Apr 182012
 

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Based On:Novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Rating: R

Running Time: 114 minutes

Release Date: October 24, 2008

Genre: Horror, Vampire

Cast: Oskar(Kåre Hedebrant), Eli(Lina Leandersson), Håkan(Per Ragnar), Erik(Henrik Dahl), Yvonne(Karin Bergquist), Lacke(Peter Carlberg), Virginia(Ika Nord), Jocke(Mikael Rahm)

Synopsis: In Sweden during the early 1980s, Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a lonely and strange 12-year-old boy, has a problem with a bully at school and is unable to fight back. Eli(Lina Leandersson), a mysterious and equally lonely girl, and her ‘father’,Hakan (Per Ragnar), move in next door to Oskar. Soon they become friends and as they begin spending more and more time together, Eli convinces Oskar to stand up for himself but later he learns that she is a very old vampire and that her father is not really her father but her lover. Eventually Oskar must decide if he can find happiness with Eli or if he should go back to his old life.

Analysis: This and the American version of this film, Let Me In (2010), are both adaptations of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s book, Let the Right One In (2004 Novel). I saw the American version first, and then the earlier Swedish version, and I know that I am working backwards here, but I do plan on reading the novel once I can get my hands on it. That said, both films are very similar, but I think that the Let the Right One In (2008 film) does a few things better.

The relationship between Eli and her ‘father’ is more detailed It is easy to see that he is a normal guy that must do horrible things for the one he loves, instead of a being more like a serial killer. Even the bullies have more personality in this film. I did like the detective in the American version, but I think the locals replaced some of his role and they add some great color to the film.

Pro:

  • Darkly funny scene where Hakan is working on a victim and is interrupted by a dog.
  • Takes place in Sweden, makes more sense than New Mexico.
  • Hospital scene with Eli and Hakan is very touching.
  • Intense scene with bullies near end.
  • The subtitles are easy to read.

Con:

  • Oskar is so pale, that he could easily pass for a vampire.
  • It is too bright during scenes at night in the woods.
  • Swedish girls wear strange gym clothes.

Conclusion: Let The Right One In is a great film with elements of romance, and revenge. I think that most people would enjoy this film!

Score: 3.53/5

Apr 172012
 

Director: Thomas Alfredson

Based On: Novel by John le Carré.

RatingR

Running Time: 127 minutes

Release Date:9/16/2011

GenreSpy, Thriller

CastGeorge Smiley, “Beggarman” (Gary Oldman), Bill Haydon, “Tailor” (Colin Firth), Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy), Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong), Roy Bland, “Soldier” (Ciarán Hinds), Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), Toby Esterhase, “Poorman” (David Dencik), Jerry Westerby (Stephen Graham), Oliver Lacon (Simon McBurney), Percy Alleline, “Tinker” (Toby Jones), Control (John Hurt), Irina (Svetlana Khodchenkova)

Synopsis: During the Cold War in 1973, the head of British Intelligence and his second in command, George Smiley (Gary Oldman) are forced into retirement after a failed intelligence operation in Hungary. When an informant alerts the agency that the actions of a mole led to the failure of the operation, Smiley goes back to work and sets about getting to the bottom of things. He soon discovers that one of the four men that rose to the top after the coup is the mole, and must find out who to trust and who is a threat to the Free World.

AnalysisWhen I was growing up, the 1979 BBC mini-series with Alec Guinness as George Smiley was often on PBS, but it never held my interest because it was about a bunch of old people doing things that I couldn’t comprehend. I still haven’t had a second chance to revisit the mini-series, but recently I saw the movie version and even though it took awhile to get into the story, I was deeply into it by the end.

It was hard work remembering what things were like back during the Cold War when the Soviets where something to fear but I finally got into the correct mindset. Even though there are some action scenes, most of the action takes place in conversations and subtle flashbacks. In fact, I didn’t realize we were witnessing flashbacks at first until I realized that Smiley had different glasses in the past. In the end, it is a rewarding film if you pay attention.

Pro:

  • The film is stark and gray like everything was in the 70s.
  • The flashbacks are great.
  • Cold War nostalgia.
  • Underrated actor Mark Strong as Jim Prideaux is great!

Con:

  • Hard to get into.
  • Must pay constant attention.

Conclusion

Be ready to do a little more work than usual if you pick up this film, but as you get used to the style and the slight dryness you will find yourself getting sucked into the story and rooting for Smiley to find the mole.

Score: 3.38/5

Apr 162012
 

Director: David Fincher

Rating: R

Running Time: 158 minutes

Release Date:12/21/2011

GenreThriller

CastMikael Blomkvist(Daniel Craig), Lisbeth Salander(Rooney Mara), Henrik Vanger(Christopher Plummer), Martin Vanger(Stellan Skarsgård), Dirch Frode(Steven Berkoff), Erika Berger(Robin Wright), Nils Bjurman(Yorick van Wageningen), Anita Vanger(Joely Richardson), Cecilia Vanger(Geraldine James), Dragan Armansky(Goran Visnjic)

SynopsisThis American adaptation of a Steig Larrson novel follows Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) as he attempts to solve a 40-year-old case about a missing girl. He enlists the help of the enigmatic genius Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) and together they uncover secrets that have long been hidden. At the same time, Lisbeth must work alone to seek revenge against a man who brutally hurt her.

Analysis: This film is nearly faithful to the book, and is generally very good, but I think that it leaves out some interesting tidbits like Mikael’s prison sentence and changes other things around like where Harriet’s body is hidden.

Pro:

  • Music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
  • Great transitions between people’s recollections and the reading of documents and the flashbacks they inspire.
  • Seeing the rape scene is more disturbing that reading it.
  • Stellan Skarsgård.

Con:

  • Millennium offices fancier than I imagined.
  • There is a scene where Blomkvist is using a highlighter to highlight every line of a document. It doesn’t very seem effective.
  • Bugged by consolidated ending.

Conclusion: After reading the novel, I worried that the story would be ruined by a bigger Hollywood budget. This is not the case for this entertaining film. If you are in the mood for a thriller with some darker elements and great revenge scenes check it out and while you’re at it, think about reading the novel and its sequels!

Score:4/5