By Jamie Stilgoe
It has nothing to do with global warming but Sweden is hot right now – at least in cinema anyway.
Photo used under creative commons by ToriVT
It has nothing to do with global warming but Sweden is hot right now – at least in cinema anyway. In 2008 director Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) adapted Let The Right One In from the novel of the same name. The gritty teen-vampire plot counter-balanced the sanitized Twilight saga.
Then, a year later in 2009, Niels Arden Oplev adapted the first of Stieg Larsson’s “Millenium Series” – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – to great critical acclaim. Larsson sadly, having died from a heart attack in 2004, never saw his work published.
With such success it was only a matter of time before the Hollywood came to pillage this new found wealth of creativity but, Let The Right One’s sister Let Me In sacrificed artistic merit for financial gain. Whereas Let The Right One In was essentially a coming-of-age tale of friendship (which happened to include vampires) Let Me In was more concerned with capturing the Twilight zeitgeist and teenager’s pocket money.
Coming to the silver screen this December is another of these Hollywood remakes except this time it’s different: this time it’s David Fincher at the helm. With a cinematic canon including Seven, Fight Club and The Social Network, if any director has the creative chops to create the dark intensity required for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, it’s Fincher. With Daniel Craig playing disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist and rising-star,Rooney Mara, as androgynous hacker goth Lisbeth Salander, the results could well lead to more success in the coming awards season.
Fincher is, however, a director prone to creative folly. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button may have won three Oscars in 2008 but it did so for art direction, make up and visual effects. Like professor Frankenstein, Fincher focussed on whether the film could be made, not whether it should be made. In a clear case of style over substance, Is there any genuine reason why Benjamin Button ages backwards other than to challenge the visual effects team? Also with such a deadpan tone throughout, The [spurious] Case Of Benjamin Button lacks the warmth found in the similarly structured Forrest Gump (both screenplays written by Eric Roth).
As with many films touted for Oscar success, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has not been without its controversies. The New Yorker critic David Denby has risked the wrath of the Hollywood gods by breaking the embargo placed on reviews of the film. Citing the busy Christmas schedule, Denby chose to release his review in an early edition of The New Yorker, beating his rivals to the punch.
Producer Scott Rudin has reacted to Denby’s actions by banning him from all future press screenings of his films. In emails from Denby to Rudin (obtained by Indiewire’s Playlist blog) Denby said: “”The system is destructive. Grownups are ignored for much of the year, cast out like downsized workers, and then given eight good movies all at once in the last five weeks of the year.
“A magazine like the New Yorker has to cope as best as it can with a nutty release schedule … Like many weeklies, we do a double issue at the end of the year, at this crucial time. This exacerbates the problem.”
Once an embargo is broken by one reviewer it creates a Pandora’s Box-like situation. It becomes easier for other publications to justify publishing their own reviews early, thereby taking control from the studio publicity machine. It should be noted that Denby’s review of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a favourable one.
Andre Caraco, Sony Picture’s executive vice president of motion picture publicity, said in an email to journalists: “By allowing critics to see films early, at different times, embargo dates level the playing field and enable reviews to run within the films’ primary release window, when audiences are most interested.
“As a matter of principle, the New Yorker‘s breach violates a trust and undermines a system designed to help journalists do their job and serve their readers.”
Media fiascos rarely have negative effects on box office performance however, and coupled with the pulling power of Fincher and Craig, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is still the must-see-movie this winter.
2011, 158 mins
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara