Author Archives: Cursed_Tea

A Christmas Film Review.

For Christmas this year I asked for the DVDs of my two favourite films of the past 18 months or so: Prometheus and the US version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I got Prometheus, we all watched it (again), we all loved it. However, I didn’t get the latter. Hm. This little disappointment has been lost in my cheese and chutney coma as we sit in a beery fug on Boxing Day watching the original Swedish film and I have decided that as a special Christmas treat for y’all I shall compare the two versions of ‘The Feel-Bad Movie of Christmas’ (smashing tagline).

Now I for one am loving TV’s obsession with Scandinavia at the moment. Shows like Borgen, The Killing and The Bridge have topped ratings and viewings both here in Albion and also Stateside resulting in US re-makes, like with the Milennium trilogy. Cities like Stockholm and Copenhagen are the place to be seen if you’re young, creative and dedicated to tofu. If you want to immerse yourself in sleeve tattoos and beards in beanies sipping locally-brewed ale, head on down to Vesterbro district in Copenhagen my friends. So while a large part of the English-speaking world, and certainly myself, is in love with all things Scandi-chic I must admit that, for me, the American re-make of TGWTDT surpasses the original. Here’s why:

In Noomi Rapace, we have this small, obscure punk-Goth who can quite clearly kick some serious ass and this effect rolls right off her razor-sharp cheekbones. We see very little vulnerability to Rapace’s Salander. Petite and compact though she is, when we see her body it is solid and honed muscle. (Her dragon tattoo beats out Rooney Mara’s though, I must admit). In terms of Mikael Blomkvist, the pockmarked and seemingly more blundering Michael Nyqvist doesn’t strike the same chord as Daniel Craig’s. This is more in accordance with the book and as I personally don’t have the hots for Daniel Craig I thought his injection of Hollywood heartthrob into the film was perhaps a bit unnecessary. This aside, the whole film in general doesn’t quite have the artistic flair found in the US version. In true straight-forward Scandinavian style the film plods from scene to scene, hardly taking the time for lingering head-shots or shifty gazes, or take in the slick background of Stockholm in the first 20 or so minutes of the film. In contrast, the US update with the godsend that is David Fincher as director has the camera moving through the scenes like a silent shark, picking up every eyebrow twitch and grimacing snarl. Even the sun-drenched, summery memory scenes of Harriet’s disappearance have a fluid menace to them. This is why Fincher was the perfect director for this film. With Se7en, Fight Club and most recently The Social Network under his belt, Fincher has made his mark as an auteur in film by developing that great knack of eeking out the nastiness that lurks beneath the surface in everyone. For me, having Fincher at the helm of this film is what tipped it as the better of the two versions.

As previously mentioned, Noomi Rapace is badass and we see her potential for ass-kicking right from the off in the 2009 film. But with Rooney Mara we see this elfin, mercurial cyber-Punk who looks too frail to ever even pinch anyone, let alone punch them and overpower them while going up an escalator. This is why when she gets her revenge on the revolting Nils Bjurman it manages to show with even more fervour just how mentally unsettled Salander really is, again Fincher’s brilliant technique of shifting the murky waters of his characters’ personalities The film in general seems to really show the dreadful bleakness of the storyline, in every aspect. The title sequence drowning in oily technological violence with the electrifying, crackling cover of Immigrant’s Song kicks things off with more panache. The supporting cast are well-chosen and eclectic (look out for theatre darling Steven Berkoff as Henrik Vanger’s lawyer Frode). Mara and Craig have far better chemistry. The cinematography and greyed light, as well as the small change of the whole film taking place in the bleak midwinter rather than changing seasons adds to the harsh cruelty of the film and means that we see how Hollywood’s big-budget artistic touch has enhanced rather than flattened this re-make. I often disagree with American re-makes, not least with the recent remake of the bleakly beautiful Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In. It seems as though films with a more delicate, art-house touch are best left to be appreciated without a Hollywood helping hand. But this remake was something else, and for me Rooney Mara stole the show, well deserving her Oscar nomination.

So there it is. My special festive review of two not very festive films. I leave you with some fan art I found on the internet to seal my obsession with Rooney Mara. You stay classy, Internet users. ♥

Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander

My Favourite Film Characters

A favourite film character doesn’t necessarily have to be one notable of awards – although a couple of mine are – and they don’t necessarily have to have been a major role. For me, a favourite film character is one that you find yourself instantly intrigued by, whether because you identify with them or because by some random cosmic force you find yourself pulled to them, like some giant cinematic magnet is drawing you to the screen. That for me is the magic of film – really any kind of artistic work – when you are unconditionally drawn to an aspect of it. The beauty of film is that you can watch your favourite character as many times as your heart desires. So here goes:

Paul Bettany – Geoffrey Chaucer in A Knight‘s Tale

‘and anyone else out there NOT sitting on a cushion!’

So unashamedly theatrical, so well delivered and so hilarious. I have watched A Knight’s Tale an embarassing number of times. I woke up on New Year’s Day a few years back to find I’d unrelentingly spent 8 quid buying this film on iTunes the night before. Clearly I’m a drunk with cinematic priorities. And still this character still makes me laugh if not smile broadly at more or less everything he says. Paul Bettany fits this role so well and brings an exaggerated comedy that the film would have sorely lacked had it been left out. This pick just about beat Bettany’s turn as Doctor Maturin in ‘Master and Commander’, simply because it was one of the first films I watched where I immediately identified a theatrical actor significantly standing out in a Hollywood film, and doing a fabulous job.

Mila Kunis – Rachel Jansen in Forgetting Sarah Marshall

For a long time Forgetting Sarah Marshall was one of my favourite films, for the wonderful humour combined with the chilled-out Hawaiian vibe and saturated colour so everyone’s tan looks ace. It perhaps has personal meaning for me in pulling me out of a personal slump much like the heartbroken Peter’s with its heartwarming and upbeat story. And also the puppets. Puppets are chill. The character of Rachel isn’t a huge one, but it got Mila Kunis noticed since That 70’s Show ended and it led on to films like Friends With Benefits and Black Swan. I loved Mila Kunis in this film and she remains one of my favourite actresses since I first watched it. Rachel is chilled out, free-spirited, funny and pulls Jason Segel’s heartbroken Peter out of his slump and into the Hawaiian sunshine with her own sunny philosophies on life. Mahalo, dude.

Natalie Portman – Nina Sayers in Black Swan

‘I felt it – it was perfect’

This film is still hands down in my top 5 favourites. And I wouldn’t call her a favourite because I particularly warm to Portman’s character. Hell, she’s damn annoying for most of the film. But she’s also so brilliantly layered: timid, neurotic, cripplingly insecure and in need of validation from others, yet also cold, manipulative and scheming. And when that savagely animal and sensual Black Swan finally bursts from her in a mess of blood and black and white feathers you can see how Portman swept the awards board in 2010.

Tom Berenger – Sgt. Barnes in Platoon

This character is not nice. Not nice at all. Back during my obsession with Best Picture Oscar films I watched this and instantly was drawn to the brutal character of Barnes. Scarred yet still ruggedly handsome beneath it, this man may well have been some kind of weird sexual awakening in my early teens all the way from the ’80s. Berenger was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for this role and with no surprise. He brilliantly captures the figure of authority in a time where the young hippies of the West were saying ‘fuck authority’, striding unflinchingly through gunfire, grenades and napalm to rant at his lieutenant. Arguably his best scene is when he boozily confronts the weed-smoking, ‘peace and love’ section of the platoon, swigging bitterly from his whiskey as he spits at them ‘Death? What do you know about death?’ For this doomed youth, Barnes IS death.

Christoph Waltz – Colonel Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds

The Jew Hunter

The best saved till last. Christoph Waltz had never had such a highly-billed role in mainstream Hollywood cinema, and perhaps no such Hollywood unknown has ever made such a huge impact on the English-speaking audience. This Austrian actor will be among the ‘Best Villains’ and ‘Most Memorable Film Characters’ lists for years to come thanks to his role as ‘the Jew Hunter’ in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. The opening scene between he and French actor Denis Ménochet (fantastic in this film) is a perfect example of how Landa can be the jovial polite Nazi in his clipped, formal French and swiftly transform into a ruthless, calculating and insanely intelligent hunter as he informs Ménochet’s Monsieur LaPadite in English that he knows there is a Jewish family hidden beneath the floorboards. But the transition is so perfectly subtle that the audience themselves realise only too late, and the tension of the scene bursts into tragedy. Simply unforgettable.

So there is my weird ‘n’ wonky little list of favourite film characters, for all their eccentricities and madness. Till next time folks! “In case i don’t see you; good afternoon, good evening and good night.”

A Poem! A War Poem!

So Kirsty Asher the film ‘buff’ has decided to attempt poetry…God help us.

Cheery Bye

Cheery bye don’t worry about me,
Although my body’s crossed the sea
My tender heart still rests and stands
In England’s Green and Pleasant Lands.
The sun still shines over Gallic plains
And summer glory still remains
Upon our fresh and youthful faces
Of course we’ve been put through our paces!
The Hun deserve a right good thrashing
Said Colonel Banbridge, oh so dashing
In his dapper suit and medals flashing
For the village girls who waved us by
I kissed my true sweetheart goodbye
And we marched for King and Country through
The rolling hills, the sky bright blue.
This life it’s tough I can’t deny,
The time seems to have shot us by.
But though we’re tired we’re happy too
Because we know our cause is true
And Great Britannia keeps us warm
With all her dignity and form.
I write to sweetheart every day
To let her know that I’m ok
And remembering her soft sweet curls
I cannot bear to let unfurl
My deepest, darkest, wildest fear
That is brought to my mind but never a tear
Should be shed when fighting must be done
One last big push to beat the Hun.
And though Dicky Clark with half his face missing
Will never hear that dreaded hissing
Of gas which gurgles and consumes,
And through the spattered trenches looms
And catches breath and curdles blood
And squanders a generation in the mud
His parents know and understand
That for his country he leant his hand
And died with dignity and valour.
He tells a lie I can’t conceal
For suddenly it’s far too real
One glassy eye stared to the sky
That helping hand lay thickly by
Cut quick by sniper bullet and lay
In curls of mud. That rainy day
Held no promise for young Dicky Clark
No one protected his tender heart
From the ripping and tearing metal roar
The Sergeant need know no more
Ignorance is bliss for grieving friends
I see no future, nor any end.
It’s been two years and I am scarred
With lines and marks and ridges barred
Across my face and body where
The bones jut out, I’m hardly there
My mind is soft, my soul is weak
These days we hardly ever speak
But those rose-scented letters lie
Close to my heart and my reply
Is to tell her how I’ll be alright
Tomorrow’s a big day, I need the night
To gaze across that shit-stained sea
Cheery bye, don’t worry about me.