Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Girl with the Powerbook Pro

Firstly, a quick mention about how amazed I was by the success of my last blog post regarding the recent remembrance service poppy burning by Muslim Extremists and the ridiculous level of media coverage it received (and the subsequent "I'm not racist, but.." response on web forums).  It got more than 800 page views and was shared nearly 200 times on facebook, which is frankly remarkable.  However, this blog post will see things quickly return to normal as I remove my rarely worn 'champion of social injustice' hat and replace it with the all-too-commonly-worn 'reviewer of something what I watched' trilby.

Last Saturday afternoon I watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Män som hatar kvinnor – "Men Who Hate Women").  It's a Swedish crime thriller currently being remade for Hollywood for those small brainers who don't like reading subtitles, but I've whinged about that in the past.  It's based on the first book of the bestselling Millennium Trilogy by Author and Journalist Stieg Larsson, who sadly died before seeing the success of either the novels or the subsequent film adaptations.

I'll admit I didn't think it was really my thing as I've never been all that interested in detective thrillers - If it involves detection but doesn't include Batman or Columbo, then count me out.  Tara, however, is currently on the last book of the trilogy and was constantly recommending the series (even though I would never have thought that crime novels were "her thing", as it were).  I came to the conclusion that seeing a film that is not really my thing is a damn sight easier and quicker (and a damn sight lazier) than reading a book that might not really be my thing.  And hey, it's got subtitles, right?  That's almost like reading.

And I'm glad I watched it - It's a gripping thriller with an array of intiguing supporting characters.  The premise is interesting enough; Mikael Blomkvist is a disgraced journalist awaiting a prison sentence after making damaging allegations about a billionaire Swedish industrialist, and is given the task of investigating the 40 year old case of an elderly former CEOs' vanished (and probably murdered) niece.  His investigations cause him to cross paths with the mysterious Lisbeth Salander, an expert hacker and researcher - the eponymous Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

After a slow start, the plot is gripping enough with all the appropriate twists and turns that are associated with the genre.  Blomkvist and Salander make an interesting (and unlikely) pairing, but they're both painted with sufficient depth that you genuinely care about them.

So what began as (to be honest) a chore to see what all the fuss was about, turned out to be a genuinely exciting, gritty, brutal and intelligent film.  The investigative procedures carried out in the film are nothing short of brilliant, computers are used throughout (more on this in a bit) but in a realistic manner and the dénouement is surprising, yet satisfying.  I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing the sequels, because these are characters I want to find out more about.  They're not that likeable, certainly, but they're deep enough to captivate my interest.  And, in absolute honesty, one particular scene involving a dildo will have you punching the air and cheering - and there aren't many films you can say that about.  Unless you've seen the deleted scenes from The Little Mermaid.

Despite my point about the realistic use of computers earlier on, the slightly odd thing is that the film seeks to take place in an alternate universe where PCs don't exist, in much the same way that you'd think Sony were single-handedly responsible for manufacturing every single thing on the planet in the recent "remake" of the Bond film Casino Royale.  Everybody has a Mac, and not just a Mac but a shiny Powerbook Pro.  The reason for this is presumably revealed in the (now forever) unpublished sequels, "The Girl who met Steve Jobs", "The Girl with the overpriced peripherals" and "The Girl with the smug sense of superiority".

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