It’s been such a busy year I have rarely had time for one of my favorite past times; movies. Although I did finally hit the dollar movie circuit, in Hoover, to see a few films such as Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” and “Iron Man 2″ I haven’t enjoyed the big screen experience as much as in years past when it wasn’t inconceivable for me to see over 50 in a year. Recently, however, I saw two films that were surprisingly satisfying, even on the small screen: 2009′s “Män som hatar kvinnor” aka “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” and this year’s graphic action-superhero comedy hybrid release, “Kick-Ass.”
You couldn’t watch two films, on a double bill, that were more dissimilar; however, both succeeded in what they set out to accomplish.
Niels Arden Oplev’s “Girl,” part one of Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s worldwide best seller (he died in 2004), compresses the narrative into a tense and rewarding murder mystery that starts as the search for a missing 16 year old girl from 40 years earlier. The further the plot develops the darker and deeper it gets with bizarre religious subtext (is there any other kind?) and a serial killer hook. With top notch performances, led by Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyquist, this art house hit did not receive much-deserved exposure in the U.S.It is followed by two more films, already in the can in Sweden, “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” which opened internationally last month and finishing the series with “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” I can hardly wait to see them since the first film leaves open the opportunity for the sequels while simultaneously tying the loose ends of the first film’s complex plot.
At the other end of the spectrum comes a wildly entertaining, and thankfully politically incorrect, comic book to movie scenario with “Kick-Ass,” which finally offers those of us tired of heros with super powers, “non-super” heros battling crime in NYC (actually lensed in Toronto). Graphic on every level with then 11-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz, soon to be seen in the Americanized version of “Let the Right One In,” as Hit-Girl, an avenger who could single-handedly wipe out the entire Soprano’s clan, teamed with her father, portrayed with a wink to Adam (Batman) West by genre favorite Nick Cage. The film would not have worked had it not been for the winning perf by Brit Aaron Johnson, who does a nice job losing his accent, as Kick-Ass, an ordinary high schooler with dreams of standing up against criminals. Mark Strong, so good in RocknRolla, is the nasty master criminal Frank D’Amico. Mixing humor and action, irreverently, “Kick-Ass,” won’t please everyone, but anyone looking for a film that circumvents the “Spider-Man” and “Iron Man” franchises will be pleasanty entertained.
With outrageous violence and profanity and jet black humor this film, despite its graphic nature, actually has a serious and sweeter subtext than most viewers might suspect.
Full reviews of both films the week of August 16th at the Cafe.