Sat04192014

‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’

First-rate adaptation of grisly Swedish crime saga

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for rape, torture, brutal violence, profanity, frontal nudity and graphic sexuality.
Running time: 158 minutes
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

 
 Rooney Mara, left, and Daniel Craig star in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” (Photo by Merrick Morton/Columbia Pictures)
 

Mikael Blomqvist (Daniel Craig) resigns from his position as editor of Millennium Magazine after being unable to substantiate the incendiary allegations he’d made about a corrupt billionaire (Ulf Friberg). Fortuitously, the disgraced journalist is soon secretly approached by an intermediary representing recently-retired industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to investigate the mysterious murder of his beloved niece, Harriet (Moa Garpendal), back in 1966.

Mikael jumps at the job offer, since his desire to escape the media circus surrounding him in Stockholm conveniently dovetails with the aging patriarch’s need to reopen the case right on location at the family’s secluded estate where Harriet had disappeared into thin air. An additional incentive is Henrik’s promise to provide the proof necessary to overturn the libel conviction.

So, straightaway, Mikael moves up to the remote island of Hedestad in northern Sweden, and starts sifting through the boxes of 40-year-old evidence. After unearthing an array of sordid skeletons in the Vanger family closet ranging from anti-Semitism to sadomasochism, he realizes that he sure could use the help of an assistant, and takes Henrik’s suggestion that he collaborate with Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a brilliant, if bizarre-looking, computer whiz.

Mikael is willing to pardon the young hacker’s tattoos, multiple piercings and punked-out hairstyle because of her passion for catching any creep who’d harm a female. And her technical skills do prove to be the perfect complement to Henrik’s uncanny ability to interview surviving witnesses despite their putting on aristocratic airs. Still, not surprisingly, the closer they come to solving the mystery, the more dangerous a situation they find themselves embroiled in.

So unfolds ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,’ a worthy remake of the Swedish-language thriller of the same name just released in 2009. Directed by David Fincher (“The Social Network”) this English-language version is actually a rarity in that it is an improvement over its foreign film original.

Both movies are based on the first installment of the trilogy of novels by the late Stieg Larsson, and Sony Pictures has already committed to adapting the other two books to the screen, too. Here, scene-stealer Rooney Mara is nothing short of riveting as the ever-edgy Lisbeth, while Daniel Craig disappears into his role as Mikael sufficiently so you forget about the fact that he also plays James Bond.

An intricately-woven, edge-of-your-seat whodunit as graphic and grisly as it is cerebral and mind-bending.

(To see a trailer for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” visit: http://bit.ly/pQfyBn.)

Kam’s Kapsules: Weekly previews - 12/22/2011

For movies opening Dec. 23, 2011

BIG BUDGET FILMS

“The Adventures of Tintin” (PG for violence, drunkenness and smoking) Steven Spielberg directs this animated adaptation of the classic comic book series about an intrepid young journalist who is abducted from Europe to Morocco where he escapes his kidnappers to embark on a perilous quest for hidden treasure. Voice cast includes Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis and Toby Jones.

“The Darkest Hour” (PG-13 for profanity and violence) Sci-fi horror flick about the struggle to survive of a quintet (Olivia Thirlby, Emile Hirsch, Rachael Taylor, Joel Kinnaman and Max Minghella) stranded in Moscow during an invasion of Earth by aliens in need of a power supply. With Dato Bakhtadze, Gosha Kutsenko and Veronika Ozerova.

“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” (PG-13 for profanity, disturbing images and mature themes) Post 9/11 drama about a 9 year-old boy’s (Thomas Horn) desperate search for the lock that matches the mysterious key left behind by his father (Tom Hanks) who perished in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. With Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis, John Goodman and Jeffrey Wright.  

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (R for rape, torture, brutal violence, profanity, frontal nudity and graphic sexuality) David Fincher directs the English-language version of the Swedish thriller based on the first installment of the Stieg Larsson trilogy about the effort of a disgraced journalist (Daniel Craig) to restore his name by solving a decades-old missing person case with the help of a sociopathic computer hacker (Rooney Mara). Cast includes Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright and Joely Richardson.      

“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” (PG-13 for violence and intense action sequences) Fourth episode in the espionage franchise finds Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his fellow secret agents (Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg and Josh Holloway) going rogue to clear the IMF’s name after a bomb blast flattens the Kremlin while they just happened to be carrying out an undercover operation in Moscow. With Ving Rhames, Michelle Monaghan and Tom Wilkinson.

“War Horse” (PG-13 for ) Steven Spielberg directed this World War I saga about a young man (Jeremy Irvine) who enlists in the British Army after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. With Emily Watsaon, Benedict Cumberbatch and David Thewlis. (In English and German with subtitles)

“We Bought A Zoo” (PG for mature themes and mild profanity) Screen adaptation of Benjamin Mee’s bittersweet memoir recounting the grieving widower’s (Matt Damon) decision to relocate his family to a dilapidated estate with 200 exotic animals on the premises with hopes of refurbishing the zoo while rebuilding their lives. Cast includes Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning and J.B. Smoove.    

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

“Albert Nobbs” (R for profanity, sexuality and brief nudity) Glenn Close plays the title character in this genderbending drama about a lesbian who passed as a man for over 30 years in order to survive in 19th Century Ireland. With Janet McTeer, Brenda Fricker, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Brendan Gleeson and Mia Wasikowska.     

“The Flowers of War” (Unrated) Historical drama based on the Geling Yan novel about a mortician (Christian Bale) who poses as a priest in order to save the lives of prostitutes and parishioners during the Japanese’s rape of Nanking. With Shigeo Kobayashi, Bai Xue and Paul Schneider. (In English, Mandarin and Japanese with subtitles)

“In the Land of Blood and Honey” (R for sexuality, nudity, violence, rape, ethnic cleansing and profanity) Angelina Jolie directed this romance drama set during the War in Bosnia and revolving around a Serbian soldier (Goran Kostic) who reencounters a Muslim ex-girlfriend (Zana Marjanovic) now being held captive in a POW camp. With Fedja Stukan, Branko Djuric and Nikola Djuricko.   

“Miss Minoes” (PG for rude behavior, smoking and brief profanity) Carice van Houten stars as the title character in this kiddie comedy about a cat which morphs into a woman in order protect its quaint hometown from developers with evil intentions. Cast includes Theo Maassen, Sarah Bannier and Pierre Bokma. (In Dutch with subtitles)

“Pina” (PG for sensuality, smoking and partial nudity) Reverential biopic about modern dance maven Pina Bausch (1940-2009), featuring both tributes to and performances of four pieces by the late choreographer. (In English, French, Russian, German, Spanish, Croatian, Korean, Italian and Portuguese with subtitles)

Kam’s Kapsules: Weekly previews - 12/15/2011

For movies opening Dec. 16, 2011

BIG BUDGET FILMS

“Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” (G) Animated adventure finds Alvin (Justin Long) and company running amuck on a luxurious cruise ship only to end up stranded on a tropical island after being accidentally being tossed overboard. Voice cast includes Jason Lee, Matthew Gray Gubler, David Cross, Anna Faris and Alyssa Milano.

“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” (PG-13 for drug use and intense violence) Guy Ritchie directs this international crime caper in which the renowned sleuth (Robert Downey, Jr.) and his loyal sidekick, Dr. Watson (Jude Law), match wits with their archenemy, the intellectually-intimidating Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris). With Noomi Rapace, Stephen Fry, Rachel McAdams and Eddie Marsan.

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

“Addiction Incorporated” (PG-13 for brief profanity) Whistleblower documentary about Victor DeNoble, the corporate scientist gone rogue whose damning testimony before Congress singlehandedly exposed the tobacco industry’s deliberate efforts to make cigarette smoking as addictive as possible.

“Carnage” (R for profanity) Roman Polanski directed this class-conscious drama, set in Brooklyn but shot in Paris, about two couples (John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz) who decide to talk after their sons (Elvis Polanski and Eliot Berger) are involved in a schoolyard brawl. With Nathan Rippy, Tanya Lopert and Julie Adams.

“Cook County” (Unrated) Prodigal Papa drama about a recently-paroled ex-con (Xander Berkeley) who returns home to mend his relationship with his estranged teenage son (Ryan Donowho) only to discover that the boy’s uncle (Anson Mount) has turned the place into a meth lab teeming with addicts. Support cast includes Polly Cole, Makenna Fitzsimmons and Yankie Grant.

“Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel” (R for violence, nudity and profanity) Reverential biopic about Roger Corman, the legendary B-movie director who helped launch countless film careers, including those of Jack Nicholson, William Shatner and Robert De Niro, while cranking out a never-ending string of low-budget offerings. With appearances by Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Pam Grier, Peter Bogdanovich, Peter Fonda and Ron Howard.
 
“The Pill” (Unrated) Better-late-than-never comedy chronicling the efforts of a confirmed bachelor (Noah Bean) to get a girl (Rachel Boston) he just shared a one-night stand with to take the Morning After pill. With Anna Chlumsky, Jean Brassard and S. Lue McWilliams.

Woeful attitude about cancer can be just as unhealthy

Chef Timothy
 
 Dr. Timothy
Moore

If you’re stricken with cancer, you may believe your world is coming to an end. Such was the case of a 49-year-old woman who could not see past her illness until she decided to look up and live. The thought of death was too much for her to bear because she’d be leaving six children behind.

Like anybody whose body is being ravaged by cancer, the thought of death can tax the body even further and slow the healing process. But this woman was thinking about the future of her children in the event of her death. She couldn’t focus on healing; she focused instead on all her unfulfilled dreams and aspirations.

She was troubled and afraid. The laugher was missing and the smile that once framed her face was inverted most of the time. Tears would well up in her eyes and flow like an open faucet. Did she think anyone cared? Not really, she told me. She felt alone, unable to discuss her problem, because everyone, she believed, wouldn’t understand.

People smiled in her face, she said, but she believed their smiles to be fake. No one really bothered to find out what she was going through. She believed everyone was out for his or herself and could care less about the pain that had permeated her body and the fact that she was laden with depression.

This woman actually thought the people close to her were her enemies. She was vexed by dread and doom and did not believe the positive comments and the encouraging words that she’d receive from concerned friends and loved ones. That’s because the debilitating illness that she was battling had gripped her mind and caused her to think negatively.

The diagnosis of cervical cancer was too much to bear, too much to shoulder. And like most people who are stricken with a deadly disease, questions loom: Why me? Why did this have to happen to me? Did I do anything wrong to deserve this? Why did this have to happen at this time in my life? Lord, can you give me a few more years?

After wallowing in self-pity, she soon realized that she was much to blame for her health problems. It was no one else’s fault. The problem was, and has always been, a choice of lifestyle and the kinds of food that she used to eat.

So could the inevitable be corrected to keep death at bay?

Sure. The woman was working three jobs and not getting any rest. She was constantly under stress at home and on the job in a hostile environment just to maintain shelter and provide food for her six children. She wasn’t eating right and, of course, neglected her body.

I’m certain that millions of Americans are faced with similar circumstances: They’re discovering that it’s hard dealing with cancer or any other dreaded disease. It happens to the best of us. It can slip up on you and me like a thief in the night and rob you and me of our lives.

There is good news about cancer or any other ailment. When dietary changes are implemented, the body is able to start an internal healing process in ways that most of you thought was impossible or unbelievable. You cannot listen to others. You should know your own body.

This woman had a choice to make. And it was a simple one. She realized that her health was more important than her two jobs and even her children. She started making some small changes to her diet. She also started meditating. To her surprise, she was able to regain her health and went about the rest of her life as if nothing had ever happened.

The friends and loved ones that she’d surrounded herself with were just as amazed as she was when her health improved to the point where she was no longer in the danger zone. They pelted her with questions: How did you do it? Do you still have cancer?

When I asked her how she responded to the questions, here’s what she told me: “They saw me and laughed under their breath. They had more important things to listen to than my issues. So I decided to do what was best for my family and me. I pray that no one ever has to go through the embarrassment of a life-threatening illness.”

There is an array of food that has been documented to help with cancer. Check out the website www.prevention.com

(Dr. Timothy Moore teaches nutrition, heart disease and diabetes reversal through a plant-based lifestyle. He is a professional speaker, wellness coach and personal plant-based chef. He can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit him on the Web sites at www.cheftimothymoore.com or www.twitter.com/cheftimmoore.)

Tempted by doubled portions of unhealthy food? Shame on you

Chef Timothy
 
 Timothy Moore

Shame! Shame! Shame!

That’s what I’d said to myself after watching TV the other day and being bombarded by a number of commercials trying to entice the viewing audience to super-size the fast food meal being pitched. I couldn’t help but utter those famous words of Gomer Pyle, the naïve, dorky Marine played by Jim Nabors, whose shrilling voice spoke volumes.

After thinking about those commercials and the heavy emphasis on larger food portions, I now see why there are so many health challenges in our society. “Would you care to super-size your fries, your drink?” the attendant will ask you at most fast food restaurants.

Question: Do I really need a double portion?  In my Gomer Pyle voice: “Shame! Shame! Shame!”

Sometimes it’s difficult to decide what is good and what is bad. But a double portion of anything is not always good for you. Food is enticing to begin with, but overeating is unhealthy. We tend to act on impulse and purchase food that we wouldn’t otherwise purchase. Blame the ad masters for producing those commercials that whet our appetite for scrumptious, delectable, yummy treats in double portions.

I remember those days when I would go to Krispy Kreme and watch the bakers make fresh doughnuts from scratch. I couldn’t wait to tear into one of them – or a dozen of them for that matter. The anticipation of eating hot, fresh, glazed donuts would send my taste buds into a frenzy. I couldn’t resist the temptation. The syrupy sweet treats succeeded at breaching my will power.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

There were repercussions, of course, to overeating and indulging in unhealthy food. I stand accused. For my ignorance, I picked up more weight than I’d wanted. And my health started teetering around the danger level. So I decided to make better choices in my food selection and eat healthy to stave off the imminent possibility of death. So you see, you’re not alone in this struggle.

Now that I’m a wellness coach and personal plant-based chef, I’ve devoted my life to helping others overcome the temptation of eating double portions of unhealthy food. When I receive e-mails from individuals requesting ways to resolve their health problems, I’m amazed how little they know or understand their bodies. Are we so confused about unhealthy food that we just don’t care about the risk of consumption?  

Here’s what I tell my clients:

You’re in control of your own health and whatever you consume you have to take responsibility for, good or bad. Take ownership of your faults and stop blaming other individuals for your weaknesses and bad decisions. Only then will you begin to conquer your health problems.

Food can be addictive and comforting, and provide a safety net for your emotions when you know you’re totally out of control. Life has its ups and is downs, but you must chart and plan the remainder of your life living healthy. If you fall short of your goal, be strong and stand firm on your belief that you’re going to reach optimum health as long as you don’t give up.

Trying to achieve good health after the body is weakened from unhealthy food choices is difficult to correct sometimes. It all depends on you, though. Like a road map, it’s hard to get to your destination if you’re not sure where you’re going. That’s why you have to read the right literature and follow the examples of people who are turning their lives around. They’re no longer tempted by the lure of TV commercials and the forbidden doubled portions.

If you’re on a journey to health and wellness, make sure you follow the right path. Don’t waver. Don’t be misguided. Don’t be tempted by what you see and lose your mind like I did at Krispy Kreme. When I think about it, those doughnuts were super delicious, but unhealthy nonetheless.

Eating the right food in today’s society is a chore in itself, but worth every morsel of food you put in your mouth. It will keep you out of the doctor’s office and keep you looking radiant and alive. On the other hand, if you succumb to temptation, all I’m going to say is: Shame! Shame! Shame!

(Dr. Timothy Moore teaches nutrition, heart disease and diabetes reversal through a plant-based lifestyle. He is a professional speaker, wellness coach and personal plant-based chef. He can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit him on the Web sites at www.cheftimothymoore.com or www.twitter.com/cheftimmoore.)