Saturday, August 16, 2014

63 things I love about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (that no one talks about)

By Sati. Saturday, August 16, 2014 , , ,
Brilliant Alex who runs terrific And So it Begins has this fabulous series where he writes about things he loves in movies that no one seems to be talking about. Alex has kindly let me borrow this idea for my today's post which is the first one in the David Fincher event I'm organizing here on the site in anticipation for Gone Girl. Over the next two months most of the posts on the site - soundtrack Wednesdays, scenes of the week and performances I love - will be all about Fincher's previous movies.

Today I'm focusing on his most recent film, fantastic Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I love this movie and Rooney Mara's performance as Lisbeth is my win that year. I'm still hoping we'll see the sequels one day, but in the meantime let's focus on the brilliant things in the movie that I love:

1. The film barely starts and look who it is. Maester Luwin from Game of Thrones.
2. The cold open. It's short but it's brilliant.
3. The opening credits - surreal, frantic and violent set to Karen O's fantastic cover of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song which was a genius choice of a song.
4. Mikael buying a pack of smokes and a lighter, having one drag and then throwing everything away. As a smoker I always notice a waste like this. But later it's clear his girlfriend doesn't want him to smoke so this is Mikael making sure he won't - he really needs a cigarette but he also doesn't want to slip too bad. Also the thing I like in this movie - that people actually smoke in it. Nowadays if they show characters drinking in every scene or smoking weed it's all good but God forbid someone lights up a cigarette. Oh, no, that's awful! I swear people had less problem with Walter White cooking meth than with any character in movies/TV nowadays who smokes.
5. This badass image:
6. The introduction of Lisbeth, it's just brilliant.
7. Goran Visnjic's hilarious moment of utter horror after Lisbeth remarks how Mikael doesn't perform oral sex on his girlfriend often enough.
8. The fact that the names in the story and the location weren't changed to please American audience.
9. Christopher Plummer's words about his family. We don't see enough of them to know they are all awful in the movie, but his conviction sells it.
10. This little moment of homage as Trent Reznor, the leader of NIN is a part of the duo that composed the music for the movie. Also? It's ser Dontos from Game of Thrones wearing the shirt.
11. The warm cinematography in flashbacks and the cold atmosphere of the present scenes.
12. Lisbeth scratching the price tag off the gift. It's such a small detail but yet another one that grounds the movie in reality.
13. Mikael buying the cat food for his new friend. He is such a sweet guy.
14.The book Mikael is about to burn deals, among other things, with differences between men and women, one of the big themes of the film
15. The shot of Lisbebth looking so helpless as she leaves the hospital where her caretaker is.
16. The cat cuddling to Mikael on the pillow. This is what Gustav does.
17. How insanely blue Daniel Craig's eyes are in this movie. Also - it's the only film in which I find him attractive.
18. Lisbeth taking care of her friend. She isn't a sociopath. She cares about those who deserve it.
19.  The frantic fight at the subway station. It's insane.
20. Normally that scene would be uncomfortable to watch but the way Fincher shoots it makes it downright unbearable to look at.
21. The shocking shot of Lisbeth limping on her way home.
22. Camera showing us what Bjurman wrote on the check. It's sickening.
23. The fact that it is in this moment we see her tattoo for the first time. It's been born out of pain. Another thing - most of the bruises are real - the rape scene took so much time to shoot and so much repetition Mara actually got this bruised during all of this. The actor who played the rapist locked himself in a room after shooting it and spent a whole day crying.
24. The famous upside down shot of Lisbeth. You just know she is planning her revenge.
25.When tattoo artist tells Lisbeth it's going to hurt she just shrugs. She's beyond pain.
26. One of the most satisfying revenge shots in recent memory:
27. 'She's had a rough life. Let's not make it rougher". I love that in a movie filled with awful men there are good guys too.
28. Lisbeth's shirt. It's perfect.
29. This exchange. Mikael is actually slightly disgusted Lisbeth would think he would hurt her.
30. The fact Mikael actually brought her breakfast.
31. This exchange-  whenever I think of this movie I think of this scene. Mikael's respectful way of speaking to Lisbeth and her sudden interest and light in her eyes as she hears his proposal.

32. Lisbeth taking the file and then dropping it on the desk because she already remembers everything Mikael told her. David Fincher said Rooney Mara used to do this to him with his notes.
33. This little moment of humor:
34. This exchange. You just know Lisbeth had to answer this question many times before. Just another detail to make her into more realistic character you can feel it's human as opposed to someone fake.
35. Lisbeth being herself and Mikael being amused by it:
36. The scene were Lisbeth shares her findings with increasingly confused and horrified Mikael.
37. The cute way in which Lisbeth is annoyed with Mikael's clumsinesses:
38. Mikael reaction to what was done to the cat. In the movie where one character is unmoved by all the horrific stuff it's good to have a character that shows normal reaction to cruelty.
39. James Bond, ladies and gentlemen:
40. The lead up to the sex scene:
41. And the lovely passionate sex scene set to gorgeous What if we Could?
42.Mikael being utterly fascinated by Lisbeth:
43 Lisbeth making Mikael breakfast in the morning:
44. And this exchange:
45. Martin's clinical torture room. What a horrible place to die in.
46. The cute way in which Lisbeth says 'hey, hey'.
47. Orinoco flow by Enya. Apparently Daniel Craig said that the first thing that plays on his ipod should be used as a song in the scene, he hit play and there it was, accompanied by laughter of the cast and crew.
48. This. You gotta love how brazen Fincher is. He casts Stellan SkarsgÄrd, the guy who usually plays creepy, as a killer, almost pointing out to the fact that it's not who committed the crimes that matters, but the whole investigation is the focus of the film. But he does more - early in the movie while Mikael is having dinner at Martin's house there is a noise. Martin claims that it's wind but given what we find out later it's clear it was one of his victims screaming. I think it would work even better without him later admitting he had a girl in his torture room during the dinner, but it's still a brilliant little touch.
49. The horrific shot of a plastic bag over Mikael's head, shot from his perspective.
50. This line from Martin. He genuinely doesn't know what to do.
51. This great shot of Lisbeth sneaking in as Orinoco Flow is still playing:
52. So many people misinterpret this scene. They claim it's as if Lisbeth was giving away a piece of her independence here, asking Mikael for permission. But she is not asking for a permission to kill, she is asking for a permission to take this revenge from Mikael. Martin hurt him, it's his case and she respects that. She takes vengeance very seriously.
53. This fantastic shot:
54. Mikael not pressing on Lisbeth for information and respecting her privacy. And keep in mind he's a journalist.
55. The code word. It's awesome.
56. Put your hand back in my shirt.
57. Someone saved me too.
58. The scene in which Lisbeth asks Mikael for money. She only needs to ask once. He says yes, without asking what it's for or giving her any hard time. He trusts her. Lisbeth almost cannot believe his kindness after everything she has been through in the past.
59. Even when she wants to blend in, Lisbeth stands out.
60. The quick moment of Lisbeth wiping her lipstick off the cup. She leaves no trace behind.
61. This mirror shot:
62. The girlish smile Lisbeth has on her face after Mikael tells her she looks nice. She is tough but she can be innocent and sweet too. It's what I love so much about this movie and one of the many reasons it's so much better than the Swedish version - Lisbeth is so much more layered and complex in it.
63. The film's fantastic ending, also accompanied by What if we Could? Lisbeth seeing Mikael with his girlfriend and going from hurt to putting on her armor of indifference again and tossing his Christmas gift. Mara's performance is amazing - I love those moments were actors capture so much without saying a single word. It's such a sad, beautiful and yes, empowering moment in the movie.

39 comments:

  1. What a fantastic post! I absolutely love TGWTDT. Fincher did such a fantastic job with it, and just everything about it, from the acting (Rooney Mara is PERFECT) to all of the technical aspects, it just comes together so brilliantly. Fincher is a god. I also agree with you, while Noomi Rapace is also brilliant, Rooney just gives off this tough exterior, yet she is so complex and layered.

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    1. Thank you so much! So glad to read you're a fan too! I so hope there are still going to be sequels, but I'm just so psyched for Gone Girl, it's even more perfect material for him than this one was. If he guides Pike as he did with Mara she is gonna give a legendary performance.

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  2. I totally loved that film and really thought it was underrated. I marked the fuck out when I saw that guy wear that NIN hoodie. Shit, if I was a billionaire with money to blow. I would totally fund the next film and give David Fincher total freedom to do what he wants.

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    1. I hope you will become billionaire then! :)

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    2. If I do, I would fund that film as well as films for my favorite filmmakers. You would be my #1 attorney.

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    3. I'd love for someone to do that Black Swan prequel with Winona Ryder :)

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  3. Great post for a great movie. I also hope Fincher gets to finish the trilogy.

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    1. Thank you! They make sequels for such crap these days and here a good movie is still uncertain to have follow ups :/

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  4. Great observations! You noticed things I didn't pick up on. Wow, she got bruising for real during the rape shoot, scary.
    Royal Tenenbaums (which I saw yesterday) is another film where smoking is used in a memorable way, in which Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) is hiding the habit from others.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah it's so intense. They must have shoot that scene so many times, what a terrible day that must have been.

      Oh yeah I remember that. Well at least they showed her smoking which is so rare these days in American films, as a European I find all this weed and treating smokers like lepers in movies to be so....foreign.

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  5. Awesome post! There really should have been a sequel!

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    1. Thank you! I really hope we'll get the sequels one day

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  6. I just finished watching this movie for the first time. What a brilliant post! I especially love the way you touched on so many aspects of the character development in the film. One of the things that really stood out for me was the subtle contradictions in Lisbeth's character ... so intense and powerful yet so young and vulnerable. Rooney's portrayal of these aspects of her character, which were always shifting, was absolutely brilliant. Oh, and per #28 ... I need to find one of those t-shirts.

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    1. Thank you! I loved the complexity of Lisbeth and the fact they were brave enough to allow her being cute and vulnerable, unlike in the Swedish version of the story. I think those t-shirts are quite popular, I also saw one on the show Shameless :)

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  7. love this post! glad to find someone else who appreciates this version. there is an accessibility in lisbeth here that is absent in the swedish version (Which i also like).

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    1. Thank you! Yes, accessibility, exactly. In Swedish film she was much less...likable, I guess.

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  8. Love this post! There's so much to love about this film. Rooney Mara is amazing in it. But there are so many little touches in it that set Fincher's version apart from the original Swedish one, even though I like that one as well.

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    1. Thank you! I really like what Fincher did with this movie, his crime thrillers are the best of his movies even though I actually loved Benjamin Button.

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  9. *opens a second tab to read and comment at the same time*
    " It's such a small detail but yet another one that grounds the movie in reality" - this reminds me of Alex's post where he mentions that Fincher somehow makes all of his movies so realistic with mundane details such as the price tag you mentioned. I love this about him!
    "Also - it's the only film in which I find him attractive." - interestingly enough, same here. :D
    "47. Orinoco flow by Enya. Apparently Daniel Craig said that the first thing that plays on his ipod should be used as a song in the scene, he hit play and there it was, accompanied by laughter of the cast and crew." - hahahahaha!
    49. The horrific shot of a plastic bag over Mikael's head, shot from his perspective. - tell me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this scene accompanied with his heavy breathing as well?
    "It's such a sad, beautiful and yes, empowering moment in the movie." - that is the moment where I wanted a sequel to happen.. like, there are three books so it should be three movies and since I literally could not watch the Swedish version because I personally thought the casting of Mikael was so so so wrong, I'm now interested to know what happened to them.. but portrayed by Mara and Craig.. oh, what a big dream to have.

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    1. I never noticed this outside of this movie, but I'm about to rewatch Zodiac so I keep that in mind!

      I think you could also hear his breathing indeed.

      I only saw the second movie and not the third, but it was somewhat disappointing when it comes to their relationship. It could be because of the weak chemistry between the two in Swedish films.

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    2. I think I'm going to watch Zodiac tonight as well, I just finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because after reading this, I really got the need to watch it again. Also, appreciate it more than the first time but saying that, I still prefer Zodiac.. I love Zodiac to pieces!

      I'd also have the small little detail of Lisbeth eating Happy Meals in this list.. I saw that pop up twice in the movie.

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    3. I don't think I'll ever understand this praise for Zodiac - the last 1/3 of the movie with Greysmith investigating everything himself was so boring for me. The last 2/3 were very good, though.

      Oh yeah, she did eat a lot of junk food :)

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  10. Wonderful post Sati! Wow, such great visuals here, it has Fincher's style all over this as Zodiac is still fresh in my mind. I don't know if I'll be seeing this one, might be too disturbing for my feeble nerves, but still it's fascinating to read all the reasons you loved it.

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    1. Thank you! It has several disturbing scenes, but it has very warm and respectful relationship in the centre which makes both the disturbing scenes and the sweet ones more vivid. There is so much great contrast in the movie and so many different emotions

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  11. This is an amazing collection of moments and frames. I absolutely love this film. How the hell wasn't it nominated for Best Picture and seriously how the hell didn't Rooney Mara win Best Actress?!

    Now I really have a hankering to watch this again... and think longingly about future sequels that may never be.

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    1. Thank you! The movie was downright robbed. I remember all this talk about this being too dark for Academy but man they already screwed over Fincher so many times in the past, even with ridiculous amount of love for Social Network.

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  12. Love this post, and I agree with everything on it. That cold open, while brief, is brilliant; Lisbeth’s intro ROCKS; the warm color grading of the flashbacks is superb; and on and on. I never noticed what Bjurman wrote on the memo line of his check… Fuckin’ pig. Oh, and I’ve always loved that bit where Mikael is fumbling with the Mac. Hilarious.

    And thanks again for asking me on Twitter and for giving me credit. Like you with your splendid Visual Parallels posts, I often see these “Things People Don’t Talk About” lists or, even worse, “In Character” articles pop up on other blogs. So much for (unsourced) originality.

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    1. Thank you! It's just the worst when people don't even bother asking or even better - they pretend they didn't actually get the idea from one of your posts. Blogger etiquette really should mean more.

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  13. Maester Luwin! Love this post. I wasn't crazy about this movie, but I love everything you pointed out about it. I remember thinking the buying/making breakfast gestures were really sweet.

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    1. Thank you! The breakfast thing was such a simple but effective touch, very lovely.

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  14. So...so...SO...SOOOOOOOOO much yes here!

    Also...a whole TWO MONTHS of Fincher!?!?! I'm here for the ride, for sure!

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, there's certainly enough material for 2 months of posts :)

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  15. This is a great list. Good work Sati! I'm more of a Kate Mara fan (especially after House of Cards) and AHS season 1, but I loved Rooney in this film. She was flawless. Also, I really liked that the location wasn't changed to suit other people. Being set in Sweden made so much sense.

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    1. Thank you! I love that the location remained the same, it was so important to the atmosphere of the film.

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  16. This is awesome! I didn't even notice the GoT actors before -- nice finds. Also, I couldn't stand the "Immigrant Song" cover at first, but it really grew on me. It was used perfectly in this film.

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    1. GoT is so burned into my brain I can spot these people anywhere :) Glad you like the song now, it's bitchin' :)

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  17. Brilliant post! I've always preferred the Swedish version, but I like Fincher's version as well. Actually, I bought the Blu-ray recently, so I need to revisit it.

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    1. I liked Swedish version but I thought Fincher really made it better in every way.

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  18. So many great moments here, love this post! The rape scene must've been awful, just awful to make, I can't even imagine. This movie has so much going on, every time I see it I notice more and more details. Fincher, brilliant.

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