The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (dir. David Fincher) 2011

rooney-mara-daniel-craig-the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo-movie-image-1

This is the Hollywood film adaptation of a hugely successful 2005 Swedish book. It follows a highly regarded 2009 Swedish movie of the same story. It is a brave undertaking to attempt the third retelling of a story that has already been done twice, so well and so recently.  However “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” acquits itself admirably – it is different enough to be interesting and stylish enough to be enjoyable.

The film is a thriller and it stars Daniel Craig, so comparisons are inevitable. He says that he worked hard not to be seen as James Bond in this film and the thrills are more psychological than action, but it still comes across as a more thoughtful installment of the 007 genre. If the film company did not want comparisons with that franchise, they should have avoided using the, admittedly very good, opening credits. Once you imagine  “What James Bond does on his holidays” at the start, the thought stays with you throughout the film.

I loved Rooney Mara as Lisbeth. She was nominated for an Academy Award as best actress and it was well deserved. The original title of the book in Swedish was “Men Who Hate Women” and Lisbeth is almost the woman who exacts revenge. In this version she is quite different from the character written in the book but she manages to keep the same attitude and demeanour.  The violence is pretty full-on, but it is an angry and aggressive story, so although I am generally not a fan of shocking brutality in films, there is a good argument here, that it is relevant to the narrative.

The acting throughout is admirable, Stellan Skarsgard is excellent as Martin. The scenery is gorgeous. The cinematography is lovely, this received an Academy Award nomination too.

The film is polished and sleek, beautiful to watch and directed with a cold detachment which adds, both to the climate in which it is set and to the chilling story it relates. It was nominated for five Oscars, it won the one for best film editing.

This is a professional, well made, efficient Hollywood movie. Recommended.

 

 

Tower Block (dir. James Nunn, Ronnie Thompson) 2012

1371439533_6

This is a no nonsense, horror/thriller movie. It is set on the top floor of a tower block that is about to be demolished. It is a British film and has an excellent British cast. It moves along exactly as you would expect, but the action is taut and interaction between characters manage to keep good tension going throughout he film.

Sheridan Smith, Russell Tovey, Ralph Brown and Jack O’Connell are all very good as the resourceful tower block inhabitants attempting to escape their situation, while quarrelling amongst themselves.  The set is excellent, the block is scuzzy, the area urban, the setting is as bleak as the position the tenants find themselves in.

The characters are flawed, but real, and there is not much pretense of politeness between them. The script is good and we grow to know, even if we don’t necessarily like, the protagonists. We want them succeed and applaud their increasingly desperate ingenuity.

This type of film generally follows a set narrative arc and the denouement is much as you would expect. There aren’t many surprises here, but it is a likeable film and very good at what it does.

Recommended.

<a href=”https://www.bloglovin.com/blog/18829065/?claim=xcqdqsv9rnx”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

 

 

Green Room (dir. Jeremy Saulnier) 2015

greenroom

Green Room is marketed as a violent thriller, gory horror movie. It is actually a violent thriller, gory horror movie. It delivers.

There is lots of blood, lots of violence, lots of aggression. There are plenty of thrills, many tense moments. It has a good cast, some dark humour and a loud indie/punk soundtrack.

It has Anton Yelchin as Pat, a guitarist in a punk rock band who witnesses a death. It has Imogen Poots as Amber, who turns out to be very handy with a knife and not at all squeamish about using it. It has Patrick Stewart as Darcy, a white supremacist with a small army of thugs and attack dogs at his disposal. He is brilliantly menacing and when he says near the start of the film “Let’s be clear. It won’t end well” you truly believe him.

Slash horror movies are not usually the type of film that I choose to watch, but a good movie is a good movie and this is well written, well directed and well acted.

In short, it is an excellent example of its genre. If you like violent thriller, gory horror movies you will enjoy this.

Stranger Things, TV Series, 2016(Netflix)

stranger-things-800x445-7993

Once in a while a series comes along that hits all the right spots. This eight part sci-fi show, on Netflix, does just that.

Set in 1983, in a small town in Indiana, a 12 year old boy goes missing on his way home after spending the evening playing Dungeons and Dragons with his friends. During the eight episodes, spent trying to work out what happened to him, it references many science fiction films, horror story books, and conspiracy theory TV series that you can remember from the intervening period.

The story is pulpy, which is just as it should be, but it is gripping – always making you want to know what the next episode will bring. The cast is great, Winona Ryder is perfect as the distressed mother and her interaction with David Harbour as the town sheriff is a joy. The dialogue is witty and knowing, and the soundtrack is spot on.

What made this series stand out for me, was all the nostalgic homages throughout the show; a set piece from ET,  a scene from Stand By Me, quotes from the Exorcist,  bedroom posters from 1980s horror films, people reading and talking about Stephen King books. The whole series is peppered with these references and spotting them added an extra dimension to our enjoyment of the show.

This is a great addition to the Netflix cannon, and if you are looking for easy, absorbing escapism, I recommend Stranger Things.

Star Trek Beyond (dir. Justin Lin) 2016

b085a577b5df0f246658c439bdecb04114dee719f9a601571552e399d6bd0d24

Star Trek Beyond is a mixture of good and not so good.

Let’s get the worst out of the way first – the film is too long for the very flimsy story, 20 minutes could be cut, all of it from the battle near the start of the movie, which was predictable and repetitive. There are huge holes in the plot which are explained away by ridiculous technical gobbledygook, although some of this is done in a knowing, tongue-in-cheek way which at least makes it funny.

Humour is one of the good points of the film, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and it is the funniest of the franchise so far. The script is excellent, there are some really good lines and the resolution of the film is both clever and witty. The special effects and the acting are good. I really liked Sofia Boutella’s character.

We are now on the third film into the reboot series and we already know all the main crew members. This film develops and handles the relationships between these characters very well, and we really do care about them by the end of this movie. It is genuinely sad to think that Anton Yeltsin won’t be there if there is another in the franchise.

Even though this is not one of the best Star Trek films in terms of plot or storyline; it is one of the best for humour and character development, and I will certainly be coming back to see what happens to them in the next instalment.

Defiance (dir. Edward Zwick) 2008

defiance37315

A the start of the movie we are told this is a true story. Edward Zwick is the director and he made the decision to sacrifice realism for action and character development. I am sure that this has made it more interesting and exciting to watch, for it is both of these things, but it is a Hollywood version of a true story.

Defiance is an apt title given that the movie depicts a large group of Jewish refugees surviving harsh winters in the forests of Belorussia, despite the attempts of the Nazis to annihilate them. Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell are all excellent as the brothers who led the group, and the story told is both gripping and inspiring.

It was nominated for an Academy Award for the best Original Score. The script is rough and the point of view fixed, this makes some of the characters seem a little two dimensional. However, in terms of action and tension, the film works well and it held my interest right to the closing credits.

Traitor (dir. Jeffrey Nachmanoff) 2008

header1

This is a gripping spy thriller about recruiting and dispatching suicide bombers and about the enforcement agencies attempting to prevent this.

Don Cheadle is excellent as a devout Muslim, bomb expert, training suicide bombers. His internal strife keeps you guessing which side he identifies with, right through the film. Guy Pearce turns in another very nuanced performance as an American agent trying to catch him. The script is well written in that none of the major characters see the conflict in purely black and white terms even though their individual part in it is uncompromising.

The story was written by Steve Martin, better known for his comedy. It is clever and has enough twists to hold your interest until close to the end. The direction is dark and gritty, which suits the subject matter.

The ending is at odds with the rest of the film in that it ties up all the loose ends a little too nicely but, I guess, with a more realistic ending, it probably would not have been made at all.