Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Hanna / Let The Right One In

I love a good thriller and HANNA is nothing like a good thriller! Is it too much to expect some kind of logic in a thriller but I should have known not to expect any from a Joe Wright film. I was so outraged by what he did to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE that I threw the disk in the garbage bin, and I didn’t bother with ATONEMENT until it turned up on television and I was not impressed with that either, but HANNA somehow seemed like the kind of thriller I would like.

Is it logical to imagine that the very fit Eric Bana would spend 15 years bringing up Hanna to be a highly trained assassin without any other human contact, without electricity or computers or any modern technology with nobody knowing where they are, as they hunt and train and live off the land somewhere in remote Finland. How then is Hanna able to use an internet café later on? Her release into the world sets in motion a man hunt by a CIA agent (Cate Blanchett) with her own agenda.

As Hanna travels across Europe how on earth do the assassins track her down to that particular café in Morocco? What happens to Olivia Williams (a thankless role for her after her terrific turn in Polanski’s THE GHOST) and her kids? Seeing how the assassins treat the man who helps Hanna in Morocco, they will hardly allow the family to resume their travels.

The laugh of the year though is the sight of little Tom Hollander as the camp killer with the colourful tracksuits taking on Eric Bana! One brilliant sequence is where Bana outwits the gang after him and the score by The Chemical Brothers pounds along nicely. The climax seems very botched too – does Blanchett trip or stumble before she falls or does Hanna cause her to take a tumble – the editing does not make clear. I suppose I could go back and watch it again to tie up any loose ends, but frankly I have too many other things to do and see. The narrative seems disjointed and the editing muddled which does not aid concentration.

Saoirse Ronan is again very watchable but the waif looks far too under-developed to be a trained fighter who can outwit those chasing her. Blanchett just seems to be on autopilot here. There seems to be some play on fairy tales, with Hanna hiding in the gingerbread house in the playground and she looks at illustrations of Snow White in an old book, but again, what point is being made? Why does the grandmother get shot? She's been ignored for the last 16 years! Still, it makes a good sequence. Why is Hanna so astonished by an electric kettle or any other appliance, but she can speak several languages! HANNA is nothing like the BOURNE films or LEON which it probably aspires to. For those who want a more rational explanation there are 224 reviews of it on IMDB. I think though I will be giving Wright’s films a wide berth from now on.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. As mesmerising as I had been led to believe this 2008 film by Tomas Alfredson (who has since directed the highly-anticipated TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY) slowly draws one in to this snow-covered world. Set in Sweden in the early 80s it is both horrifying and tender as it features Oskar, a bullied 12-year old, who lives with his mother in a dreary suburb, and who dreams of revenge on those who bully him. He slowly gets to know Eli, a peculiar girl who moves next door to him with her guardian. She can't stand the sun or food and to come into a room she needs to be invited. Eli gives Oskar the strength to hit back but when he realizes that Eli needs to drink other people's blood to live he's faced with a dilemma.

It is like no other vampire movie. So slow and dreamlike – the sudden spurts of violence as Eli drops from a tree onto a victim, or at the start with the man being strung up to have his blood drained. Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is a dreamy early teen – how safe will he be with Eli? Their relationship and co-dependance is nicely played out and the bullies certainly get their comeuppance. Oskar will grow up but Eli presumably will always be 12 years old, but it looks like Oskar is replacing Hakan as Eli’s protector … will he too end up killing others to feed her? This one has 420 reviews on IMDB and has already been re-made. It is also a truly great addition to the vampire cannon, a thing that can be said of very few variations on Bram Stoker'
s brilliant original.

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