(Capsule reviews by Melissa Anderson, Eric Hynes and Karina Longworth)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest When we first see bi computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, the final adaptation of Stieg Larsson's "Millennium" trilogy, she is being transported to a hospital in Gothenburg, bloodied almost beyond recognition, the result of a bullet put in her brain by Zalachenko, her barbaric father, at the very end of Part II. Her pummeled, gore-covered body was a recurring image in Hornet's Nest predecessors, but this installment quickly dispenses with the obligatory scenes of its tiny heroine's traumatized body. It's instead filled up by a convoluted procedural whose plot hinges on an abundance of indistinguishable old and middle-aged evil, pale patriarchs in ties and sweater vests.
Remanded to a prison cell in Stockholm after her recovery, Lisbeth awaits trial for the attempted murder of Zalachenko, while her infatuated savior, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), uncovers the vast conspiracy that led to her repeated abuse by the state. That malevolent network committed Lisbeth to a mental institution at age 12 and would now like to return her there for good so that they can continue raping, sex-trafficking, and consuming child pornography with impunity. Having never read a page of Larsson's books, I can make no claims to Hornet's Nest's fealty to its original source. But, like the first two "Millennium" movies, this final installment feels thoughtlessly put together, its script unpruned and rushed through, all to capitalize on the staggering worldwide popularity of its dead author. Melissa Anderson
148 Minutes Rated REnter the Void
A very, very loose and highly symbolic adaptation ofThe Tibetan Book of the Dead
, Gaspar Noé'sEnter the Void
is both a lame fusion of stoner lifestyle, sexual fetish, and philosophical inquiry, and a technical achievement that can't be as easily dismissed. Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) is a young, drug-dealing American in Tokyo with an unusually close relationship to his stripper sister, Linda (Paz de la Huerta), and a taste for the chemical hallucinogen DMT. For the majority of the film, we see what Oscar sees. When he's relatively lucid, this means p.o.v. shots with his head shaking and eyes blinking (creating a strobe effect that ties into the film's overall rave- and/or strip-club-sourced palette and rhythms); when Oscar gets high, Noé plunges us deep into his hallucinations. Eventually, the camera assumes the perspective of Oscar's spirit, floating over, and permeating the walls and roofs of, a Tokyo that appears to be a mix of practical sets, digital effects, and full-on animation. Noé knows from base urges, but his ability to imbue a character with realistic life starts and stops with that character's physical needs and desires. Void may, in the end, be an extremely elaborate formal exercise about every man's desire to crawl back into the womb, turned up a loud notch visually and adapted into every brother's apparently latent compulsion to impregnate his sister. But, dude: I could stare at this movie for days and not get tired of the sensation.Karina Longworth
141 minutes Not Rated
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English art star Sam Taylor-Wood's oddly straightforward biopic about the juvenile John Lennon concludes, as well it should, with the singer's haunting, incantatory primal scream, "Mother." But instead of tying a bow on the film's portrait of familial abandonment, Lennon's guttural, air-cleaving quaver puts everything that precedes it to shame. Lacking the song's raw emotive power, Taylor-Wood's debut feature is a rote coming-of-age tableau that churns through stations of anger, inspiration, reconciliation, McCartney, and Harrison. Raised in suburban Liverpool by his prim Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas), teenaged John (Aaron Johnson) discovers that his absent birth mum, Julia (Anne-Marie Duff), has been raising a separate family right around the corner. Feeling misunderstood in one home and unwanted in the other, John channels frustration through music and flying fists. Taylor-Wood dubiously color-codes a mother/whore tug-of-war by dressing sexless brunette Scott Thomas in drab brown tones, while the liberated, redheaded Duff dons bright patterned dresses (and suggestively smooches her son with wet crimson lips). Meanwhile, dreamboat Johnson is saddled with a character whose every utterance and sartorial choice rings with the promise of legend. "Why couldn't God make me Elvis?" the rocker-in-training asks Julia, who teleports an answer from the future: "Because he was saving you for John Lennon." Yet not even God could save the future Beatle's adolescent heartbreak from downgrading to a tasteful, toe-tapping period drama.Eric Hynes
97 minutes Rated R