The Descendants, Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Hugo, Screenplay by John Logan
The Ides of March, Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
Moneyball, Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

Writing (Original Screenplay)

The Artist, Written by Michel Hazanavicius
Bridesmaids, Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
Margin Call, Written by J.C. Chandor
Midnight in Paris, Written by Woody Allen
A Separation, Written by Asghar Farhadi

Art Direction

The Artist: Laurence Bennett (Production Design); Robert Gould (Set Decoration)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: Stuart Craig (Production Design); Stephenie McMillan (Set Decoration)
Hugo: Dante Ferretti (Production Design); Francesca Lo Schiavo (Set Decoration)
War Horse: Rick Carter (Production Design); Lee Sandales (Set Decoration)

Costume Design

Anonymous, Lisy Christl
The Artist, Mark Bridges
Hugo, Sandy Powell
Jane Eyre, Michael O’Connor W.E., Arianne Phillips

Documentary Feature

Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory Pina
Undefeated

Documentary Short

The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement, Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
God is the Bigger Elvis, Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
Incident in New Baghdad, James Spione Saving Face, Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

Film Editing

The Artist, Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
The Descendants, Kevin Tent
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
Hugo, Thelma Schoonmaker
Moneyball, Christopher Tellefsen

Makeup

Albert Nobbs, Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin
The Iron Lady, Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

Music (Original Score)

The Adventures of Tintin, John Williams
The Artist, Ludovic Bource Hugo, Howard Shore
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alberto Iglesias
War Horse, John Williams

Short Film (Animated)

Dimanche/Sunday , Patrick Doyon
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
La Luna, Enrico Casarosa
A Morning Stroll, Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
Wild Life, Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Short Film (Live Action)

Pentecost, Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
Raju, Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
The Shore, Terry George and Oorlagh George
Time Freak, Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
Tuba Atlantic, Hallvar Witzø

Sound Editing

Drive, Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Ren Klyce
Hugo, Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
War Horse, Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

Sound Mixing

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
Hugo, Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
Moneyball, Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
War Horse, Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
Hugo, Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
Real Steel, Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Dan Glass, Brad Friedman, Douglas Trumbull and Michael Fink

Luke says: Loved RISE OF THE APES and as much as impressed as I was with the special effects in TRANSFORMERS I cannot chose that to win over a vastly superior overall film. Along with it though RISE OF THE APES had great performance capture and the effects towards the end were just as impressive.