Academy Members Hipper Than Previously Thought, Also Dragon Tattoo Earns Rare Four Star Review from Berardinelli

According to Steve Pond over at The Wrap, David Fincher’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s opening sequence drew applause — CK Dexter Haven you have unsuspected depth! — this year, because of last year’s win, the Academy are expected to like their spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down but it’s possible they are also craving a little hot sauce with their meal:

That evening, “War Horse” drew a bigger crowd, though the Goldwyn was still nowhere near capacity. (As a member pointed out, the film has been screening aggressively around town for a few weeks.) The film met with good applause at the end, and one voter speculated that the strength of its crafts will help make it a real contender.

Another voter (who loved the film) described the reaction as “no walk outs and applause at the end, although not overwhelming.” Afterwards, the member did report hearing some grumbling that the film was “too perfect and manipulative.”

On Saturday, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” screened at the Goldwyn to the biggest crowd of the five weekend showings (the other two being “We Bought a Zoo” on Saturday afternoon and “Albert Nobbs” on Sunday at noon).

“Dragon Tattoo” not only drew applause at the end of the film, but also at the end of the opening credit sequence, a bracing abstract sequence set to Trent Reznor’s and Karen O’s brutal version of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.”

Fincher’s brilliant thriller was given bad reviews by both AO Scott of the NY Times, and Kenneth Turan at the LA Times.

“Oh, Clarice. Your problem is, you need to get more fun out of life.”

Meanwhile, James Berardinelli gives Dragon Tattoo his first four star review since 2009! He’s my new favorite critic. Sorry Kenneth – after panning this movie, Hugo and Drive – what hath god wrought?

It’s somewhat astonishing that Fincher managed to secure an R-rating for a movie whose depictions of sexual sadism (including an anal rape) and consensual intercourse are so graphic. True to his word, the director does not pull punches and these scenes are as graphic (if not moreso) in the American production as in the Swedish one. One of the early trailers for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo advertised this as being the “feel-bad movie of the season” and there’s some truth to that. This is not the happiest experience one can have in a theater, but its cumulative power to provoke and entice is undeniable. And, as grim a view as it may have of humanity, it offers a compulsively watchable mystery/thriller whose standard elements – clues, red herrings, a limited number of suspects – adds to its entertainment quotient. This is a rare dark movie that can be enjoyed on a visceral level. There’s plenty of suspense and tension in its DNA.

Those familiar with Larsson’s work are aware that he finished two additional books about Mikael and Lisbeth before his death, The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. These have both been filmed in Sweden. Fincher would like to get a crack at them as well, although the worldwide box office performance of this movie will go a long way toward deciding whether that happens. Personally, I would love to see what this creative team could do with those books (which are inferior to the first one). Regardless of what happens in the future, however, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo can stand on its own as Fincher’s valentine to goth girl power, detective stories, and the grotesqueness of the human heart.

Meanwhile, over at The Atlantic, Robert Levin gets down to Why David Fincher was the Perfect Director for Dragon Tattoo :

Stylish nightmare: Fincher is arguably the modern American master of the stylized, subversive thriller. Movies like Seven and Fight Club have pushed the boundaries of hard-R ratings in stories set against nightmarish backdrops. Seven offers Fincher’s twisted take on film noir, injecting the familiar milieu of cops and criminals with inexplicably gruesome brutality. Fight Club turns the antiseptic, corporatized modern world into a conduit for grotesque primordial rage.

Fincher plays up the contrast between the light white colors of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo—well-lit modernist interiors and the snowy Swedish expanse—and the dark secrets eating away at the damaged characters investigating the murderous past of one of Sweden’s distinguished families, the Vangers. At the same time, the violence is depicted with a startling lack of inhibition. It’s unflinchingly brutal at the appropriate times and slyly twisted at others, especially when Enya’s music is brought into the mix.

Investigatory nuts and bolts: Seven and Zodiac are accomplished detective movies that offer hard-edged, realistic depictions of what it means to investigate a crime and become obsessed by it. While movies about police investigations often take less pleasure in the process than its cathartic end, Fincher revels in the day-to-day grind of breaking down and solving a mystery.

Dragon Tattoo is made in that same tradition. With its flurry of facts hurled at the viewer, fast-paced editing, and an overarching edgy, punk-rock sensibility, the film depicts two characters on a dark journey that matters far more than the ultimate destination. The filmmaker brings alive the experience of examining old photos, hacking into computer systems, and conducting interviews, imbuing it with the thrill of discovery.

Strong women: Every Fincher movie, from Alien 3 to Dragon Tattoo, features strong female characters. That’s true even in his most male-dominated films, like Fight Club or The Social Network. It’s no accident that the latter, for example, begins with a dialogue-heavy breakup scene, in which Erica Albright (played by Mara) shatters Mark Zuckerberg’s psyche, providing the impetus behind the initial creation of a Facebook-like website.

25 Comments on this Post

  1. This gives me goosebumps.

  2. Seeing it tonight and incredibly excited! Sasha, you have gotten me beyond interested in this film, the way you write about it is amazing.

  3. I heard the entire soundtrack and I’m gonna love the film if it’s as good as the score, OMG is incredible

  4. ao scott’s review doesnt read negative

  5. Having read that the BBFC has rated Fincher’s version 18 for strong sex and sexual violence, I was expecting someone to pick up on just how hard an R the rating must be. Although I haven’t seen the film yet, I’m already inclined to agree, as so few films are rated R in the US and 18 in the UK for sex.

  6. Tero Heikkinen

    I was expecting an even harder R, but it sure is no kids’ film.

  7. I’d call Scott’s review “mixed”, maybe… but it’s far from “bad”.

  8. Again, no where to put this, but in the podcast Jeff always goes off on conservative views of films, yet he complains about films that depict sex and violence as unrealisitic in movies. It’s the movies!
    Not all the movies are created to depict reality, but to remove us from reality. That’s why there are different genres.

  9. I’d call Scott’s review “mixed”, maybe… but it’s far from “bad”. Metacritic gave it a 50.

  10. Thanks for feeding my love for hearing this track yet again, Sasha.

    I guess since War Horse is an additional possible contender and is mentioned in the post, I can go a little OT here: hearing mixed (“divisive effect”) type reviews regarding Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close…..well, at least a few early ones.

  11. TonyBiigood

    Dragon Tattoo doesn’t said his last word

  12. Slightly off-topic…

    The Black Film Critics Circle has announced. Dragon Tattoo comes ninth on their Top 10; guess what wins though? Last year, Fincher did a lot better – The Social Network won Best Picture, but what’s new there.

    http://screenonscreen.blogspot.com/2011/12/black-film-critics-circle-announce.html

  13. Save me from a “hipper” academy.

    Get enough of that from online crtics and critics and general. Let the Academy have actual taste and class and tradition.

  14. I need help with this.

    Another voter (who loved the film) described the reaction as “no walk outs and applause at the end, although not overwhelming.”

    Are there supposed to be walk outs? Meaning that’s a common occurrence.

    Afterwards, the member did report hearing some grumbling that the film was “too perfect and manipulative.”

    Tough noogies, Spielberg. You’re too perfect. LOLOLOLOLOL

    Anyhoo, I’m gonna have to see TGWTDT by myself. My Old Ma who originally liked the trailer heard about the anal rape. *shrug* I don’t know when I’ll go though. I’ve got Jeremy Renner and Josh Holloway to deal with this weekend.

  15. Manrico1967

    I just read on Ebert’s website that he did not include “We Need to Talk About Kevin” in his best of the year list, because it has not opened in Chicago.
    He will include it in his 2012 list. That is if it ever opens in Chicago at all.
    I think that’s why Tilda was not included in the Chicago critics nominations.

  16. Metacritic doesn’t know what they’re talking about. A.O Scott’s review was definitely a 7/10, and the unease he discussed at the end is what he should be feeling. This movie is not supposed to make you feel comfortable.

    Now I’m questioning all scores from Metacritic. Not sure how they give out scores, but it seems awfully subjective and far from accurate…

  17. “On Saturday, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” screened at the Goldwyn to the biggest crowd of the five weekend showings (the other two being “We Bought a Zoo” on Saturday afternoon and “Albert Nobbs” on Sunday at noon).”

    This means nothing considering the other two films have gotten mediocre to bad reviews and people have shown very little interest in seeing them.

  18. Wonder how pro wrestler, the late Frank ‘Bruiser’ Brody would have thought about this new version of his famous entrance song in Japanese wrestling rings :)

  19. Unbelievably, I LOVED IT! Without reservation! I can’t believe I’m typing this! One of the year’s best films! GO SASHA!

  20. Matt Neglia

    The best female character since the bride in Kill bill. And although the source material still has its fair share of problems all parties are at their A game (Mara, reznor/Ross, And Fincher) to elevate it and make it a compelling two and a half hours. 91/100

  21. I’d call Scott’s review “mixed”, maybe… but it’s far from “bad”. Metacritic gave it a 50.
    **********************************
    So we should just look at the number off Metacritic instead of reading the actual review? That’s what film criticism is all about, Charlie Brown.

  22. ^
    Harry, Then go read it.

    It’s a bad review.

    It’s way more than 50% negative, packed with carping and sneering. I’m actually stunned metacritic gave it a 50. The review reads more like a 40 to me.

    I’ll find you 2 shitty things Scott says about Dragon Tattoo for every 1 good thing he grudgingly concedes,

    Luckily, “what film criticism is all about” for me, Charlie Brown, is awareness that no critic is infallible, no matter how prestigious his paper.

    Judith Miller and The New York Times sold us Weapons of Mass Destruction. Her reports weren’t mixed. She gave us a thoroughly bleak negative picture. And she was dead wrong.

  23. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

    Acting- 9.5
    Script- 8.5
    Visuals- 10
    Sound- 9
    Editing- 9

    Total Score = 92

    Verdict- The story is actually not quite as intriguing as the trailers made it seem and revolves around a deeply disturbing blood chilling tale, however, Fincher weaves it into a gripping almost hypnotic thriller with his command of the camera and his actors…or more specifically his virtually unknown lead actress who turns in a show-stopping performance. Oh, and it’s supremely satisfying to see the “pigs” served justice.

    Deserved Academy Award Nominations-

    Best Picture
    Best Director
    Best Actress
    Best Cinematography
    Best Editing
    Best Original Score

  24. wonderful video
    Cant wait to see the movie
    Im probably in the minority but
    idk why so many ppl worship the Swedish version though
    Nothing except Noomi Rapace was exciting to me
    no doubt this version will blow my mind

  25. julian the emperor

    Well, with TGWTDT, War Horse and ELIC at 72, 66 and 64 at metacritic, respectively, is it safe to say that The Artist’s only real competition is it’s own backlash? Still: The Descendants or Hugo just doesn’t seem like probable Oscar winners to me. The Artist has to suffer not just a backlash, but a major one, at this point.

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