Arthouse Beat: Girl Who Played With Fire Disappoints, Johanna Disturbs & D-Tour Inspires
The Girl Who Played With Fire (Harvard Exit, Open-Ended Run)
“The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo” has an assured place among my list of 2010′s best movies. Its sequel, “The Girl Who Played With Fire” is sure to place among the year’s biggest bombs. The second in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy possesses none of the qualities of the first film, likely because the excellent directing/writing team of Niels Arden Opley and Nikilas Arcel/Rasmus Heisterberg has been replaced by hacks Daniel Alfredson and Jonas Frykberg who, to my dismay, have also penned and directed the third and final film in the series, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” which does not yet have a U.S. release date. Their reduction of the second novel to a wrong man/whodunit caper is the biggest disappointment so far of this film-going year.
Here are ten reasons why it is such an excrutiating failure:
1) It will make no sense to those unfamiliar with the first movie.
2) There is no relationship between protagonists Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.
3) Ms. Salander’s ambiguously complex sexuality is reduced to a one-dimensional stereotype.
4) Ms. Salander’s computer hacking and martial arts skills are underplayed.
5) Ms. Salander is unimaginatively photographed and looks like nothing but a girl who stands at five feet and weighs in at 88 pounds. When she dons her disguise, she looks just the same except with a blonde wig.
6) Two crucial characters are killed off before the audience has a chance to get to know and care about them.
7) The motivations of the supporting charactes as well as their significance to the story are insufficiently set forth.
There is no sense of the world outside the narrative, no feeling for the social environment.
9) The screenwriter takes the most action-oriented scenes from the book and strings them together with a tired plot device.
10) The cinematography is as ugly as a bad television program.
Johanna (Grand Illusion Cinema, July 9-15)
”Johanna,” a disturbing medical opera from Hungary, begins in ambiguity and ends in dead certainty. An accident or attack creates an emergency overflow for the doctors and nurses in a subterranean hospital. After this flood of patients is attended to, we are told this was but a rehearsal such an occurance, not the real thing. But one of the actress/victims, apparently a drug addict and possibly a prostitute, later appears to be dying of mortal wounds. After she is miraculously healed, the doctors vote to train her as a nurse, allowing her to remain at the hospital. Her kindness and generosity compels her to sleep with the dying patients, which restores them to health. To the doctors, she is a whore; to the patients, a saint. The depressing truth about saints is that they must also be martyrs, and those who would canonize them are often the ones to throw the first death stone. ”Johanna” is one of the most most successful operas yet to be filmed. The music is both melodious and discordant, with excellent singing in all the roles. The neon-green lighting gives a sick cast to the mazelike underworld where the dying and the dead sing thier woes. It is not such a new thing for corpses to raise their voices in song. But I have never seen nor heard them do so with such serious intent.
D-Tour (NWFF, July 9-11)
Following indie band Rogue Wave on their first major tour, director Jim Granato focuses on drummer Pat Spurgeon’s efforts to keep healthy on the road by giving himself dialysis while waiting for a kidney transplant. The film is not only a no-nonsense look at the touring life of a struggling rock band, but an inspiring story of the will to survive, and a testament to brotherly love in the face of human frailty. There is also a lot of music in the film, with performances from Rogue Wave, Nada Surf, and Ben Gibbard. “D Tour” addresses timely issues surrounding the health-care industry, with particular emphasis on the precarious positions of the mostly uninsured musicians. On a more personal note, it reminds us of the lives that could be saved if more people became organ donors.
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