Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2010
Directed by Niels Arden Opley
Starring: Michael Nygvist, Noami Rapace
Fans of Stieg Larsson's Men Who Hate Women may have been concerned about how the Swedish author's novel would translate to the screen, but they needn't have worried. Significant changes to the source material have been made, but director Niels Arden Opley's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, as it's now called, is mostly riveting. As the story begins, middle-aged investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) has just been convicted of a bogus charge of libel against a rich and corrupt corporate hotshot when he's unexpectedly offered a most unusual gig. An aging captain of industry named Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube) wants Blomkvist to figure out what happened to Vanger's niece, who disappeared more than 40 years earlier; not only is the old man convinced that she was murdered, but he suspects that another member of his large and rather disagreeable family (which includes several former Nazis) is the culprit. Blomkvist takes the job, which includes spending at least six months on Vanger's isolated island in the middle of winter. But what he doesn't know is that he's being spied on by twentysomething Lisbeth Salander (brilliantly played by Noomi Rapace in a career-making performance), the titular Girl and the possessor of remarkable skills as a sleuth and computer hacker. With her gothlike piercings and all-black clothes, Lisbeth is a vivid character, to say the least. While we don't exactly know the details of her dark past, it's obviously still with her; indeed, she's just been assigned a new "guardian" (like a parole officer) to look after her finances and other matters. We also know that she is not someone to mess with; when the guardian turns out to be a thoroughly vile monster, Lisbeth gets back at him in one of the more satisfying revenge sequences in recent memory. That Lisbeth and Mikael should end up working together, and more, isn't especially surprising. But the horrifying details and depths of depravity they uncover while working on the case (parallels to The Silence of the Lambs are facile but appropriate) definitely are, and Opley does a nice job of keeping it all straight. At more than two and a half hours, the film is long, with its share of grim, graphic, and scary moments, but The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a winner. --Sam Graham
Swedish dialogue with English subtitles
Directed by Dominic Sena
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht
Baby, it's cold outside: that's the problem for U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale), the only law-enforcement officer assigned to Antarctica. On the verge of shipping out before the really bad weather hits, Carrie is confronted with a mysterious murder that sounds like a riddle: how'd a lone corpse find its way to the middle of an ice field, as though dropped from a great height? And what's this have to do with the prologue about a Soviet fighter jet crashing some decades earlier? Whiteout, based on the graphic novel by Greg Rucka, solves these questions in a brisk if mostly preposterous manner, and it moves swiftly enough so you don't have to spend too much time on the plausibility of it all. Among the other snowbound stragglers are a U.N. investigator (Gabriel Macht, of The Spirit), some cocky pilots (Alex O'Laughlin, Columbus Short), and a grizzled doctor (Tom Skerritt). If the presence of Skerritt conjures up memories of Alien, with its ten-little-Indians structure and female warrior, hold on--Whiteout doesn't actually have a supernatural twist to it, and Beckinsale is no Sigourney Weaver. But director Dominic Sena (undistinguished by his cheesy film Swordfish) puts the screws to the material in a relentless way, and the vast exteriors (shot in Canada) are impressive. And when it comes to one particular wow-you're-really-going-there instance of potential amputation for a main character, the film doesn't back down. In fact it sort of revels in the moment. --Robert Horton
What happens when the numbers run out?
In 1958, as part of the dedication ceremony for a new elementary school, a group of students is asked to draw pictures to be stored in a time capsule. But one mysterious girl fills her sheet of paper with rows of apparently random numbers instead.
Fifty years later, a new generation of students examines the capsule's contents and the girl's cryptic message ends up in the hands of young Caleb Koestler (Chandler Canterbury). But it is Caleb's father, professor John Koestler (Nicolas Cage), who makes the startling discovery that the encoded message predicts with pinpoint accuracy the dates, death tolls and coordinates of every major disaster of the past 50 years.
As Ted further unravels the document's chilling secrets, he realizes the document foretells three additional events—the last of which hints at destruction on a global scale and seems to somehow involve Ted and his son. When Ted's attempts to alert the authorities fall on deaf ears, he takes it upon himself to try to prevent more destruction from taking place.
With the reluctant help of Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne) and Abby Wayland, the daughter and granddaughter of the now-deceased author of the prophecies, Ted's increasingly desperate efforts take him on a heart-pounding race against time until he finds himself facing the ultimate disaster—and the ultimate sacrifice. Rogers
A BBC Masterpiece Mystery
The Shadow in the North 2007
Directed by John Alexander
Starring Jared Harris and Billie Piper
Based on the novel by Philip Pullman
The year is 1878, and Sally Lockhart (Billie Piper, Mansfield Park) has started her own financial consulting business. When her client, Miss Walsh, loses a fortune from the unexpected collapse of the Anglo-Baltic shipping line, Sally is determined to find out why so many of their ships have mysteriously vanished without trace. Hoping to recover her client s money, she turns for help to her friends, Frederick and Jim, who have started up their own detective agency.
While pursuing their enquiries into the disappearance of the steamship Ingrid Linde, the three sleuths find themselves investigating stage magician Alistair MacKinnon who is being threatened by mysterious thugs, and a psychic medium who seems to be tapping into shady business secrets all of which draws them unwittingly into a dark and sinister plot fuelled by the dealings of the cruel and heartless industrialist Axel Bellmann, whose business is built on a horrifying secret.
"...an enduring low-budget examination of the rat race"
Shock Corridor 1963 - Criterion Collection
Directed by Samuel Fuller
Starring Peter Breck, Constance Towers, Gene Evans
Maverick film director Samuel Fuller was doing some of his best work in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and in the years since its release in 1963, Shock Corridor has become a B-movie classic and a prime example of Fuller's gritty tabloid style. Never hesitant to explore the darkened corners of contemporary life, Fuller depicts the chambers of an insane asylum as a microcosm of American society, telling the story of a cynical, ambitious journalist (Peter Breck) whose obsessive quest for a Pulitzer Prize leads him into the depths of madness. To investigate a murder, the reporter goes undercover in a mental hospital, having convinced a psychiatrist that he needs treatment. Once inside the asylum, he pieces together clues to the murder, but his own mind begins to deteriorate until he's trapped in a downward spiral towards insanity. Fuller heightens the melodrama with his aggressive style of filmmaking (his next film, The Naked Kiss, proved even more effective), and his imaginative use of black-and-white cinematography (by noted cameraman Stanley Cortez) fills the movie with raw, emotional power. It's the kind of film one would expect from a rebellious director on the Hollywood fringe, and that's why Shock Corridor remains an enduring low-budget examination of the "rat race" and the consequences of pursuing success at any cost. The Criterion Collection DVD presents the film in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and a rarely seen color dream sequence has been fully restored. --Jeff Shannon
Jagged Edge 1985
Directed by Richard Marquand
Starring Jeff Bridges, Glenn Close
Before screenwriter Joe Eszterhas wrote the ridiculous Showgirls, he crafted some entertaining if porous thrillers along the lines of the 1985 Jagged Edge, a taut mystery about an attorney (Glenn Close) who defends a newspaper publisher (Jeff Bridges) accused of murder. The fact that Close's character falls for him is more convenient than plausible, but it is a necessary emotional bridge for Eszterhas and the late director Richard Marquand (Eye of the Needle) to build toward a powerful finale. Scary, fun as courtroom dramas go, the film is well serviced by the two lead stars and has impressive support from costar Peter Coyote and especially from Robert Loggia, who plays Close's cop buddy. --Tom Keogh
Dick Francis Thriller - The Racing Game 1979
Starring: Mike Gwilym, Mick Ford
Sid Halley, champion steeplechase jockey, suffers a devastating injury in a fall that ends his career. He sinks into self-pity until his aristocratic father-in-law bullies him into trying something new: becoming a private detective. A great literary gumshoe emerges as Halley regains his dignity, faces his vulnerability, and finds new meaning in life.
Based on the novel Odds Against and other stories by former jockey and bestselling author Dick Francis, this series goes inside the cutthroat world of British horse racing. As owners scheme, bookies connive, and greed leads to murder, Halley uses what he learned as a jockey to expose the scoundrels in the Sport of Kings. Granada
Director: Michael Haneke
Starring: Naomi Watts, Tim Roth
Michael Haneke is a modern master, which his spellbinding films Cache and The Piano Teacher proved to an international audience. When it came time for a Hollywood remake of his ultra-disturbing 1997 picture Funny Games, who better than Haneke himself to helm the new version? And indeed, the second Funny Games bears the impeccable sense of control and technique that the Austrian version had: it is a horrifyingly precise account of a family terrorized by two psychopathic young thugs at a vacation home. For anyone who's already seen the '97 film, this new one--a nearly shot-by-shot transcription of the original--will seem superfluous, no matter how impressive the performances of Naomi Watts and Tim Roth are. (Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet are suitably creepy as their menacers, too.) For newbies, the movie might be as infuriating and thought-provoking as Haneke intends it to be. That's because Funny Games is an intellectual game itself, a direct rebuke to the audience that gobbles up gratuitous violence and cynical manipulation. Haneke sets up our expectations, and then refuses to provide the conventional catharsis… or the conventional anything. All of this was pretty bracing in the first go-round, but feels like gamesmanship in the remake. Even if you dig what Haneke's up to, this is a brutal movie-watching experience. --Robert Horton
Find this DVD in the Library's catalogue
An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery
Devices and Desires 1991
Directed by John Davies
Starring: Roy Marsden,Susannah York
P.D. James earned the moniker "Queen of Crime" for twisty mysteries just like this one which features her ace sleuth Adam Dalgliesh. The Scotland Yard commander leaves his post to go on holiday. He arrives on the East English seashore intent on little more than rest and recreation. His planned vacation though is disrupted by several nasty occurrences -- suicide blackmail and murder. A troublesome nuclear power facility nearby appears to be the crux of these events. Then police find the acting administrative officer of the power plant slain. Local officials chalk up the incident to a serial killer who has already left behind a trail of dead bodies. But Dalgliesh hasn't yet drawn his own conclusions... AMAZON
A real treat for Sherlock Holmes fans!
Hands of a Murderer 1999
Starring: Edward Woodward, Anthony Andrews
In this entry in the continuing exploits of Sherlock Holmes, the great detective must track down his nemesis Professor Moriarty after the villain kidnaps Holme's brother Mycroft. The evil doctor is forcing his captive to decode highly classified military documents. The film is also called Hands of a Murderer. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide
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