Friday, 27 January 2012

Random Movie Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Had this lying around for a while, but I want to get into the habit of writing them, so here goes:

Before I ventured on my regular Sunday night cinema session, I had come across a number of different views on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Having deliberately avoided critic reviews, I only had friends’ opinions and an IMDB rating of 8.2/10 ‘polluting’ my intention to view the film from a purified viewpoint. It was one of those rare occasions where I had not read the books (which I am ordering right now on Amazon), but, given the obsession of today’s film industry with converting books into films, it was kind of refreshing to be able to watch a movie without thinking about plots gone wrong, missing characters, cheesy scenes being added and things not going quite as I had imagined.

The movie kicked ass. Yes, it was slow at times, yes, it could have ended 20 minutes sooner, but this was a movie of subtleties as much as it was in your face. Apparently faithful to the book and the original, the plotline remained interesting despite the villain being quite obvious from the beginning. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a good, somewhat familiar story being retold by an excellent narrator.

Fincher is a notorious perfectionist, and you can see that in every scene. His direction of Mara, in particular, is astonishing. Her character is communicated in an ever so subtle yet decisive manner. In her sex scenes with Craig’s character, Mikhel, she is always on top, and makes it obvious she is there with her own satisfaction as the end goal. Rooney Mara herself has given an award-nomination-worthy performance, communicating a lot by saying very little. Lisbeth Salander’s character is disguised in a veil of mystery, and Mara’s performance lets you see through that; sometimes. We never find out where the dragon tattoo came from – there are only fleeting glimpses of it, and Blomvkist’s comment that he likes it after he spends the night with Lisbeth. We know it’s there, but most of the time it’s concealed beneath layers of black fabric and leather. Fincher only lets us look at it once every now and then, but he won’t let us get too close, in the same way that Lisbeth does not let anyone get too close to her. The only person she shows some affinity to, apart from her guardian, is Mikhel. He happens to be the only one who sees and comments on her dragon tattoo.

The soundtrack? Well, I am biased, since over the past few years Trent Reznor slowly reached a godly status for me. So, yes, the soundtrack is great. I only wish it could be louder at times, like the amazing hacking scene in The Social Network. But, given how many layers of production this movie is lying on, the music eventually is part of the whole, merging with the sounds of the whistling wind, the dialogue and the dark colours that have been cast on the snowy landscape. Apart from the stunning opening credits, of course, but everything's been said and written about them already. It's worth paying for the ticket just to walk into the theatre, salivate over them and walk out.

As the film finished, I was left feeling bittersweet. I enjoyed watching the movie, but what seemed like wrapping everything up at the end suggested that Fincher may not be coming back to direct the next two movies, if they still stay in the pipeline.  

Monday, 23 January 2012

Breaking rackets

A great article was sent to me by a friend on Friday:

Of Baghdatis, the pain of losing, triumphalism and destruction

You need to watch this first, if you haven't already. In case you weren't aware of what happened last week in the 2nd round of the Australian Open, fellow Cypriot and mildly crazy person Marcos Baghdatis broke four tennis rackets in less than a minute, in a manic frenzy of anger venting.

What I would disagree with is that Binoo K John, the writer of the article above, overlooks another key point - that it's not just about winning and not losing. It's about not knowing what is going wrong, not knowing how to fix it, not wanting to take the blame and putting the blame elsewhere. Being lost in a particular moment where resignation is not yet an option but it can very soon be the only possibility.

Resignation, according to British philosopher Bertrand Russell, is not to admit defeat, but to recognise that your personal efforts can have no impact on certain events whose development and conclusion lie beyond your control and powers. No matter how much he has been criticized for this, it has been overlooked that he finishes everything off with a smile. After escaping the Bacchic frame of mind that he temporarily entered, Marcos returned to his normal disposition which is what made him one of the most likeable tennis personalities of recent years. He wins the next set but goes on to lose the match. He does what is within his powers, and then he resigns.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Thierry Henry and why going back to the past is not a bad thing

Thierry Henry proves that returning back to past is not always a sign of a retrospective acceptance of current failure. Actually, maybe that's exactly what it is. But it also shows a sign of bravery to accept that you were once happier and more successful than you are now. And you'd like to go back to that, and you accept that.