Tag Archive: the girl with the dragon tattoo


Side Effects Review

Steven Soderbergh, director Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Thirteen (Ocean’s Twelve too but I’m trying to build him up, not condemn him) and more recently Magic Mike, has previously stated that Side Effects marks the end of his directorial career for a few years as he intends to take a sabbatical. So with Side Effects, is Soderbergh going out on a high?

It’s probably best to go into Side Effects knowing very little about it and prepare to just be taken with it. But at it’s very basic the story can be split into two parts: the first half chronicles Emily Taylor’s (Rooney Mara) battle with depression and the meetings she has with her psychiatrist before she suffers traumatic side effects of a new anti-depressant; the second half is about her psychiatrist (Jude Law) as he attempts to unravel the truth and find out who is guilty of the events caused by the drugs.

As a psychological neo-thriller Side Effects requires some top notch acting from its headline stars. And Mara and Law do not disappoint at all. All I could think while Rooney Mara was on screen was “this is the same girl from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?” because she is completely different but still puts in a wonderful performance. Based on her performances that I have seen so far she is set to become one of the best, most versatile actresses of her generation. At only 27, she has the whole world of film at her feet.
I will admit that I am guilty of absolutely lambasting Jude Law in the early years of this century, but since about 2009 my opinion of him could not have changed more. In recent years he has emerged as one of my favourite actors to watch now; his performances are consistently good and that does not change here with one of his best performances to date in Side Effects as the obsessed psychiatrist.

Side Effects really does crank up the tension and suspense in a way that Hitchcock would be proud of. The story is very well thought out and once the first twist hits the audience it’s as if you’re on a roller coaster with twists and turns coming thick and fast, you can never really be sure what it actually happening. There are a lot of clever plot points that are made and this helps to make it such a compelling watch.

Unfortunately though, the twist and turn nature also lets the film down a little. In a film such as this there always comes the inevitable point where you have to tell everything to the audience, which sort of takes away the point of making such a clever film. And in Side Effects, Emily Taylor’s narration does not make it as interesting as it should and could be. The underlying back story that is given at this point does not seem strong enough for the rest of the actions that took place.

Jude Law’s character makes some very good commentaries on the state of counseling and depression which are well worth considering, the whole cast put in very good dramatic performances and while I was in the cinema I was truly gripped. However, after leaving I felt like I was missing out, that I had been unfulfilled and underwhelmed.

Multiple viewings are prescribed.

My Rating: 7/10.

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I’m back from my Christmas hiatus and in the past couple of weeks critics and fans alike have been compiling their lists of the ten best films of 2012 or twenty best or whatever you like, but I have decided to take a different approach to compiling my list and I will be looking at, month by month, what were the best releases. I’ll be using the UK release dates for films and, in doing it month by month there will be some big omissions and some surprise inclusions.

Will any of these films feature on the list?

 

January – The Grey

To be honest, if you look at what was released in January it doesn’t really fill you with enthusiasm for the rest of the year as there weren’t really many films worth noting released this month. I think that people were still more bothered about seeing the previous year’s Christmas releases (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) however there were a few films that stood out. You might think that We Need to Talk About Kevin, Shame or War Horse might win this month but I decided to go for Liam Neeson’s The Grey. Neeson continued his rebirth as an action hero in 2012 and it was largely down to his enounter with wolves in the partially surprising hit: The Grey.

 

February – Chronicle

February brought a lot of very disappointing ventures to the cinema. Safe House was a blockbuster than lacked a punch, Man on a Ledge was a very boring ‘thriller’ and One For the Money is one of the most boring films I have ever seen! However, saying that I was really impressed by Woman in Black which seemed to reinstate Hammer Films at the forefront of the horror scene but for the best film of the month it fell short and I went for Chronicle. Chronicle was seen by many to be very refreshing to an overcrowded superhero genre. The characters that appear in this found footage film are not from the pages of comic books and, like The Grey, Chronicle was another surprise hit but worth of all it’s critical acclaim.

March – 21 Jump Street

If you think that 21 Jump Street is a strange and ridiculous choice to be on this list then I really do encourage you to look at films that were released in the UK in March this year. March saw releases from some very highly anticipated films that were subsequently big disappointments, none bigger than John Carter. Of course, March also brought us the beginning of a huge new franchise with the Jennifer Lawrence led The Hunger Games, however I enjoyed 21 Jump Street a lot more. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much in the cinema, 21 Jump Street was a welcome injection of humour to an otherwise dull month.

 

April – Avengers Assemble

There was a clear winner for this month. Marvel’s Avengers Assemble became the third highest grossing film of all time, breaking no end of records on its way to this achievement. This was the event that film fans had been waiting for for 4 years and it did not disappoint, The Avengers (as it was known sensibly in other countries) provided big entertainment, big action, big characters and big laughs. The only real competition in this month came from another film with Joss Whedon’s name attached: Cabin in the Woods, which was seen to redefine the horror genre but really, nothing could top Avengers Assemble.

 

May – The Raid: Redemption

May saw a lack of big releases as the prospect of going up against Marvel’s box office Goliath seemed a little bit daunting for many studios. And of course there is a bit of a lull in the cinema calender before the big summer smashes get released. The Raid was something that we don’t see nearly enough on this side of the Atlantic, a foreign release… and a successful one at that! The Raid is a brilliant, action packed, adrenaline fueled Indonesian martial arts film and it should come as no surprise that there are plans in America to do an English language remake.

 

June – Killer Joe

Now, June saw the second big release of the year: Prometheus. And don’t get me started on how over rated that was and what a bore fest it unfortunately turned out to be. Rock of Ages was a very very dull adaptation of the successful stage musical and The Five Year Engagement was about five years too long. Killer Joe proved that Matthew McConaughey could really act and it turned out to be a very gritty, gothic crime drama that also featured Emile Hirsch who is quietly going about proving what a good actor he is too.

 

July – The Dark Knight Rises

At the beginning of July The Amazing Spider-Man was released and was a very good attempt at reshaping Spider-Man’s origins; then on the 20th of July Christopher Nolan turned up to show everyone how it was done. Nolan’s Batman trilogy ended with one of the greatest films of the year. Full stop. He brought an all star cast here and cranked up the tension, cranked up the stakes and people flocked to the cinema to see how the greatest superhero trilogy ever made would end. And it did not disappoint. Sure, it never quite reached the heights of The Dark Knight which preceded it but I thought that the ending of The Dark Knight Rises was one of the greatest and most satisfying endings I have ever seen.

 

August – Ted

Fans of controversial humour, outrageous humour and toilet humour were delivered an early Christmas present back in August when Seth MacFarlane made his feature film directorial debut in this story of a child’s teddy bear coming to life to become a sex-craved, pot smoking best friend (voiced by MacFarlane himself). I think Ted may suffer from a lack of rewatchability but all in all it was a very funny film with some great cameos and hilarious scenes. The “white trash girls names” scene is one of the best scenes of the year in itself!

 

September – Looper

There were some very popular films released in September: Anna Karenina, Dredd, The Sweeney and House at the End of the Street to name a few. Lawless, featuring wonderful performances from Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Guy Pearce among others was an incredible film and gives Looper a run for its money but when I saw Looper I knew I was watching something special. Looper is one of the best films that I have ever seen and has fast become one of my favourites. The time travel plot device that has long been a staple in the science fiction genre and Looper gave an alternate look while skirting around the edges of Rian Johnson’s own laws of time travel. Looper was incredible! My best film of the year.

 

October – Skyfall

2012 saw the return of James Bond to the big screen in Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes. After a disappointing Quantum of Solace Bond returned in a flood of critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide in the critically lauded Skyfall. Skyfall delivered a more personal look at the characters in Bond’s world, including a small trip into Bond’s background, a more in-depth look at M and revealed a few dark secrets of MI6. Skyfall also brought back some famous characters in a new style, Q and Moneypenny. Skyfall was simply fantastic and should be an outside bet for a couple of Oscar nominations.

 

November – Argo

My heart longs to say that Rise of the Guardians was the best film released in November but my head says otherwise. November saw End of Watch and Silver Linings Playbook released as well but I think that Argo was a really really incredible achievement for Ben Affleck. Argo was crammed full of suspense and tension and had audiences chewing on their nails whilst sitting on the edge of their seats. A true story of a rescue attempt using the undercover story of being a film crew for a science fiction film seems almost unbelievable but Argo brings it to the screen with such perfect realism.

 

December – Life of Pi

Life of Pi was very hotly anticipated as soon as it was announced. Being a best-selling book Life of Pi already had a huge audience waiting to see how the adaptation would turn out. The story is of 16 year old Pi who suffers a ship wreck which kills his family and leaves Pi stranded with just a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. It is a truly touching and emotional story and is already reaping the rewards of their hard work with Golden Globe nominations for Best Score, Best Drama and Best Director.

UK Release Date: 15th March 2013

Stars: Steven Soderbergh (director), Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, David Costabile.

Plot: A woman turns to prescription medication as a way of handling her anxiety concerning her husband’s upcoming release from prison.

That synopsis doesn’t really do Side Effects any justice; from reading the plot outline Side Effects sounds like a film that could induce sleep by itself, but upon watching the trailer it becomes clear there is certainly more to it than meets the eye: a shadowy organisation creating drugs with hidden dangers, Jude Law’s murky past… “everyone knows everything” – there are bigger things happening here than just anxiety problems.

Directed by the man behind so many great films (Ocean’s Eleven, Che, Traffic, Contagion, Haywire, Magic Mike) Steven Soderbergh’s latest reunites him with one of the hottest names around at the minute: Channing Tatum. Combine that winning combination with Oscar nominated star of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Rooney Mara, and what you have here is a fine combination of talents. It will also be pleasing to hear the man who wrote the script, Scott Z. Burns, also wrote The Bourne Ultimatum. Between them, the cast and crew have knocked up some pretty huge hits!

So the trailer itself, how good is it? It’s good enough to make the audience ask questions and wonder what is going on, that’s for sure. However, it perhaps tries to hold a little too much back and I would have liked to have found out more about Side Effects. Saying that, it’s a good four or five months until release here in the UK and with a first trailer it’s okay to hold things back a little. I look forward to seeing more of this in the coming months.

It is probably the most needless remake in the history of remakes: the novels that the film were based on were only released in 2005 and the novels were turned into films in Swedish (makes sense considering the author of the novels was Swedish and the film itself takes place in Sweden) in 2009 to very positive reviews. Apparently though it is deemed impossible for people to watch a film in a foreign language and so it was remade for a larger mainstream audience with studios hoping to cash in. So how good is the remake?

Daniel Craig is Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who has just lost his reputation in a very public court hearing. Blomkvist is then hired because of his investigative talents to take on a case of a disappearing girl that happened over 40 years ago. He works with Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a very complicated girl with a dark past but is a skilled computer hacker, to delve deeper into the mystery. The pair bond as they work together to uncover hidden secrets in a dark past of the Vanger family.

Rooney Mara is brilliant as the title character; she has to put in a very very emotional performance and she goes through some very dark and brutal scenes. Mara’s dedication to the role was clear beforehand as she got several real piercings instead of opting for fake ones for her character and that dedication shows on screen. She has good chemistry with Daniel Craig who seems to be the only person in Sweden without a Swedish accent but that can be overlooked. Most people will know Daniel Craig as James Bond and playing such an iconic role it becomes difficult to distance yourself from that. It takes a really good film and a really good performance to move away from being thought of just as Bond and Craig accomplishes that here with a very assured and understated performance. Yorick van Wageningen, Christopher Plummer, Stellen Skarsgard and Joely Richardson make up part of the supporting cast in what is an all round wonderfully crafted cast.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo lasts for two and a half hours but moves at such a fast pace that this doesn’t drag at all. The opening twenty minutes as the film introduces it’s characters is a little sluggish and uninteresting but it is vital to gain backstory. Once Craig’s Mikael Blomkvist takes on this mysterious case though the film begins to roll and doesn’t waste a second to look back. There are lots of things happening at once and if you blink you may miss something important; you can’t take your eyes off the screen for a second. They mystery of who is responsible for the missing girl all them years ago is fantastic and keeps you guessing with revelation after revelation having lasting effects on the Vanger family at the centre of the film. There are parts of the film that are horrible realistic and will make you cringe at the sight of it but the sensitive issues are handled well and the brutal events are handled even better by director David Fincher. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a crime thriller deserving of the highest acclaim.

Fincher is easily one of the best directors of the past twenty years churning out Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network and now this; I would say The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is second only to Fight Club and even gives that a run for its money. The suspense created throughout the feature is wonderful and the beautiful editing is what makes this such an invigorating watch. Once the mystery is solved things revert back to how they did at the beginning and the film unwinds slowly but we are too invested and curious about the characters to mind that any more.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a masterpiece.

My Rating: 9/10.

And the Oscar goes to…

The Artist took home five golden statues

So that’s that. Last night the awards season came to an end with the 84th Academy Awards. Despite winning the award in three of the big five categories The Artist will have to share the honour of most Oscars won this year with Hugo; both films received five Oscars each. The only real controversy came from an obvious source, Sacha Baron Cohen, but ultimately the show was well received and Billy Crystal did an infinitely better performance as host than James Franco and Anne Hathaway last year.

There were no real surprises on the night in terms of winners; The Artist has been a huge success and has won awards wherever it has been. At the Oscars it took home Best Film, Best Original Score and Best Costume Design whilst Michel Hazanavicius won Best Director and Jean Dujardin won Best Actor for their efforts on the film. Meryl Streep unsurprisingly won the Best Actress Oscar for The Iron Lady and Christopher Plummer (Beginners) and Octavia Spencer (The Help) took home the awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively.

It was nice to see Rango win Best Animated Film although the competition in that category looked very weak compared to the 2011 awards which included Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon. The Muppets returned to the cinema this year and took home the Best Original Song award for their ‘Man or Muppet’ number. Perhaps the only surprise on the night, if you’re really looking for one, is that neither Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II or Rise of the Planet of the Apes took home the award for Best Visual Effects with Hugo winning instead.

Below is a full list of winners of the 84th Academy Awards:

Best Picture – The Artist

Best Director – Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)

Best Actor – Jean Dujardin (The Artist)

Best Actress – Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)

Best Supporting Actor – Christopher Plummer (Beginners)

Best Supporting Actress – Octavia Spencer (The Help)

Original Screenplay – Midnight In Paris

Adapted Screenplay – The Descendants

Best Animated Feature – Rango

Best Foreign Language Film – A Separation

Best Original Score – The Artist

Best Original Song – The Muppets

Best Sound Editing – Hugo

Best Sound Mixing – Hugo

Best Art Direction – Hugo

Best Cinematography – Hugo

Best Make Up – The Iron Lady

Best Costume Design – The Artist

Best Film Editing – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Best Visual Effects – Hugo

This week it was announced that Transformers 4 had been given the go ahead. It is not yet clear for certain whether this is a sequel or a reboot but either way it will certainly be something we have seen before. This can be said for other films hitting the screens this summer: The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, G.I. Joe and at the end of last year we had Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Mission Impossible 4. In the pipeline we have more Bond, a reboot of The Fantastic Four and the two sequels to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. So many of Hollywood’s products nowadays comes from comic books, novels or foreign films that it seems like Hollywood has lost it’s originality.

Sure, everyone loves a sequel to one of their favourite films, getting to see their favourite characters on another adventure (if it is done correctly) and there is no doubt that the big wigs in Hollywood know this. But don’t we, as paying members of the audience, deserve something new and refreshing for a change? Okay, so not every film being brought out is based on something else but the big ones that are really pushed by studios are and at the minute the trend seems to be comic book films.

You could argue that turning a novel or a comic book into a film really opens up the audience for that product, but it is not original! If someone has come up with the original story for the novel in question then why is it so difficult for a writer hired by some big Hollywood studio to come up with an equally original idea? And why remake films that have already been made? There has recently been a rise of international films being remade in Hollywood that only saw release a couple of years before: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Internal Affairs (which Hollywood turned into The Departed) are a couple of examples. Yes, both of these films turned out to be huge successes but was there really any need for them? Have movie audiences really become too lazy to deal with subtitles?

Maybe it is not a case of Hollywood running out of ideas, though. It could be that Hollywood studios are just happy to cash in on products they KNOW will earn money. It has become clear to studio executives that if something contains the name ‘X-Men’, ‘Bourne’ or ‘Bond’ that audiences will go and see that film, they would argue they are giving the public what they want. But with the ever increasing amount of movies being made based on other works, is originality dying out?

Let’s hope not.