The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was recommended to me a couple of years ago by my sister. I read the novel, read it again, saw the movie, saw it twice, then read the sequels, saw their movies (the Swedish versions that is), and somewhere in there I heard that Hollywood was making a Dragon movie: and that Noomi Rapace had refused to play one more moment of Lisbeth Salander, not for nobody, not for any money!
Last night I saw the English version. I love Daniel Craig, dreaded seeing him as Blomkvist, wound up liking him a lot.
(Find an image of him being suffocated in a plastic bag by “Martin Vanger” while trussed and hung helpless from the ceiling!)
I started off, not surprisingly, resisting Rooney Mara as Lisbeth — who the hell is she? why should we care?
But of course we’d never heard of Noomi either, now here was all are rapturously in love with her!
And who’s Rooney Mara? Well, she’s named for the forebears that give all the clues we need!
At first this actress’ inadequacy was overwhelming, but she grew on me. By the end I liked her a lot!
But it’s not just her: all the Swedish female cast members in the “original” are heart-rending, indelible: Harriet, Erika …
Anyway, if you seen even one of the two Dragon movies you have some idea of what I’m talking about:
So: gratuitious sex, in the Hollywood one:
Yes. The rich’s guy’s lawyer goes to Lisbeth’s employer, asking for a hot researcher, meaning web hack. Lisbeth is recommended. She’s interviewed: distant, disrespectful, not warm, cute, cudly. The lawyer wants more, she disappoints. Then all at once, elaborating on her report on Blomkvist, blurts: “He performs cunnilingus: not often enough … in my opinion.”
Ah, they’re more impressed by that!
But wait. That detail is not in the novel, it’s not in the source movie. And think about it:
She can get into bank accounts and steal every single thing: OK, possible.
She can invade your hard drive, and find secrets: OK, possible (maybe, if you’re online).
She has a camera under the sheets in Erika’s bedroom? Where does that connect to her Mac? (USB? wireless?)
No, no. That’s gratuitous sex: it doesn’t belong, it’s not plausible, it’s impossible, it’s stupid: it’s bad.
But it does give us a frisson!
(No, no, understand: eating pussy? I can’t get enough of it; implausibility? inventing things for an already over-stuffed movie? No, no: less would have sufficed.
That’s all I’d intended to say, initially: and maybe a little more than I’d intended, typical enough: but now I think of something else: sexual details added by Hollywood to the Swedish novel / movie sources: Lisbeth’s legal guardian (well cast in both versions I believe), the first time he rapes her, he just forces a blowjob. She didn’t like it, certainly not forced on her, not by him, but wasn’t ready for WW III just for that. Ah, but the second time he rapes her he cuffs her, buggers her … That’s all in the novel, and the movie, fine.
But in the Hollywood Dragon, state bureaucrat Nils Bjurman secures her face down on the bed, yanks her pants down, her panties too, plants his face between her buttocks and seems to start sucking noisily away! To make it clear he says, “Do you like anal sex?”
(In the novel I think he first opens her up using a dildo: standard practice among male homosexuals.)
He eats her for a moment, whatever it is specifically that he’s eating: then he shoves it in her, buggers her. She initiates her revenge rape of him by shoving a huge dildo up his ass. Take that!
But back up a second: was Nils really sucking her ass hole? Or did he manage to get his licking and sucking apparatus over her pussy?
(I don’t know about you, but it makes a difference to me!) (Where the girl is flexible, acrobatic, I like to eat from both sides, from all sides, inside out and upside down: but I certainly don’t want to be vacuuming her colon!)
I don’t know: what did you see him do? 2014 12 13 Since posting the above I’ve seen a VonTrier movie, Nymphomania, that really does show some guy avidly sucking the portagonist’s ass. Furthermore, not only does that movie show her vulva, the same guy yanks her open, and for the split second before he plants his suction engine into her pussy we see a microsecond of her open vulva and her open vagina! I don’t know that I’ve ever seen porn that graphic (not that I’ve ever seen a lot of porn) (or, should we be classifying this Hollyood Dragon and that VonTrier movie as porn? In some ways they outdo porn.
The gratuitous cunnilingus reference reminds me: what portion of the audience did they estimate would understand the word? Latin, after all: tongue on the c-. We know more or less now many people do it: nearly everybody. We also know how many people talk about it candidly: almost no one. And we know the common practice of allowing porn just so long as the plebs didn’t understand what was said or done.
You see me here, at K., at pK blog, enjoying free speech: free and then some. You may also readily see the price I’ve paid for it, all my life. You can’t make me any poorer, not without actually killing me, so what the hell, I do it, freely, with relish. But I’m reminded of a specific incident from the 1960s. I was teaching English at Cloby College, Waterville, ME. One day I unlocked my office as I noticed papers taped to every office door. Ah, a manifesto! I threw my briefcase on the desk and glanced through it. Some student was blaming the faculty for inhibiting his free speech. The declaration was filled with blank words: f—, s—, c— … But there in one of the closing paragraphs, spelled out in full, was the word fellatio! This bold illiterate hadn’t censored, hadn’t rendered pornographic, the word for “blow job”: I bet he didn’t know what it meant! (Latin: means “suck” (me off).)
Ay, and now, a couple of hours later, something else occurs to me, something unpleasant, sorry. Hooks to homosexual ass sucking:
Back in the 1960s, out of the army, in grad school, living in the east Village instead of on Morningside Heights and visiting Greenwich Village, my girl’s sister starting hanging out with a funny drunken Commie who hung out in the Old Reliable, East 3rd. That bar specialized in blonds lined up for blacks and in fag artists, some of them married with children, who’d suck and rim the blacks, calmly comparing aloud the taste of black shit compared to white shit. And anyone could fuck the wife while the husband was having this conversation. Made me puke, I didn’t hang there long. (PS that couple behaved the same way at home with the children: the kids saw orgies on a regular basis: the common denominator though wasn’t homo, wasn’t artist; but Commie! (I was never in their apartment (was never a Commie!) but I heard reports.)
I’m also reminded of reading more than I wanted to learn about homosexual behavior in historical fiction: Gore Vidal, Garry Jennings. The queer priests of queer religions supplied themselves with sets of, what’s the word, golulés? The mushroom headed wooden dildo set the priests would use to open a boy’s rear so they could bugger him comfortably: comfort for the priest, and not too ruinous discomfort for the boy! Now I’m going to go barf, maybe making my point later.
Old Reliable Scrapbook
2012 08 12 I repeat that I did not spend a lot of time at the Old Reliable but mentioning it the other day now has memories jostling like chips around a drain.
I’ll tell you: my sister-in-law’s drunken Commie friend was Lev: “big as life and twice as ugly,” Phil once commented.
Lev could be very funny, and very disrespectful, and very annoying. It wasn’t as easy to get away from Lev as it was to get away from the Old Reliable: he also hung around Morningside Heights, also hung out at the West End, my old home neighborhood bar restaurant: actually became a jazz club! Lev was a PhD candidate at Columbia, physics: theorized time.
Lev had been riding in a car on the West Side Highway when it crashed. He was expecting his insurance settlement to set him up for years of drunkenness: and the Old Reliable was the place he struck a deal with: you let me drink all I want, feed me, eat all I need, and you’ll get paid plus when my ship comes in. Lev also did little services for the Old Reliable, cooked huge batches of french fries to pass around to the customers.
His patrons there were a pair of old world Jews. The old red head was a fierce little old broad, died her hair flaming red. Did they have forearm tattoos? maybe, not sure this long time later.
Now: there was something about the Old Reliable that affected people: me too: we didn’t practice our normal supposed morality there: for instance: one night, crowded, the old lady was behind the bar. Some kind of a ruckus made her turn her head: she was right on trouble like a fly on shit. The second she was turned away, this tall skinny black guy, a permanent installation in the place, reached across the bar and slipped the Pinch bottle of Haig and Haig under his jacket! Boosted the most expensive booze, right in front of everybody! Everybody but the old lady owner!
And I too didn’t say anything! I was just passively taking it all in: like a German blinking at the Nazis.
Dig It, Bigot
One night I was sitting at a big table of black guys. A huge contingent of little blonds from Scarsdale, from Larchmont were there, patiently waiting for their quota of black cock. These guys weren’t good looking, they weren’t great athletes, they weren’t very smart, not at all well-read, they certainly weren’t rich; they were oppressed, theoretically oppressed, as a class: that’s all the girls needed. The guys started chanting, started and didn’t stop:
Oh, the girls were so entertained.
Somewhere around 1964 or so I met Tamara, a friend of Lev, a whore, a junky: daughter of the mayor of Portland she said and I believe her. Beautiful, long black hair, like Juliette Greco: except later she also told me that she was blond, really blond, blond as blond: her black dye job was political. Anyway Tamara, before I knew much of the above about her, asked me would I do her a big big favor? huge!? She was ready to kick the junk, was going to do it herself, knew how to succeed, was utterly confident: if she just had a little help:
she was going to shoot yellows, clog her system with downers till she was through the worst of it: thing was: she needed a monitor: somebody to make sure she didn’t just shoot all the yellows at once: spread them out, according to her self-prescription.
Like an idiot I agreed. And now the memory is so depressing I’ll take a break.
2014 12 13 I’ve scribbled more about the Dragon franchise since:
Just streaming the Dragon triptych, wonderful. I loved the novels, read them repeatedly a decade ago, watched the movies, saw the Swedish one a couple of times, saw the Hollywood version too, loved it as well. And now I rewatch the Swedish films. Wonderful.
Except for a detail: I love how the betrayals of her guardian are set up, I adore Lis’ response. Then in story 2, The Girl Who Played with Fire, she breaks into his house, pulls his big fat gun on him, threatens him … walks out. No, no. that dilutes it. Stay away, or, release the tape to one organ, or, give him a new tattoo on his forehead.
2014 12 11 I’m finally getting a little saturated, two of the three titles through, only Hornets Nest to go. I’m enjoying the hell out of it but some of the pleasure involves feeling indulgent toward it. For instance: we know before we’re too deep into Fire that Zala is Lis’ father. Then Zala tells Lis that the monster blond is her brother: her half-brother. Good, a family affair. She follows them to their rural lair. Here they are big bad international crooks, murderers, dealers, they make a million an hour each and they do it all out of a barn where they do their own chores, their own cooking, don’t do their own dishes … No secretary, no hall of whores, not even a gofer.
Lis is a chip off the old block: Christ, she looks like she carries her own make-up team, but no, she lives alone without furniture in a million dollar apartment.
The real estate agent brushed off her without probing her budget: I thought sure we were going to see her stomp on him.
I adored rewatching the entire Swedish Tattoo series over the past few days. I particularly liked the actress Mirja Turestedt, she reminded me of Lena Olin. And the other week Jan and I were enjoying the hell out of the first Swedish blond I ever loved, 1950s, and knew by name: Bibi Andersson!
By the end of the third novel, third movie, the Hornets’ Nest, we know that this and that Swedish government agency has been illegally, immorally, interfering with Lis. We all recognize this as the way states behave. The US saddled itself with Nixon, now we’re got the CIA tortures to curse reality over. Dragon is great for delving into so much but in the end it’s not that great, it’s fantasy, it’s fiction, it’s indulgence: which I love! Because, at the end, we have a Good Swedish government with a Good Swedish police force, and good Swedish court, a good judge, all ganging up on, arresting all the evil Swedish governments, agencies, cops, courts, judges … Don’t we just wish?! Just like Christianity: finally, a good, true, responsible judgment!
Lis versus Noomi
We confuse the actor with the character, theater depends on our doing so. We all do it, whether we know better or not. I’m in awe of Lis as a character, the way we’re in awe of Moses, Ahab. And I’m in awe of Noomi as actress. We’re all in awe of Bogart, Mifune, Bette Davis … But: it’s important to distinguish some things. Noomi got thoroughly fed up with the role, turned her back on it: bravo, quite right. The role is repulsive however attractive: piercings, punk, all perversion.
Jan and I recently watched Kick Ass, another little shrimp of a helpless girl playing Superman, beating the shit out of everybody, including the Swedish CIA … and she gets rich doing it. She gets beat up like Brando, like Mifune, better than Bogie ever got beat up … Her movie’s claims to her feats grow and grow, way past absurdity: beating up biker crooks, finally, beating up, rendering helpless, her freak half-brother. Come on, already.
See? It’s just fiction. Great fiction. But Not great literature.
2014 12 18 I liked the actor who played the prosecutor, we meet him in movie 2 and see more of him in movie 3. He reminded me of Billy Bob Thornton. He plays the kleptocrat with no sense of shame, no sense of how it’s probably the government which is the big criminal, not the 4′-6″ punk girl with all the piercings. He’s an essential part of how the kleptocracy gangs up against life, intelligence, integrity; with no sense of shame, no sense of humor …. In movie 3 all his false claims (on behalf of the big invisible group-bad, group-thugs) get exposed. The lying psychiatrist, this evil-spinning Swedish Nazi, is wholly stripped, his lies transparent, Liz’ innocence, brilliance, endurance shinning … and … And what? The prosecutor is left sitting in the court room, his career of lies come to naught? Is he embarrassed? Slightly. Does he apologize? Not at all! He should throw himself at Lis’ feet, offering himself and all his future offspring as her indentured-for-eternity slaves.
No. Blink, and tomorrow is another day at the office, murdering our future in his present.
I recommend seeing this trio on the DVD that groups them: 5 parts. There was a scene or two I don’t remember from seeing them one at a time. In particular there’s a scene with Lis making love with some of her girlfriends. We’d seen into her open bottom and crotch in movie 1. Here in movie 2 there’s a scene where she avidly eats her friend, Miriam Wu. Nice pussy. We have a few luxurious seconds of her really going in there.