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One Real Woman 

Tattoo's Lisbeth Salander is everything SatC's vapid, cartoonish foursome is not

Previews

Coming this weekend: Get Him to the Greek, a sequel/spin-off of Forgetting Sarah Marshall from writer/director Nicholas Stoller and producer Judd Apatow, with Russell Brand returning as narcissistic, hedonist Brit rock star Aldous Snow. Jonah Hill plays an idealistic record company intern assigned to get him from London to L.A.'s Greek Theater for a concert. Rated R for strong sexual content and drug use throughout and pervasive language. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.

Killers is an action-packed romance-comedy from Aussie director Robert Luketic (Monster In Law, Legally Blonde). When Jennifer (Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up) meets Spencer (Ashton Kutcher, That ’70s Show, Demi's husband) she doesn't know he's a CIA-trained assassin. Now that killers are shooting at them, she's wondering what else she doesn't know. Rated PG-13 for violent action, sexual material and language. At the Broadway, the Minor, Fortuna and Mill Creek.

Marmaduke is a family-friendly comedy based on Brad Anderson's comic strip about a Great Dane (voiced by Owen Wilson) and the family he lives with. A move from Kansas to Orange County means adapting to the Cali lifestyle. Rated PG for some rude humor and mild language. At the Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.

When you consider the recent scientific "Wow, they did it!" where U.S. scientists created the first "synthetic life," perhaps the movie-going public's appetite is whetted for a genetic thriller. Can the makers of Splice cash in? The film stars Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley as researchers who mix the DNA of various species to form hybrid beings. Guess what? Something goes wrong. Rated R for sci-fi violence and sexuality. 104m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.

Considering the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, June's Ocean Night, Thursday, June 3, at the Arcata Theatre Lounge, seems extremely timely. Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez looks at the aftermath of what was, until recently, the worst environmental disaster in North American history. Riki Ott and the fishermen of Cordova, Alaska battled corporate giant ExxonMobil in court, winning a $5 billion class action lawsuit, only to see the Supreme Court trim the award by 90 percent. Second feature that night is the much lighter Sipping Jetstreams, a surf flick/travelogue from Taylor Steele in the tradition of Endless Summer.

That same night, the Morris Graves Museum and KEET-TV's First Thursday Film Night presents Helvetica, director Gary Hustwit's documentary examination of the ubiquitous sans-serif font and the place it holds in modern typography and graphic design.

-- Bob Doran

Reviews

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. At the recommendation of a friend, and based on a number of very favorable reviews, I finally got around to reading Swedish author/journalist Stieg Larsson's novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a few months ago. I thought it was possibly the best crime novel I had ever read. I eagerly sought out and read the second book in "The Millennium Trilogy," The Girl Who Played with Fire, and now I'm looking forward to the just released final book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

I bring up my enthusiasm for Larsson's books because, like many people, I am often disappointed by film versions of beloved works. In addition, at about 600 pages, Dragon Tattoo has a complex story with a number of subplots, impossible to convey effectively in a single two-hour film.

Clearly, then, Swedish director Niels Arden Opley and screenwriters Nikolai Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg had a number of choices to make. Of the various narrative strands in the novel, they chose to concentrate on the central cold case mystery of the missing niece of Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube in the film), who vanished 40 years before the novel's story begins.

As the film story opens, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), who works for Millennium Magazine, loses a libel case against a wealthy but clearly corrupt industrialist. Before serving his sentence three months hence, he is hired by Henrik to solve the mysterious disappearance of his 16-year-old niece Harriet from the family island 40 years prior, although his cover story is that he is writing a family history.

Members of the Vanger family are mostly hostile and unhelpful and Blomkvist makes little headway. Along comes punkish computer genius Lisbeth Salander (a perfectly cast Noomi Rapace), whose reason for spying on Blomkvist is only hinted at in the film. But no matter, Lisbeth is easily the most interesting and fascinating character in novel or film -- it is her mysteriously shrouded background that provides the connective narrative subtext in the novels.

Lisbeth has been caught in a web of Swedish social services for much of her life, the last of which was in a mental institution. Although released and now 24, Lisbeth is still under the control, personally and financially, of legal guardians. Unluckily, her latest guardian, lawyer Nils Bjurman (Peter Andersson), turns out to be particularly sadistic, and the scene where he sexually assaults her is difficult to watch.

The scene serves as a reminder that the Swedish title of the novel is Men Who Hate Women (Män som hatar kvinnor). Since misogyny is also a major element of the Vanger family story, the title is particularly apt (though not as sexy as Dragon Tattoo).

At any rate, Lisbeth and Blomkvist team up to solve the convoluted mystery behind the niece's disappearance. Sure, many plot stands and subtleties of the novel are left out (readers will pick up visual hints). But the film does a good job of what it chooses to depict. Furthermore, Blomkvist and Lisbeth both satisfied my mental images of the characters while reading the novel.

I thought the film's ending was too rosy, but most of the people I chatted with in Portland after the film -- all of whom had read the book -- disagreed. In any case, for both readers and just plain film fans, I strongly recommend this film. Not rated. 152m. At the Minor.

-- Charlie Myers

SEX AND THE CITY 2. Readers who know me will pretty much guess my reaction to this latest iteration of the urban female foursome franchise. I never read Candace Bushnell's book, based on her columns for the New York Observer, that served as the inspiration for the Sex and the City TV series, but I always imagined it was a sort of Tales of the City for a different demographic. I also skipped the successful TV series featuring many of the same actors as appear in the films.

Since it has become clear that I don't belong to, or understand, the Sex demographic, I discussed Sex 2 with a good friend immediately after the screening I attended, someone who was a fan of the TV series and who also brings a female sensibility to the relationships depicted in the film.

One thing became immediately clear: She had formed a relationship of her own with the four central women from watching the series,

and that experience informed how she reacted to the film. She also saw evidence of deeper female friendships than the seemingly superficial ones I saw.

I mention this discussion because I think there is clearly a major divide in how viewers will perceive Sex and the City 2, although I don't think it's necessarily a straightforward male/female division. What I saw, as in the first film, were four women who obsess about clothes, practice conspicuous consumption and have lunches laced with banal self-congratulatory conversation.

Director Michael Patrick King's only gear is "over the top." The "gay wedding" featuring Liza Minnelli "singing" Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" is more ludicrous than amusing. Samantha (Kim Cattrall, who was so good in The Ghost Writer and so awful here) is more randy than ever. In this film, she gets to masturbate in her office in full view of her secretary, and since she and her friends jet off to Abu Dhabi, she also gets to exhibit blatant cultural insensitivity climaxed by sex on the beach.

I wish I saw a hint of satire in the film's depiction of its central characters, but I didn't. When you go to a comedy and don't laugh, it's not a comedy for you. When you go to a film and don't care a whit about the characters, you aren't having a meaningful experience. That's my situation here. Just call me insensitive. Rated R for some strong sexual content and language. 146m. At the Broadway, the Minor, Fortuna and Mill Creek.

-- Charlie Myers

Continuing:

IRON MAN 2. Now with twice the iron! Rated PG-13. 124m. At the Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.

KICK-ASS. A teenaged comic book fanboy aspires to be a superhero. One problem. No superpowers. At Garberville.

LETTERS TO JULIET. A young American in Verona joins a team of writers who respond to letters seeking love advice. Rated PG. 105m. At the Broadway.

OCEANS. Directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud utilize the best and newest underwater filming techniques to bring you images of the creatures that inhabit the deep. Rated G. 84m. At Garberville.

PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the heroic, royal video game icon. Rated PG-13. 116m. At the Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.

ROBIN HOOD. Russell Crowe shows Kevin Costner how it's done. First, you steal from the rich... Rated PG-13. 140m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.

SHREK FOREVER AFTER. Shrek endures a midlife crisis. Bring the kids! Rated PG. 93m. At the Broadway, Fortuna and Mill Creek.

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Charlie Myers

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