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

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

#351 Post by Zot! » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:33 pm

Finally got around to the remake, despite being less than enthusiastic about a perfunctory rehash.

1. One of the worst title sequences ever. What a stupid idea. I thought I was watching the new Bond movie, with a wretched mangling of a Zeppelin chestnut. The rest of the soundtrack was perfectly fine.

3. The film definitely benefited from an American budget, and Fincher delivered nicely overall, but certainly nothing that was revelatory. I think the best performance was actually Stellan Skarsgaard.

2. Rooney Mara was fine at playing the exact same character already played by Noomi Rapace exactly the same. However, she's betrayed by her good genes. She's built like a model and just because she's all gothed up, she can't come close to the more ambiguous physicality that Rapace exudes. And this starts the biggest issue with the "Americanized" film as outlined by others.
SpoilerShow
ITS A FUCKING LOVE STORY!!! Good grief, she falls in love with him and buys him a matching leather jacket, but gets stood up at the prom? Ugh. The Swedish version maintains a very standoffish atmosphere between two throughout the three films, with Salander barely acknowledging any emotions. It's more about respect between the two, and in some very weird way she treats him as a father figure. The sexy scenes make sense and aren't the idiotic fantasy on show here, and we get the proper schlubby journlist being fully dominated by an agressive ambiguous tortured soul to blow off steam, not the huggy-kissy roll in the hay between a rugged dude and an alternative fashion model.

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

#352 Post by Roger Ryan » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:44 pm

feihong wrote:...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...
I found this odd as well. Having heard that Fincher decided to change the ending for his version, I hoped that he found a way to get around or eliminate one or more of the multiple narrative climaxes. Instead, the change has little-to-no impact on the structure and we're still treated to an interminable and, frankly, confusing third act.

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

#353 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:31 pm

Feihong does an excellent job of pointing out how unsophisticated the source material is, tho' I disagree with him on one or two things. I still think that the rape scene does more than just set-up the revenge scene, that it shows the reality of sexual abuse and makes it seem uncomfortably near where otherwise we would only have removed and exaggerated examples of it, old Nazis in masions on secluded islands and so forth. I think it's important to have that subplot for that reason. And I still think that Fincher navigates the narrative's crudities rather well. As I said in an earlier post: "Fincher's exacting eye for detail, character, and realism allows the melodrama to sit more easily beside the social concerns and allows the movie to be satisfying (I think) where otherwise it could've been hokey."

It's not a great movie, but it was done about as well as it could've been done; it's often slick, rarely uninteresting, and, despite the fact that they are idealizations, has two lead characters who have an interesting dynamic (Mara's performance helps this immeasurably).

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

#354 Post by zedz » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:52 pm

I agree with feihong 100%, and - as I've been trying to point out - what rubs me up the wrong way about that seduction scene is how closely it cleaves to the general adolescence of the material, with "raunchy sex with a hot, punky lesbian" being just another item on Larsson's wish-fulfillment checklist (along with "I'm an absolutely brilliant journalist"; "I'm irresistible to women" and "any bad stuff people are saying about me is because of a deep, dark conspiracy"). I don't think the film's sexual politics are all that coherent, to be frank, but I do object to their laziness, as it seems that the bisexuality and sexual abuse are just tossed in there (about fifteen minutes before the kitchen sink) to make the characters and storyline more racy and 'edgy', and to allow for fist-pumping superhero revenge scenarios.

As I said at the outset, I think Rooney Mara does the best she can with the rags and tatters of half a dozen male fantasies that she inherits, but all this talk of her being a profoundly nuanced female character is pretty silly. She's a superhero and a plot engine, with a notably sordid origin story.

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

#355 Post by knives » Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:01 pm

zedz wrote: As I said at the outset, I think Rooney Mara does the best she can with the rags and tatters of half a dozen male fantasies that she inherits, but all this talk of her being a profoundly nuanced female character is pretty silly. She's a superhero and a plot engine, with a notably sordid origin story.
I would hope nobody disagrees with this and I do agree with several other of your points, but I don't see how the very specific scene we're talking about is only that. Certainly anytime a hot superhero has sex with an author avatar it's going to be wish fulfillment, but the only major issue would with this considering the already trashy setting is if it's some 'lesbian being turned right' nonsense with everything else just fitting in. The film sets up her potential bisexuality early on and Craig is so pathetic at that instance that virility doesn't seem like a valid argument. As presented in the film it's an awkward power play on her part. Certainly the dominatrix situation is wish fulfillment, but not of the questionable nature you seem to (rightly if it were true) be taking issue with.

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

#356 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:32 pm

zedz wrote:(along with "I'm an absolutely brilliant journalist"; "I'm irresistible to women" and "any bad stuff people are saying about me is because of a deep, dark conspiracy").
I think this just falling into the trap of believing that the baser or more negative the motive you can come up with, the more true it must be. From what I've read, for example, the latter bit was Larsson's reaction to very real instances of journalists who were investigating the sordid underbellies of the government and corporations being in turn targeted by those organizations: having their reputations destroyed, or even going missing. And as for the other two, I mean, the author is claiming these things for himself in real life or something now?
zedz wrote:As I said at the outset, I think Rooney Mara does the best she can with the rags and tatters of half a dozen male fantasies that she inherits, but all this talk of her being a profoundly nuanced female character is pretty silly. She's a superhero and a plot engine, with a notably sordid origin story.
There actually is space between "profoundly nuanced" and it's opposite for the character to inhabit. Fincher and co. give her enough small moments to make her a lot less of a plot engine and more of a human with internal feelings. The moment I mentioned earlier where she asks Craig to replace his hand, for instance; her politely stifled annoyance with Craig's fumblings on the computer; the subdued moment when she describes Craig to her recovering guardian and we get a glimpse through her shell of the extent of her affection, stuff like that. Just the general fact that her character is internalized rather than externalized (the latter being how superheroes are usually represented) makes her more than a narrative cog and, yes, does require a firm handle on her psychology from everyone involved. It seems to me that your focus has become too narrow to the point where you're overlooking or forgetting lots of things that genuinely counter the tendencies you are picking up on (superheroism, ect.).

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

#357 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:35 pm

feihong wrote: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).
This is off topic (I haven't tackled Dragon Tattoo in book or either film version as yet), but feihong's comment reminded me that if anyone wants a counter argument to the idea of the crusading investigative journalist, I would probably recommend (though only to the most hardy and least offended viewers!) the third film in the Angel Guts series, Nami, in which our intrepid reporter decides to do a (rather bad taste!) series of articles for the women's magazine for which she works which involve interviews with rape victims, most of whom are unwilling and/or destroyed by her casual exposes.

For what is primarily a sex work, Angel Guts: Nami touches on some surprisingly complex issues - for example in one scene the journalist 'heroine' visits yet another rape victim, who naturally seems unwilling to dredge up horrible events of her past for wide publication. The reporter is in the process of cajoling her target into giving an interview for her magazine by saying that the way that the lady has been able to overcome this to become a functioning member of society again will stand as an inspiration to women in a similar position, when suddenly the doorbell rings. In a strange scene that plays a little like the closet scene from Blue Velvet seven years before the Lynch film, the journalist finds herself trapped in the apartment only able to watch as the woman is assaulted by the same attacker again (as she presumably had been throughout the years since she had supposedly 'recovered' from the first attack), with the worst moment being the angry, almost-defiant, eye contact made between the woman and the journalist in mid-assault.

Unfortunately the journalist does not seem to learn any lessons from her (many) encounters with abused women, so things inevitably lead to a firsthand experience in one of the most bizarre last acts of a film that I can remember.

Here's the NSFW trailer

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

#358 Post by domino harvey » Fri Mar 23, 2012 5:30 pm

One thing that did creep me out a bit was how the film goes out of its way to infantilize (or whatever the teenage equivalent is) Mara's character. Beyond her youthful physical appearance, there's the obvious fact that she's a ward of the state who must beg an adult figure for money, her lack of adult responsibilities (and when she does take on spare work, it either resembles an afterschool job or, in the latter scenes of the film, coursework [studying late in the library]), and even her eating habits (she's at least twice shown enjoying a Happy Meal and even when taking a break in the archives, it's cocoa and a sweet treat from the vending machine). Maybe I'd feel more empowered by her "positive" sexual actions if they so closely didn't resemble self-destructive sexual tendencies of damaged teen girls.

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

#359 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:56 pm

I think it may be the wrong defense of the film to imply that her sexual actions are positive or evolved - Fincher mentions in the commentary that she's mentally about 13 years old - because of her implied childhood trauma and her distrust of male authority figures, she hasn't quite put things together for herself on an emotional and sexual level, and she's too busy just trying to get by and get what she needs to focus too much on evolving to the next stage of her life. I am not of the belief that we're watching an exploitation of her character, but I'd also never try to claim that she's just so evolved that she's making all you prudes uncomfortable.

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

#360 Post by dh2012 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:53 pm

zedz wrote:Larsson's wish-fulfillment checklist
I wonder why bringing the intentions of the source material's author into this is okay when you insist that the movie should stand on its own when it comes to Lisbeth's sexuality. I'm in favor of ignoring the book and its author altogether. Even still, I don't have real problems with the handling of her sexuality. It's not established what her preference is. I get the impression that she's just fulfilling a basic desire, and while it's possible that her horniness is problematic or in bad taste when so soon juxtaposed with some quite horrible rape scenes, I must say it didn't strike me as such when I saw the movie. That's because the rape and sex scenes are so utterly unlike each other in conception and execution. There's no real link between them. (As far as the big rape scene being somehow titillating, as Natasha Vargas-Cooper strongly implied if not outright said [I don't remember], I was speechless when I read that. Most people here would agree that that's nonsense, right?)

Since I'm ignoring the fact that the character of Mikael originated as an idealized version of Larsson himself, I see him more as a Jake Gittes type. I think Craig communicates not just intelligence and a moral backbone in Mikael, but implies a good amount of vanity and self-worth as well, and he's shown to be rather comically in over his head, desperately in need of the more experienced Lisbeth's help.
Zot! wrote:
SpoilerShow
ITS A FUCKING LOVE STORY!!! Good grief, she falls in love with him and buys him a matching leather jacket, but gets stood up at the prom? Ugh. The Swedish version maintains a very standoffish atmosphere between two throughout the three films, with Salander barely acknowledging any emotions. It's more about respect between the two, and in some very weird way she treats him as a father figure. The sexy scenes make sense and aren't the idiotic fantasy on show here, and we get the proper schlubby journlist being fully dominated by an agressive ambiguous tortured soul to blow off steam, not the huggy-kissy roll in the hay between a rugged dude and an alternative fashion model.
SpoilerShow
I have no problem with love stories. In fact, that's what I liked about this version. The sex is semi-meaningful, not there just for kicks or to demonstrate that she's "blowing off steam." They seemed like equals, and great partners, and I liked that he wasn't primarily some father figure for her.

And why reduce heartbreak to "getting stood up at the prom?"
I hope none of that was confusingly written. I'm not used to writing on the internet.
Last edited by dh2012 on Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

#361 Post by HistoryProf » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:58 pm

i get the feeling that an investigative journalist ruined a Christmas or two for poor feihong.

I'm not sure I understand the point of a screed that bases itself entirely on claiming that the conceit of having an investigative journalist as hero in a story is some how so fallacious as to be utterly insulting. Muckrakers do exist...and they are persecuted by those they try to expose...and the author was himself a muckraker with 30 years of experience investigating fascist groups in Sweden, so i'm sure he's seen a lot of bad guys come and go. How does that render the story idiotic? Frankly, i'm awfully confused by the vitriol this seems to have inspired.

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

#362 Post by feihong » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:38 pm

That's pretty funny. No, no investigative journalist ruined any Christmases for me. I have nothing against their profession, but the enormously overriding impression I have received from the films and the novel is that the story is a fantasy about being an investigative journalist, and as such the author and eventually the filmmakers hide its unabashed wish-fulfillment behind the veneer of realistic rape sequences. reading or watching, you can't deny that the violence towards women is horrible, just as you can't deny that there are incidents like it occurring in real life all the time. The fact that this aspect of the story is driven by realism and (mostly) by the moral outrage a reader is invited to share masks for a lot of people the fact that this is a work of fiction, not reportage, and that as a work of fiction it has far more flaws than virtues. I feel I can refer to both the book and the films in this, since they all hew so close together in these regards, and both filmmakers clearly set out to adapt a well-loved publishing event as closely as could be expected by its fan base. The essential uncomfortable nature of the Dragon Tattoo experience is because Larsson never finds a balanced tone from which to approach his story. His fantasy makes his dips into realism suspect. What are they there for, if not to hide the way he draws glamor around himself? Certainly muckrakers are fascinating people, and they deserve their own stories. Sam Fuller's Park Row is a great example of a film that celebrates the toughness necessary for crusading reporters without obliterating the ambiguity at the center of the muckraking journalist's role. But that balance of perspective never finds its way into Larsson's writing. Ultimately, these books were meant to entertain the readers with peril and heroism; but Larsson has no great ability to entertain, to balance peril, or to signal heroism without completely losing perspective. And so he falls back on what he knows best, which makes the novel not essentially different from a piece of muckraking journalism, excepting its awkwardly-applied veneer of fiction.

Larsson's central idea in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is firmly middle-brow in its aim. He wants to have it both ways, presenting a story with the wicked excitement of splurging fantasy in which he also attempts to illustrate hard truths about his society gleaned from a life of exploring its iniquities and its dark secrets. Stuck in the middle, the narrative resounds with the clash of ideas completely off-kilter with one another. The fantasy goes far to disqualify the humorless certitude of the realism, and the realism makes the fantastical tone seem superficial and uncomfortably shrill. What is ultimately most disturbing about Dragon Tattoo is how seriously people choose to take it. Larsson himself thought it was important enough to make it a trilogy. Its fans cling to it as if it were meant to be more than fun, ignoring the fact that it isn't even fun. It's hailed on this board as a tight murder mystery, to which I have to point out that many Maigret novels manage far tighter plots without reaching hard for social relevance, and mysteries by writers like Miyuki Miyabe poke holes into disturbing aspects of modern society without destroying the credibility of her fiction. The filmmakers that have adapted the novel treat it like a holy tract, capturing the key scenes in the novel with gusto and mostly just ignoring the narrative confusion of the initial work. Imagine if a writer like Ben Hecht had been given Dragon Tattoo to adapt back in his day. Hecht would most likely completely rewrite whole segments of the story before submitting a draft that made him satisfied. As fiction, Dragon Tattoo is extremely poor writing. But it's being held up as a crackling, erotic mystery thriller and at the same time it's celebrated as an excoriating social critique. But the story was never committed fully in either direction and it shows very plainly in all the results.

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

#363 Post by FerdinandGriffon » Sat Mar 24, 2012 6:58 pm

A side note: A truly great film (and Oshima favorite) about the moral ambiguities of muck-raking is Yôjirô Takita's 1986 No More Comics!. Takita would later win a Best Foreign Film Oscar for Departures, which I haven't seen, but I can't imagine it's anything like this dark, semi-pinku descent into the mind of a miserable, reviled, but fearless reporter. It's extremely surreal, based on a true story, and has an unassuming, low-key nihilism that I've never been able to entirely shake off. The hero is played by Yuya Uchida, who's a minor jap-psych legend, not that you'd know it from his brilliantly Keaton-esque salaryman appearance here. An early Kitano growl near the end seals the deal for me.

Sorry for the non sequitur, but I leap at any opportunity to plug a favorite that could all too easily slip off the map.
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#364 Post by HistoryProf » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:02 pm

To be fair, Larsson actually thought enough of it that he apparently had TEN novels plotted. Part of the ongoing troubles with his partner and blood relatives involves his laptop that's supposed to contain an outline of the fourth book - which may have been partially written. Not sure if that helps your argument....but I suspect so :)

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

#365 Post by knives » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:16 pm

FerdinandGriffon wrote:A side note: A truly great film (and Oshima favorite) about the moral ambiguities of muck-raking is Yôjirô Takita's 1986 No More Comics!. Takita would later win a Best Foreign Film Oscar for Departures, which I haven't seen, but I can't imagine it's anything like this dark, semi-pinku descent into the mind of a miserable, reviled, but fearless reporter. It's extremely surreal, based on a true story, and has an unassuming, low-key nihilism that I've never been able to entirely shake off. The hero is played by Yuya Uchida, who's a minor jap-psych legend, not that you'd know it from his brilliantly Keaton-esque salaryman appearance here. An early Kitano growl near the end seals the deal for me.

Sorry for the non sequitur, but I leap at any opportunity to plug a favorite that could all too easily slip off the map.
Available legally anywhere?

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

#366 Post by FerdinandGriffon » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:33 pm

knives wrote:Available legally anywhere?
That I don't know. ;)

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

#367 Post by feihong » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:01 pm

No More Comics is out on dvd in Japan, I believe. Though the disc may be out of print at this point.

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

#368 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:49 am

I got a couple of questions. What's been the response to this film from anyone's female friends (or sisters, girlfriends, wives, etc.), even if it was just a reaction to the marketing. And the other is, were there any other directors than David you could see taking on this material on for an American version?

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

#369 Post by domino harvey » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:00 am

flyonthewall2983 wrote:I got a couple of questions. What's been the response to this film from anyone's female friends (or sisters, girlfriends, wives, etc.), even if it was just a reaction to the marketing.
Surprisingly one of empowerment (to my bewilderment, I must admit)-- all of my female friends who've seen the film, especially those of the young pretty art school liberal set, were taken completely. As I understand it, her confidence above all else is what they found to be so captivating

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

#370 Post by Brian C » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:28 am

My wife didn't like it. Didn't say much about why, although she never seems to like anything if it's overly dour. I don't remember her ever really being taken with a Fincher movie, now that I think about it, going back to Panic Room, the first one he released after we started dating.
flyonthewall wrote:And the other is, were there any other directors than David you could see taking on this material on for an American version?
It's a high-profile pop fiction adaptation ... so yeah, lots. Ron Howard. Francis Lawrence. Brett Ratner ... I imagine that basically any studio hack would have loved to get the chance.

Among higher profile directors, I could see someone like Nolan taking it on; it's not a zillion miles away from something like Insomnia. Spielberg. Ridley Scott.

Basically anyone, really.

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

#371 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:54 pm

If he still had any clout, Oliver Stone could have made something interesting out of it. I can imagine he would have attempted to set the story in America, but probably never would have gotten made though.

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

#372 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:24 pm

domino harvey wrote:
flyonthewall2983 wrote:I got a couple of questions. What's been the response to this film from anyone's female friends (or sisters, girlfriends, wives, etc.), even if it was just a reaction to the marketing.
Surprisingly one of empowerment (to my bewilderment, I must admit)-- all of my female friends who've seen the film, especially those of the young pretty art school liberal set, were taken completely. As I understand it, her confidence above all else is what they found to be so captivating
And they don't have the complications (assuming they're straight) of being attracted to Mara and taking their own attraction out on the film by trashing it for overly sexualizing her.

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

#373 Post by knives » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:40 pm

mfunk9786 wrote: And they don't have the complications (assuming they're straight) of being attracted to Mara and taking their own attraction out on the film by trashing it for overly sexualizing her.
Doesn't that assume that the people who are criticizing it as attracted to Mara though. That's a generalization too broad to work.
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Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

#374 Post by domino harvey » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:43 pm

Actually, funny you say that mfunk, because the ostensibly straight ladies all seem to have developed a crush on her. That said, while I liked Mara's performance, I'm certainly not attracted to her in any sense (and indeed I found Craig's other available paramours far more appealing)

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

#375 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:54 pm

The film didn't go out of its way to sexualize her. She was often dressed either shabbily or heavily, and when she was nude the camera never lingered (quite to the contrary). So the accusation has always struck me as projection.

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