Child of Now

December 25, 2011

An avid movie-goer when much younger, I hadn’t set foot in a theater in years – DVDed everything  — and  not much appealed.
In reality, I don’t really don’t care much for the medium any more, rare now for even a video.
Steve McQueen and Natalie Wood are still dead, so there you have it.

So last night, I ventured out for a view of David Fincher’s “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” at the urging of a daughter now staying with me — she’d just finished the book, and wanted a look-see.
Hey, what the heck, there’s nothing else going on, so off we went…

Dragon Tattoo‘ sucked — up-chucking the old idiom, ‘that’s 158 minutes I’ll never get back.’

(Illustration found here).

Director Fincher, to me anyway, is one of those hit-or-miss guys that could make an interesting film all the way through, or create brilliant spots in otherwise  over-drawn and tedious movies — tons of peoples (my daughters included — Brad Pitt, duh!) blubber endlessly and wax delightful over “Fight Club,” but I didn’t catch the point, the only person I felt for was the crazy character played by Helena Bonham Carter, which retardedly reveals how my sense of sensibility tracks.
If Fincher had cut about 90 percent of the first half of the intriguing “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” he’d had a really good movie on his hands — the whole, entire plot didn’t jell until the ages of Ben and Daisy had coincided — but instead another bit of tedious storytelling.
Of course, he scored big with his recent “The Social Network,” but then he had one of the better visual-arts writers around, Aaron Sorkin, on-board.

Fincher shit in his mess kit, though, with ‘Dragon Tattoo.’

My daughter also disliked it — she said the only good part of the movie was the sound/graphics with the opening credits; the whole project went downhill from there.
Indeed, the sequence was inspiring — Trent Reznor and Karen O re-shaped Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” a hard, pulsating tune, into a fluid, exploding optical scenario setting up an anticipation of a dangerous, weird and quick-paced piece of entertainment.

Again, my daughter wondered how people who’d not read the book could understand the plot.
True — beyond the basics, I not only couldn’t follow, but also couldn’t grasp the reasoning behind the story.
The basics being: Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), an investigative journalist, just losing a big libel case and most of his bank account, takes a freelance job with a big industrialist (Christopher Plummer) to find out what happened to the old guy’s favorite niece, who’d disappeared 40 years earlier.
Some circumstances later, Blomkvist teams with hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), the girl of the title.
The plot blunders along, but there’s no emotion, no rationale to why we in the audience should even want to follow, a storyline of a serial killer amongst the industrialist’s family and a lot of time doing really nothing, just being cold as in Sweden.
The LA Times pretty-well sums it up in its review of the film:

As readers of the Stieg Larsson novel and viewers of the recent Swedish film version know all too well, what’s on offer is a bleak and savage story of crime and punishment that features generous portions of sadistic rape, twisted torture and murders that can charitably be called grotesque.

Screenwriter (Steven) Zaillian has adroitly pared down the 500-plus-page book (the chatter about a change to the ending is a tempest in a teapot) and what’s on screen also benefits from the work of “Social Network” collaborators including production designer Donald Graham Burt, editors Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall and composers Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross.
But unlike that film, which profited from Eisenberg’s humanity in a not particularly human role, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is too frigid around the heart to be really effective.

The only bit worth noting in the film is when Salander is on screen.
And she’s a character for the ages, most definitely a child of the now — in ‘Dragon Tattoo‘ she’s a wafer-thin 25, possessing a photographic memory coupled with being a most-brilliant computer hacker, a load of facial piercings, a Gothic-punk-rockish make-up and a sullen, distrustful demeanor.
As heroine of Larsson’s trilogy — “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest ” — she’s the poster child for the damaged soul who’s both much-more intelligent and integrity-minded than appearances would indicate.
Don’t get me wrong, however, Salander would in a heart-beat kick your sorry ass real bad if wronged.
My daughter says several characters from the book were completely left out of the movie, and apparently Salander might have suffered from Asperger syndrome, characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, which would explain the apparent attitude — good at heart, but she just can’t communicate feelings, though, at first (or maybe second) glance, Salander would come across to most folks as surly and nasty.
But it ain’t so.

Some other background not in the Fincher film (via Politics Daily):

She has many secrets, some more awful than others, and has endured horrific physical and mental pain, rape and torture, and will inflict revenge swiftly, without mercy.

She’s a child of the millennium, and she’s old, older than hell.
She’s beautiful, and odd, very odd.
She tried to kill her father when she was 11 years old after years watching him rape and beat her mother. She set him on fire by using a milk carton filled with gasoline and throwing it into his car with a lighted match.
He was not killed but was maimed.
She was committed to a psychiatric facility and placed under a guardian who went on to torture and rape her before her 13th birthday.

I felt for Salander, in the way she moved and looked at people — long a ward of the state,  her older caretaker (I didn’t catch his name),  suffers a stroke and the sweetness of her care for him reveals a sincere concern.
Underneath the tough was the soft.
Too bad ‘Dragon Tattoo‘ couldn’t have been all about Salander, or at least have her more screen time — on appearance, she always warmed an otherwise frigid film.

Now most likely, I’ll have to DVD the Swedish ‘Dragon Tattoo,’ which came out two years ago without much fanfare.
One nutty thing about Fincher’s version is why?
Robert Roger Ebert (gave the Swedish adaption four stars,  proclaiming in the lede to his review: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is a compelling thriller to begin with, but it adds the rare quality of having a heroine more fascinating than the story.

My Saturday night at the movies was a waste, though.
And it cost $25 for two adult tickets and a couple of small Cokes — Tattoo You!

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