Monday Morning Critic – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Clint Eastwood’s Reality Show and the Kardashian Effect

Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

One of the really depressing stories of this past week was that Clint Eastwood’s family is producing a reality show looking at their lives “in the shadow of Hollywood royalty.” What’ll it to be like to see behind the mask and look at the family of Eastwood? I don’t know but it sounds like a bad idea at first. So bad that my buddy Shortfuze’s song “Beggar’s Buffet” needs to be playing to really contemplate it as a whole; nothing else will do.

Not really, to be honest, but I always like to listen to something while I write and I listened to the entire album while writing this column. For what it is worth it’s quite good, as Fuze and a bunch of guys combined for an album or something, What I’m saying is just click play if you’re so inclined. It’s called “Occupy Christmas” and you can download it for free, too.

Eastwood ‘s family in a reality show isn’t the worst thing in the world; it’s not as if Clint himself is going to be front and center like he’s Bruce Jenner. He’s the reason why anyone will care about them, in the same way the shows about sports wives only come into focus because these women managed to get someone successful in their chosen field to marry them. Or just knock them up, in some cases, but there’s a car-crash mentality in this that get people to watch. And it’s the same principle for Eastwood’s family, only existing to be in this show because Clint Eastwood is a great actor and director, and this time it’s easy to see why this show will wind up on the air.

I call it “The Kardashian Effect.”

One of the downsides of Hollywood is that fame and money are there to be had fairly easily. It doesn’t take all that much skill or talent to become rich and famous in Hollywood now; the Kardashian clan is proof of this. The only one in that clan that has any talent of note is Lamar Odom but he married in; thus his basketball prowess really doesn’t count. Outside of that the rest of the group is only really famous because Kim made a sex tape with someone famous years ago. Yet they’ve managed to take that video tape of Kim and Ray J in the midst of what qualifies as meaningful sex to reality show stardom, if you can call it that, and now their relative ease into it has now inspired Hollywood clans to try and follow suit.

On the face of it, the Kardashians offer absolutely nothing of note to contribute to society. I may make fun of Justin Bieber for a variety of reasons but I’m willing to admit two things. The first is that he’s probably a decent kid; people whom I respect who have met him claim he’s a wonderful kid and have tons of praise for him. He also saw something in Mr. Deeds that he thought was cool, renting a stadium for a movie for he and his misses, which I have to admit is awesome in a way. The other is that the kid is remarkably talented and puts music together that people like. I may not like his music but I can respect him as an artist because he’s successful at what he does. And the thing I freely admit is that I respect the kid because he contributes something and he’s famous because of it.

The Eastwoods are the latest in a long line of Hollywood affiliated types who now see an easier path to fame and fortune than merely being in the right place at the right time with the right people. Now all you need to do is be related to or sleeping with someone famous and you have the potential to be like Fatty, Fugly and AIDSy Kardashian plus their mom. NONE of them contribute a thing outside of television programming; you can’t look at Fugly and go “oh wow, she’s so talented” in any aspect. She’s famous for “being famous,” whatever the heck that means, and the entire family is the same way. And now, like anything successful in Hollywood, legions of imitations are going to try and capture that same lightning in a bottle.

It’s easy to see why someone would take a chance on this as well; it doesn’t take all that much to film a reality show outside of some people playing caricatures or fictional versions of themselves and a camera crew working around the clock. But the fact that Eastwood’s family, which hasn’t contributed much outside of being related or married to him, thinks they can become famous the easy way with a television show isn’t anything but a reflection of the change in culture. It’s no longer important for people to become famous because they can do something; it’s a sad statement about all involved.

Me, I’m hoping Clint goes all Gran Torino and it becomes awesome by proxy.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

After the suckgasm that was David Fincher’s version of the film, which you can read my review of right here, I was tempted to just write a column comparing and contrasting where the American version failed and the Swedish succeeded. But that was trite and cliché in all the wrong ways, thus I decided to do something a bit more conventional (at least in my book). I opted to go into the box set edition of the Millenium trilogy for a look at the original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) is a journalist who’s just been convicted of libeling a man he shouldn’t have. With some time to kill before his prison sentence kicks in, he’s hired by a wealthy retired industrialist to find his niece. Joined by a whacky computer hacker (Noomi Rapace) as an assistant, he wanders into something far worse than he ever expected.

It’s odd to think that a Swedish director who hasn’t yet had an English language adaptation could out do David F’n Fincher but it’s true. I loved this film when I saw it in theatres and, despite its 150 minute run time, this is one of the most engaging crime thrillers I’ve ever seen that isn’t about cops and crooks. The best way to look at this film is to view it as a journalism film, like All the President’s Men, instead of as a true crime thriller like it’s been advertised as. It’s a great film about a journalist uncovering the truth like a Pit-bull but it wouldn’t be nearly as good without Noomi Rapace.

She just made her English language debut in the Sherlock Holmes sequel this weekend and it was a rather throwaway role. It’s a shame because a year earlier she had the best performance of any woman in film and didn’t get recognized for it because of the sheer volume of powerful roles for women last year.

Rapace and Nyqvist have a terrific chemistry together as well. While the hype was justifiably around how awesome Rapace is in the film, Nyqvist was quite capable as well and I would dare say underrated. He’s found a niche as a bad guy in Hollywood as of late, in this year’s Abduction as well as the latest Mission Impossible film, so he has that going for him as well.

Highest possible recommendation.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

The Adventures of Tintin – An intrepid reporter, his dog and a drunken sea captain combine to solve a mystery or something. It’s a motion capture film, too, and based off a comic strip of substantial fame.

See it – It has a cool Raiders of the Lost Ark vibe to it and the one thing that this summer proved is that J.J Abrams can take the Spielberg formula and get fanboys creaming their pants over it in a passable film. Time for the master to show what he can do and make the film that Super 8 wanted to be.

War Horse – A boy and his horse make it through World War I.

Skip it – The last time Spielberg released two films in one year one was brilliant and one was solid on first viewing but didn’t hold up. I got a feeling this is closer to War of the Worlds than Munich; no film can get this much praise and live up to the hype. That and the film kind of sounds like a romantic drama in the way the boy interacts with the horse, which is a little creepy if you ask me. It’s like they cribbed dialogue from the big dramatic moment for Daniel Day Lewis in Last of the Mohicans and just traded a woman for a horse. You know, this one:

I kind of laughed when I first saw the trailer because of it. I can’t be the only one, right?

The Darkest Hour – Aliens invade. A bunch of young actors not quite old enough to play 30 some-things and too old to play college kids/high school students fight a bunch of aliens Ghostbusters style.

See it – The one thing Timur Bekmambetov does well is pick projects to produce. They always have a style to them that’s indelible and this could be something cool.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – A disgraced journalist and a computer hacker combine to investigate a decades old disappearance.

Skip it – I reviewed this already … absolutely passable.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – Tom Cruise is back; this time he has to bring down the journalist from the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

See it – This will be up tomorrow I think but it’s an enjoyable action flick. See it in the IMAX format if you can, in the true IMAX theatre and not the fake one they overcharge for, because it’s definitely worth the extra cash.

We Bought a Zoo – Matt Damon is a single dad who buys a zoo. Shenanigans ensue.

See it – If you want a solid family film, it’s definitely worth it. You can read my review here and Travis’s as well right here.

Albert Nobbs – Glenn Close dresses up as a man to get a job as a butler-type. In limited release.

See it – This has Oscar potential written all over it.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – Tom Hanks dies in 9/11. His son and Sandra Bullock deal with the aftermath or something. It’s based off a book and in limited release.

Skip it – This reeks of Reign Over Me, a film using the greatest tragedy in modern American history for a lackluster story. It’s the same thing that Holocaust films have done for years now; take a mediocre story and attach a tragedy to make up for a lackluster script.

In the Land of Blood and Honey – Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut focusing on a romance during the Bosnian war in the ‘90s, also in limited release.

See it – It takes a lot for a massive, massive star like Jolie to want to get behind the camera one imagines. My guess is that it must be a powerful film to get Mrs. Brad Pitt to direct instead of star; directing a film takes much more time out of someone’s schedule than merely acting in it. That immediately raises my curiosity level about a project, especially when someone who has never directed before opts to do so.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @MMCritic_Kubryk.

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