The Dim-Post

April 27, 2010

Brief film review and extended rant

Filed under: movies — danylmc @ 10:21 am

We watched The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo last night. I’ve read Larsson’s book and thought it was good, but not great. I attribute his success to the global financial crisis and a reading public that appreciated a thriller in which socialist heroes destroy rich capitalists who are secretly all nazis and sex-murderers.

And I thought the movie was okay, but I was aware of how much plot and character development was missing in order to compress it all into the two and a half hour film, even though the original source material was already pretty superficial. I’d like to have watched a nine hour miniseries that really fills out the world of the novel and develops the characters and their relationships.

Film studios aren’t interested in projects like that – they can’t show them in movie theatres, so they can’t have red carpet events and get free publicity for their product. But they don’t make any money from showing movies like this  in the theatre, they make their profits from (a) teenage oriented blockbusters, and (b) DVD and TV sales – and they can charge a lot more for a miniseries than they can for a single disk film. Hopefully the market realities of the industry will push them towards longer, TV series style projects over time.

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17 Comments »

  1. And I’m sorry to say this, but was I the only person who thinks there’s a class of moviegoer who finds rape and sexual degradation much easier to swallow with subtitles.

    Comment by Craig Ranapia — April 27, 2010 @ 10:50 am

  2. they can charge a lot more for a miniseries than they can for a single disk film.

    Yes. But they’ll sell far fewer of them. Logan Brown can charge a lot more for a chicken dinner than KFC, but KFC makes more money.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — April 27, 2010 @ 10:52 am

  3. Strangely enough, Craig, a woman of my acquantaince who is a staunch sociologist/feminist and works for Women’s Refuge really liked the film and didnd’t consider it exploitative, subtitles or no. One of things I liked about the book was the underlying sense of gender equality in that the powerful players were just as likely to be women as men – top lawyers, medical experts, cops, journalists. I liked the character of Erika Berger in the book and was sorry it didn’t translate into the film.
    I thought the movie was pretty good, but agree with Danyl that a great deal was lost between the book and the film – by necessity I guess.
    I think of the Millennium trilogy as being like an adult version of Harry Potter, in that they have become a global phenomenom, have quickly been made into movies, have gotten cult status for the author (too late, sadly for Steig Larsson) and are very compulsive to read.
    And Danyl, I don’t know if you’ve read the rest of the trilogy, but I’m midway through the second one and the villains don’t seem to be rich capitalists but rather thick lowlifes.

    Comment by Carol — April 27, 2010 @ 11:12 am

  4. I heard an interesting interview with a woman who is a film producer on Kim Hill (iirc) on Saturday morning, one of the things she mentioned was how a lot of the edgy stuff, in terms of film technique etc, has been happening in TV in recent years, e.g. Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, and that as a result she if finding most young film makers want to work in TV rather than movies now. She also noted that a lot of big stars were now looking to work in TV, for similar reasons. Sorry I can’t remember her name, will see if I can find a link on the RNZ website and come back and post it.

    Comment by Julie — April 27, 2010 @ 11:19 am

  5. Christine Vachon, her name was, here’s the interiew link:
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/national/sat/2010/04/24/christine_vachon_indie_filmmaking

    Comment by Julie — April 27, 2010 @ 11:20 am

  6. a lot of the edgy stuff, in terms of film technique etc, has been happening in TV in recent years, e.g. … The Wire

    The Wire was not at all edgy in terms of film technique. It’s difficult to imagine anything more straightforward.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — April 27, 2010 @ 11:34 am

  7. Arrested Development was pretty damn edgy. And awesome.

    Comment by danylmc — April 27, 2010 @ 11:59 am

  8. @Carol: Fair enough, I just felt like I didn’t really want to be in a movie where I was asking myself “is every damn woman in this thing going to be raped, tortured or murdered?” And looking around the audience at the Bridgeway, I couldn’t help but muse that it was a very different audience from the kind what would front up at the local multiplex for this week’s bleeding slab of torture porn.

    Comment by Craig Ranapia — April 27, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

  9. I recommend the Red Riding Trilogy for those after something edgy, a good crime fix, and a miniseries. The David Peace novels which form the basis of them are great too.

    Comment by dave — April 27, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

  10. There’s a good precedent in the (also Swedish!) Fanny and Alexander: a movie of conventional length, and a 7(?) hour miniseries. Agree with you about book: very much the author as hero, leaping tall buildings in a single bound, besieged by beautiful women, etc etc. That said, it’s very readable, with a fast-moving plot.

    Comment by Owen — April 27, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

  11. just because it depicts rape and sexual degredation doesn’t mean it’s promoting or celebrating those things. By that logic you would have to object to Schindler’s List because of the anti-semitism portrayed in it.

    Comment by kahikatea — April 27, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

  12. Arrested Development 4*
    LOST 5*

    IMHO of course.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — April 27, 2010 @ 2:06 pm

  13. Craig, you have a point. The movie did dwell on the ghastly parts of the book, which by and large were implied rather than wallowed in.
    How about Maurice Gee then for nastiness? (thought prompted by ‘Crime Story’ being read on the radio at the mo’.

    Comment by Carol — April 27, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

  14. LOST 5*

    Eugh. I’ve got LOST fatigue and am having trouble motivating myself to keep going for the final half dozen episodes. I’ve sunk so much viewing time into it this far that I simply must keep going.

    I’m certain that the ending will be a dissapointing mish-mash of all the cooky theories I used to so enjoy debating with colleagues around the water cooler the-morning-after-the-night-before.

    Comment by Phil — April 27, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

  15. “I’ve got LOST fatigue ”

    Everyone I know gave up after ep 4… of season 1. I think I have been/will be rewarded for persevering.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — April 27, 2010 @ 10:48 pm

  16. “I recommend the Red Riding Trilogy for those after something edgy, a good crime fix, and a miniseries. The David Peace novels which form the basis of them are great too.”

    Indeed, although funnily enough, it was actually screened in cinemas in the US (albeit on limited release). I think the boldest move on the part of the producers was selecting three very different and unlikely directors to do the films, it meant that each one had its own distinctive visual identity and tone, although David Peace’s harsh, unremittingly bleak vision bound all three films/episodes together.

    Sort of along the lines of what danyl is getting at, Das Boot and An Angel at My Table, both began life as television miniseries before they were shortened for cinema release, deservedly great acclaim in the process. Bergman’s “Fanny & Alexander” and “Scenes from a Marriage” are two others that come to mind. Meanwhile, two episodes from Krzysztof Kieślowski’s 10-part television series, “The Dekalog” were extended into separate films (“A Short Film About Love” and “A Short Film About Killing”)

    In the case of all of the aforementioned, I think the miniseries trumped the films for depth and nuance, but it’s a different viewing experience- the 5-hour version of “Fanny & Alexander”, stunning as it is, is clearly meant to be viewed in installments (Bergman even helpfully provides chapter headings, although they may have been intended as a distancing device), rather than in one sitting.

    I think “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” stands up on its own, although I remember thinking that the pacing went a bit awry near the end- they tried desperately to shoehorn too much of the plot in the last 30 minutes, whereas the build-up had been pretty measured and assured. Mostly, it hinged on the performances, particularly Rampace as the titular girl, who made for a magnetic and unconventional lead.

    In regards to Julie’s comment about television- I think the major boon for shows like the Wire, Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, etc has been in the writing and the essemble acting. In these shows, it is the writer (and producer) which are generally the auteurs, not the director. Although visually all of the aforementioned are distinctive in their own way- while the Wire is “straightforward” in terms of film technique, I think the look of it, and the locations it uses, is pretty different to anything I’ve seen in contemporary American cinema for a while.

    Comment by Matthew Littlewood — April 27, 2010 @ 11:44 pm

  17. “Das Boot and An Angel at My Table, both began life as television miniseries before they were shortened for cinema release, deservedly great acclaim in the process”

    I’m sorry that sentence should said … *and* deservedly *received* great acclaim in the process.(and apologies for my longwinded, portentous reply!)

    Comment by Matthew Littlewood — April 27, 2010 @ 11:47 pm


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