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Intrigue and mystery at Palm Springs Fest

All the clues point to the victim's own family, the Vangers.
All the clues point to the victim's own family, the Vangers.

Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth in Swedish thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sweden, Germany/Denmark): Based on Stieg Larsson's best-selling novel of the same name, Niels Arden Oplev's (Worlds Apart) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a thoroughly engrossing murder-mystery, thriller. The film centers around journalist Mikael Blomkvist who has fallen on hard times after being convicted of libel and fraud. With six months before he must begin his sentence, he is hired to solve a 40-year old murder mystery involving the disappearance of a powerful man's granddaughter.  Blomkvist meets super-hacker Lisbeth, who despite her powerful skills as an investigator, is an emotional wreck. The two try to uncover the decades old mystery that seemingly points back to the victim's own family.

Though the movie is a hefty 152 minutes the story is nonetheless engaging. What  makes the story particularly interesting, however, is Lisbeth. Emotionally closed off and covered in dark makeup and tattoos, she may seem like an odd choice for the female protagonist- or for a skillful investigator for that matter. However, her enigmatic qualities make her an intriguing figure that is as far from a pre-packaged character as you can get. Though the movie is highly entertaining, the film's graphic depiction of sexual assault and dark subject matter may be more than some audience can handle. However, the murder-mystery is so deeply absorbing that it will latch onto you before you even realize it.

The movie grabbed the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature this past weekend at the Palm Springs International Film FestivalMusic Box Films has picked up the Swedish flick which will open in limited release in March.

The film's English language trailer is below- questionable translations and all!


An overbearing mother fights to prove her son's innocence in Joon-Ho Bong's Mother


Mother (South Korea): South Korea's official Oscar submission Mother is the latest film from Korean director Joon-Ho Bong (The Host, Memories of a Murder). The film is a murder-mystery about an overly involved mother with a mentally-handicapped son. When her son is accused of a heinous crime against a young girl in a small town, she feverishly tries to prove his innocence collecting clues to exonerate him.

In many ways, the film is highly amoral. The mother's devotion to her son, even before he goes to jail, borders on obsessive and is at times either comic or disturbing. Though it is understandable that a mother would tirelessly work to prove her son's innocence, many events will leave audience members conflicted as to whether her actions are always justified. In fact, in many scenes it appears that she is asking the same thing herself. Mother may not have the blockbuster feel of Joon-Ho's previous The Host, which managed to get a U.S. release and is scheduled for a Hollywood remake, but his most recent film is an off-beat and intriguing movie for those who can stomach the disturbing subject matter and enjoy dark comedies.

Showing: Mother comes to L.A. theaters March 12. The film played at the Palm Springs International Film Festival Jan 8 and 10. 


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