Friday, April 23, 2010

Stay Premium, Gentlemen

A quote from Australian poet Peter Porter reads:
"The only things more boring than someone telling you their dreams,
Is someone telling you the plots of movies they've seen".

And so I won't tell you the ending of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'. Not just because its a shame to spoil it but because I have serious problems with this popular franchise - which is what it hopes to become.

I loved the opening with its rapid fire entry into Northern European life and its sad eyed heroes in their freezing landscapes. These are my tribe and I was thrilled as the train made its way through the winter snow to the small town where the action is to happen. I was still there when the camera lingered over the tortured remains of beautiful women and I managed to sit through a terrible rape. Or two... but by the third sadistic sexual act, the gloss was coming off a bit.

The clever techniques used to piece together the research bring the hunt to life and certainly the wonderful casting of the girl are real assets. The thrill of this avenging angel racing after her quarry excited the audience so much, there were audible gasps. But what was it all for?

'Revenge', 'Payback' whatever you want to call it, it boils down to the Biblical 'Eye for an Eye' which I find unsatisfying. Europe of all places knows this sort of bloody revenge begets more of itself and so, if I am going to be forced to stare at a wall of tortured remains, I need to know it's for something transcendent.

To entice me along a road called 'Horror' and flip me off with 'Caper', won't do. I am not won over when my hero trades her leathers in for something she liked the look of in a magazine but, lift your game and you got me

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tell us another, Tolstoy

I almost missed the Last Station. The crowd was enormous and once in, the woman next to me gave her husband constant updates on her feelings, the plot, the volume of the dialogue etc. She had brought snacks too which she carefully unwrapped from a noisy piece of plastic. Near the end of the movie, I asked her to stop and it got ugly.

So, my comprehension of the plot may be a little hazy. I looked forward to seeing this film because of the cast and the wonderful story. I am a Tolstoy lover and have great admiration for a man who could write so well about women. I do not have admiration for anyone who claims to have the people in his heart yet marries aristocrats (rich, beautiful and need one say, younger) breeds like a rabbit and then decides to leave his worldlies to the State. So, any mention of his wife's poor qualities seems like a pimple on a whale to me. Of COURSE she was crazy and manipulative - who wouldn't be under those circumstances?

It puts me in mind of Mr.Bennet in Pride and Prejundice - so calm and dismissive of his wife's hysteria when he knew she would be in penury after his death and so would his herd of unmarried daughters. How DARE he sit there and read books!

Anyway, Helen Mirren is a dream of a Countess, and Chrisopher Plummer is what I would like to think Tolstoy was (a great deal shorter I know from old movies) and the ghastly brigade of hangers on are repellent but strangely effective in their manipulations. I still don't know what being a 'Tolstoyan' is but I did get more perspective on the last days and why he ran off to the railways. There was a strange lack of emotional engagement when the Countess and Tolstoy were off the screen and I think some of the plotting doesn't make a lot of sense though I know this was taken from exhaustive research.

This is a snapshot of the end of Old Russia and the beginning of the descent into chaos and eventual Communism. It is also a picture of a long and enigmatic love.

To watch the trailer for 'The Last Station', click here: