I saw the Swedish films from this series and they were great. But I’m a huge fan of David Fincher–ever since Seven, a movie that actually scared me, as did ‘Zodiac‘, even though I kind of knew the ending since it was based on a true crime story. Fincher seems to always get the right cast, the right atmosphere and, like last year’s The Social Network, the right script. As great as Fincher’s pace, actors, and cinematography are,the star of this film will always be Aaron Sorkin’s withering script.
What appealed to me about these stories–and I’ve read hundreds of thrillers and crime novels–is the setting, Scandanavia. Cold, gray, bloodless and austere on film, your Swedes and Norwegians almost seem like the “other” white people: milk-pale, blond, humorless and quiet. Let’s put it this way; there are no Scandanavian hillbillies. No Chili’s, no Cracker Barrels in Norway,just lot’ of nice fuckers named Ollie and Sven and two nations’ worth of really beautiful women.
In fact, people from this country are so pleasant, it’s hard to find ethnic slurs for them. I managed to, but it wasn’t easy. Swedes are referred to as “herring chokers” and Norwegians? “Box-Heads.” One of my unofficial rules is: You can tell how likable a group of people are according to how many ethnic slurs are available to describe them. Your Box-Heads and Herring-Chokers are pretty likable motherfuckers. Polite and not snotty like your Swiss– there is a reason those fuckers make clocks. Swedes and Norwegians go through life being useful, inventing helpful shit like Ikea stores and the good meatballs and not culturally getting up in the rest of the world’s balls like the fucking French. I like to think of them as the Europeans who don’t annoy the fuck out of everyone else.
For ten years I reviewed movies for a radio station in Chicago. Me and my pal Buzz Kilman, we sat in the old downtown, rat-infested theaters like the Dearborn and the State and Lake, when they were on their last legs. So downscale were these venues, me and Buzz thought nothing of firing up cigarettes
while watching the movie–nobody said dick to us.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would have been right in our wheelhouse. We only reviewed relentlessly violent horror and crime movies and to
our ever-lasting cultural credit–we coined the term “Quality-Kill.” A “quality kill” is as it sounds; something sublimely inventive in its homicidal execution, like when Stephen Lack makes Michael Ironsides’ head explode in Scanners. Fuck, was THAT cool.
Or when Denzel Washington pounds a grenade up the bad guy’s hole and walks away in Man on Fire. Ouch.
I used to love going to the movies. When I was a kid, me and my friends would smuggle Schlitz tall boys in our girlfriends’ purses and watch classics like
The Hills have Eyes, Last House on the Left and Deathrace 2000 or The Outlaw Josey Wales and we’d bet on how many guys Clint Eastwood would air out. We’d even have an over/under option. I say bet the “over” every time.
When we were young delinquents, the movies were one of those sanctuaries where parents, cops, teachers and other assholes had to leave you the fuck alone.
When Sissy Spacek wastes her whole high school and her dipshit jesus-freak mother, in Carrie, ot was an annihilation fantasy we could get behind. Me and my friends started cheering, and clapping, and whistling really loud during that part. A whole segment of the audience got up and left, just to get away from us. It was cathartic. It was also the mid 1970’s, a golden age for films in this country.
When we saw Taxi Driver we walked in shit-faced and walked out cold-stone sober. It woke us up a bit….The world was an ungentle place and there is enough hate to go around. The Gomorrah of that New York City was the world our country deserved. After Watergate. After Viet Nam.
One learns a lot about people while viewing movies with them. People who talk back to the screen are sometimes people who feel like nobody listens to them in the world. Then there are those who deplore violence in films; while eating dinner in front of the real-world reportage from Iraq and Afghanistan. Those limbless bodies don’t seem to bother them that much. They also hate seeing people banging away on screen, but are not appalled by the presence and obscenity of hungry people with nowhere to live in their own city.
So tonight, I’m going to go watch some shit blow up and Lisbeth Salander fuck up some bad guys. Remember: the family that watches shoot-em-up movies together ain’t out killing people in the name of god and country.