The likes and dislikes of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The time is once again here. This is my last post for the Sweden.se film blog. We’ll see when I return. I’ve looked over my notes for what to bring up in the final text and I decided not to do a “Best of” list or “Don’t Miss This In 2012″ list. I want to keep it easy breezy so instead I want to give you a little bullet point review of David Fincher’s “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” – The remake of the Swedish film that truly put Swedish cinema on the world map a couple of years ago (Of course Stieg Larsson’s book helped a bit too).

The 3 things I really liked about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

The story – Looking back on the Swedish one you quickly see that Fincher has chosen not to use as many strings as Niels Arden Oplev, the Swedish director. Instead he focuses more on key elements that makes the story push forward, never leaving you bored or out of place. It builds better character and storyline, which leads me to the next part.

Lisbeth Salander - here played by Rooney Mara – Damn does she nail it. Don’t get me wrong. Noomi Rapace did a great job giving cinema birth to this character but Rooney Mara just takes the role to another level. Of course a huge part of this is because of David Finchers directing but she’s truly the ace in Dragon Tattoo deck.

Stellan Skarsgård – This man, this legend, this Swedish teddy bear of an actor is so good in this film that you actually forget who played this character in the original. Skarsgård is on a great roll right now. This year he was in both Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia and in Hollywood blockbuster Thor. Next year you’ll find him in one of the biggest movies of 2012, The Avengers, with no other than Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo and a guy named Robert Downey Jr, you might have heard of him?

The 3 things I didn’t like about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Deja vu – Even if I think this time around the film is generally better crafted, better looking and gives a harder punch, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve already seen this before. If you’ve seen the first one you don’t NEED to see this one.

The music – Trent Reznor is doing just fantastic film scores these days. Most recently he went home with an Oscar for his score in The Social Network. Here his music takes the back seat and just kind of goes for the ride (not counting the trailer or opening credits). Never really pushing forward. Autopilot is the best word for it and that’s too bad.

Joel Kinnaman in a scene from The Killing.

Joel Kinnaman – Swedish actor Kinnaman is getting more and more doors open for him Internationally. He broke through here in Sweden with Easy Money (Snabba Cash) and is now doing great in America with the TV-show The Killing. In The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo he pops up in the beginning of the film, in a none speaking part. That’s fine I’m thinking. He’ll be back later for some real acting. Then towards the end he comes back, only to say one line of dialog like “you’ve got a call”. I mean come on!

I understand that just being involved in this project is a great thing and to act, even for those 3,5 seconds, with Robin Wright and Daniel Craig is something you kill family members for. But when the part could just as easily be played by a sock puppet you might want to leave that family member alive (depending on what kind of present they gave you for Christmas of course).

On that note I want to wish everybody a late Merry Christmas and a very safe and happy New Years!

Thank you for reading.

Why Hollywood can’t get enough of Peter Stormare

All work and no play makes Peter a dull boy. Maybe that's why he's the lead in a band as well? PHOTO: Björn Jansson/Sveriges Radio.

 

Recognize the man in the photo? If not that means you’re pretty happy under that rock you live under and I wish you a peacefull slumber. However, if you’re like the rest of the filmviewing population (outside of Sweden) you probably know the face but don’t know the name. His name is Peter Stormare. He has done tons of theater and was a close friend to Ingmar Bergman, who also directed him a few times, but in 1992 he moved to Los Angeles and Hollywood bad guys would never be the same again.

If you look up Peter Stormare on IMDB you can see that he’s acted in over 115 productions (at this moment it’s on 116). He’s done TV as in Seinfeld, Entourage, CSI and of course Prison Break. But TV is not where his skill has shined the brightest. It’s in the films that he’s been involved in.

He’s worked with everybody from Spielberg (Minority Report)  to the Coen brothers (The Big Lebowski). He’s played everything from one of the coolest devils of all time (Constantine) to a plain killer who really likes waffles (Fargo, Coen brothers again).

Since he is Swedish, born and raised, Hollywood uses the safe card. I can just see a guy in a suit worth more than most cars saying “Let’s make him Russian!” and the rest of the room looks at him like he just reinvented the wheel. Because if there’s one thing he ends up playing a lot of times that would be a “foreigner”, preferable Russian with terrorist/bad guy connections. But he must be doing something right because everybody wants a piece of him.

Right now he has 3 films in pre-production, 1 film under production and 5 films in post-production. Amongst those are Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (one of the funniest film titles I’ve heard in a long time), Lockout with Guy Pearce and Last Stand with none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, his long awaited return to films after the whole “I liked my housekeeper a little too much”-ordeal.

Sure Peter Stormare has been in some really horrible films (no offense Mr. Stormare) but he’s also been in some fantastic ones. The characters he creates are never two of the same. He also finds time to balance his Hollywood career with his Swedish one. He always delivers something new, even if it’s a in-and-out character. If there’s something that always stays the same, something that acts like a rock in stormy water, it’s him.

Sci-fi film with Guy Pearce due out next year.

A great little small film that from USA that was brave enough to cast Peter Stormare in a leading role. Came out last year.

And I hope you haven’t missed this funny series of commercials with Peter Stormare that dates a few years back.

It’s going to be a very Swedish Hollywood this Christmas

 

I’m trying something new. I’m downsizing my texts. The last couple of posts I’ve been a few passages short of a novel. I know this because a publisher called and asked when my book will be released. So if shorter texts don’t work I’ll just stick to consonants.
W ldn’t th t b f n?

Something I love during wintertime is coming in from the cold, sit down in a nice and warm movie theater with a (hopefully) good film on screen. This winter Hollywood is really giving us a Blockerbuster Christmas.

The three biggest films are of course The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by David Fincher, Sherlock Holmes 2 by Guy Ritchie and Mission Impossible 4 by Brad Bird.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo will probably be Sweden’s best grossing film this season due to:
1. The film is directed by David Fincher and it looks amazing.
2. The film is based on one of Sweden’s most popular bookseries ever, The Millennium series by Stieg Larsson.
3. Swedish film legend Stellan Skarsgård is in it.
4. What Swede doesn’t want to see James Bond walk on the streets of Stockholm and (try to) say a bunch of Swedish names?

Then we have Sherlock Holmes 2 where Swedish actress Noomi Rapace (that got famous thanks to the original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) not only landed a big role, she also got her own poster. This could be a contender for the highest grossing film this season due to it’s “popcorn factor” and of course Robert Downey Jr.

"I would like to order a plate of meatballs, the small kind, the Swedish kind" © Paramount

Personally The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is the film I’m looking forward to the most but after that one it’s the new Mission Impossible film. The biggest reason is because I’m a fan of the series (I forgive them for the second one) but also because Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist, a man that has built his career here in Sweden on drama, drama and drama is now the ultimate bad guy in a Hollywood film. How can one NOT look forward to this?  Very brave Mr. Nyqvist.

Of course I’m seeing all of these the moment they get released so get ready for some reviews. And as we can see my text didn’t get much shorter so the reviews w ll b  h rd  t  r  d.

 

It’s the end of the world, yet it’s only Friday

A great poster for the film Melancholia that brings your mind straight to Millais' Ophelia.

 

I’ve totally fallen off the wagon. I’m back to being a film junkie again and I love it. A friend recommended me to start with something soft, like a gateway film. She suggested a couple of films that made me question our friendship. Let’s just leave it at that. Instead I went the other way, the heavier stuff, the Scandinavian stuff. I gave my mind a slice of Danish pie.

Everybody knows who Lars Von Trier is. He is Scandinavia’s best known auteur. He is also a man that often gets surrounded by controversy (Just google it). All this doesn’t matter because he is a master filmmaker and Melancholia is his latest Mona Lisa.

Trier opens the film with a range of gorgeous slow motion shots, followed by the end of the world. The planet Melancholia crashes into Earth. The reason why Trier does this is to put the focus on the characters. Don’t bother hoping it will solve itself in the end. Just accept it and slowly open the package of unhappiness wrapped in great characters.

To be fair now I haven’t always liked Trier’s films. I’ve felt that they have been a bit too out there for my taste. A little too much vegetables on the plate if you will. However, when it comes to Melancholia I can only say great things.

Alexander Skarsgård plays Kirsten Dunst’s husband-to-be and he does it in perfect manner, showing the world that he has range far past a True Blood vampire.

And where there’s one Skarsgård another one is not far behind. Stellan Skarsgård, Papa bear, also does a great sleazy character. I do so enjoy seeing great Swedish actors in good parts abroad.

So if you’ve missed Melancholia and enjoy when films dare to be a bit more brave then I couldn’t urge you enough.

Stockholm Film Festival. The highs and lows

These ticket vouchers were my best friend during the festival.

The festival is now long gone. Left is only ticket stubs, memories and half eaten popcorn boxes that could probably feed Norway for 2 days.

I’ve given this festival a lot of time and thought and what better way can we say goodbye than a “Best of” post here on the blog.

First I want to tip my hat to the festival workers. This year was smooth as silk with very few delays. Most of these delays were because of a surprise Q&A or Face2Face and how can you be mad at that? That’s like being pissed off for coming late to work because you found a bag of money on your way.

So what was my favorite film? I thought this was going to be a close call but the more I think of it the more I loved 50/50. This film also won The Audience Award so I’m not alone on this one. The way director Jonathan Levine balances humor and drama in this film about a 27 year old guy who gets a 50% chance of survival is truly masterful.

Mark my words, within 5 years Joseph Gordon-Levitt will win an Oscar. If not, I will be the guy that storms the stage and steals it from Rusell Crowe after he’s won his 17th.

Favorite documentary goes to How To Die In Oregon. This HBO produced film is about death. Plain and simple. Oregon was the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide and we get to follow a couple of people that has chosen that path. Let me tell you, I’ve never been in such a quiet movie theater as this one. This film sucks you right in and definitely leaves its mark.

Best looking film for me was easily Simon & The Oaks. This is a film I’ve already written about so if you’ve missed it, you can read more about it here.

The actress that stood out the most for me was the lead in Martha Marcy May Marlene, Elizabeth Olsen. Not only is she stunning but her role as a woman that tries to break out of a cult left me wanting more. But let’s all forget the fact that she’s the little sister to The Olsen twins.

For best actor I have to go with Michael Fassbender. I know, safe bet, but his role in Shame was just incredible. Personally I didn’t think Shame lived up to its own hype but the acting in the film was a symphony.

Best director for me was hard. I truly think Ruben Östlund did a fantastic job directing young kid actors in Play but Tomas Alfredson’s work in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is just pure gold. On the other hand with actors like Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong and Colin Firth the question is how much do you really need to direct? More on this film soon.

And now the lows. It’s always fun to end with the bad stuff. The absolute biggest thing I think the festival missed was an easy one, language. They had seminars that were marked “In English” but was presented in Swedish and they showed Swedish films without English subtitles. I understand the fact that the majority of festival visitors are Swedes but how will the foreign cinema lovers experience Swedish film? And isn’t film always best at festivals?