The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (movie)

Title: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Director: David Fincher
Writers: Steven Zaillian, Stieg Larsson (novel)
Series: Millennium #1
Production Co: MGM
Release Date: 12/20/2011
Length: 158 minutes
Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Rating: R

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker.

I went into this a little wary. I have both read the book and seen the Swedish movie. I was worried when they decided to make an American version, but I think it might be better than both the book and the Swedish movie. Wait! Don’t kill me yet! I’ve always been a big believer in the book is better than the movie, but this is a little different.

I always felt like the plot to the book was solid. It’s what kept me interested. Well, that and Lisbeth’s character. The only thing that I had trouble with was that it was so detailed. It was detailed to the point of driving me insane. I really think a good chunk of the book could have been edited out. Well, in the movie it is! I thought they did an amazing job bringing this book to the screen. It was entertaining the whole time, instead of sometimes boring. There was no dwelling on points that could be made in just a few minutes, and that kept me engaged the entire time.

I was pretty unsure about Daniel Craig as Blomkvist, but he quickly became the character for me. And Rooney Mara was absolutely superb. I think she has Lisbeth down pat. The mannerisms and expressions are perfect. Oh, and Stellan Skarsgard was sufficiently creepy as Martin Vanger. I couldn’t have imagined it any better. In fact, I didn’t think they would use Swedish accents. I was pleasantly surprised when most of the cast actually sounded like they were from Sweden!

I’m actually really excited about the next two films. I love it when bookish movies are done well!

Warning: There are some scenes in this movie that are hard to watch. Not for the faint of heart!

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The Hunger Games (movie)

the-hunger-games-movie-poster

Title: The Hunger Games
Director: Gary Ross
Writers: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray
Series: The Hunger Games #1
Production Co: Lionsgate
Release Date: 3/23/2012
Length: 142 minutes
Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-fi, Thriller
Rating: PG-13

In a dystopian future, the totalitarian nation of Panem is divided between 12 districts and the Capitol. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal retribution for a past rebellion, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors while the citizens of Panem are required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.

Warning: There are spoilers. If you have not read the books or seen the movie, proceed at your own risk.

I was convinced before heading to the theater that this would be a really great movie. And with the following the books have, the production company would be crazy to stray far. Upon leaving the theater, I was 100% satisfied. I think this movie adaptation was perfect and I can’t wait to see the next two on screen.

I was amazed by how much of the book was right there on the screen. Sure, it didn’t play out exactly the way the book does, but it can’t. Page-to-screen is hard to pull off and there are key decisions that have to be made. For instance, in the book, Katniss can be thinking about the people back in her district or what the people in the capital are seeing, but there’s no way to transfer that on screen. You have to just show it as its happening, and I was happy that I saw that. I thought it was all handled well. There may have been some tiny details that could have been included to help people who haven’t read the book understand a little more what’s going on. My boyfriend was asking me questions about it after we left because some of it didn’t make sense to him. Aside from that, the plot was handled well and there was little left out.

Jennifer did a fantastic job as Katniss. She was perfect. Whether she really looks like Katniss was described is irrelevant. She was the right person for the part. I loved her. I thought Josh Hutcherson did a good job as well. He didn’t get quite as much time to shine as she did, but that’s understandable since she’s the main character. And Rue? Oh, my heart. I shed tears when she died. It was so, so sad.

I think what struck me the most was how powerful it all was. I can pretty much read about anything because if I don’t want to get emotional about it, I can just disconnect myself from it a little. It’s that simple. If I don’t want to envision, I don’t. I read it and understand it, but I leave it at that. I think that’s how I processed The Hunger Games trilogy. It’s impossible to do that when it’s displayed on a giant screen in front of you. The poverty of District 11, the riot, and the heartlessness in the arena is all there. There was no way to disconnect myself from that and it honestly made the message come across stronger than it did when I first read the book. I’m not saying the movie is better, because I don’t think it is. I’m just saying it really carries the message that Suzanne Collins intended and it’s a hard one to ignore.

They did a pretty good job keeping the violence on a PG-13 level, so it’s safe for teens, maybe even a little younger than thirteen. If you read the book, I really urge you to watch the movie. If you didn’t, I really urge you to do both.

Marie Antoinette: The Journey

Marie Antoinette: The Journey
by Antonia Fraser
read by Donada Peters
Published 2006 by Random House Audio
20 hours, 26 minutes. Unabridged.
Rating: 5/5

France’s iconic queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous “Let them eat cake”, was alternately revered and reviled during her lifetime. For centuries since, she has been the object of debate, speculation, and the fascination so often accorded illustrious figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, this essentially lighthearted child was thrust onto the royal stage and commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in European history. Antonia Fraser’s lavish and engaging portrait excites compassion and regard for all aspects of the queen, immersing the listener not only in the coming-of-age of a graceful woman, but in the culture of an unparalleled time and place.

Whoa! I feel like my brain is overloaded, and I love it. I picked this book up on a whim. I needed to go by the post office during my lunch break, which is in the opposite direction of the library I usually go to. Since we have a library cooperative, I can use my card at any library in the county so I decided I would just drop by the library down the street from the post office. It was my first time to go to that library, and it was very nice. While I was browsing I saw an audiobook about Marie Antoinette, and I thought “that would be interesting.” Ever since I read Revolution, I’ve been very interested with anything having to do with the French Revolution. So I picked it up, and I’ve spent the past two weeks listening to it. Every time I told someone what I was listening to, they couldn’t understand how on earth I could stay interested in it. Trust me, I had no problem.

The story of Marie Antoinette is tragic, but incredibly interesting. It follows her birth in Vienna, her marriage at the age of fifteen, her ascent to Queen of France at the age of twenty (though she was never crowned, she was considered a queen consort), the birth of her four children, and her mounting unpopularity with the people in the wake of the French Revolution. It paints a picture of a caring (though not entirely faithful) wife, a fiercely loving mother, and a queen who—despite her lack of political influence—repeatedly sought what she thought was best for France. She was unfailingly compassionate, giving to charities for the young mothers and orphaned children. Though French libelles often accused her of affairs, lesbianism, and economic extravagance, Marie Antoinette ignored the rumors and set her mind to more important things (like seducing her husband so that they could finally produce and heir). Antonia Fraser, after much research, dispels the myths from the facts. She shows us a different Marie Antoinette than the one so often linked with that infamous line, “let them eat cake.” She really digs in, explaining how on earth the people came to hate her so much, and how she and Louis XVI ended up at the guillotine. She also gives some info on the revolution, though mostly because it’s a vital part of Marie Antoinette’s later life and death. She does well to name her sources and debate those things that are less concrete. I learned a lot, but I still don’t have my fill on the revolution. I’ve already started another book, focusing specifically on the revolution. So far, in all my study of this period in France, I’ve been completely horrified by some of the things the French people did. It’s astonishing what angry, starving people are capable of.

Donada Peters did a terrific job with this. Her voice is well-suited to this kind of book, and she makes things even more interesting by putting on a pretty good French accent when reading for quotes. I think audio is definitely the way to go when delving into some heavy nonfiction. This one is highly recommended. If you have any interest, this is the book to read.

I’ve seen the Sophia Coppola movie a few times. I never knew it was based on this book. I watched it again after I finished the book, and sure enough, there are words that are taken right off the page. I can understand where the sentence “the book that inspired the movie” came from, but don’t watch this expecting to understand anything about Marie Antoinette. For one thing, in her attempt to make a visually beautiful movie (the costumes are one of the only good things about it), I think she put a little too much emphasis on the extravagance. Yes, the couple were extravagant, but they were no more extravagant than the kings and queens before them, and they were brought up in that kind of decadence. Still, if you want to watch a visually appealing movie with a killer soundtrack (that is, if you like Aphex Twin, Adam & the Ants, &  The Cure, like I do), go for it. Just don’t expect much in the way of acting or direction, and keep in mind that Marie Antoinette was much more devoted to her children than her hair. It also would have been better if they’d used some French accents or something. They mispronounce names and words numerous times, which is a little annoying. Come to think of it, you should probably just read the book. I think what it comes down to is that it’s pretty hard to fit twenty hours of audio into a measly two hours of film (much of which is taken up by montages). Here is a brutal, but pretty accurate review of the movie.

Source: Vestavia Hills Public Library. Birmingham, AL.
Author’s website: http://www.antoniafraser.com/
Purchase this book: Random House Audio | Book Depository | IndieBound | Audible

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    Some of the books reviewed on this blog were sent to me by the author or publisher for review. I did not receive any payment in exchange for the review nor was I obligated to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of these reviews. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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