Monday, January 9

Bossk Office: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Ladies and gentleman, I am not a qualified film reviewer. I know that I like and what gives me the icks. I have the critical mind of yogurt. Thankfully, I have found the perfect twosome to hash out the strength and weaknesses of movies, the 1980s and 2000s toy versions of a bounty hunter from Empire Strikes Back.

Folks, this is Bossk Office.

Chipper Bossk: I'm almost afraid to ask you what you liked most about Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Surly Bossk: I'm not ashamed to say I liked the movie.

Chipper Bossk: It's not a film that one usually says "they like." It's a hard-R adult thriller set in a brutal environment, both in terms of the climate and the human cruelty on display. The film ends with a golden street light that provides no warmth, only illumination. That fits the movie to a T, but it's not what the typical American movie audience is conditioned to like.

Surly Bossk: Three words about this film: Interesting people thinking. That's the movie. But the dark elements, for many, mean it's not an "entertaining" movie.

Chipper Bossk: No, I didn't enjoy it, but I  -- Oh, I know. I appreciated it. Most of it, anyway.

Surly Bossk: Dish. 

Chipper Bossk: This is obviously based on a book as there is a level of consideration we normally wouldn't get in a movie thriller: the way Daniel Craig's glasses hang under his chin, the title character's diet. In a typical movie, these things would be discussed for easy filler dialogue. Here, they just happen, and they reveal character. I appreciate that. But the movie also has flaws.

Surly Bossk: Like the central mystery. 

Chipper Bossk: I wonder about this. Again, for the American audience, the mystery is rife with cliches because we are swamped by serial-killer mythologies. We have weekly TV shows -- dramas and documentaries -- devoted to method killing. This book is almost ten years old. It can't bring much new to our cultural buffet table. I think the movie makers decided to deal with it as if they are covering a classic song. Not to reinvent, but to refine. The presentation of the mystery details and the dramatic exposition are technically precise and good. But the lyrics to this song are dated.

Surly Bossk: The monologuing is almost embarrassing.

Chipper Bossk: Man, that hurts the film.

Surly Bossk: I'm glad the movie continues beyond the mystery. 

Chipper Bossk: Yes, and that emphasizes the characters. We really need to break down the film into three elements:
1) The mystery.

Surly Bossk: Dud. 

Chipper Bossk: Agreed. 2) The characters. This is the reason to see the movie. These are better than what we normally get for the cost of a movie ticket. I'm curious about them. I happily follow them throughout the film. And they don't pander to us. They move forward by necessity and curiosity. They are driven.

Surly Bossk: Especially her. When she gets a plan, she's moves like a bullet. 

Chipper Bossk: They do a good job making her superlative but credible.I do wonder how Craig's character is described in the book. He doesn't act like James Bond, but here he obviously looks like him. That sometimes hurts the film.

Surly Bossk: But Craig isn't acting like Bond. 

Chipper Bossk: No, he's not. Both actors are really good here. Everyone is, really. It's a superior film as craft.

Surly Bossk: But let's be honest: The story is pulp. 

Chipper Bossk: Utter pulp. And that gives us the third element to consider: 3) The story. This is noir. Straight up. Call it Nordic noir if you want, but this is hard-boiled mid-century American pulp noir -- Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler and Richard Stark. It just happens to be in modern Sweden featuring a girl with some awesome earrings. And for folks who don't know noir and expect a typical Hollywood tidy story, they won't "like" the film either. This uses a language they don't understand.

Surly Bossk: Well, we like noir. And so we like this film. 

Chipper Bossk: As much as one can like something so harsh and dark. Which can also be said about the title character too, I s'pose.

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