Sunday, April 18, 2010

Book/Movie Review: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

I kept hearing about this book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, on NPR, in Entertainment Weekly, pretty much anywhere that might conceivably talk about books. So, I hopped onto my local library's website and reserved it. ...And was like, #74 in line for it. I think I waited two months!

I finally got my grubby little hands on the book, started it...and was promptly bored senseless. The first three to four chapters of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are really kinda boring. IT GETS A LOT BETTER, FOR REAL. Once you meet the titular tattooed girl, Lisbeth Salander, you're hooked. The book starts with several chapters about the libel trial of journalist Mikael Blomkvist. He's going down in a pretty big way, but it's also pretty boring because you don't know shit about him to start and also. Libel? Unless it's scandalous (and this isn't, it's like corporate financial shit), it's pretty fucking dull. So, whatever. He's a decent guy though and needs to find a new job because he's lost about all his journalistic cred. When he gets out of prison, a rich man, Henrik Vanger (And yes, I totally had to use my copy of the book to correctly spell all these names, ok?) hires Blomkvist to look into the disappearance and probable murder of his beloved niece Harriet 40 years ago. At first, Blomkvist is like, "...No," but then figures he really doesn't have anything better to do and takes the job. And starts digging into the past and trying to unravel the mystery of Harriet's disappearance and along the way, learning just how FUCKED UP the Vanger family is. 'Cause...damn.

So, ok, that's the A storyline, for the most part. LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT LISBETH SALANDER. SHE IS SO GREAT. She is tiny and mean and brilliant and pierced and tattooed and fierce and utterly vicious when crossed. She is a great character. As soon as she showed up, I was like, "HELLO. NOW WE'RE TALKING." Salandar is an awesome ass-kicking heroine and I am a girl who appreciates such things. NOW. NO MORE ABOUT THE PLOT. THERE ARE TWISTS AND MYSTERIES AND I SHAN'T GIVE THEM AWAY.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is part of the Millenium trilogy. The second book The Girl Who Played with Fire is already out and has been devoured by me. (I liked it, but I liked the first one better!) And the third book The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest will be out in May. (ALREADY OUT IN OTHER COUNTRIES INCLUDING BRITAIN. AND IF YOU THINK I DIDN'T CONSIDER ORDERING IT FROM AMAZON UK, YOU ARE SORELY MISTAKEN. Ahem.) The author Stieg Larsson apparently had plans for a 10-book epic series but died of Mysterious Circumstances after finishing book three. HMMMM. "Mysterious Circumstances" because he was a journalist who did a lot of investigating and writing into asshole neo-Nazi groups and was a relatively young man who randomly dropped dead. Draw your own conclusions there, people.

Mom and I both really enjoyed the books so when we heard there was a well-received film make of the first book, we were so there!

Ok, allow me to rant: The ONLY reason that I heard about the film adaptation was because I listen to BBC radio. It has not been advertised at ALL in the U.S. and barely talked about by film reviewers here. Ebert reviewed it, the print version of Entertainment Weekly did not (though I just cancelled my subscription because that magazine is total bullshit and has been for years now), my beloved Peter Travers of Rolling Stone did (I can't link it because the website is being weird) and I saw no previews for it on television. Not even on BBC America. This is total bullshit. I know there's an American remake in the works but I have no interest in it. This original Swedish version is so awesome. I know, I sound like an Annoying Douchebag Hipster who's all, "Welll, I like the FOREIGN FILM BETTER, YOU PLEBE. You just don't appreciate REAL CINEMA." But the assumption that people from the U.S. don't want to watch foreign/subtitled films BUGS THE SHIT OUT OF ME. With a good subtitled film, you totally forget that it's subtitled. Your brain starts to put the dialogue and subtitles together and you don't even notice it after awhile. And The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is very, very good. It gets all the important elements of the book*, condenses the rest and the performances are AWESOME.

*However, be warned: both the book AND the movie contain some pretty graphic scenes of sexual violence. In the film, it goes on so long I started looking off to the side of the screen and hoping for a fade-to-black. If that kind of things upsets you, take a bathroom break, for real.


Doug Jeffreys said...

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" film can be 'saved' in your netflix queue. It's probably being blocked from U.S. distribution in the same way that "REC" was blocked until "Quarantine" finished its run in the theater. That may not be much consolation to you but you could save it now and hope the U.S. version tanks at the box office. On a side note; I waited, and watched "REC" before I watched "Quarantine” and enjoyed the foreign version but must say that the American re-make was virtually done verbatim thus just as good (If you like that sort of thing) and with English dialogue to boot.

EGT said...

The New Yorker reviewed the Swedish movie. Because the New Yorker is awesome. I can't remember what they thought about it, though. I think they did not like it as much as the books, which is to be expected, both because the book is almost always better than the movie, and because the New Yorker doesn't like anything, that's why they're the New Yorker and better than you.

Also, I feel like watching a foreign film with subtitles is like watching TV with closed captioning, which I do. I never even notice my closed captioning anymore until someone points it out to me, because I'm so used to it. Your brain really can do two things at once, people. Americans are so lazy.

Auntie Mame said...

*Mame wanted to leave a rebuttle to EGT's statement that American's are lazy, but she's tired, so nevermind*

Sorsha Ni said...

I love foreign films! I don't mind subtitles at all. My fav is "Dead Snow" thanks to douchebag hipster, you! LMAO