December 25th, 2011


The Hård [R]

Way Behind

We haven't been to many movies lately, which is completely understandable given the two trips south I've had to make in the last month.

And somehow we haven't either read the Stieg Larsson series or seen the Swedish version of his trilogy. But with Mrs. Dr. Phil's new Kindle Fire came a free audio book from Audible, so we downloaded The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Alas, we quickly found out that the Fire's maximum volume, which seemed quite loud, could not overcome 70mph road noise, even in the relatively quiet 1999 Bravada. So while in Greensboro, we picked up a Belkin FM transmitter for the 3.5mm headphone jack, which performed well, except for some major metro areas with too few blank spots in the FM spectrum.

The two days home was filled with a complex tale of murder, intrigue and badly behaving men. And coffee. Lots of coffee. The Swedes might be as coffee mad as the Finns. (grin) For a pair of geeks, we were quite amused by the long infodumps and the technical specs of the gear used. We still had 6 hours to listen to, so Friday night, we finished the book from 8pm to 2am.

And our prelab was complete.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo [R]
Holland 7 Theatre #3 3pm, 2×$6.25

Christmas Eve Afternoon, you could tell things were beginning to wind down in Holland. The parking lots at the mall and Sam's Club were not fully stuffed and the movie theatre had a lot of cars, but families with kids were leaving and we got a close in spot. After days of dreary driving, the high hazy blue sky was a change. No evening shows.

The film opens pretty much as the book does and then we get a very dramatic set of James Bond film-like credits driven to The Immigrants song. That this is not going to be a "nice" film is strongly telegraphed -- one of the girls at the popcorn stand said she was warning everyone this was "a hard R-rating" -- we assured her we had just finished the audio book.

Having just heard some 16+ hours of audio book, we knew they'd have to compress the story to fit a 158 minute movie. Certainly much of the infodumping could be done with a rapid series of images, but what plot would get cut? Actually, the first half is pretty straight. One major relationship is cut, but that works. In the ending, two major plot points are eliminated by (1) getting rendered mute by moving up the timeline and (2) swapping a pair of passports. This is not a problem to us. Years ago I might've railed on about changes between book and movie, but understanding the process better, I think they did an admirable job here.

We'd seen the trailers, so it was easy to see Christopher Plummer as the old man and taciturn Daniel Craig does a fine job as our embattled journalist. Robin Wright is his partner at the magazine Millennium, but her role is reduced from the book. Stellan Skarsgård, whom we've seen in quite a lot of movies including Mamma Mia! and Angels and Demons, gets special mention for a fine performance. And the Swedish scenery is fabulous -- so nice to see real snowscapes in a movie. But what everyone will talk about is the performance by Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander -- the girl of the title. Many wanted the role, but Scarlett Johansson? Uh, no. Mara moves exactly as I expect Lisbeth to and the looks she gives or not are piercingly spot on. Apparently Mara did the initial transformation -- hair cut short and dyed, eyebrows bleached, piercings done -- all in one painful day.

They cut the violence of the book down, but more to fit the time, I think, than squeamishness. Keeping these scenes short and to the point makes the violence more effective and unsettling -- you don't want to become voyeuristically complacent. Though you are free to think that they were more willing to show Lisbeth being raped that Daniel Craig stripped and tortured, his naked chair sit in Casino Royale notwithstanding. One doesn't want to condone vigilantism, but sometimes just desserts fit. (sad grin)

For a plot that depends so much on documents, computers and especially photographs, the film medium can be very effective when it is well handled as here. This is a thinking person's plot and you are being shown the evidence and the clues. A complex undertaking and they did a good job.

As we left, the managers were making the rounds cleaning up -- no Christmas Eve evening shows -- and we had a discussion about book vs Swedish vs American movie versions. A lot of the time the kids who work the theatre haven't seen some of the movies we like to see, but the senior staff were all up on this one.

Now we have to see the Swedish movies! And wait for them to do the next two with this team.

Highly Recommended - Not For The Faint of Heart

Dr. Phil

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like, Well, Thanksgiving...

Merry Christmas

Christmas Eve dawned with a new blanket of snow -- it's been clear here since we got back -- about an inch on the deck and a nice covering of the ground. But it's not below freezing and we had a high clear blue sky yesterday, so by this morning it was all gone save for in some shadows. And by afternoon it was definitely far from a Currier & Ives snowy Christmas scene. (grin)

Mrs. Dr. Phil took a picture of me and my Mother on Wednesday, so here's proof we were in Greensboro.

Dr. Phil and Dr. Phil's Mother just before we drove off.

Mrs. Dr. Phil got a package from a friend who is in Germany right now, with a Dresden Christstollen -- which immediately set up a Christmas morning face-off with Mrs. Dr. Phil's own wonderful stollen.

Mrs. Dr. Phil's stollen (R) and a German stollen (L) -- Let the tasting battles begin!

The whole breakfast including two kinds of stollen, Allendale Meat Market kielbasa, clementines & bananas, and the traditional Before Noon Hit Of Christmas Chocolate (Godiva).

The Christmas Cat

Sam... Sam... Sam... Will you turn towards the camera?

Okay fine, cat, look at something else. Ignore me. I'll still put your picture on the Internet.

Well, Sam, we love you anyway so he just got fed. And we got a small 10 lb. turkey for free using our grocery store "points", which is in the oven Right Now. We've been watching Mythbusters marathon all day. But tonight we get Bears and Packers. No losers for us!

Dr. Phil

Say What?

Posted By A Friend On Facebook

I've never seen this before, though I've known the song forever...

Eat them up! Yum! This video was named as one of the top 100 videos of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. "Fish Heads," by the duo of Art and Artie Barnes (a.k.a. Robert Haimer and Bill Mumy). Bill Paxton directed and co-starred in the video.

I'm stunned.

Dr. Phil

Merry Christmas Close

Ah, Christmas Dinner

As we got home from our road trip early on Thursday -- 6:58pm -- there was plenty of time to relax and think about a grocery list. And Mrs. Dr. Phil decided that she would be willing to do a small turkey. Now the old Joy of Cooking makes you calculate times, based on the size of the bird. Our small 10 lb. bird didn't quite need all that time. In fact, it was so lovely and tender and moist that the prized thighs and drumsticks came off without a fight. And the stuffing? Totally divine.

Roast turkey, sage stuffing with multi-grain breads, roasted root vegetables (including rutabaga, leaks, potatoes, carrots, celery root, garlic cloves, sweet potatoes and green beans), beer gravy from the drippings, two kinds of cranberries.

The remaining turkey practically deboned itself.

Of course one has to have pie -- pumpkin pie.

Hail to the Chef, Mrs. Dr. Phil! Who was very pleased with her results.

It wasn't so much as we used to do, once upon a time, but it was pleasant and sufficient and I don't feel like a complete comatose beached baby whale. But we'll have this meal again several times this week... (happy grin)

We made some phone calls to family. We watched the newest Iron Chef Jeffrey Zacharian win his first contest, Battle Trout, with a perfect score. And the Packers have just about beaten the Bears with two minutes to go.

Best Wishes

We hope that your Christmas, if you Christmas, was also full of food and family and fun and fond memories.

Dr. Phil