October 29th, 2010

Spoils of War Spoil Your Thyroid Artery

Thick Tattoo Circles

Twitter Sonnet #197

Pizza army ghosts march on lanes of steel.
Golden liquid--not piss--floods a basin.
Bowie's supermen can once again feel.
There are weirder dry things than the Craisin.
Burning apple cider leaks through linen.
Sorbet's false gods contain bits of dairy.
No good trousers ever came from denim.
Rubber blade sashes become a fairy.
Muddy sheets make weird airplane propellers.
Water's caught by the same paper cup twice.
Zombies are like rotten Helen Kellers.
Except that they can see distant field mice.
Metal detectors arch over a moor.
The Secret's to smash into a closed door.

I finally got around to watching The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last night and mainly enjoyed it. Its Swedish title, Män som hatar kvinnor, translates to Men Who Hate Women, but although the movie certainly features more than one extreme example of a man who hates women, the movie didn't really feel like it was about them, in fact they were essentially two-dimensional. There was no exploration as to what men who hate women generally have in common (aside from the women hating), they were more like obstacles to the main plot. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is more appropriate a title because the film is much more about the character of Lisbeth, along with the male lead, Blomkvist.

The movie I kept thinking of was Thriller: A Cruel Picture, aka They Call Her One Eye, also a Swedish film, also an exploitation rape/revenge film. Some might take issue with me calling The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo an exploitation film, but while it's nowhere near as graphic as Thriller, the basic framework of fantasy involving rape and revenge is in place and, most importantly, the characters are similarly constructed.

Frigga, the protagonist of Thriller, is mute, a lasting psychological effect of a sexual assault when she was a child--a scene conveys this at the beginning of the film in what I always thought was sort of an interesting Impressionistic manner--beginning at around 1:24 in this clip (this is from a censored YouTube version of the film);

A youthful psychological trauma also seems to have shaped Lisbeth's striking, antisocial personality and in both films, the young woman is victim of another assault in adulthood resulting from somewhat ludicrous circumstances--Frigga becomes a sex slave when her captor forces her to become addicted to heroin, only giving her the fixes she needs on the condition she has sex with clients, and twenty four year old Lisbeth is abruptly put under the care of a new adopted guardian, who apparently takes legal control of her assets and forces her to perform sexual acts by threatening to have her committed--despite being a supernaturally gifted hacker, Lisbeth instead chooses to catch the man by secretly filming him forcing her sexually.

The first fourth of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is roughly the plot of Thriller - A Cruel Picture; woman still troubled by childhood trauma is assaulted again and then takes extravagant, bloody revenge. The newer film takes this as character development, and inserts Lisbeth into an Agatha Christie-ish murder mystery starring Blomkvist, who's a high profile middle aged male journalist who's recently been sentenced to prison for libel, though for some reason he's permitted to roam free for six months first and even travel to Australia later in the film.

One could see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as a reversal of the normal sexual paradigm, as Lisbeth is the mysterious, attractive, and powerful stranger while Blomkvist is the well-intentioned damsel in distress. I suspect this was something the author of the original novel intended. The author, deceased now, was a journalist himself, and it's part of the reason I mainly see the film as a sort of passive man's fantasy. Here's a man who not only doesn't need to fantasise about being the hero for the woman he's attracted to, he enjoys fantasising about being saved by the heroic woman, who's dangerous but also vulnerable and irresistibly drawn to him for not really any perceivable reason, especially since the film seemed to be indicating up to that point that Lisbeth preferred women.

I don't feel any of the violence, including the rape, ought to be taken as the violence in, say, Schindler's List. This is meant to be torrid fun, from a country more comfortable including sexual violence under the exploitative umbrella of movie violence. In any case, effective rape scenes are extremely difficult, especially for the viewer who might be attracted to the victim, because here the filmmaker has to work harder than usual in making the viewer forget he or she is actually watching two consenting adults simulate sex for a movie. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo didn't fumble it totally like Zack Snyder's Watchmen--unlike Snyder's film, there are no shots from the rapist's POV, and effort isn't made to make Lisbeth sexy to the audience in these scenes--we get close-ups of her face instead and the emphasis is on the ugliness of what she's experiencing. The less shown onscreen, the better, when it comes to making an audience take a fictional sexual assault seriously. The more matter the artist supplies, the more implicitly artificial it is, unless the artist in question is extraordinarily gifted (see Blue Velvet).

Those scenes in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo never really come off for me, but the murder mystery was engaging enough to keep my interest for the whole film, and as a fantasy action woman, Noomi Rapace is exceptionally good. Though I was kind of annoyed by how she was given progressively less makeup in the movie;

I feel worse to-day, but for different reasons. I woke up at 5:40am with a strong feeling of nausea that came and went, keeping me up to sunrise. I then ate breakfast and went back to bed, when I sort of slept. I went for a walk to-day, still not escaping the nausea, and finally stopped at the clinic to make an appointment to see a doctor on Tuesday. I figure I can always cancel if I feel better by then. My chest isn't hurting too badly to-day, and I'm hoping the nausea may simply be from the miso soup I had yesterday.

I saw the egret again when I went walking to-day;

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