The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Review

I’d like to open this review by being as blunt as the movie I’m reviewing; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a masterpiece. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a murder mystery, it’s an examination of family values gone wrong, it’s a character study, it’s a portrait of the violence and cruelty the average person tries to pretend doesn’t exist, it’s gritty, it’s raw, it holds no punches as it shouldn’t, it’s fascinating, it’s compelling, it envelops the idea of truly extraordinary filmmaking and yes it is a masterpiece.

I had not read the book before seeing this film nor had I seen the Swedish version of the film. This gave me the opportunity to view this film with out an ounce of prejudice. I wasn’t judging the movie based on how similar it was to the book or if it was better than the swedish version of the film, I was able to simply experience it for what it was, a spectacular film. This was the first time I was to take in this particular story and I have no regrets because this film was spectacular.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tells the dark, and I mean dark, tale of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist and their involvement behind the mystery of Harriet Vanger and her disappearance 40 years ago. I obviously don’t know how much screenwriter Steven Zaillan did in adapting this story for the screen, but the writing was real and enthralling. For coming up with such a calculated and phenomenal story, the true praise here belongs to author Stieg Larrson.

The performances here are more than what you’d expect from great cinema. Christopher Plummer is simply an amazing actor and his work here speaks for itself. Stellan Skarsgard is also always a pleasure to watch and the same goes for his performance in this film. Whether it’s in a good movie or a bad movie, there is just something about Daniel Craig that I find appealing as an actor. In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, he plays what may be the most human character he’s ever played and plays him with that same appeal. None of those performances were as demanding and incredible as the star of the film.

Rooney Mara as the rebellious and layered Lisbeth Salander is a revelation of potent prowess. Lisbeth Salander is fascinating creation of strong will and self-proclaimed insanity, a character so captivating and memorable that only a truly brilliant performance would suffice. That’s the exact performance you’ll find from Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Every deliverance of a line, facial expression, or gesture is just exquisite. This is a performance that most actors can only give in their dreams.

The direction here is quite honestly indescribable. David Fincher has done something here that you really have to see to believe. Every shot, every music cue, every finite detail is treated with respect and the result is a flawless movie. My second favorite David Fincher film is The Social Network and Fight Club is Fincher’s magnum opus. However, in terms of the scope, the filmmaking and the pure craft of it all The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is second to none. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the kind of film that serves as a reminder of what a perfect movie is.

Grade: A+

Midnight in Paris Review

Comedies for me are very hit or miss. I, like almost everyone, do love the occasional comedy from time to time. There are a lot of comedies out there that, regardless of how much you laugh, are only focused on just that; making you laugh. These comedies don’t really care about the characters and the story their shaping. It’s always refreshing to see a movie that can be considered a comedy and be so so much more. Midnight in Paris is just that kind of movie.

Yes,Woody Allen’s latest film is funny, but Midnight in Paris can best be described as charming and sweet. In a story about a writer who finds out on his vacation to Paris that at Midnight he can travel to and experience the zest and company of the roaring 20s you get a portrait of love and the ability to start over. It’s an interesting tale and one that could’ve fell flat, but instead the concepts were taken seriously and they are fresh, appealing, and it all completely works.

The film is stacked with great performers such as Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen and even the marvelous Marion Cotillard. It was an absolute pleasure to watch Owen Wilson in a more serious role as the lovable, yet wimpish protagonist. Like the actors, practically everything from the camera work to the score just fits. It was a very meaningful, but fun watch.

It’s always nice to watch a shorter film that’s actually very good because most truly good films have to be over 2 hours to tell their stories. Midnight in Paris doesn’t tell too little or too much, it tells just the right amount. There’s only so much you can do with a story about a man who continues to travel back in time to have a good time in the 1920s and Midnight in Paris never feels boring so it obviously did its job and did it admirably. Midnight in Paris isn’t a very challenging movie and it’s not a film that will change you, it is however a well made film that will make you smile.

Grade: A-

Hesher Review

There are a lot of different reasons to see a movie. Most of the time it’s because you want to be entertained, maybe it’s because you want escape, maybe you want to appreciate the art or maybe you like the director whose making the film. I hadn’t heard much about Hesher, but I did know Joseph Gordon-Levitt was starring as the title character in a role that was completely different from any he had ever taken before. I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt and he was the reason I saw this movie.

This was a very unique film to say the least. In terms of the messages it tried to establish, sure there was nothing new here, but what made this film so innovative was in the dark ways it established the themes. It was also a film that never failed to make you laugh on occasion. It was certainly what you’d call a black comedy, but it also had a lot of heartfelt moments and none of it felt forced. I could certainly see how this film might not be able to grip everyone, but Hesher truly captivated me through out.

Hesher follows the story of a young boy, TJ (played very well by Devin Brochu), and his father (Rainn Wilson who is cast out of character and pulls a lot out of the smaller part he was given) who have both just lost someone very dear to them in a car accident. TJ finds a new quasi-friend in the rebellious and anarchic Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who may very well be the tough and unusual push to get this father and son living their lives again.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is just astounding as one of my favorite characters to come out of cinema this year. He swears, he lights stuff on fire, he’s vulgar, he’s intimidating, he’s threatening, he does not give a shit, but when the time calls for it he doesn’t hesitate to get out of his tough exterior and show that he does have a beating heart. The character is defined so well in the writing and Levitt plays him flawlessly. The film is worth seeing if only for his performance. The rest of the cast was pretty great as well and that includes Piper Laurie as the lovable Grandma and Natalie Portman as the store clerk TJ falls for.

Hesher was just an extremely entertaining film through and through. Was it some kind of perfect film? No, but any slight flaws it had I found myself forgiving because I couldn’t stop rooting for these characters and some kind of satisfying ending. Well, you can’t really expect much from someone who is so apathetic, but Hesher delivers.

Grade: A-