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					        oNE oF tHE                                                                                                                                                                                                 in review
        bESt FILMS
        oF THE YEAR                                                                                                                                                       As of Tuesday, January 3, the following releases were
                                                                                                                                                                          scheduled. “NR” indicates that the film is not reviewed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  suing parallel tracks (and each other), it grossly overstays
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  its welcome. (Hoberman)
                                                                                                                                                                          Our complete film reviews are available online.                       Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. (PG-13) Like
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  a Hindu’s rejuvenating bath in the Ganges, a dip in the
     ‘‘‘ THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO’ IS A                                                                                                                                                ONGOING                                             Mission: Impossible series serves to wash away perceived
        BEAUTIFULLY TAUT AND TERRIFYING THRILLER.                                                                                                                                                                                                 doubts about its star’s enduring clout. The sustained box
                                                                                                                                                                          The Adventures of Tintin. (PG) Steven Spielberg’s motion-               office of the M:I series must have something to do with
        LISBETH SALANDER IS                                                                                                                                                 captured, 3-D The Adventures of Tintin rolls together plot
                                                                                                                                                                            elements from three comic-book adventures starring Belgian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  its balance of the familiar and the new. Tom Cruise is the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  through-line, while each film has introduced its own gadgets
        ONE OF THE GREAT HEROINES                                                                                                                                           artist Herge’s intrepid boy reporter, Tintin, first introduced in
                                                                                                                                                                            1929 and one of the all-time most iconographic characters
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  and a distinct new authorial identity. The latest director
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  to be called up, Brad Bird has helmed hugely success-
        OF DETECTIVE FICTION. ON TO                                                                                                                                         in comic art. After stumbling across a mysterious clue in a           ful animated features (The Incredibles, Ratatouille), and
                                     ’                                                                                                                                      model ship, Tintin (voiced by Jamie Bell) bands together with
                                                                                                                                                                            the brawling, bibulous Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  so freely embraces the “impossible” rather than staking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  his action in a world of physical limitations. As Ghost
                                                    STEVEn reλ                                                                                                              assemble directions that lead to a sunken treasure. They’re           Protocol, begins, Cruise’s agent Ethan Hunt, undercover in
                                                                                                                                                                            trying to get there ahead of the nefarious Ivan Sakharine             a Russian jail, is busted out by IMF operatives for another
                                                                                                                                                                            (Daniel Craig), whose pirate forebear once tried to lift the          mission. When this, a Kremlin break-in, puts the team under
     ‘‘ SPONTANEOUS AND SENSATIONAL.                                                                                                                                        booty from Haddock’s ancestor. “Some things are easily
                                                                                                                                                                            lost,” repeats Tintin in one scene; he’s contemplating his
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  suspicion of terrorism, the resulting international incident
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  leads the American government to disavow the IMF. Hunt
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  & Co. are forced to go it alone, tracking a rogue “specialist
        CRAIG AND MARA LEAVE YOU                                                                                                                                            latest mystery, but the line could be a critique of his latest
                                                                                                                                                                            outing. This is illustrated at the start of Adventures, as the        in nuclear end-game theory” (Michael Nyqvist) who’s busily
        WISHING THE DIRECTOR WOULD                                                                                                                                          new Tintin — created by producer Peter Jackson’s Weta Digi-           acquiring launch codes. About a half-hour of Ghost Protocol
                                                                                                                                                                            tal effects team with every hair in his quaff articulated — is        is IMAX-shot, intended to be projected on screens the size

        HURRY UP AND SHOOT                                                                                                                                                  placed alongside the character as drawn by Herge. The con-
                                                                                                                                                                            trast between niggling photorealism and Herge’s light, crisp
                                                                                                                                                                            line is shocking — and not favorable to Spielberg’s opulence.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  of the USS Nimitz. Among these monumentally inflated
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  scenes is the movie’s literal and figurative high point, which
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  has Cruise scaling the stratospheric upper reaches of the

        THE NEXT ENTERTAINMENT..                                                                                                                                            But if Adventures, in its complete artifice, has sacrificed
                                                                                                                                                                            simple wonderment, it also takes advantage of the capacity
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  163-story Burj Khalifa skyscraper. There is no denying that
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  this can be exhilarating, though when Ghost Protocol stoops
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  to deal in emotional rather than physical expression, the
        A FABULOUSLY SINISTER                                                              ’’                                                                               for unchained camerawork created by today’s platoons of CG
                                                                                                                                                                            technicians. Adventures is an awesome movie mechanism,                movie goes flaccid, as if trapeze artists had paused in mid-
                                             RENE RODRIGUEZ                                                                                                                 but that awe comes at a cost. It’s doubtful that this fading          air to emote. (Pinkerton)
                                                                                                                                                                            of charm will be noticed when the movie is in riotous, reeling     Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. (R) John le Carre’s Tinker, Tai-
                                                                                                                                                                            motion — but just as doubtful that Spielberg’s Tintin will            lor, Soldier, Spy, the 1974 spy novel generally regarded as
     ‘‘ LISBETHIS A MARVELOUS                                                                                                                                               displace Herge’s once the free fall stops. (Nick Pinkerton)           the writer’s finest, is predicated on a pair of enigmatic per-
                                                                                                                                                                          The Artist. (PG-13) An undeniably charming homage to Hol-               sonalities: the colorless bureaucratic master-spook George
        POP-CULTURE CHARACTEr,                                                                                                                                              lywood in the late 1920s, The Artist might also be the first
                                                                                                                                                                            silent film many of its viewers have ever seen. French writer-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Smiley and the double agent the Soviets have planted near
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  the top of British intelligence whom Smiley must unmask.
         STRANGER AND MORE COMPLEX                                                                                                                                          director Michel Hazanavicius eases neophytes’ discomfort
                                                                                                                                                                            by creating the cinematic equivalent of an amuse-bouche.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Alec Guinness was a memorably gray-faced doughy pro-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  tagonist in the 1979 Tinker, Tailor miniseries; Gary Oldman
         THAN THE AVERAGE SUPERHERO and                                                                                                                                     Although many of the technical aspects of the silent period           makes for an even more taciturn interrogator and robotically
                                                                                                                                                                            are expertly re-created — shooting at 22 frames per second,           cool master of deductive logic in Swedish director Tomas
                                                                                                                                                                            the boxy 1:33 aspect ratio — The Artist’s blithe presentation
                                                                                                                                                                            of the transition from sound to talkies is even less complex
                                                                                                                                                                            than the one found in Singin’ in the Rain. The film opens in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Alfredson’s brooding, fluidly crafted movie adaptation. Best
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  known for the bleak tween vampire drama Let the Right
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One In, Alfredson is strong on chilly atmospherics. Smiley’s
                                                                                                                                                                            1927, when preening matinee idol George Valentin (Jean                London is scarcely less shabby or conspiratorial than early
         SHE IS AN OUTLAW FEMINIST                                                                                                                                          Dujardin) is still the top draw at Kinograph Studios. George          ‘70s Budapest, where a botched British operation sets the
                       ’’                                                                                                                                                   acts as a mentor to Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), a chorine           narrative merry-go-round in motion. The “circus” — le Carre’s
        FANTASY-HEROINE.                               λ.o. scoTT
                                                                                                                                                                            with big ambitions. Borrowing heavily from A Star Is Born,
                                                                                                                                                                            The Artist tracks both Peppy’s ascent (through amusing mon-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  term for MI6 — is in disarray, and the discharged Smiley
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  is metaphorically brought back from the dead to discover
                                                                                                                                                                             tage) and George’s decline as he refuses to acknowledge              which one of his former colleagues is the “mole.” As Smiley
                                                                                                                                                                             synchronized-sound as more than a passing fad. By 1932,              goes about securing files and interviewing witnesses,
                                                                                                                                                                             Peppy’s attracting lines around the block for her latest, while      Alfredson establishes a universe of technologically primitive
     ‘‘ UNAPOLOGETICALLY GROWN-UP AND                                                                                                                                        George spends his afternoons passed out on a barroom                 dial phones, teletype machines, and reel-to-reel tape record-
        UTTERLY ENTERTAINING.                                                                                                                                                floor, his Jack Russell terrier his sole remaining fan. Or so
                                                                                                                                                                             he thinks: Peppy has never forgotten him, and the film’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ers. The latest Tinker, Tailor is, in some ways, more explicit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  regarding various characters’ sexual proclivities than was
                                                                                                                                                                             concluding act restores The Artist’s buoyancy. The movie             the miniseries. It’s also more concise, but what’s lost is
                                          L O U I S E                   R O U G                                                                                              pivots on the spry connection between the mute (save for             George’s pathos. Oldman’s Smiley is less agonized nerd
                                                                                                                                                                             one scene) Dujardin and Bejo, both nimble performers and             than Asperger brainiac. I missed the final line, delivered in
                                                                                                                                                                             elegantly turned out in period finery and pomade. The Artist          the miniseries by the faithless Mrs. Smiley: “Poor George.
                                                                                                                                                                             is movie love at its most anodyne, as Hazanavicius sweetly           You don’t know what life is about, do you?” (Hoberman)
                                                                                                                                                                             asks that we not be afraid of the past. (Melissa Anderson)        War Horse. (PG-13) It might be perverse to accuse a
                                                                                                                                                                          The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (R) Set in a freeze-your-              tearjerker as accomplished as Steven Spielberg of being un-
                                                                                                                                                                             blood land of streamlined chrome and steely dawns, David             feeling. But the overcalculation with which he mechanically
                                                                            A DAVID FINCHER FILM                                                                             Fincher’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a malevolent remake
                                                                                                                                                                             of the 2009 Swedish blockbuster directed by Niels Arden
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  trots out one of his most familiar tropes for what amounts
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  to a generic Disney animal story seems to preclude any but
                                                                                                                                                                             Oplev from Stieg Larsson’s thriller, follows a cold trail of         the most hackneyed emotion. What catastrophe cannot
                                                                                                                                                                             ritually butchered women through rural Sweden. These                 be Spielbergized? No less than Schindler’s List and Saving
                                                                                                                                                                             previously unlinked crimes have been discovered by lefty             Private Ryan, War Horse finds the silver lining of individual
                                                                                                                                                                             reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), whose career was           salvation in one of modern history’s darkest thunderclouds:
                                                                                                                                                                             earlier upended by a billionaire corporate crook whom his            World War I. As the English lad Albert (Jeremy Irvine) bonds
                                                                                                                                                                             reporting failed to bring down. Blomkvist has been hired on          with the beloved, half-Thoroughbred steed he has named
                   COLUMBIA PICTURES AND METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER PICTURES PRESENT A SCOTT RUDIN/YELLOW BIRD PRODUCTION DANIEL CRAIG ROONEY MARA                                  the rebound by another Swedish oligarch (Christopher Plum-           Joey and, once the horse is conscripted by the British
            GI                                  TOPHER                                                                 GHT THE
                                                                                                                                                       JOEL                  mer) to solve a murder, but, as millions of earthlings know,
                                                                                                                                                                             the movie’s real protagonist is his ace research assistant,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  army, follows him into Flanders Field, Spielberg seeks to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  represent the horror of modern combat in human (or at
                                                                                                                                                                             Lisbeth Salander. The eponymous goth-punk-pierced-lesbo              least mammalian) terms. But since he’s a director largely
                                                                                                                                                                             hacker supreme is played here by Rooney Mara, best known             incapable of understatement, War Horse is served up with
                                                                             BY STEVEN ZAILLIAN          BY SCOTT RUDIN OLE SØNDBERG SØREN STÆRMOSE CEÁN CHAFFIN
                                                                     SCREENPLAY                   PRODUCED
                                                                                                                                                                             until now as the co-ed who called Mark Zuckerberg an ass-            a self-aggrandizing surplus of Norman Rockwell backlighting

                                                                                                    BY DAVID FINCHER
                                                                                              DIRECTED                                                                       hole five minutes into Fincher’s The Social Network, and it’s         and an aggravated sense of doggone wonderment. Had
                                                                                                                                                                             her pale flame that illuminates the movie. Mara’s Salander            Spielberg elected to show war from Joey’s perspective rather
                                                                                                                                                                             is not a carbon copy of the spiky-haired menace Noomi                than use the horse as the war’s protagonist, the movie
                                                                                                                                                                             Rapace played in the Oplev version. She’s funnier, as well           could have been terrifying. Instead, its most impressive pas-
                                                                                                                                                                             as more plaintive, in her deadpan aplomb. Nor is Fincher’s           sage is pure digital delirium as an animated Joey runs free
                                                                                                                                                                             Tattoo a shot-by-shot recap of Oplev’s dowdier production.           across the CGI battlefield, rearing up under the full moon.
       CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS FOR THEATERS AND SHOWTIMES                                                                                                                       The remake is a leaner, meaner, more high-powered affair,
                                                                                                                                                                             though similarly hampered by a long narrative fuse. Running
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That Joey! Uniting doughboys and officers, the Brits and the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Bosch, mending broken hearts, and restoring eyesight to the
                                                                                                                                                                             158 minutes, Dragon Tattoo requires well more than an                blind, this indomitable horse does not reproach humanity.
                                                                                                                                                                             hour for Blomkvist’s story to converge with Salander’s and,          Embodying what his creators take to be our best, most
                                                                                                                                                                             though things pick up once reporter and hacker begin pur-            enduring instincts, he justifies it. (Hoberman)

18     RIVERFRONT TIMES                                         JANUARY 5-11, 2012                       

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