Friday, August 13, 2010

Mini Movie Reviews

David Fincher is directing the American adaptations of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, but after seeing the first two Swedish-language films based on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire, I wonder why Fincher would even bother. Having not read the original books, I can't comment on how much director Niels Arden Oplev sticks to or doesn't stick to the trilogy's tone, but man alive, the Swedish films are terrific just as stand-alone movies. Both are methodically paced in the style of 1970's thrillers, yet there isn't a moment of boredom within the slow pacing; just more tension. As good a director that Fincher is, I worry how 'Americanized' the remakes will be.

Daniel Craig is apparently playing Mikael Blomkvist, which I can see, but lord knows who can be found to properly capture Lisbeth Salander. One rumour had Carey Mulligan up for the role, but she would be so preposterously miscast that the movie would degenerate into comedy. I wish Fincher luck in finding his Lisbeth, unless he has a time machine that can bring Fight Club-era Helena Bonham Carter to the present to play the role. That could work. It would also spare her from years of being wasted in Tim Burton movies, so Fincher should undertake this kidnapping for humanitarian reasons, if nothing else.


There's a very short list of old actors that can still be believably portrayed as bad-asses. Even if you give them a background like, for instance, former member of the British Marines, it takes a unique figure to be able to pull off being 70+ years old and still looking like you can throw down at a moment's notice against a punk who's a third your age.

Clint Eastwood is the king of this division, but Michael Caine is in the top ten. Harry Brown gets a lot of mileage out of the fact that Caine can tell a rambling story about his war days to a half-dead drug dealer before finishing him off and not have the scene descend into self-parody. There isn't much to the overall story that isn't somewhat obvious from the get-go, but if you're going to have a vicarious 'antihero beats up punks' story, you might as well cast someone as awesome and instantly likable as Caine. God forbid one of the punks had been Dutch, then you might've seen some serious mayhem go down.


Back in my summer movie preview, I noted that the eight writers credited to Dinner For Schmucks was 'somewhat of a red flag,' but the overall funniness of the Steve Carell/Paul Rudd comedy duo (not to mention a great supporting cast) should be enough to carry the day. Uh, yeah, scratch that. This movie never got out of the starting blocks. It kicks into farce mode way too quickly and ultimately falls victim to what Roger Ebert described as the Idiot Plot --- all of the plot's problems could be easily solved if the characters (namely Rudd's straight man) weren't all idiots. And, not to be too much of a spoiler, but the actual dinner with the schmucks is maybe 10 percent of the overall movie. To borrow yet another Ebert critical tool, the movie is much less interesting than a hypothetical 90-minute film just showing Carell, Rudd, Jemaine Clement, Larry Wilmore, etc. hanging around and riffing.


And finally, a coming attraction. The trailer for 'The Social Network' is so good in and of itself as a 150-second teaser that I'm almost afraid that the actual movie will be a letdown. Between David Fincher directing and Aaron Sorkin writing, we're probably in for a good film, but....goddamn, that trailer. That choral version of 'Creep' is just so, so, perfect for both setting a tone and for framing the Facebook subject. It's hilarious, Sorkin famously started a Facebook group basically just so people could give him their interpretations and feelings on what Facebook meant to them or even what the site 'was' in so many words. After thousands of messages and back-and-forth commentary, it's great that the creepiness of the site ended up playing such an important role in Sorkin's interpretation of what FB is all about. (Obviously he's not involved in the trailer production, but even still, it's a good hint about the film's direction.) Just a totally wild, pie-in-the-sky claim being made here on Friday the 13th of August: Justin Timberlake gets a best supporting actor nod for this movie. Call me crazy, but I have a hunch. Is this hunch fueled by a desire to see him hosting SNL again in support of this movie and his own nomination? Hell yes.

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