5 reasons why Stieg Larsson movies are better than the books

Last night I saw The Girl Who Played with Fire (or Flickan som lekte med elden, if you prefer) and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the film was better than the book.

Accepted wisdom says that it’s usually the other way around; the chief exception being movie tie-ins (for a sterling example, see the paperback adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula: A Francis Ford Coppola film, a book-of-the-movie-of-the-book, or a thing that shouldn’t exist). But that just proves the rule of whichever came first is better.

Not in this case. Apart from it taking up much less of my life than the 600-odd page novel, I enjoyed the movie much more. Here are five legitimate reasons why you should too:

  1. In a movie, you’re generally not inside the characters’ heads, subjected to every little thought they have. In this case, that means you don’t have to hear about all their mental peccadilloes, like Blomkvist’s frustration that no one understands his multiple simultaneous love affairs, or Ronald Niedermann’s unfortunate fear of the dark, or Lisbeth Salander solving Fermat’s Last Theorem the proper way (oh yeah, spoiler alert).
  2. You also don’t have to worry about all the dead-end sub-plots that don’t fit into a 2 hour movie – like the inept police investigation, which follows every red herring in an effort to prove Stieg Larsson’s point that men who hate women are bad.
  3. By leaving out those sub-plots, you also don’t have to remember all kinds of near-identical Swedish names (don’t get me wrong, they’re lovely names – sorry, löveljë nämenens).
  4. Similarly, all the locations actually look like interesting places rather than just names from an Ikea catalogue, and all the people have real, distinct identities, instead of the generic Scandinavian faces of my imagination (okay, maybe that’s my lack of effort).
  5. You learn that Paolo Roberto is a real person.
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Destination Boston

Long-time readers – those hypothetical, long-time readers – may remember Destination Day, my short film about a man who travels back in time to change his past, only to run into the woman who made him want to change his past in the first place.

(And no, it’s not possible to talk about time travel plots without tying sentences in knots or giving yourself a headache.)

Well, Destination Day recently screened at the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival. And although I couldn’t be there to see it myself, some people who were there have been kind enough to post reviews. Here, in the tradition of Hollywood-style quote mining, are the slightly edited critical reactions:

“This is another Australian entry… The ending of this one pretty much makes it too.”
Film Forager

“* * ¾ (out of four)… The opening hook…is neat… It finishes on a visual gag that’s clever.”
Jay’s Movie Blog

“Tim (Richard Pappas) travels back in time… references Perth’s Destination Day … No one … in the future … Have no interest… Rating (4.9)” (out of 10, I think)
Soresport Movies

“No one in the future have no interest.” That one’s going on the poster!

Now, go read the originals and see if you can come up with your own interpretation.

Me toob

If you recall from my last post, I’ve started putting some of my old films up on the Tube of You. The latest addition is the animation Nose Runner, submitted to Tropfest in 2007, starring Space Girl and a robot who looks suspiciously like a Volvo:

The voice of Space Girl was provided by the delightful Lisa Cougle, also the character’s co-creator (see one of Space Girl’s comic strip adventures). The robot was played by me (ahem). And the whole thing was put together in about 5 days when I suddenly realised the entry due date was earlier than I thought (and I nearly crippled myself by hunching over the computer non-stop; apparently an occupational hazard of disorganised animators).

The Tropfest theme ingredient for that year, in case you were wondering, was sneeze. Yes, sometimes you incorporate it discreetly simply to prove you shot the film that year, other times you write the whole script around it for a lack of any better ideas.

But the interesting thing here is that since Nose Runner has been on YouTube it’s garnered 174 views and a 4.5 star rating. Whereas the previous one, Psycho Killer: Qu’est-que-c’est, has been on quite a bit longer but only has 35 views and no stars.

Why is this? The current theory is that anyone searching for serial killers or Talking Heads songs isn’t really expecting a mockumentary about some guy’s failed lovelife. But those looking for cartoons about girls and robots in bars… well, they’re pretty much going to get what they expect.

It makes sense, but I’m not totally convinced. What do you think?

How do people find random videos on YouTube anyway?

Back catalogue

OK, so I’m slowly getting this site back together. My comics are coming back online one by one, but I’m also putting up some information on my short films. Just in case, you know, anyone cares.

Of course that’s also a fantastic excuse for a self-indulgent trawl through my old work. Ah, the days when I didn’t know the difference between a best boy and a key grip. Actually, I still get confused with that sort of thing. But at least now I know why they call it gaffer tape.

Anyway, my very first film was based on a script I submitted to the Next Laugh Screenplay Competition at the National Screenwriters Conference 2004. It’s the story of a serial killer – well, a guy who fancies himself a serial killer but hasn’t actually gotten around to murdering anyone yet – and his search for love. With the deliberately grand sounding title Psycho Killer: Qu’est-que-c’est.

Yes, before Dexter (although he actually debuted in Darkly Dreaming Dexter in 2004, so it’s more of a photo finish), Harvey charmed audiences as a serial killer you could identify with. Well, he made the audience laugh when the script was performed in the finals, but he didn’t actually win.

Fortunately my friend and collaborator, Andrew Saunders, was at the performance and offered to help make it into a film. The result was submitted to Tropfest in 2005, but failed to make the selection. Possibly because of the very low production values, possibly because we didn’t really know what we were doing and made it up as we went along, and possibly because the world just wasn’t ready for it. Ahem.

But it did start Squeeze-Brie Productions and led to a series of other films. And now, 3 years later, with the aforementioned rip-off winning hearts and minds, the world might finally be ready. Judge for yourself:

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. Random blog comments, after all, are the sincerest form of validation.

Stiffed

So, no doubt you’ve been waiting for the results – well, those of you who didn’t go to the St Kilda Film Festival closing night, hosted by the delightful Julia Zemiro. The answer is no, we didn’t win a prize. Not even the audience-voted award, which was a surprise because…

They loved our film! Both of them, actually: Slapping Christie got a huge response from the crowd, including interpretations we hadn’t considered, and unofficially was one of the most requested films in the festival’s DVD library. And Brett Stanning’s Play was a beacon of light in an otherwise bleak session (not that bleak’s necessarily bad – light and shade, people), with special laughs reserved for yours truly’s bum wiggle.

Overall, a very satisfying experience, a huge buzz, a great way to premiere and a fresh encouragement for future festivals. And just in time too, because Christie will be screening again at 9.30 pm on 8 June as part of the Seattle True Independent Film Festival (STIFF). If you happen to be reading this from the grunge capital, I highly recommend you get yourself down.

Because they’re not flying us over, so someone better represent the poor slapper!

Fest of the best

So the plan was to get all the old Astrocave content back online, plus some exciting new material coming soon! before launching into things properly. Trouble is, getting your new design sorted out, coding stylesheets and uploading images takes a very long time, and really, done is better than perfect. And by that logic, incomplete and imperfect is best of all!

Plus, there’s stuff going on that I should really mention. Namely that Slapping Christie, the short film that I co-produced with Holly Alexander last year, is screening this Friday 9 May at the St Kilda Film Festival.Stephen and Christie
Directed by Mitch Forrester, and written by both Holly and Mitch, it’s about a guy called Stephen (played by Sam Herde), and what he does when his ex-girlfriend Christie (Suzie Stapleton) starts shagging his French housemate (Jonathan Katz). Or, to use one of our many taglines, it’s about the brief period of hatred at the end of a relationship that comes between love and indifference.

You can see it in the festival’s Session 6, at 10.30pm on Friday 9 May, 2008. Buy tickets now!

Or, if that’s too late for you, you can go to Session 5 at 9pm the same night and see Brett Stanning’s charming film Play. Keep an eye out for yours truly appearing as a playful office worker!

There you go, all important, timely stuff. I realise that I’m kind of assuming here that someone’s reading this and actually cares. But you know what they say: dance like nobody’s watching; blog like the whole world is watching.