Tag Archives: the girl with the dragon tattoo

One weekend — two good movies

Mrs. Poolman and I rented two movies over the weekend, but only got around to watching the the second one last night. At a dollar a day from Blockbuster Express, an extra couple of days on the rental isn’t a big deal.

In an earlier post, I described  “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” I really liked the American movie, although I wasn’t entirely happy with the way the movie ended differently than the book. In 2009, before Hollywood discovered Mikael and Lisbeth, the Swedes made movies from all of the Steig Larsson ‘s three novels.  We rented “The Girl..” and watched it on Saturday.  I thought it was as good, if not better, than the Hollywood version (Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, etc.).  Of course, the actors in the Swedish movie speak Swedish. Duh. So you have to watch it with the English subtitles. I have hearing problems. I usually watch most TV with the closed captioning on anyway, so this was perfectly natural for me.

The only problem I had with the movie is the actress cast in the role of Lisbeth Salander. She is supposed to be 24 years old and looks like she is 14. In the books this becomes an issue at some points in the story. The actress who plays Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) is 32 and pretty much looks it. (I also have issues with TV shows like Glee, in which actors who are clearly in their late-20s are cast to play high school students. Don’t they ever graduate?)

It’s a very good film. If you have read the book and enjoyed it, take a shot at this version of the movie before watching the US version.

The second movie we watched was far outside our usual viewing patterns – the 2010 teenage vampire movie “Let Me In.”  Since I am not an adolescent girl, I have not been bitten by the vampire movie bug. I saw the first movie of the Twilight series, only because my daughter cajoled me into going with her, and I don’t think I have ever watched “True Blood.” Not since Bela Lugosi lurked the castles of Transylvania have I cared much about blood suckers.

I ran across “Let Me In” while browsing movie rentals on line, and I remembered a review I had read when it first came out, along with a profile of one of the leads, Chloë Grace Moretz.  So I thought, “What the heck?” and gave it a shot.

Chloë plays, Abby, a 12-year old girl living with her father in a Los Alamos apartment complex. She meets her next door neighbor, Owen, a much-bullied boy her age. They meet and get along, but the twist is that Chloë is a vampire who needs to drink blood in order to survive. Her father isn’t really her father. He is a vampire too. He goes out into the community at night to kill and drain blood to feed his “daughter.” One of these blood-draining expeditions goes awry and the story spins from there.

The script is well written and both Chloë and Kodi Smit-McPhee  (Owen) did a great job, especially for a couple of young kid actors.

“Let Me In” is a little different, but I thought it was very good. The vampires are not painted as monsters, but rather as a pair of people just doing what they need to do to survive. The friendship between Abby/Chloë and Owen is cute. The end of the movie has an interesting twist that I won’t give away.

Bottom line – I really enjoyed the move and I’m glad we watched it. It’s definitely worth your time.

Great stories from Sweden

I haven’t posted recently, because, among other reasons, I’ve been reading. I just finished Steig Larsson’s  “Millenium Trilogy” (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.)

I have to tell you, I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure I was going to, especially after starting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It takes a long time for Larsson to get down to the “good stuff” in the first novel. Once he gets the main plot rolling, it’s great, but it just takes him awhile to get there.

As I wrote in an earlier post, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is basically a murder mystery involving a family with many dark secrets. The main protagonists are Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist and Lizbeth Salander, a socially odd girl-genius with a mysterious past.

Book two, The Girl Who Played with Fire, involves the same main characters, including Blomkvist and Salander. It focuses much more on the compelling Lizbeth Salander;  her mysterious past; her evil, Soviet defector father; and the acts and plots by the secret police that explain a lot of why Lizbeth is who she is. It grabbed me from the first chapter and didn’t let go.

And if you like The Girl Who Played With Fire, the third book in the trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is nearly a seamless sequel. The same plot and characters just continue to the third book without missing a beat.

In The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Lizbeth is hospitalized from injuries she sustained in the climax of the previous book and is charged with a number of crimes. The story revolves around Mikael’s and others’ efforts to free her and uncover the conspirators who are trying to get her recommitted to a mental hospital.

The entire series is great. The plots and the characters are fairly complex, but that is part of the attraction of the stories.

Two suggestions…

1.) Don’t worry too much about the Swedish geography. I guess it would be nice to know where all the various locations actually are, but not knowing does not diminish your appreciation of the stories.

2.) ­­It wouldn’t hurt to stick a note card or sheet of paper in the book you are reading and jotting down the names of some of the main characters. There are a bunch of them, and they all have Swedish names that tend to look and sound a lot alike to this American eye and ear. It might help keep track of the good guys and the bad guys.

There are a few scenes in the trilogy that are fairly graphic. Just beware.

Bottom line – It’s a great three-book series. It will keep you up at night because you won’t want to put it down. I recommend it strongly.