Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Dukes See a Movie: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

From the get go this movie had me in knots with a pros and cons list. I kept vacillating from "this is a must see" to "you will see me in hell before you see me in a theater for this movie!" To help explain these extremes I will share with you my pros and cons list, cons first of course.


  • Not a single Swedish film had been properly remade up to this point.(e.g. Let the Right One In(Let Me In in the remake), Intermezzo (an Ingmar Bergman classic that was remade with Willie Nelson, yes that Willie Nelson). Following the Ingmar Bergman vein I will mention Virgin Spring which was later redone as a low budget slasher called Last House on the Left which destroyed the original idea and made the movie absolutely awful. I warn all of you to never see that movie. I didn't even finish watching it and that should tell you something since I have seen Red Sonja twice.)
  • In the beginning it was thought that Kristin Stewart of Twilight fame(read:shame) would be playing the role of gritty Lisbeth Salander.
hot member of football royalty
super crazy hacker lady

Can you see her making this type of change? I can't since she barely commits to acting in the scenes she is in. 
  • I haven't read the book yet. As much as pains me I have to admit I haven't had a chance to read the trilogy and I usually like to go into a movie having read the story it came from.

  • I am Swedish so therefore I have been trained to love Swedish things like meatballs, Bjorn Borg, IKEA, polka music and bikini teams. Since this is a part of me and this movie was filmed and set in Sweden I almost had no choice.
  • Kristin Stewart was not cast! I don't think I should have to explain this one.
  • This remake unlike the others was going to be an action epic rather than an art house flick that gets butchered in its Hollywoodization. 
  • Rooney Mara was cast as Lisbeth. I like her because both of her great grandfathers founded National Football League teams and her sister is a fine actor in her own right (I would recommend seeing Stone of Destiny if you would like to see her sister, or American Horror Story if you also happen to lack scruples).
So with this list in my mind I finally ended up leaning towards seeing this movie. (This shouldn't shock anyone since I will watch pretty much anything so when given the choice between go see a movie and don't go see a movie you can bet your buttons I will be going.) Since this movie was not one that would appeal to the majority of our movie going friends the three dukes without scruples/movie filter went solo.  

As the film starts we see Mikael Blomkvist(Daniel Craig), a disgraced journalist get hired by a rich man to find out what happened to his niece 40 years earlier. As he is searching through the records he finds something he much more sinister and nefarious than he could have imagined at the beginning. In an attempt to figure everything out that he needs he hires a research assistant named Lisbeth Salander who has had one of the roughest lives imaginable. She is considered unstable but she is also a brilliant researcher and computer hacker. Together they work towards finding out what happened to the niece.

This movie is in a roundabout way a simple whodunit story mingled with an odd couple cop movie but it does it in a way that is compelling, dark and slightly paranoid. even though the movie is nearly three hours long it keeps you engaged and you hardly notice the passage of time. Another great thing about this movie were the twists. A few things happened that I really did not see coming and I appreciate a movie that can do that.  There are a few scenes in this movie that are not for the faint of heart. It does have some graphic and disturbing images that managed to get every last one of the Dukes present to squirm( I may or may not have grabbed Coombsy's knee at some point).

While this movie was not as gritty and raw as the original I still really liked the way it was presented and the fact that it supposedly follows the book more closely than the first. If you want to see a high quality suspense movie and you don't have a tender tummy I would recommend this film to you.

Rating 4 stars

PS I thought this was an interesting tidbit. The main actors in the Swedish version of the film are currently starring in  the American version's main box office competition. Noomi Rapace (the original Lisbeth) was Madam Simza(the gypsy lady) in the most recent Sherlock Holmes film.  Michael Nyqvist (the original Mikael Blomkvist) was Hendricks(the main bad guy) in the most recent Mission Impossible. I felt that this was a cool fact and that is was something all of you should feel better for knowing.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not All Christmas Songs Are Created Equal

As the holiday season was progressing I came to realize a very distressing fact. Some Christmas songs fill me with rage. In my opinion this is something that should not happen and probably doesn't happen to most people. It could be that I am more sensitive to it than others or I might just be plain crazy. In this post I will attempt to validate my feelings and explain my thoughts.
Some songs make me want to forcefully remove their smiles.
I decided the easiest way to do this was to list out the songs that bother me and explain why. I have a feeling that you might agree with me. If you don't I don't care because you are wrong and should feel bad for your opinion.


As many of you know I was recently forced to sing this song in a ward play. Those of you that know this probably also heard me complain about how the song is a load of nonsense. The entire song is based on the premise that the Christ child was homeless. HE WASN'T HOMELESS!! At worst his parents hadn't made reservations. Any person who has read the book Jesus the Christ knows that staying in a stable or cave was quite common at that time if there was no room in the inn.  Mary and Joseph were out of town but in their normal home town they had a house.
Not Homeless
 Basically my hatred for this song stems from its scriptural inaccuracies rather than the melody. I guess in my book I hate inaccuracies more than almost anything else in the world which leads me to...

Let Him In

This song makes me so mad! All of the other Dukes can attest to this since they heard me ranting about it during the Christmas performance of Kailey's choir (which sounded great but this song caused something black and loathsome to well up inside me.) This one is also rife with scriptural incorrectness. The song states that the innkeeper didn't let the young couple in because he didn't think they could afford it and he didn't want to try and make room for them. He was a business man! He would put as many people as possible in the inn! They probably had fire codes! Or other rules! He could have lost his license or even his business! Pff to this song and its stupid message. The innkeeper has no reason to feel bad. He did what he could .He even went out of his way to let them stay in his stable. The thought that he would be haunted for life for something like that is ridiculous and downright cruel.

It looks like the Forgotten Carols should have stayed that way because the first two songs on my list both come from that show. Stupid Michael McLean. I wouldn't mind telling him my feelings with a kick to the face.

Christmas Shoes

Do I really have to explain myself on this one? The song is a joke and should never had been written.  Since my momma is gonna meet Jesus tonight she needs new shoes because I am an idiot and I think she will be taken up by a tractor beam or something like that. Also if his Mom is passing away why is he not there with her?
These are the only Christmas shoes that I find acceptable to mention. Although if someone sings about them they can expect some quick retribution. (These are LeBron James shoes for the Christmas day game)
Although this songs popularity has waned over the years I still hear it from time to time. If you hear the song start and I am nearby beware since a storm is brewing, or like they say in Winterfell "Winter is Coming". (That is a super nerdy reference and you all are going to have to deal with it.)

Mary Did You Know

This one I am adding as a shout out to my mother and to my brother-in-law Gordon. While I am not a fan of this song it doesn't bother me nearly as much as it bothers them. Basically all of their dislike can be summed up like this. How could Mary not know after she had angelic visitors that told her these things. So yes she in fact did know so your line of rhetorical questions do not need to be asked so go ahead and hush up. Shhhh....Shhhh.

There are other songs out there that bother me but I felt that four would be plenty to get my point across. Also I feel that ruining four songs for you people is plenty of damage for this holiday season. Who knows maybe I will pick some more to rant about next December.  If there are any you feel I forgot or that at least deserve a mention. Let me know and I will tell you if I agree or not. Hopefully this post will go out as a warning to all the song writers out there. If your song is inaccurate or doesn't make sense I will hate you and let you know about it so be wary. I am watching...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Dukes See a Movie: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Sherlock Holmes has been an icon in entertainment for over 120 years and this latest version doesn't disappoint. I would like to quickly present a list of why I liked this movie.
  • First, this version included Moriarty who is by far the main nemesis of Sherlock.
  • Secondly they also added Mycroft Holmes(brilliantly played by Stephen Fry who happened to be the youngest member of the Baker Street Irregulars (you are welcome for that random tidbit))  who is Sherlock's older, smarter and lazier brother. 
  • This film is also Noomi Rapace's first film in English ( She starred in the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.). She didn't even speak English a few years ago so that is pretty impressive.
  • While it didn't have the same level of action as the first one it maintained its ability to keep me engaged the entire time.
  • Robert Downey Jr. He was an excellent choice for this role and he is also the first male lead to be involved in two blockbuster franchises at the same time in about 30 years. (Sherlock and Iron Man) the last person to do this was Harrison Ford with Indiana Jones and Star Wars.
  • I like bullet points.
To start the film they decide to show the lack of any moral compass in Moriarty. He shows this in how he brutally kills the girl Sherlock had a relationship with just because she had feelings for him. Sherlock had caused several disruptions to Moriarty's plans but that is no reason for any sane person to kill a woman.

The film continues with Watson (Jude Law) going to pick up Sherlock Holmes for his own bachelor partly. Sherlock is engaged in various random activities, including urban camouflage (hilarious). He has a giant wall of conspiracy that he believes is all tied to Professor Moriarty. After getting Sherlock dressed they head out and go to a stag club that is full of all sorts of depravity (any of which seems rather bland by today's standards). Sherlock as the best man was supposed to invite friends of the groom but as it happens he was there for business. Watson goes off and starts gambling like mad and Sherlock goes to visit a fortune teller (Noomi Rapace).   

Sherlock enters in and does his thing to wow her and while there he unmasks an assassin and the three of them engage in quite the fight. It involves flying through walls, windows and doors. It also has knife fights, slow-mo action, building scaling, the classic Sherlock fight breakdown and mad dashes for piles of money. All of the above help insure an entertaining ride.

After the botched bachelor party Sherlock gets Watson to his wedding slightly worse for wear. I don't think I should be giving away the entire movie so I am going to stop right here. All in all the film is quite entertaining and it lived up to the hopes I had for it. Four out of four dukes agree that this is a movie worth watching (not entirely true since only three of us were present but I will speak for him anyways. He is a ginger so I don't see him stopping me any time soon.).

Rating 4.5 Stars

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Dukes See a Few More Movies

Once again I find myself slacking when it comes to updating this blog. If I were to receive a grade it would be slacker jerkface (we go by our own, more entertaining grading system). This may shock some of you but we have seen some more movies since our last post. I decided the time for an update was clearly at hand, mainly because I have a ton of free time and access to a computer at my new job. Victory for me and by extension a victory for all of you readers out there.

Fall is usually rife with poorly written and poorly acted movies, but as die-hard movie goers we often overlook that simple fact. This year we took ourselves and our die-hardedness to see several movies including: Tucker and Dale vs Evil, the Three Musketeers, In Time, Immortals and the Muppets. I can tell you now that not all of them were winners, but a surprising number of them were either amazing or at least passable.

Tucker and Dale vs Evil

Man what a great movie. Rarely have I been dazzled so by a low budget fall indie film. I was in love from the get go. this can be attested by two of the dukes and a lady friend of ours. To understand this movie I feel like I need to give you a little bit of background about the genre of which it is poking fun.

In the past few decades there have been many horror films made about random college students heading out to the wild woods and either getting lost and murdered by hillbillies or randomly having hillbilly neighbors and subsequently being murdered by them. It is a staple of horror so in this film they decided to turn this idea on its head. 

As the movie starts we are introduced to a carload of college students heading to the woods to camp. Around the same time we meet Tucker and Dale(Who are excellently played by Alan Tudyk(A Knight's Tale) and Tyler Labine(Reaper)). They are two best friends who have recently acquired a "vacation home" near the college students camp. They have taken time this weekend to work on fixing the place up. Our two groups first meet at a gas station which is considered the last civilization for miles. On seeing the college girls Dale expresses interest in meeting them. After some coaching by Tucker, Dale heads over to make their acquaintance and unwittingly creeps the lot of them out. It was quite understandable since he was holding a giant scythe and had a strange grin on his face(Tucker's advice) as he asked if they were going camping.

Basically this bad first impression leads to a lot of wild and crazy misunderstandings as the story progresses. The next big one happens that first night. Tucker and Dale are just hoping to enjoy some night fishing on the nearby pond. The college students see the pond and decide the time is perfect for some skinny dipping. One of the girls climbs up some rocks and starts undressing. Dale doesn't want her to think they are peeking so they stay quiet. She sees them and completely freaks out. She falls and hits her head as she enters the water. Dale quickly follows in to rescue her. the rest of the girls friends see that she is hurt and in their boat and think she has been kidnapped which is affirmed in their minds when Dale yells out "We have your friend!"

So as the story progresses the college students start to have freak accident deaths that are blamed on Tucker and Dale. The Deaths really are the best part of this movie. They are hilarious and creative. Imagine death by tree impalement, death by wood-chipper, death by nailed board to the face, death by falling in a hole and getting impaled by your own makeshift weapon. How can that not be amazing?

I don't really want to give any more away so I won't. The movie has some more entertaining parts and a tidy conclusion. Ricky has purchased the movie so you can expect that we will be watching it again in the near future. If we like you we will probably give you an invite. If you don't get an invite go ahead and feel bad.

Rating 4.5 Stars

The Three Musketeers

I don't even want to talk about this one so I won't. Boo is the first word that comes to mind when I think back on this movie experience. I love the cast involved but somehow they managed to blow it. they made it way to campy and unrealistic with a lady who inexplicably seems to be a part of the matrix or something based on her wild moves and lack of dying.  If you want to watch the Three Musketeers just watch one of the older classics. If you want a specific recommendation ask me and I will tell you which one you should see. I am
pretty cool like that.

Rating 1.5 Stars

In Time 

I had fairly high hopes for this movie and sadly they were not fully met. the movie wasn't bad per say but is wasn't great. In the movie all currency is based on time. If you work you get paid in time, if you buy food you pay in time and so forth. Once you hit the age of 25 you stop aging but you only have one year of life left to you to be used for everything. If the time on your arm runs out you drop dead at that moment. Justin Timberlake lives in one of the poorer areas where time is hard to come by. He is all sad because he say his mom die right before he was able to give her some time. He later meets a man in a bar that had well over a century of time but he was sick of living and wanted to die. the wanna die man gave all his time to Mr. Timberlake and went off to die. Justin sees this time and decides he is going to take down the system or something.

He goes to Richburbia ( not the real name of the place in the movie but I like it) and tries to live the high life by what else? Gambling. I guess this proves that games of chance are life affirming. He meets a super rich dude and wins a thousand years of time. Take that The Man. Justin is then invited to a party where he it turn seduces the rich guys daughter, is forced to flee the feds and kidnaps the seduced daughter.

Time passes they get sick of hiding and become the Bonnie and Clyde/Robin Hood style time bandits. They are in love and take time and give to poor people. Yay. the movie wasn't bad but it wasn't very action-y and it dragged quite a bit in places.

Rating 3 Stars

The Immortals

Now we are getting into what the Dukes love, some good old fashion blood and violence. This movie seems to try and blend together 300 and Clash of the Titans. It has a lot of shirtless ripped men and gods who need to fight things. That is generally the basic idea. This film decided it needed to try and have and actual story and plot which in our eyes detracted from the movie. The more story it had meant less action. We aren't seeing this movie to feel fulfilled by the plot but rather we want to see people die in epic battle scenes. Don't get me wrong the battle scenes in the movie were sweet but we felt like there just weren't enough of them. IT is really quite easy to make us happy in an action movie. Less plot, more action.

Rating 2.5 Stars

The Muppets

Oh how I love the Muppets. They have brought me many years of joy and entertainment. If you don't like the Muppets you are a fool or you are dead inside ( I am looking at you Emily). It kind of surprised me when I found out that this was the first muppet movie to have been made in 11 years. That is more than half of Danny's girlfriend's age ( Kailey for those of you who don't know). This fact meant that there was a whole generation that had not experienced the joys of this goofy band of characters.

This adaptation was updated and co-written by Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshal and How I Met Your Mother). I find him to be quite an amusing person and he is a huge muppets fan so he really wanted to do them justice.

the basic story in this movie is that the Muppet Show lot is going to be taken by an oil tycoon and destroyed if the Muppets can't be reunited and raise 10 million dollars. Jason Segel and his brother (who happens to be a muppet) are huge fans and they decide that they will help get the Muppets back together.

In classic muppet style songs are sung and dances spring up out of nowhere. Also it has an amazing number of hilarious cameos by NPH (Niel Patrick Harris Woo woo), Jim Parsons, James Carville and others.
I would recommend this movie to pretty much anyone and everyone. It is a good time Muppet style.

Rating 4.5 Stars