Saturday 7 January 2012

Quadruple Bill Mini Musings: New Year, New Musings...

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011):
The uniquely talented and ever-reliable David Fincher sidesteps the 'English remake syndrome' with aplomb by delivering an equal to the original Swedish-language film in which Noomi Rapace so memorably portrayed Lisbeth Salander, the punk-with-a-photographic-memory. Complimenting the Swedish version, David Fincher's take provides us with two same-but-different looks at one international best selling book about a journalist's investigation into the decades-old unsolved case of the murder of a girl - a member of the wretched Vanger family (a self-involved, in-fighting lot, some of whom were members of the Nazi party).

Fincher's vision is a perfect match for the subject matter; his precise direction and particular style are as darkly intriguing as the content of the dense script. Many of the scenes are brief, but crammed with information. At two-and-a-half-hours it is surprisingly pacy, however there is one issue - Salander (Roony Mara) and Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) don't share enough screen time. In the Swedish original they felt like a real pairing, whereas here they feel like two able-minded independent bodies who sometimes check-in with each other. That said, Mara's Salander is every bit as spring-coiled as Rapace's famous rendition, and interestingly Craig's Blomkvist is a slightly different character here - in the Swedish version he felt very much like a rumpled journalist with a hardcore agenda that bordered on vengeance at times ... in this version he's much more understated and stoic.

Each film does many things the same, but they also do a number of things differently in different ways, and each includes or excludes certain elements more or less than their counterpart. I very much enjoyed the Swedish film, and I very much enjoyed this.

Young Frankenstein:
Now I know where the dramatic musical sting in that dramatic chipmunk YouTube video came from. A must-see Mel Brooks comedy that I've finally got around to seeing. Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, and Teri Garr - among others - make up a brilliantly talented and hilarious cast. This comedic rendition of the classic Frankenstein tale (Wilder plays the titular mad doctor's grandson) is a genuine, honest-to-goodness, laugh riot.

Silent Night Deadly Night 2:
It was only a couple of weeks ago that I saw The 41 Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It - the worst movie I saw in the entirety of 2011, and one of the worst I've seen in my whole life ... and now I've already found a strong contender for the worst movie I'll see in all of 2012. The first Silent Night, Deadly Night was a decent slasher - very much cobbled together - but decent, sinister, slasher fun nonetheless. The same cannot be said of the sequel - in any way, shape or form - in fact it's downright criminal that the producers charged money for admittance to this rip-off. Out of the first 40 minutes of the movie, a good 30-or-more minutes is - I kid you not - a trimmed-down version of the best bits from the first movie, as recounted (poorly) by Billy's psych-ward-dwelling brother Ricky. Considering that the budget was a quarter of that of the original, it's hardly surprising a third of the sequel is the original, but still - come on!

The adult Ricky may have the physical presence to be a killer, but he sure doesn't have the acting chops ... oh dear, does he not have the acting chops (here at least). Mustache-twirling maniacal laughs, crazy eyes, and scene-chewingly-awful line delivery is the order of the day here (have a look for the "garbage day" sequence on YouTube - it's the best part of the whole flick). Dull, boring, flacid, half-arsed, useless, inept ... I could easily go on. I've seen some cheap sequels in my time, but this really takes the biscuit - I was genuinely shocked by the sheer brass neck displayed by the producers in the first clip-heavy 40 minutes. Once again it's not so bad it's good, it's just rubbish - but, perhaps masochistically, it's so bad that you can only understand by viewing it for yourself ... but I'd rather be on the Naughty List.

The Green Hornet:
I never got around to seeing this superhero flick in the cinema, but catching up to it on Sky Movies has been a real joy - it's actually a really fun time. Michel Gondry brings his skewed style to Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's cheeky & breezy take on a long-standing, but not-so-well-known superhero. Rogen plays Britt Reid, the son of a now-deceased newspaper mogul, who teams up with Jay Chou's Kato - an engineering, martial arts, and coffee-making master - to take on the crime boss of Los Angeles (as played with relish, and suprisingly good comedic chops, by Christoph Waltz - who was fresh off Inglorious Basterds at the time).

The third quarter of the flick is a bit saggy, Cameron Diaz's Lenore Case is mostly dispensible, and there's never quite enough of Waltz's enjoyably off-kilter japes as villain Chudnofsky - however, for the bulk of the running time it's really good fun. What's more it features one of the coolest movie cars since The Tumbler in 2005's Batman Begins.

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