Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Review

"Let me ask you something. Why don't people trust their instincts? They sense something is wrong, someone is walking too close behind them. You knew something was wrong but you came back into the house. Did I force you, did I drag you in? No. All I had to do was offer you a drink."

Have you ever had the intense desire to write something only when the time comes to put words down you freeze? That's what is happening to me right now. Has been for a while, to be honest. Never have I gone through a stretch like this, one in which I watched so much inspiring cinema yet failed to be inspired to describe it. Sometimes in my mind I am playing the excuse game like I am trying to rationalize the falling ratings of Monday Night Football. First it was the Cubs historic run to a World Series title, and well, that actually is a valid excuse. It's the lack of bounce back after that ended that shocks me at the moment. Maybe it was being filled with dread over the possibility that a totally unqualified man could be given the keys to the most important car in the world, knowing he would likely crash it into a wall and we would watch it burst into flames that did it. Still doing it, if that's the case. Now that it's a reality, cinema is that much more vital. When things look ugly, one's best bet is to turn to the beauty of the arts for relief. A distraction from inevitably bad and broken policies. An escape from anger and hate.

The irony of this was perfectly encapsulated tonight as I tried to decide what film I should watch. I wanted to sit down, relax and watch something that filled me with joy. A film that was familiar and comfortable, but not one that many would deem "mindless". A work that I have already studied numerous times and yet each frame could be further investigated. A movie that was guaranteed to open up the floodgates and allow me to write.

"It's hard to believe that the fear of offending can be stronger than the fear of pain, but you know what? It is. And they always come willingly. And then they sit there. They know it's all over just like you do but somehow they still think they have a chance. Maybe if I say the right thing? Maybe if I'm polite. If I cry, if I beg. And when I see the hope draining from their face like it is from yours right now, I can feel myself getting hard."

Beauty. Joy. Comfort. I knew I had to dip my toes back into a cold and cruel world brought to life by David Fincher. I find the craft and confidence of his take on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to be downright sexy, the expert execution of bringing this material to life and the chilly palette of the photography on display represents everything that made me fall in love with cinema years ago. The cinematography of Jeff Cronenweth is especially brilliant because I feel like I am being beat down by the brutality of the landscapes through my television screen, and yet the story being told by these images is not solely reliant on the monotony of darkness to indicate dread. The pure, glistening white of snow and the golden glow of lights are constantly integral to the visual puzzle Fincher and Cronenweth want us to piece together, but even at its brightest nothing ever feels quite right here. Nothing feels warm or inviting. Nothing feels comfortable during The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which makes it all the more odd that I feel so much comfort while watching it.

It sounds a bit demented, I know, but one of the most appealing things about watching movies for me is knowing I can swim through a bunch of shit for two hours and yet emerge from the experience clean. There are a few scenes during this movie, one in particular that you know what I mean if you've seen it, that are just flat out hard to watch. There is nothing beautiful to be found, no joy to be had, and nothing comfortable to wrap yourselves in during something so painful and tragic being done to a human being, yet when vengeance is had, when Lisbeth Salander fights back against her abuser and inflicts a similar devastating level of brutality against him, it's so fulfilling. It's so rewarding. It's such a huge fuck you to the ugliness and evil that is so prevalent in our world. It's a fist raised in the air saying to the oppressors that just when you think you have all the power, a bad ass girl with just the right amount of crazy can both figuratively and literally stick it up your ass and take the power back.

"You know, we're not that different, you and I. We both have urges, satisfying mine requires more towels."

I have no idea if this made any sense, just a flow of late night ramblings from a guy who needed to find the words deep down and let them spill out in some sort of comprehensible order. It just feels good to be moved by cinema again in a meaningful way. I can always count on the slightly twisted, glorious and perfectly perverted mind of David Fincher for that, and his decision to direct Steve Zaillian's screenplay based on the source material by the late author Stieg Larsson proved to be an essential one.


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