Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The basics
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a bestselling book by Swedish author Stieg Larsson. He unfortunately died in 2004 before this book and the rest in this series (The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest) were published in 2005, 2006 and 2007. The film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was made in 2009 and is a Crime/noir about investigation, death, rape, hacking and conspiracies.
What is this film about?
The film starts with a court case against one of the main characters Mikael Blomkvist, a middle aged journalist, who’s been writing an article involving damaging allegations against a billionaire. Mikael lost the case and he was given a prison sentence for 3 months which starts in 6 months. Also we get to meet private investigator Lisbeth Salander (the girl that has the dragon tattoo and is our other main character). She is a skinny, gothic, 20 odd year old woman who, from first sight, you can tell she has a very colourful history. She has been set the task to investigate Mikael and she does this by hacking in to his documents and in her personal opinion he is innocent and this triggers a personal interest in him.
In the 6 months of freedom that Mikael has he gets hired by ageing business man to try and solve the mystery of his missing niece that happened over 40 years ago. He was chosen for this due to his skills as a reporter and the fact that this girl was his babysitter for a time as well. As this goes on Lisbeth is following his progress through his documents whilst also taking care of her own problems with her new forceful guardian and his grip on her finances. As Mikael gets stuck on a clue he receives a very easy to trace email that solves this piece of the puzzle for him. I wonder who that could have been from?
My views on it
This film is a new age noir that will keep you guessing at every turn.  The structure, story and the characters are fantastically well written in a film that seems to involve every dark theme you can think of.
One of my favourite things about this film is that it really explores and takes to a new level the stereotypical character of the femme-fatal. Femme-fatal is a character mostly found in class noir films; a woman who is strong, dark, and sexy and manipulates men in to doing what she wants. Lisbeth is the new, grown up, bad ass version of this character that doesn’t rely on her charm or men’s stupidity to get her what she wants. She gets by with her intelligence, strength and her messed up history that somehow allows her to be darker and less caring.
The only problem with this film is that as the film goes on you start to get more interest in Lisbeth then the story line itself.  Because of this the resolution to the main story line isn’t as fulfilling as it should be. The later parts seem to be more of an intro to the next film rather than a conclusion to this one. 
Favourite Quote
Lisbeth Salander: [tattooing Bjurman] ‘I've never done this before. Hold still, or it'll get messy.’
Rating 4/5

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Touching the Void

The basics
Touching the Voiding is a bestselling book which came out in 1988 and was made in to a film in 2003. This film is a reconstructive documentary about mountain climbing, decision making, life and Death, giving it your all and doing it in a very British way.  
What is this film about?
This is a true story about two British mounting climbers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates who try to clime the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes, a mountain that nobody has been able to finish. The film starts with a fourth wall breaking interview where we get to meet the real Joe and Simon and they describe their reasons for why they do what they do and that is 'cause it's fun.’ Fair enough.  As the film goes on we get to see the actors start on this epic challenge as the real people give us a guided narration of what is going on through the interview.

The journey up the mountain is pretty uneventful but it over quickly and at this time in the film you are still just enjoying the awesome cinematography  and mise en scene to really care about how they did something well . When they make it to the top and start their decline this is when the film really kicks in.  As they start to make their way down the mountain, they face problem after problem. An eerie feeling begins to take over as these problems seem to be foreshadowing something. You feel as though at any moment, something is going to go horribly wrong and it does. One of the climbers (Joe Simpson) breaks his leg and no one can blame you if in this scene you get a bit squeamish, as this is a very cringe worthy moment. After this Simon has the plan to get him down by making him slide down the side of the mountain on a rope, what can possibly go wrong?         
My views on it
From the beginning you can instantly see how well this film is made. The cinematography is beautiful as we are given the visual delights of close up shots of the equipment which pays so much attention to detail, also epic long shots of the fantastic scenery and everything in between.

The story in this film makes you constantly question, is this really a true story? As the story goes from bad to worse, and to even worse still. It seems hard to believe that this could happen, but this is part of the fun.  You know a story is good when right at the beginning of the film you see an interview of the two climbers 20 years on from the event which the film keeps cutting back to every now and then, but there is still half of you that thinks that they are going to die.  This film is intense, dramatic, unbelievable, funny and griping with every second and the best part is it’s all true.           
Favourite Quote
‘I was thinking, "Bloody hell, I'm gonna die to Boney M".’
Rating – 4/5

Monday, 21 March 2011

Human Traffic

The basics    
Human Traffic is a British film that was made in 1999. It is about youth culture in 90’s Britain, clubs, drugs, friendship and living for the weekend.
What is this film about?
The film stars John Simm who you would most likely know from the fantastic T.V series ‘Life on Mars’ and Danny Dyer from loads of terrible films (but in this one he is not that bad). The film starts out with a “fourth wall” breaking introduction to the group of misfit characters that you will grow to love over the 95 minutes of this film. A group of friends that the only thing that they seem to have in common is that they are all as messed up as each other.
We get to see what there mundane 9 to 5 life is like which is nothing too great. Going from a shop assistant, university student, working a fast food joint to just being jobless.  But this is not the point we care about and they don’t either, it’s the weekend that’s important. 
It’s Friday night and the group are going in to town, following them from a pub, to club, to house party, to the come down, to Sunday lunch and finally back in the pub on Sunday daytime. During this film we get to follow what they think, flagging up there paranoia’s, theirs views on Britain, sex, drugs, friendship and for a small part Star wars too.
My views on it
If you have never taken drugs before, by the end of this film you will be jonesing for a fix. Even if this film dose show the darker side to drugs with Paranoia, not being able to get it up, come downs,  losing a grip on reality and a with a hint to mental illness, somehow it still looks like a good idea. After this film is the only time that you will think to yourself ‘mmmm I wish I was back in the 90’s, had a crap job and was going out to a club on the weekend to drop some E, smoke a joint, and take a line.’
The film itself feels like a bit of a drug trip as well, as it keeps braking out of reality to show how robotic work can be or to teach us a lesson in spliffology. And it is this mixture of randomness with the plotline that makes you feel the highs and lows as if you have been dropping pills with the character in the film.  And I’ve  got to say that I love the classic Hollywood ending done in a British way (but I am not going to say what it is).      
This is a clever and stylised comedy that is about how to blow off steam on the weekend after the boring, mechanical weekday. This shows the awesome side to drugs and the negatives they have as well.
Favourite Quote  
Koop - ‘when the come down's out-way the good times, you know the party's over ‘
Rating  3/5 stars