Monthly Archives: March 2010

THE GHOST WRITER

Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer is perhaps the film that got away in 2010. Still reeling from the arrest and pending consequences over his past indiscretions with an underage girl, audiences certainly liked Polanski’s film – that is to say, those who bothered to see it – but, unfortunately, it’s not always easy to see the forest through the trees when it comes to art; an artist’s personal life can take over whatever merit their work might’ve had (just ask Woody Allen). In this case, it’s a shame because Polanski has made his best film since his heyday back in the early to mid-1970s. Working from Robert Harris’ novel The Ghost, the film stars Ewan McGregor as an unnamed ghost writer hired by a London publishing company (led by an unrecognizable Jim Belushi – sorry to any fans – are there fans? – of TV’s According to Jim, which remains unseen by me save for an unavoidable commercial here or there) to pour over the existing draft of the memoirs of one Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), a career politician clearly meant to evoke echoes of Tony Blair and George W. Bush. War crimes charges levied against Lang, mysterious motorcyclists haunting McGregor at every turn, and the mysterious relationships between Lang and his undervalued, enigmatic wife (Olivia Williams) and his icy blonde secretary (Kim Cattrall) heighten the suspense to Hitchcockian levels, aided and abbetted by Pawel Edelman’s chilly cinematography and a delightfully haunted broken circus score by Alexandre Desplat. One of the great overlooked award-worthy films of the year.

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THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

Was there anyone who didn’t bother to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Directed by Niels Arden Oplev, the adaptation of the first book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium (subsequently referred to as simply Dragon Tattoo) trilogy is a wicked cool Swedish import (the American remake is already being filmed by David Fincher). Noomi Rapace makes a stunning debut as iconic Lisbeth Salander, a Goth, bi-sexual computer hacker with the past of a deeply troubled teen. When journalist Mikel Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) investigates the disappearance of a woman forty-years ago, he’s aided by Lisbeth, who gets in over her head with a mysterious and powerful family that she appears to have even more ties to. This film was so popular in theaters that the subsequent adaptations in the trilogy, made for Swedish television only, were then released (not on this list). One of the surprise hit thrillers of 2010.

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FRENZY (1972)

The humor of any Alfred Hitchcock film is British and dry, sure, but it also involves one key factor. Any scene in his films could move from the macabre and tense to the darkly amusing before the audience knows what hit them. In Naremore’s article, he refers to a scene he saw as a boy in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) which illustrates perfectly the ways in which Hitchcock used dark humor to make a scene “frightening, perverse and funny at the same time.” For me, there are two or three scenes that leap to mind as examples of how this can work. Continue reading

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