Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Quick Takes: The Girl Who Played with Fire, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Stone

Noomi Rapace continues her magnificent run as Lisbeth Salander in the wildly popular Dragon Tattoo series with The Girl Who Played With Fire (2010). While the film was intriguing with its central mystery and Salander's revelation involving her father, I couldn't shake off the tawdry and misogynistic nature of it. I enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo quite a bit, even with its smatterings of lurid sexual violence, but this one ups the ante with its underage sex trafficking mystery as well as showcasing a highly exploitative sex scene between Salander and her girlfriend. The whole thing just reeks of sexism. Also, the strength of the first story was the chemistry and unlikely relationship between Salander and Blomkvist. Why keep them apart for the entire length of this one? It's a disappointing though watchable sequel, and Rapace is a commanding presence who deserves to be seen. 3/5

Another popular film in some circles is the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010), about a mysterious street artist named Banksy who chronicles the rise of an amateur filmmaker who later becomes a cultural sensation. Some claim the documentary isn't exactly real and that the works of Mr. Brainwash (the filmmaker) actually belongs to Banksy himself. Or something like that. I don't claim to understand it, and quite frankly, I found it very difficult to care. Street art is not something I'm impressed with; like this movie, its abstract style is open to interpretation. 2/5

When a film stars Edward Norton, Robert DeNiro, Milla Jovovich and Frances Conroy, you take notice. That film is Stone (2010), a drama about a prisoner (Norton) who is up for parole and forges a connection with his parole officer (DeNiro). Jovovich and Conroy play their respective wives. What ensues is not something out of an ordinary thriller, and I have to give the filmmakers credit here. They went for something different and rather original. Unfortunately, the result is dramatically limp and preposterous. Not even the great actors can elevate this bore. I am happy, though, that it wasn't run of the mill. I'd rather see the director swing for the fences and miss than not try anything new at all. 2/5

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