The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

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domino harvey
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#326 Post by domino harvey » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:59 pm

I wasn't directing my comments at you. In fact, you posted after I hit submit but I just submitted again

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#327 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:02 pm

domino harvey wrote:I wasn't directing my comments at you. In fact, you posted after I hit submit but I just submitted again
Oops. My bad.

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zedz
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#328 Post by zedz » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:52 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:What I want to know is what counts as a non-puerile sex fantasy? Isn't anything involving sex potentially open to this charge (of being a puerile fantasy)?
This is probably lazy phrasing on my part, but the scene / situation to me really seemed like a very specific adolescent fantasy, like the comic book geek being 'seduced' by the superheroine he secretly worships (The roles are reversed, but I couldn't help thinking about the final scene of Demonlover:
SpoilerShow
Storm has been captured!
- which made the adolescent aspect of this kind of fantasy explicit). As such, I thought it played really strangely in the movie (and not in a good way), with rugged Daniel Craig cast in the role of the naif (but only for this scene!), though it made a lot more sense if you imagined a schlubby guy like the real author there, but that just makes the wish-fulfillment aspect of the whole scene all the more embarrassing.

Anyway, to clarify, it's the specifically adolescent (superheroine initiating reluctant naif), cliched (apparent lesbian 'turns' for the hero) and self-serving aspects of that seduction scenario that lead me to describe it as puerile. I wouldn't use that word to describe, for instance, sexual fantasies in which the characters and roles were more complex or realistic, or in which the details were more outlandish and unexpected.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#329 Post by matrixschmatrix » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:04 pm

Your insistence that Lisbeth's established interest in women establishes or apparently establishes her as a lesbian seems problematic to me, as though bisexuals don't really exist outside of male masturbatory fantasies.

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zedz
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#330 Post by zedz » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:30 pm

That's a ridiculous assertion. We're talking about a mainstream, somewhat schlocky Hollywood film in which the only consensual sexual activity we've seen from the character prior to this scene is a lesbian hookup. The fantasy lesbians in all those millions of porn films who decide they really, really like the hero are notionally bisexual as well, once they make that shift (or indeed before, but let's not pretend anybody cares). It doesn't mean it's not a chauvinistic cliche all the same.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#331 Post by matrixschmatrix » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:33 pm

So the event is problematic because it takes place in this movie, and the movie is problematic because that event takes place in it?

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knives
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#332 Post by knives » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:38 pm

So she can only be bisexual if she shouts it from the heavens in her opening scene (which the film sort of does)? That's absurd and I appreciated (I should point out at this moment I found a lot to be wrong with the film but not this moment) that a movie would just plainly allow a bisexual character without needing to make a production out of it. Also (and I admit I have not seen his Bond work) but the ethos I've gotten from Craig's previous roles is a very pathetic man who tries to appear big, but isn't which fits this character nicely. I think it's silly to paint every character an actor plays just for one small role.

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zedz
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#333 Post by zedz » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:48 pm

You guys are aware that "a lesbian is just a bisexual woman waiting for the right man" is a hoary and derogatory cliche, right? I don't see the scenario as presented in this film as being in any material way different to the thousands of variations that preceded it, except that it appeared in a David Fincher film and thus gets the benefit of all sorts of special pleading, like "well you have to have read the book," or "in this case the same old cliche is actually a refreshing twist, because. . ." (I'm afraid I couldn't quite make out that last bit, unless it was ". . . it's in a David Fincher film.")
Last edited by zedz on Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Brian C
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#334 Post by Brian C » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:48 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:Your insistence that Lisbeth's established interest in women establishes or apparently establishes her as a lesbian seems problematic to me, as though bisexuals don't really exist outside of male masturbatory fantasies.
Do they, in the universe of Hollywood movies? It's a serious question - how many nuanced portrayals of bisexuality have we seen? Hell, we're hardly ever even given gay characters without it being an occasion for giving out awards. And even that is a privilege thus far given almost exclusively to male gay characters; lesbians are still mostly the exclusive object of fantasy.

That Lisbeth is a character that's casually bisexual without it being a big deal to the filmmakers in a movie that has no shortage of sensationalistic elements is radical enough that I'm not sure what to make of the suggestion. Honestly, I find this much easier to believe of Noomi Rapace's portrayal of the character, which I generally found to be much less beholden to convention.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#335 Post by matrixschmatrix » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:55 pm

zedz wrote:You guys are aware that "a lesbian is just a bisexual woman waiting for the right man" is a hoary and derogatory cliche, right? I don't see the scenario as presented in this film as being in any material way different to the thousands of variations that preceded it, except that it appeared in a David Fincher film and thus gets the benefit of all sorts of special pleading, like "well you have to have read the book," or "in this case the same old cliche is actually a refreshing twist, because. . ." (I'm afraid I couldn't quite make out that last bit, unless it was ". . . it's in a David Fincher film.")
Well, the reason is that she's never established as a lesbian, there is a plausible explanation for her sexual proclivities (and while it's evidently more fully developed in the book, it seemed possible to read it entirely from the movie, as it was the reading I got without having read the book), and you're imposing a problematic cliche on material that doesn't demand that reading.

Brian C's question is a fair one, but I don't think it necessary to presume bad faith on the grounds that there aren't enough examples of good faith.

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Brian C
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#336 Post by Brian C » Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:04 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:Brian C's question is a fair one, but I don't think it necessary to presume bad faith on the grounds that there aren't enough examples of good faith.
Fair enough, but I don't think it's unreasonable, either. I'd probably be more inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt if I didn't think the film was basically one big piece of trash from start to finish.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#337 Post by matrixschmatrix » Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:08 pm

Haha, yeah, that might color your interpretation. I would also argue that the evil cliche Zedz is referring to is more accurately stated that 'every lesbian is just waiting for a real man to come along and show her what's what', with the implication that a woman who sleeps with another woman cannot possibly be genuinely satisfied by it, and that she requires a truly dominant man to take away her illusions of self sufficiency or whatever. That is at least the root of that pernicious myth, and I don't think Dragon Tattoo fits it at all well.

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Brian C
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#338 Post by Brian C » Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:20 pm

I dunno, isn't the whole point of Lisbeth's rape and subsequent vengeance to illustrate her sense of self-sufficiency? The initial setup was that her parole officer let her be as she wished until he died and the new guy used his financial power over her to rape her. But she fought to get that back so that she could get back to being on her own.

I guess we could argue about whether Mikael is "a truly dominant man", but even before she meets him she expresses admiration for his integrity and honesty; I thought the movie established to some degree that she was drawn to him just by her early proximity to him.

Honestly, I think that your outline of that fantasy fits this better than something like, say, Chasing Amy, which fits zedz's more gentle interpretation more than your more aggressive one.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#339 Post by matrixschmatrix » Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:24 pm

Well, I would argue that she remains self sufficient in her relationship with Mikael- he certainly doesn't take control of her and put her in her place, and the movie surely violently rejects the men who do think in those terms.

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zedz
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#340 Post by zedz » Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:39 pm

I agree with matrixschmatrix's point about dominance to an extent (though lesbians 'initiating' a passive protagonist is hardly much less of a porn cliche), but I think the problematization in the scene in the film is more because there are a number of other similarly hoary cliches struggling for attention (in a film where elsewhere Fincher actually manages to wrangle the swarming cliches quite well) than because there's any great profundity at work.

And, because I'm in the same boat as Brian C, I'm not exactly predisposed to giving the film's sexual politics the benefit of the doubt either!

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Brian C
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#341 Post by Brian C » Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:45 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:Well, I would argue that she remains self sufficient in her relationship with Mikael- he certainly doesn't take control of her and put her in her place, and the movie surely violently rejects the men who do think in those terms.
OK, I'll give you that.

On a tangential but not entirely unrelated note, I will say for the movie that it mercifully avoids putting Lisbeth in the damsel-in-distress role during the climactic scene and compounding its ridiculousness (at least in that particular sense, anyway). It's at best a tentative win, because the sequels will no doubt give us plenty more opportunities for us to see Lisbeth get the hell beat out of her, like the Swedish films do, and give Mikael plenty of opportunities to come to her rescue.

But I thought I'd mention it for now.

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zedz
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#342 Post by zedz » Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:50 pm

On a similar note, I was pleased that at the climax
SpoilerShow
the baddie died and stayed dead - no stumbling out of the blazing car guns a-blazing, or discovering that he is no longer in the car and needs to be stalked through the woods or other such nonsense.
I actually can't remember another recent Hollywood action film / thriller that avoided that particular cliche.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#343 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:01 am

Lisbeth's 'seduction' was so unemotional that I don't see how you could claim she had a sea-change in her sexual preferences. She went about it very calmly as tho' it were indeed common to her, something she was familiar with. That she was clearly not being initiated into anything pretty well refutes the idea.

Plus, Craig is already shown to have a healthy sex life with an attractive woman. He is not sexually naive in general, nor even in that specific scene, which is not played as an initiation. His reaction is of surprise to an unexpected sexual advance that was given without set-up or warning. That in itself explains everything. We don't need any further explanations for his reaction. Porn cliches are always in the hackneyed set-up. Here, there is no set-up, no seduction, not even a kiss. As far as a fantasy initiation goes, it's lacking all the crucial elements.

As I've said before, I think Lisbeth's sexuality is indiscriminate in a way common to abuse victims. Indeed her "seduction" is unerotic and blunt, exactly as you would expect from someone with her background of sexual abuse. The scene is grounded in the character's psychology, which in itself distances it from fantasy, puerile or otherwise. This is a far more likely interpretation than any of the others being offered, most of which, to judge by the language of the last few posts, involve some form of faith. I can at least say you don't need any faith, good or bad, to arrive at my interpretation. Plus it explains things more neatly and with fewer judgements.

EDIT: I wrote a really long post, didn't like it, and whittled it down to this. In the mean time, a whole long discussion took place that it now looks like I'm hardly engaging with at all.

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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#344 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:41 am

I feel bad that those who are stuck on the sexual politics of this film are missing the bigger picture: that it's a superb, complicated mystery directed with a steady eye on the process of investigation whilst in the midst of the logical suspects. It's so much like the third act of Zodiac for most of the film that I am startled by those who'd look past that and desperately try to be offended by the film's portrayal of Salander's sexuality. I'd tell y'all to grow up if I hadn't just said "y'all."

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#345 Post by matrixschmatrix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:55 am

I don't think the sexual politics of the movie are at all incidental, though I agree that they weren't primarily what made the movie interesting for me. For one thing, some of the nastier elements go from unpleasant to unbearable and almost evil if the movie is made from a misogynistic, exploitative viewpoint- I don't think the texture of it supports that view, but I do think the question is a crucial one.

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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#346 Post by knives » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:13 am

The procedural aspect isn't as good as in Zodiac and even if it were as Matrix notes the film, with the character of Salander, forces itself to confront questions regarding sexual politics, relationships, gender deconstruction and many other things along those lines. Telling people to ignore that is as bad as the Bay fans telling others to turn off their brains. Even Zedz misreading is significantly better than that (for the record I think my opinion is most closely reflected by BrianC).

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feihong
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#347 Post by feihong » Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:44 am

Just jumpin' in here after like 3 years of not posting anything...but the subject has aroused some interesting debate, and I thought I could contribute a somewhat critical voice....

The essential problem with both Dragon Tattoo films for me is one that is clearly present in the novel as well: namely, that the story itself is a sort of fantasy in which investigative journalists are like superheroes. Investigative journalists, according to Larrson--who was an investigative journalist himself--are always right, always justified in their pursuit of truth. They are good-looking, exceptionally driven and competent; they eat a diet comprised of thousands of sandwiches, and they sometimes come dressed in sexy, black leather, with bracingly punk-rock hair and wild, provocative eyeshadow straight out of Blade Runner; and even if they've had lives comprised of constant psychological and sexual abuse, they are always ready to give the best sex anyone's ever had, at the drop of a hat. Also, even though they may be successfully convicted of libel, none of the heroic investigative journalists in the story are ever really wrong about what they report. The journalists are so superior, out there on high promontories of righteous, barnstorming fury, that only an investigative journalist could ever ascend, and so they are justified vigilantes. Even though they break the law, and, in Salander's case, torture people, they do it to stop the kind of morally despicable people we all hate and want to see run to ground, just as Salander runs Martin to ground at the story's weird, initial climax. As an added tidbit there, it becomes clear that Salander knows her way around firearms, just like she knows her way around computers, surveillance devices of all kinds, and everything else she ever needs know her way around.

Perhaps Blomkvist isn't quite as handy with technical stuff as Salander. But he makes up for it by being the very apex of the righteous crusader. Not only does he stand up for abused women everywhere, not only does he stand against the reprehensible wishing-away of Sweden's Nazi history and the hiding of its current Nazis in conclaves of corporate success, but he does it all with such a relaxed, hip attitude, and with a vigorous, exciting love life. This investigative journalist is not only upright, but laid-back and cool. He's the kind of guy an aging industrialist with a weak heart wants to trust to the ends of the earth, even though Blomkvist has just emerged from a libel suit he has lost, and his credibility is essentially ruined. Blomkvist is so cool, that even though his daughter, traumatized from his divorce, is escaping her misery in increasingly cloistered and invasive church groups, she still stops by and steps out of her haze of religious fanaticism just long enough to admire just how cool her dad is (this relationship is terribly handled in the Fincher movie: the father and daughter look like they're going to hook up at any moment in their scenes together).

The book and both movies are full of the kind of scenes of violence against women that arouse justifiable, righteous anger; the very kind of situation an investigative journalist can alight upon and publish, drawing in a large readership and sending magazine sales through the roof (or better yet, publish it as a novel; tie it all together with a twisty murder mystery and some vivid-seeming characters...in fact, Larrson's partner Eva Gabrielsson claims that every incident from the book is from something Larsson encountered as a journalist). But the reason that the violence in the film doesn't seem earned to me or to others here is that the story is rigged from start to finish to push what is most likely a subconscious need on the part of Larrson to present the journalists of the story as the white-hatted cowboys prowling the savage west of Hollywood's golden age. Investigative journalists: clever, inventive, always right, stuffed with integrity, action-packed, and great in the sack. That is the actual thematic undercurrent of the novels, and it gets preserved perfectly in both films, an unerring direct transfer, because the basic plot of the novel is set up to deliver that absurd message. Salander is raped in the novel not because Larsson plans to assiduously detail the psychological impact that violation will have on her for the rest of her life, but because afterwards she can become a resourceful vigilante and get thrilling, gruesome revenge on her attacker. And Blomkvist and Salander sleep together not in response to so much overt sexual chemistry between them but because righteous investigation into wrong doing is extremely sexy behavior, and righteous investigative journalists deserve to experience the best sex they've ever had together. Larrson glosses straight over the troublesome questions inherent in such a hook-up, such as: how might Lisbeth, the recent victim of horrible rape, actually approach normal sexual relations. Everything I've ever read suggests that such a transition is often extremely hard to negotiate. But Salander doesn't seem to mind getting right to business, as long as it's with the right person. Like, you know, the protagonist.

James Bond demonstrates a lot of this same gloss on psychological realism. He uses and abuses women carelessly, and then casts them aside. And the narrative of the story follows right along with him, and abandons the women he has left behind, who are in all probability at least really hurt by his callousness. But psychological realism never enters into the world of Bond, because Bond's adventures are patently ridiculous, from start to finish. People haven't been treating The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in the same way, primarily because the graphic sexual violence of the novels is so vivid that it leaps out and touches our consciences in a way that the preposterous action of the Bond stories never does. But the same kind of calculating fantasy is at work in Larsson's books; the same kind of unearned manipulation of our emotions. One way the insincerity of the Dragon Tattoo story is evident is in the multiple narrative climaxes at the end of the story which resolutely refuse to connect together the way they should. The discovery of the serial killer, the resolution of the missing girl case, and the wacky redemption of Blomkvist on both legal and moral grounds all remain separate events. So separate, that they each have to be unwound individually, in a series of narrative climaxes. While in the novel, the choppiness of this seems perhaps a little deliberately journalistic, it is a device that doesn't translate successfully to the movies whatsoever, and it is strikingly apparent that in both films, the chasing after the serial killer, essentially subordinate to the missing girl case in narrative terms, is at once the more demanding and the less resonant of the various climaxes. The plot isn't in fact so tightly wound that narrative convolution is kept at bay. But Larrson is too preoccupied with getting the individual plot points in--the hideous rapes, the corrupt politicians and gangsters, the nasty strains of anti-woman violence and nazism in Swedish society, the general heroism of the investigative journalists as the break every law they're aware of crusading to put a stop to this maelstrom of social problems--that he has no time or concern for the shape and flow of his narrative. He is not a very skilled writer of fiction, and the more serious and attention-grabbing his social ideas are, the more glaringly his lack of skill shows through. And the filmmakers copy Larsson's clumsy narrative very closely (I found that Fincher's swapping of identities at the end had surprisingly little impact on how things turned out--it's not like we ever know enough about Harriet to understand the motivations for any but her most obvious actions), and both films show that mix of awkward narrative, fluctuating tone and jarringly violent sections that purport not to be prurient because they are so very authentic. The only clear thematic drive of the Millennium series is to insist that investigative journalists be held in the utmost of respect, largely for their James-Bondian character traits. The rest is an imbalanced attempt to be sincere and exploitative at the same time, and to get integrity from one direction and excitement from the other. That's why to me the books fail as murder mysteries and as any kind of coherent, sensible social critique, and why the movies follow suit in that regard.

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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#348 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 5:26 am

zedz wrote:On a similar note, I was pleased that at the climax
SpoilerShow
the baddie died and stayed dead - no stumbling out of the blazing car guns a-blazing, or discovering that he is no longer in the car and needs to be stalked through the woods or other such nonsense.
I actually can't remember another recent Hollywood action film / thriller that avoided that particular cliche.
SpoilerShow
That was a nice touch. I got the feeling from Fincher's version that this version of Lisbeth hasn't actually killed anyone. She is a violent person indeed, but it's never gotten to that point.
Last edited by flyonthewall2983 on Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Brian C
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#349 Post by Brian C » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:37 am

Every last word in feihong's comment is awesome. Very well done. Bravo.

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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#350 Post by swo17 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:47 am

I think I kind of liked the film (owing almost entirely to Mara's performance and Fincher's direction) but yes Feihong, excellent post.

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