Tag Archive | remake

Silent House on a slippery slope

Hot on the heels of wrapping on her first film Martha Marcy May Marlene, Elizabeth Olsen dove straight into her second role, an intense week-long shoot for Chris Kentis and Laura Lau’s “one continuous shot” feature Silent House.  Not only is Silent House a remake of the 2010 Uruguayan film La casa muda (supposedly based on a true story from a Uruguayan village in the 1940s) but it also lifts the same gimmicks the original utilised and, for all intents and purposes, contains a bare minimum of originality.

The premise is simple and the idea is a novel one (or at least in the original film it was).  A single hand-held camera follows the central character, Sarah, as she revisits the old family home with her father (Adam Trese) and uncle (Eric Sheffer Stevens) in order to tidy it up before putting it on the market.  It would appear that the first act, up to the point where the action spills briefly to outside the house, is one long take.  However, the truth is that the film is composed of a series of takes spliced together to mimic the effect of the original.  In and of itself, that’s not a major issue and the editing is virtually seamless until the third act.  In the final 20 minutes it becomes easier to see the cuts, though Silent House would be lucky if this was the sole problem the climax presents.  As with many films of its horror/psychological thriller ilk, all the tension and suspense built up in the first two acts rely on a strong payoff to in order to have any import.  Even the greatest of set-ups is rendered meaningless when the rug is subsequently pulled from beneath the viewer.  So when Silent House unleashes its reveal, the wheels come flying off.  Amidst the wait-a-minutes and the whats is the very simple fact that the film has been lying to its audience all along.
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Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Only two years after the Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s international best-seller, David Fincher has brought his take on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to the silver screen.  With little-known Rooney Mara cast in the role that made Noomi Rapace a break-out sensation and Daniel Craig starring opposite, Fincher has a sizable task in tackling a story loved in both its written and prior celluloid form.  While the film is, on a whole, more faithful to Larsson’s vision, it never reaches the point that truly justifies this too-soon remake.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: experience the gift of anal rape 26 December in the UK

Craig is Mikael Blomkvist, the shamed journalist who hands over the reins of his Millennium magazine to his editor and lover Erika Berger (Robin Wright).  In financial ruin, Blomkvist is hired by retired industrial magnate Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer, again excelling as a frail patriarch) to investigate the murder of his niece.  Sequestered in a charmless cottage on the family’s island, 4 hours outside of Stockholm, Blomkvist studies the family members, the case files and eventually requires the expertise of computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Mara), who had herself investigated Blomkvist for Vanger.  Though The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s main thrust is a classic whodunit, the character development of Salander is essential in not only establishing her moral code, but in setting up the other 2/3 of the Millennium trilogy.  Fincher balances this well, though Dragon Tattoo newcomers may be somewhat baffled by references to her past which portray her in a less than favourable light.  While the mystery is Blomkvist’s to solve, the film is Mara’s to steal and she does so with vigour and a contempt that bubbles beneath the surface throughout,  rising fiercely at all the right times.
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Review: The Debt

The Debt, director John Madden’s remake of 2007’s Israeli thriller Hahov hits UK cinemas this Friday, featuring another superb performance from Jessica Chastain as she continues to take 2011 by storm.  Set in 1997, The Debt focuses primarily on events taking place in 1966 when three Mossad agents set out to bring Nazi war criminal, Dieter Vogel aka the surgeon of Birkenau (a character based on the infamous Josef Mengele), to justice in Israel.

Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain in The Debt

The film begins quietly enough in 1997 as now-retired Mossad agent Rachel (here played by Helen Mirren) attends a booking reading of her author daughter who has penned Rachel’s life story. A mysterious road-side death later, the action moves to East Berlin in 1966 where Chastain (as the younger Rachel), along with Sam Worthington (David) and Marton Csokas (Stephan) take over the reins of the narrative.  What follows is a suspenseful operation to capture the man they believe to be Vogel.  It is once their enemy has been detained that The Debt truly excels. Jesper Christensen provides fantastic support as the smarmy, manipulative Vogel.  As good as Chastain, Worthington and Csokas are it is Christensen’s performance that provides the foundation.
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