Margaret Perry Movies

Let's Talk Film

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel



Seven Brits in the twilight of their years fly halfway around the world to Jaipur, India to reside in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful. The film’s magnificent title is supported by a magnificent cast of the best of British thespians, including best buds Maggie Smith and Judi Dench (in their first film together since 2004’s Ladies in Lavender), Bill Nighy (Love Actually), Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey), Celia Imrie (Nanny McPhee, Calendar Girls), Tom Wilkinson, and Ronald Pickup

The setting of the film in a tired old palace in the midst of a vibrant, colorful culture is representative of the message of the film as a whole: old people discovering that all the glories of life are still available to them and that new adventures are still to be had after age fifty. It also defiantly proclaims that age and beauty are no longer contradictory states of being. It also bashes the assumption that the elderly are no longer expected to have any sort of sex drive whatsoever. When one character asks her friend whether he thinks it’s safe to have sex at his age, he cheekily replies, “If she dies, she dies!” 


Although each of the retirees is motivated by a different set of circumstances, they are united by an intense curiosity about what life has to offer them. We the audience gradually learn about each character’s background as they move forward, discovering their future. The unfoldment of each personal journey is presented in a graceful, natural way that makes this movie a real pleasure. 


The hotel is run by Sonny (Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire), a young Indian boy who is full of all the vitality, optimism, and naivete of youth. His philosophy of life sustains him through many personal trials and endears him to many of the hotel’s guests: “Everything will be all right in the end. If everything is not all right, then it is not the end.” Although Sonny is charming, his character and his relationship with a young Indian woman lack the depth and development of the older characters.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel fills the senses with India. One can almost smell the spices along with the breathtaking colors and sounds of urban Jaipur. Director John Madden has truly harnessed the essence of India in his upbeat filming in the city, as well as in the camera’s sweeping gaze of the Indian countryside. My friends who accompanied me to the theatre have been to India and other parts of southeast Asia, and they tell me that the movie really caught the hustle and bustle of the overpopulated country, and they they each identified with the Brits’ terror of navigating the city streets and their uncertainty about the cuisine.

Maggie Smith (in whispered horror):
“There’s an Indian in there!”



Although the major characters in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are older, this movie is as much about life and culture as it is about growing old. It is hilariously funny while simultaneously being heartwarmingly sincere. I highly recommend this film to anyone who has a sense of humor, a love of color, and a zest for life!



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Dark Shadows

Despite a rotten Rotten Tomatoes rating of only 42%, Tim Burton‘s Dark Shadows is still a lot of fun for fans of Burton/Depp collaborations. The film has all the earmarks of a usual Burton/Depp production, though it falls short of being a masterpiece. Tim Burton‘s other half, Helena Bonham Carter makes her appearance as the family’s gin-swilling, gerascophobic psychiatrist. There is also the expected amount of blood, dark eye shadow, and shabby-chic costuming that accompanies a Burton flick. But it is the silky smooth dialogue, and the delivery of same by Johnny Depp, which prevents this movie from slipping into the realms of pure kitsch.



Depp plays Barnabas Collins, a member of the founding family of a Maine sea port, who has been transformed into a vampire and buried in a steel coffin by a jealous witch, Angelique (Eva Green). Barnabas is accidentally recovered from the grave by some construction men and finds himself in 1972. Returning to his family’s estate, he discovers that the family business has been all but ruined thanks to the diabolical manipulations of the ageless Angelique. As Barnabas attempts to defeat his arch enemy once and for all, he falls in love with the family’s nanny, Vicky, the spitting image of his long lost Josette (Bella Heathcote), wooing her with his outdated honeyed phrases. “A name like Victoria is so beautiful,” he purrs in his plummy British accent, ”that I could not bear to part with a single syllable of it.”


Barnabas’ innate “uncoolness,” as describes by Entertainment Weekly, is what ironically makes him cool in the eyes of both the hippies in the film, and the modern audience of hipsters, for whom all things uncool are in fact the coolest of all. It’s this sort of philosophy that can sustain this film through all its faults. There are too many side stories which distract from the main thrust of the plot. There’s a certain amount of gore and sex, but scenes containing these elements are in no way innovative or especially clever in their execution. For fans of Burton/Depp comedy, the script does not fail to tickle the funny-bone, but the jokes are campy at best.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins
Johnny Depp and Eva Green
The female characters in this film fall short in passing the Bechdel Test. If they ever speak to each other, it’s only about a male character, usually Barnabas (with the exception of the brief interview with the new nanny). Or they’re at each other’s throats for one reason or another. And the characterizations of the women are far from progressive. The one female character with any power is, as is so often the case in Disney movies, the villainess. She is portrayed much more as a sexualized character than as an intelligently worthy opponent. Another woman character is an insecure alcoholic. One is an escaped lunatic. Another is a teenage brat who doesn’t have a nice thing to say to anybody. The only woman with any semblance of strength, the family matriarch Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer), is still dependent on an undead ancestor to restore the family business to its former glory. Although she is clearly an intelligent, hard-working, and caring mother, she is necessarily unable to take care of her family without a man’s guidance.

All-in-all, Dark Shadows was worth the price of the ticket. It’s dialogue is witty, it’s accurately nostalgic, and there are enough elements of Tim Burton‘s classic style to make it more interesting than your average early-summer flick. It’s definitely not for kids; wait for Burton’s pending Frankenweenie later in the summer. But if you’ve got a bored Sunday afternoon to spend on an off-beat sort of movie, go ahead and check it out.

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Avenging Women

“If I don’t get pants, nobody gets pants!”

My roommate found this infographic online and showed it to me and she and I had a good laugh about it. But then it struck me that it would actually be funnier if it were more true. The top pie chart says women won’t like The Avengers because it has a sexy woman in it, while the bottom chart illustrates how women will like the movie because it has a lot of hot guys in it. Both paint a rather limited, and inaccurate, view of how women view movies.


I saw The Avengers with a group of girl friends and we really enjoyed the movie. We thought it was hilarious, had a deep, meaningful story, and we loved the running, jumping, blowing things up. Sure, we noticed the hot biceps and chiseled features of the super-heroes, but it certainly wasn’t the reason we enjoyed the film as a whole. If the men had been ugly, but all the other elements were in place, we probably would have still liked the film. Conversely, if the men had been hot but the movie crap, we would have walked out of the theatre. We cannot have a double standard, expecting men to stop being turned on by objectified female characters while we simultaneously swoon over the male physique on screen. It isn’t fair for either gender.

Cobie Smulders as
Agent Maria Hill

That said, let us take a look at how women were portrayed in The Avengers. First of all, it does not pass the Bechdel Test. There are two women in the movie and I don’t remember them ever speaking to each other. The first is Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother). Apparently she actually used to be head of S.H.I.E.L.D. but in this movies she’s basically Captain Fury’s second. Then there’s the only female super-hero, the Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson. Although neither woman fills a sexually objectified role in the film, neither woman is in a position of leadership either. They both wear tight-fitting black uniforms which show off their curves, but I must admit it could me so much worse. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Johansson described the traditional female superhero when she said, “They’re always fighting in a bra, so while it might be exciting for a still photo, it’s ridiculous. I do think superheroine movies are normally corny and bad. They’re always, like, fighting in four-inch heels with their [thrusting out her chest] like a two-gun salute.” While The Avengers certainly doesn’t portray the Black Widow like that, there is still an echo of the old male-gaze voyeurism in the way the camera follows her, always positioning the viewer to get a great look at her backside.

Scarlett Johansson as
The Black Widow



In the same Entertainment Weekly interview, Samuel L. Jackson expresses the chauvinist attitude that is still present in Hollywood today:


     Jackson: They got to get The Pro to the screen! I love that book!
     Johansson: What’s The Pro?
     Jackson: It’s [a comic book] about a hooker who gets superpowers!
     Johansson: That is exactly the problem right there!
     Jackson: It’s a totally dope book, though.
     Johansson: I’d have to wear pasties to greenlight any of these movies.


Director Joss Whedon gives a nod to The Hunger Games for taking a great step in changing how the film industry approaches woman as action heroes: “Studios will tell you: A woman cannot headline an action movie. After The Hunger Games they might stop telling you that a little bit. Whatever you think of the movie, it’s done a great service.”


It is clear that there is still a lot of progress to be made in promoting strong women on the screen. The Avengers does not regress into many of the failings of past superhero movies in how it presents its female characters, but it is limited by comic book characterizations that were developed in a time when women were not expected to take on more powerful roles. If Joss Whedon is correct in thinking The Hunger Games has paved the way for a more progressive female protagonist, I look forward to the superheroine movies to come.



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The Avengers

In what Time magazine (May 7, 2012) calls the “first of this summer’s ultra-expensive, apex-predator blockbuster movies,” and the “Travelling Wilberys of super-hero franchises,” six super-heroes assemble to defend earth against an alien invasion. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) of S.H.I.E.L.D calls together Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Rufallo), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to join forces against Thor’s [adopted] brother , Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who has enlisted the evil Chitauri to help him enslave the human race. The film is directed by Joss Whedon, a super-hero among super-hero fans and creator/director of Buffy the Vampire SlayerFirefly, and the most recent The Cabin in the Woods.



This film has some of the funniest lines I have ever heard in an action movie. The team of super-personalities is supported by witty, rapid-fire dialogue which keeps pace with the motion of the plot. If you have not seen the four “tent-pole” movies feeding into this one (Iron Man (2008,2010), Captain America (2011), and Thor (2011)), you might have some difficulty in understanding the background stories, and consequential motivations, of each hero. It can be tremendously difficult to keep track of who has what super-power and who is vulnerable to what. This can be especially puzzling when the super-heroes are quarreling amongst themselves. For example, who knew that Thor’s hammer could send Iron Man hurtling through the woods but fail to penetrate Captain America’s fancy-shmancy shield? Actually, one thing that sets this group apart from others like the X-Men or the Fantastic Four is that technically not all of them have super-powers. Iron Man just has a fancy suit, and the Black Widow, well I don’t really now her power. She’s a good spy? She can shoot really well? She looks good in a body suit (more on this later)? I would recommend honing your Avengers knowledge before attempting to understand exactly what’s going on in this movie.

Director Joss Whedon

That’s not to say that this movie is only for Marvel Comic fans. At bottom, each super-hero in The Avengers represents a distinct subset of American values. I think we are a conflicted nation, suspicious of our government, dissilusioned by the concepts of “freedom” and “democracy,” insecure about our status as a world power, and cynical about our future. We can sympathize with Loki, who wants to quiet everyone down to submission, but we are tied to a history and a set of ethics that resists tyranny and encourages freedom of thought, speech, and action. As Joss Whedon (right) himself says in an interview with Time, The Avengers is “a story about broken people… about what we’ve lost that we used to have culturally, in terms of this sense of community, this sense of helping each other, this sense of sacrifice.” We find strength in the idea that individuals of moral fortitude can summon the power to unify and defeat the foe. Because of this driving urge that lives at the heart of our civilization, super-hero movies like The Avengers come to have a much deeper significance for the American movie-going public.

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The Joys of Silent Film

According to The Telegraph, silent film rentals are up 40% sinceThe Artist swept the board at the Oscars. I think we can safely say that this modern cinematic triumph has become the “gateway drug” of silent films. And about time, too!

Ever since I heard/saw a professional silent film organist Clark Wilson accompany Buster Keaton in The General at my college’s auditorium I have been hooked on silent films. The organist would return every couple of years and I had the privilege of experiencing The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame on the big screen with live music. Not everybody is blessed with these magical opportunities. But everybody can enjoy silent movies.

At first, I found it difficult to enjoy a full-length silent movie on my computer. In a large auditorium with live music, the people in the audience feed off of the energy in that atmosphere. But when watching a film alone, it can be difficult to keep the adrenaline pumping. I have a few suggestions that may help newcomers to this medium get the most out of their experience:

1.) Watch silent movies with other people, your friends and family. Because there’s no spoken dialogue, you can talk during the movie. You can laugh at the graphics and clarify parts that may be confusing without disrupting the film.

2.) Try watching the shorter films first. Back in the day, a twenty-minute Chaplin film might precede the feature presentation. There are a lot of Chaplin and Buster Keaton short films on YouTube. They are a lot easier to sit through than a two-hour epic.

3.) Start with comedies. We’re not used to the extreme melodrama of the silent era, but most of the humor translates pretty easily to a modern audience.

3.) After comedies, try horror. This genre has always been literally ‘in-credible’ so it’s can be fun laughing at the techniques used back in the day. It can also be fun playing along with it – scream  and gasp all you want to, even if you’re not really scared. It’s especially fun at a sleep-over!

If you saw Hugo, you will have some idea about how silent films used to be made. In the early years of Hollywood, movies were very low-budget. Film companies turned out dozens of films a week! Keep this in mind when you are watching these films. They were made with virtually no technology, at least not of the variety we think of today. Their “graphics” were minimal. But it is astonishing what they were able to do with no money, no time, and no technology. When I was a kid, my friend and I would set up a camcorder in her basement and we would act out Aesop’s Fables. We used her mother’s old clothes as costumes and we stole her little sister’s toys for props. Sometimes, watching the early silent movies is like watching our homemade attempts at theatre. If you think of it in these terms, they’re amazing! Also keep in mind that many of those actors did their own stunts. Buster Keaton is the master in this field. It’s hard to believe what he put his body through to get a laugh! Lon Chaney, who did Phantom of the Opera and Hunchback of Notre Dame is called the “man of a thousand faces” because he could so completely transform himself with makeup. A lot of silent movie performers injured themselves because of the physical exertion they experienced making these films. Chaney used wires to make his eyes bug out in Phantom and he forced himself into a very painful harness for Hunchback. Lillian Gish permanently damaged the nerves in her wrist because her hand was siting in freezing cold water for hours while she sat on an iceberg for the filming of Way Down East.

If you are a bit lost when it comes to selecting silent films, here are some classic full-length silent pictures (in order of major performer):

Charlie Chaplin:
The Great Dictator (1940)
Modern Times (1936) – YouTube the “eating machine” scene
The Circus (1928)
The Gold Rush (1925) – YouTube the “table ballet” scene
The Kid (1921) – my personal favorite, lots of laughs but a few tears too
shoulder Arms (1918) – not many people could make WWI funny

Buster Keaton:
Our Hospitality (1923)
Sherlock, Jr. (1924)
Seven Chances (1925)
Go West (1925)
The General (1926) – personal favorite
College (1927)
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) – the year Katharine Hepburn graduated from Bryn Mawr college
The cameraman (1928)

Lon Chaney:
Oliver Twist (1921)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

D.W. Griffith (director):
The Birth of a Nation (1915) – controversial epic about KKK
Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916) – trying to clean up controversy after The Birth of a Nation
Orphans of the Storm (1921) – personal favorite – stars sisters Dorothy and Lillian Gish

Mary Pickford – watch anything with a title that you’re familiar with. She did the first film versions of many classic stories. She and her husband Douglas Fairbanks were the first “Brangelina” of Hollywood.

I hope you enjoy your silent film experience! Please feel free to comment on your own favorite silent films and stars!

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Bechdel Test

This test evaluates the representation of women in films today. Go through your DVD library and see how many of your movies pass the test. I think you’ll be surprised by how few do. This video applies the test to some current movies, including some Oscar nominees. The comic strip below is the original Alison Bechdel comic Dykes to Watch Out For featuring “The Rule.” 

 

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84th Academy Awards 2012

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A Word about Meryl Streep

A critic for Entertainment Weekly magazine stated in a n article that Meryl Streep is obviously the best actress alive today. I beg to differ. Are we really going to pass over Maggie Smith and Judy Dench and all the other great Dames for Meryl Streep? I may be the only self-respecting film critic who is not impressed with Meryl Streep as an actress. Don’t get me wrong – I acknowledge her skill as a performer; but I am not bowled over by her measured, calculated acting style. She seldom becomes the character. She is always Meryl Streep acting, even if she is Meryl Streep acting well. If one looks close enough at her performance, one can see her playing the part – her acting shows, just as accidentally a woman’s slip might show below the hem of her skirt. We’re not surprised it’s there. We’re impressed that she’s so thorough in her attire. But we also know we shouldn’t see it.

Meryl Streep has more Oscar nominations than Katharine Hepburn. I’ll be damned if she gets more wins. You can’t really compare the two performers, but I will anyway. Meryl Streep is probably more skilled at her craft. Miss Hepburn developed her technique (if you can call it that) over time as she experimented with a wider variety of roles. But Miss Hepburn’s value always lay in her position as a personality, or persona, if you will. I might criticise Meryl Streep for always being herself on screen, but in Hepburn’s case, that was the point. Many of the actresses of classic Hollywood served more as personalities than actresses: Bette Davis, that Crawford woman, Mae West, Lucille Ball, etc. They all of them had talent, to be sure, but as Hepburn herself says, “Show me an actress who isn’t a personality, and you’ll show me a woman who isn’t a star.” The problem is, Meryl Streep doesn’t have that powerful personal presence. I’m sure she’s very nice, but I don’t think she’s very interesting. Those old women from the 1930s might not have been very nice, but my God! they were fascinating!

I don’t wish to attack Meryl Streep. I think she is a fine performer, an artist. In this one case, I am criticising the audience for being so impressed by her technical talent. There are many actresses out there who bring so much more to their films – talent, yes, but also soul, spirit, strength, courage, energy, life. I think what gives Meryl Streep the edge is her uncanny ability to pick great scripts. Man, can she pick ’em! In so many of her recent films, the characters have practically written themselves. Meryl Streep, without a doubt, has landed roles with characters who carry their own weight. For example, both Margaret Thatcher and Julia Child are meaty characters who have a lot of unique characteristics that an actress can sink her teeth into, which Streep does very well. She’s also backed by writers, directors, make-up people, and costume departments which cultivate each film in order to show her of at her best. She has an acting style that pleases the public and with that she earned a position in the industry that affords her the luxury of decent parts. Good for her. Now let’s find scripts, directors, etc. for Viola Davis and see what happens there, why don’t we.

 

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Despite the decidedly dark subject of this story, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was an amazingly engaging film. Recently disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired by the head of a wealthy Swedish family to discover whatever became of his niece, who went missing forty years ago and was never heard from again. Blomkvist in turn hires Lisbeth Salander, a young goth/punk techie, to help him uncover a decades-old mystery.

The success of the film can be divided fairly equally into three parts: its casting, the cinematography, and the screenplay itself. Rooney Mara‘s Lisbeth is a dark, but undoubtedly multi-dimensional character. By way of her subtle facial expressions one gets a sense of her depth without losing the integrity of her tough-girl façade. Our understanding of Lisbeth’s nature is allowed to unfold throughout the movie, giving audiences a very rich picture of her experience and character. We are at once allied to her success and intimidated by her intense behavior. Mara’s precision and focus as an actor result in this thorough characterisation.

The cinematography of this film beautifully captures the barren starkness of northern Sweden. The snow and wind make one positively shiver with cold. The filming captures the feel  of the geographic location while also paying close attention to the beautiful detail of the faces.

The presentation of the story itself is very well-arranged. Like any good mystery, the clues are presented one by one, not necessarily in order, leading to a climactic discovery near the end of the film. The mystery is such that you can make intelligent guesses as to how you think the thing was done and by whom, but you don’t really know until the very last minute. There was also a legitimate amount of time spent on the development of the individual characters so that the film wasn’t dragged down with too much heady plot thrust. The deft interweaving of both aspects of the story buoyed the tone of the film – knowing about the characters helped us understand the motivations behind the action while the action simultaneously helped us learn more about the characters.

There are two distinct problems this film presents. First of all is the abrupt and ungraceful transition at the end from the resolution of the mystery to the sub-plot about Mikael’s career and the man who ruined it at the start of the film. This section of the movie, toward the end, feels disjointed. I was told that it is actually part of the second book in the series, so maybe this explains why it doesn’t seem to fit well here.

The final scene of the movie was very close to ruining the whole thing. I don’t think it’d be a spoiler if I said what happens. Basically, Lisbeth buys Mikael a present, then when she rides over to give it to him, he leaves his apartment with another woman and Lisbeth dumps the present in a nearby dumpster then rides off. This whole scene smack of the films of old Hollywood when a female character was really strong throughout the film, but in the last scenes is portrayed as weak. This was a way for those filmmakers to mediate films with strong gender messages with a decidedly patriarchal society. The majority of the film would exhibit non-conformist feminism, then the woman would be “tamed” or “put back in her place” by a hasty, often unrealistic ending. In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, we see a similar scene follow that trend. We have been led to believe that Lisbeth is a girl who can take care of herself, in more ways than one. Why then have the film end on a scene that portrays her as “just a woman.” It’s almost as if the message of the film abruptly becomes, “even though she’s a highly intelligent, self-sufficient woman who can beat up her rapist and trap an international con-man, she still just a woman who feels hurt when jilted by a man.” Now, I think one of this movie’s strong points is that Lisbeth is portrayed in various scenes as very tough, but also human. But the final scene doesn’t need to undermine strength of her humanity in this way (I also don’t care if the book ends this way as well – my point is that it’s a bad ending under any circumstances).

I encourage everyone of age to see this movie. It’s very solidly constructed in almost every way. I think one needs to have a strong stomach for those scenes that are a bit unsavory, but the tempo of the story is satisfying. If I were to see it again, I would just leave before that very last scene. Actually, it would be an awesome place to end, before that very last scene, and that almost makes it worse that they insisted on tacking it on.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Despite the decidedly dark subject of this story, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was an amazingly engaging film. Recently disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired by the head of a wealthy Swedish family to discover whatever became of his niece, who went missing forty years ago and was never heard from again. Blomkvist in turn hires Lisbeth Salander, a young goth/punk techie, to help him uncover a decades-old mystery.

The success of the film can be divided fairly equally into three parts: its casting, the cinematography, and the screenplay itself. Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth is a dark, but undoubtedly multi-dimensional character. By way of her subtle facial expressions one gets a sense of her depth without losing the integrity of her tough-girl façade. Our understanding of Lisbeth’s nature is allowed to unfold throughout the movie, giving audiences a very rich picture of her experience and character. We are at once allied to her success and intimidated by her intense behavior. Mara’s precision and focus as an actor result in this thorough characterization.


The cinematography of this film beautifully captures the barren starkness of northern Sweden. The snow and wind make one positively shiver with cold. The filming captures the feel  of the geographic location while also paying close attention to the beautiful detail of the faces.

The presentation of the story itself is very well-arranged. Like any good mystery, the clues are presented one by one, not necessarily in order, leading to a climactic discovery near the end of the film. The mystery is such that you can make intelligent guesses as to how you think the thing was done and by whom, but you don’t really know until the very last minute. There was also a legitimate amount of time spent on the development of the individual characters so that the film wasn’t dragged down with too much heady plot thrust. The deft interweaving of both aspects of the story buoyed the tone of the film – knowing about the characters helped us understand the motivations behind the action while the action simultaneously helped us learn more about the characters.

There are two distinct problems this film presents. First of all is the abrupt and ungraceful transition at the end from the resolution of the mystery to the sub-plot about Mikael’s career and the man who ruined it at the start of the film. This section of the movie, toward the end, feels disjointed. I was told that it is actually part of the second book in the series, so maybe this explains why it doesn’t seem to fit well here.

The final scene of the movie was very close to ruining the whole thing. I don’t think it’d be a spoiler if I said what happens. Basically, Lisbeth buys Mikael a present, then when she rides over to give it to him, he leaves his apartment with another woman and Lisbeth dumps the present in a nearby dumpster then rides off. This whole scene smack of the films of old Hollywood when a female character was really strong throughout the film, but in the last scenes is portrayed as weak. This was a way for those filmmakers to mediate films with strong gender messages with a decidedly patriarchal society. The majority of the film would exhibit non-conformist feminism, then the woman would be “tamed” or “put back in her place” by a hasty, often unrealistic ending. In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, we see a similar scene follow that trend. We have been led to believe that Lisbeth is a girl who can take care of herself, in more ways than one. Why then have the film end on a scene that portrays her as “just a woman.” It’s almost as if the message of the film abruptly becomes, “even though she’s a highly intelligent, self-sufficient woman who can beat up her rapist and trap an international con-man, she still just a woman who feels hurt when jilted by a man.” Now, I think one of this movie’s strong points is that Lisbeth is portrayed in various scenes as very tough, but also human. But the final scene doesn’t need to undermine strength of her humanity in this way (I also don’t care if the book ends this way as well – my point is that it’s a bad ending under any circumstances).

I encourage everyone of age to see this movie. It’s very solidly constructed in almost every way. I think one needs to have a strong stomach for those scenes that are a bit unsavory, but the tempo of the story is satisfying. If I were to see it again, I would just leave before that very last scene. Actually, it would be an awesome place to end, before that very last scene, and that almost makes it worse that they insisted on tacking it on.
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