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+

Advertisements

Beginners Review

 

When it comes to movies surrounding the subject of love there seems to be two types of relationships. Most of the time in a romance movie what is showcased can best be classified as movie love; a relationship between movie characters that can sometimes be interesting, but usually falls flat and ends up exactly where you predicted. Then, there’s that rare kind of love that few filmmakers have managed to capture; the kind that makes you truly feel for and care about these characters and makes pray that- with all their beautiful chemistry and quirky moments- happy ending is a head and not because you want the film to follow the unprinted rule of the romance film, but because you truly believe this is the kind of love that should last. In a profound tale of love, life and the ups and downs you’ll find in both, Beginners has a relationship of this kind and so much more.

In one of his best performances, Ewan McGregor plays main character Oliver Fields who finds out that his father is gay and if that wasn’t surprise for him enough, next he finds that his father has cancer. Oliver’s father, Hal, is played by the always excellent Christopher Plummer with potent honesty. In Hal you’ll find a man, who even in times of sadness, needs to have a bit of fun. The idea of the Hal Fields character could’ve been over the top, but due to the eloquent writing and a fabulous performance, the character feels real.

This bleak tale of Oliver spending as much time with his father as he can is juxtaposed with a delightful showcasing of Oliver’s growing relationship with the incredibly charming french actress, Anna. Anna is played by promising actress, Melanie Laurent. I’ve only seen her before in one of my favorite films, Inglourious Basterds, and seeing her in this once again makes me want to see her in more. The relationship between Anna and Oliver is quite honestly one of the greatest and most believable relationships ever filmed.

The other star and charmer of this film is the dog, Arthur. Every relationship in the film is not one of cinema, but one of purity. And I mean every relationship; Oliver and Anna, Oliver and Hal, Hal and his new found boyfriend, even Oliver and Arthur. Beginners effectively succeeds in the way it doesn’t try to be anything more than it is and what Beginners is, is extraordinary.

All around, Beginners is just an unbelievably spectacular film. The direction is spot on, the performances are award-worthy, the writing makes for a mellow, yet awe-inspiring tale of us and the relationships that stick with us. What else can be said? Beginners is just a truly awesome movie on all accounts, in fact I’ll say it, Beginners is a masterpiece. I only say that when its warranted and for this film it is undoubtedly warranted.

Grade: A+

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Review

The greatest word to describe The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is interesting. I did find myself enjoying the movie very much at times, but it just seemed rushed and forced at times. Its actually a bit hard to describe, but it just didn’t feel well-made. The effects were fun to look at, a avery wonderland-esgue world has been created here and I love that, but I times the whole movie felt a bit under-payed and too flashy.

Also, I didn’t really understand the casting at all here, what you got here is a bunch of amateurs who are difficult to watch act at times surrounded by two great actors (Plummer and Waits) and one of the greatest actors I’ve seen, who also happens to be a cultural icon (Ledger, of course). But then you are saddened because it turns out that the amateurs are the good guys in the story and the cultural icon I mentioned before is actually a terrible person whose character you basically hate from the get go. And I don’t mean his character is the comelling villain, no that role went to Tom Waits and he totally owned that part, he’s the saving grace of the film. I’m saying his character was just a dick. He wasn’t enjoyable to watch.

Don’t get me wrong, Heath Ledger pulled it off perfectly. He was fantastic and I would expect nothing less, but his character was just unentertaining. The entertainment value of this film came from the the idea of the film and the battle between its antagonist and protagonist. This film was essentially a complex look at the devil and angel on your shoulder. It’s a great depiction of choice, I just wish it was made more professionally.

It may seem like I’m trashing this movie to no end, but the best way to descibe my feelings is disappointment. It just wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. They’re were certainly a lot of pros to this movie. I did enjoy Heath Ledger going into the Imaginarium and becoming a different person (Depp, Law and Farrell) it really worked. The biggest pro to this movie was its antagonist though. I loved Tom Waits in the role as the gambling, and almost charming devil, or as the movie named him, Mr. Nick. I was highly entertained each time he was on screen which wasn’t enough in my opinion. Christopher Plummer also did a good job as well.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was a film with a fantastic idea behind it, only it wasn’t able to completely follow through as well as I would’ve hoped. Heath Ledger did an incredible job, but I hated his character, while Tom Waits did a great job and I loved his character. Other than that, things were pretty sub-par. There was no consistency here. Oh well, I’ll have to deal with what I got. I was entertained and I see myself re-watching it a couple times in the future.

Grade: B-