Sunday, February 05, 2012

Easier With Practice 2009- NR

We often think of “coming of age” films as stories about 16 year olds. This movie is a “coming of age” film about a 28 year old. Davy (played by Brian Geraghty of The Hurt Locker fame) is a struggling short story author who is depressed and without purpose -- until an unexpected phone call from stranger Nicole leads to life-changing phone sex. Davy learns to be honest with himself and learns when to be dishonest with others. “Coming of age” very often, not sometimes but often, means giving up an unrealistic sexual fantasy for a true relationship of meaning. These meaningful relationships are sometimes erotic, sometimes not, but always soulful. This is an excellent independent film about lonely people finding companionship. 2/5/12

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2011 – R

Swedish author Stieg Larsson left unpublished a sequence of three novels after his death in 2004. The first, Men Who Hate Woman (translation via Wikipedia) came out as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2005. A Swedish language film of the same name followed in 2009, and, in 2011, a U.S. production in English. I’ve seen both films and will concentrate on the second, though unavoidably with the first in view. The same Wikipedia contributor offered that, when a youth, Larsson failed to intervene in a gang rape of a young girl named Lisbeth, the name given to his tattooed and damaged principal character.

Sexual energy is prominent in the main and primary supporting roles but no one smiles about it, and all have other, pressing business. The plot is complicated. Lisbeth, reflecting abuse by caregivers, perhaps, seduces woman and man expeditiously, with a strong physical presence. But only a short time previous (the film jumps around), she is mercilessly raped and sodomized by her legally appointed guardian in a frank and brutal scene, one of several. She manages later to systematically return the favor and attendant blackmail. Though Rooney Mara as Lisbeth and Daniel Craig as journalist Mikael Blomkvist are picturesque in coupling, they are only weakly intimate. They manage just a tentative reaching out and, at the same time, satisfy an appetite only just arisen. Even in Mikael’s long-term affair with married business colleague Erika (Robin Wright), intimacy gets shorted.

If there’s a sexual theme, it’s the weakening of eroticism and intimacy. The backgrounds and circumstances of the characters are poor soil to nourish affection. Despite very good cinematography and acting, I find the colder, darker, less heroic Swedish version and its more furtive, desperate and hasty characters – and sex - more genuine, but the brutal scenes are comparable. Be prepared.

I recommend the film. Its cinematic and narrative qualities are strong, including sexual intimacy pinched in two lives dominated by retribution. I don't recall Mikael and Lisbeth kissing. Mid stride during intercourse, she on top, they exchange ideas about the investigations that form most of the plot. Lisbeth postpones the talk just long enough for her orgasm. Sexy, yes, but painfully lean in interpersonal comforts.
  Reviewed by David R. 2/5/12