Tag Archives: Stieg Larsson

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, take two

It wasn’t bad. In fact, it was pretty good. The American version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was as enjoyable as the Swedish original, despite what I said about it earlier. I still don’t hold with the need to make a ‘proper’ American film of every foreign success, but that doesn’t mean they are poor copies.

As Mrs Pendolino said, the film was faithful to the book. Although how she knows this is a mystery. It was as faithful as the first film, which means most of it but not all. You can’t use the excuse that a long book needs to be cut in order to fit into a normal length film. Because if you did, you couldn’t explain away the extra bits that were never in the book.

We were fascinated by the accents. Here they go and make a proper US film and they have the actors speak as though they were a little bit Swedish. That’s everyone but Stellan Skarsgård, who as a true Swede spoke Americanised English the way he always does. (OK, there were a few real Swedes of lesser Hollywood standing who also sounded Swedish.)

The landscape was a wee bit bleak at times. A true Nordic film maker would know that you can be bleak in mind and in meaning, while still providing beautiful sunny landscapes for the eye. The cottage was rather dreamy, but maybe Hollywood believes in large and elegant cottages.

And the seasons! They were strange seasons. All right with some autumn to begin with. Then Christmas. Also fine. Followed later by autumn leaves on the trees, when it ought to have been spring. No summer to speak of, so I’m guessing they didn’t film over a whole year.

Rooney Mara was a great Lisbeth Salander. I didn’t think it would be possible for her to match Noomi Rapace, but she did. Even James Bond as Mikael Blomkvist was all right. Most people were OK in their roles, but seasonal disorder notwithstanding, it’s the landscape that wins. And you don’t get that in California.

Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

What happened to Mikael’s stint in jail? Cleaned up? At least they ended the film the same as the book! None of this being careful with Lisbeth’s feelings.

Per Oscarsson

We have to assume that Per Oscarsson is dead. So far all that anyone knows is that his house burned down on New Year’s Eve. ‘Only’ one unidentified body has been found, but it has not been confirmed if it is Per’s.

Per Oscarsson by Thomas Johansson

The whole world knows Per as Holger Palmgren, one of the few good guys surrounding Lisbeth Salander. Swedes know Per for all sorts of things, and inappropriate though it may seem today, we will always know him as the man who undressed on live television.

Per Oscarsson?Hylands Hörna

It was in the mid 1960s that Per was a guest on the weekly Saturday night show Hylands Hörna, a programme watched by ‘everyone’. So there I was, surrounded by mother and aunt and possibly more adults, when Per proceeded to tell us children how babies are made, all the while taking his clothes off. I think I mainly minded the presence of ‘my’ adults while this happened. And I didn’t much fancy the idea of a totally undressed Per Oscarsson. Hyland spent the entire time gasping for breath and possibly wondering what to do. But no one intervened. Per wore three pairs of underpants. The last pair stayed on. And Sweden could breathe out again.

I felt uneasy ‘around’ Per after that. You should be able to trust adults. But with time I came to realise he was OK, actually. And in more recent years I have actively admired him as an actor, feeling good about seeing him in the Millennium films.

Remains of Per Oscarsson's house, by Torbjörn Skogedal/Scanpix

So it is tempting to hope it’s not Per’s remains in that house. But most likely it will turn out to be.

We’ll certainly remember him.

The View From Here

Yippee! I have yet another outlet for my rants.

No, dear blog reader, I have not started another blog. Actually. (It’s tempting, though…) There is a magazine called The View From Here, whose editor very carelessly asked me to contribute to their online ‘blog’, and my second offering is now available to read.

It’s a little bit of a return to stuff I’ve already covered on here, as I’m heavily into recycling. But the bit about the dentist is new!

The View From Here

American Millennium

It’s alway nice to be proven wrong, I suppose. Looks like there will be an American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo after all. And reasonably soon. Not that I know anything about film making, of course.

They are meant to start filming this autumn, and they’ll do so in Stockholm and surroundings, which at least deals with my doubts of finding somewhere suitable in California. Steve Zaillian looks after the script, with Scott Rudin as producer and David Fincher directing.

The Swedes are very happy, since it means loads of money (hopefully) coming in to pay for local services. I gather the above gents are used to having Brad Pitt around. I’m not a Brad fan, but he does have hair the right colour. George Clooney would not make a good Blomkvist, however handsome he may be.

So, we’ll see what they come up with.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I think I’ve got it now. There is nothing like watching a film again. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which has just arrived in Britain, and at Cornerhouse, was pretty much the same this time round. But I think I worked out why it’s not doing well with the (male) reviewers that I’ve read.

This is very much Men Who Hate Men Who Hate Women, if you’re with me? The film of Stieg Larsson’s novel is the opposite way round to the traditional crime/thriller/adventure story. I think that may be why I like it, and that may also be why men like it less, even though they could be unaware of the reason.

Mikael Blomkvist might be a hero and he’s fairly intelligent. But it’s Lisbeth Salander who does all the cool stuff. She’s the really intelligent one, she’s the one who is violent, she’s the one who calls the shots on relationship issues. Lisbeth rescues Mikael (sorry about the spoiler, but you should know this by now), and Lisbeth decides if she wants to sleep with him. She runs after the murderer. She rigs up the security in the cottage. Lisbeth gets to ride the motorbike. She sleeps with women. And she has the cool tattoo, whatever your opinion about tattoos may be.

What is there for men to feel comfortable about?

Now that I’ve got all that feminist reasoning out of the way, what remains to be said is that this really is a great film. The book has been criticised for it’s poor language, but that’s less obvious in a film. Swedes are silent, so there is less to say, and less to translate. The subtitling was fine for the most part. Slight difference between murdering and killing, I think, but never mind.

Nice scenery of woods and lakes and empty roads and dramatic bridges. Lots of suddenly very old Swedish actors, and most of those who are famous seem to be in the film. I think there will be less call for a Hollywood version than seemed likely last year. The Swedish version is as it should be, and there is no need for either Branagh or Costner to get involved. Swedes do it better.

Doing it the Swedish way has caused one slight problem, however. It’s an 18. I didn’t see that coming, but I suppose there is just too much nasty sex and violence for 17-year-olds. The rape scene is unpleasant. The worrying thing is that you get used to it. But you have to have it, since the whole trilogy hinges around what happens early on in the first part.

Dates for the Millennium films

At long last we have dates for the Millennium films in Britain. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is finally going to be here on March 12th, The Girl Who Played With Fire on September 10th and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest on November 5th. So that’s only a year behind Sweden.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Be prepared for violence, but do go and see them.

The Girl Who Played With Fire

Having read reviews of the second Stieg Larsson Millennium film, The Girl Who Played With Fire, which were critical and claimed it’s nowhere near as good as the first film, I was worried. No need. I’d read complaints that there weren’t any cameo appearances by big names. There was one, actually, with Per Oscarsson as Holger Palmgren, and he was good as this respectable old man, which is different from his younger days.

Flickan som lekte med elden

There is simply no need for big names. And if we can agree that the books hardly count as great literature, but are great reads, then the films are in the same vein. Not exactly Bergman, but good, exciting films. And that’s enough. This second film may well qualify as a ‘low budget’ film, but what more do we need? It’s all there, inasmuch as you can put a long book like this into a two hour film.

Good Swedish scenery, and they may have turned the seasons upside down, but I’ll forgive them for that. Lisbeth’s flat is somewhere we’d all love to live, and it’s good to see it for real. A lot of the inner reasonings you get in the books are missing, but we can’t have everything.

Flickan som lekte med elden

Why they have Lisbeth using Windows on her Mac is beyond me. Old Windows at that, according to Son who watched with me. Less of the hacking than would have been fun, but I daresay there was no time for all that clever stuff.

Flickan som lekte med elden

The advantage with giving big name actors a miss, is that we get to see many unknowns (to me, at least) who are both good at what they do, and who fit the roles better than the big stars might. I gather that Paolo Roberto plays himself, which is weird, but fun. If this is what we get on a budget, I’m all for it. Give us more!

The Girl Who Played With Fire

The Girl Who Played With Fire

When I saw comments on Facebook that people had been to see the second Stieg Larsson film, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and that it’s not as good as the first, I needed to check out the reviews in the press. I did, and for the most part they agreed, although it’s still a watchable film.

What I hadn’t realised until I read those reviews, was that the films weren’t written or directed by the same people. I knew they’d originally been intended to be shown on television, and the decision to detour via the big screen was taken as millions flocked to see the first film. I wonder why? It seems strange to treat the last two thirds of the trilogy differently, seeing as they were filmed in sequence and with the same actors. One complaint is that they have no nice cameos from the big names in acting, like they do in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Apparently the script is no better than dozens of other police films, riddled with clichéd lines. The consensus is that Noomi Rapace is very good as Lisbeth Salander still, and people in general appear to have enjoyed a long lesbian love scene. Well, it is Sweden.

On the same day as I did my research into the film reviews, I came across an article about Noomi’s next film. She has been offered a role playing opposite Dane Mads Mikkelsen, and Harvey Keitel and Elliot Gould. It’s called Clean Out and is to be directed by Barthélémy Grossmann. So things are looking good for Lisbeth.

Män som hatar kvinnor – the film review

So how many times have I blogged about this blasted film without ever getting close to reviewing it? Let’s just say that it’s been a few blogs too many. And what shall I call it, now that I have actually – actually – watched it? The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, or Män som hatar kvinnor? I may go for MSHK on the basis that it’s the shortest. The curse against me, or against the film, continued to be operational even after the DVD arrived, as various things conspired to prevent me sitting down to watch immediately.

Now I have. And I was even accompanied for most of the time by the Residential IT Consultant who wasn’t going to watch, on account that he wouldn’t understand it. He watched, he understood most of it, and he cried at the end. So things are as they should be.

It’s a lot easier reading about all this misogyny and violence than it is to watch on screen. I tend to forget how violent the books are, but I’m grateful I had read MSHK before seeing the film, or I would have had far more problems watching the ‘bad stuff’.

The film is surprisingly true to the book, and even though it’s a long film at nearly two and a half hours, it doesn’t feel as if too much has been left out. It marches through what it needs to do without hesitating and it gets to the end, and even begins to look at book two a little. That may not be a bad thing, as I gather number two is in Swedish cinemas on 18th September, with number three close behind on 27th November.

Noomi Rapace

Mikael Blomkvist is less soft than I had imagined him, but other than that, most of the characters are as described in the book. It’s weird having a previously handsome young man like Sven-Bertil Taube as the elderly Vanger, but actors do grow old. Noomi Rapace is really good as Lisbeth Salander. Someone has remarked that she doesn’t come across as having Asperger Syndrome, but that’s not surprising in a film. Not only would it be harder to show, but it might put people off. It’s not essential, as her personality shows very clearly anyway.

I have also seen a suggestion that Erika Berger looks too old in the film, but I wonder if people have been seduced to expect Hollywood youth and beauty from the book, where characters are simply fairly ordinary. Lisbeth, for instance is no seductive bimbo, but a damaged and badly treated young woman with exceptional skills. And we couldn’t help wondering where Hollywood might find a suitable landscape for all this. The scenery is beautiful, but at the same time quite ordinary for Sweden.

It’s a film worth waiting for, although I’d be quite grateful if I don’t have the same delays for the next two. And speaking of people who are older than they used to be; Björn Granath played the old policeman. He was younger when we held hands, all those years ago…

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, again

What would we do without bloggers? Thanks to Karen at Eurocrime I now know that not only has she already seen the film based on Stieg Larsson’s book at a special viewing (not fair, is all I can say), but it seems as if it will make it here after all. Next year. But you’re not in a hurry, are you?

I have re-instructed Son on the subject of buying the DVD. He says he will. He did ask how to send it to me, now that Sweden has got rid of its post offices. Fair question. I reckon he’ll be OK going to the supermarket queue and hope for the best.