As Steig Larsson's Millenium trilogy is shaping up to be this summer's essential beach read, one need not get the pages of your paperback wet on rainier days; the first of the series' films, Niels Arden Oplev's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (criticWIRE rating: B) is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. Just as the second film is slated to hit U.S. theaters, one can revisit the epic whodunnit, with the crime-solving duo of a cyberpunk and a straight-laced journalist, at home. The New Yorker's Anthony Lane has nothing but kind words for the film's director and his ability to craft a capable thriller: "There is no doubting the cunning of the director, Niels Arden Oplev. He has constructed a long film, running more than two and a half hours, so as to make it feel like a short and speedy one. Both the editing and the music rattle along at quite a clip, and even patches of dogged research are whipped into unlikely fervor." Taking a jab at the film's treatment of the title character, the New York Times' Manohla Dargis says, "Though [the actress who plays Salander,] Ms. [Noomi] Rapace is a fine professional scowler, with cheekbones that thrust like knives and a pout that’s mostly pucker, she tends to register as an intriguing idea instead of a thoroughly realized character. She more or less looks the part that the filmmakers don’t let her fully play."
The directorial debut of fashion designer Tom Ford, last year's meditative "A Single Man" (B), based on the Christopher Isherwood novel-length portrait of a gay college professor (Colin Firth) mourning the loss of his younger lover. Writing on this site, Karina Longworth praised the film's aesthetics, saying it "has a few of the qualities you’d expect from a fashion designer’s first film. On a superficial level, nearly every frame is highly styled to the point where it would not seem out of place printed in Italian Vogue (it may be too visually esoteric for the North American edition)."
This week, POV premieres "Promised Land" on PBS July 6. Yoruba Richen's film investigates the post-apartheid racial inequalities of land ownership in South Africa. Sundance '10 alum "A Small Act" (criticWIRE rating: B-) premieres July 12. Jennifer Arnold's film, which recently picked up accolades at at the Nantucket Film Festival, tells of the circuit of kindness that passed from a Holocaust survivor to a Kenyan family to the greater Kenyan population. Arnold spoke to indieWIRE about the process of making the film, saying about the final product, "At its core, the film’s message is that each of us can make a big difference in the world, just by doing the little bit that we can. That might sound cheesy, but it is totally true and I think audiences will be very inspired by the story."
Also on DVD are Buster Keaton's "Steamboat Bill, Jr." (with a double disc package that features a lost alternate version) and a collection of Keaton comedy shorts, "Lost Keaton." The New York Times' David Kehr takes a look at these films as they fit into the Hollywood legend's illustrious career. Also on DVD: Nancy Kates and Bennett Singer's "Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin," a profile of the civil rights leader; '09 Cannes Un Certain Regard entry "The Wind Journeys" by Ciro Guerra; Antoine Fuqua's police drama "Brooklyn's Finest" (criticWIRE rating: C+) featuring an all-star cast led by Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, and Wesley Snipes; Sony's "Film Noir Classics" (with introductions by present-day Hollywood's biggest directors). This week's title champ, "Eyeborgs" gets a DVD Talk review from Ian Jane that calls it "part 'Robocop' and part 'Starship Troopers' with hefty doses of Orwellian dystopia thrown in to keep things interesting."
Bryce J. Renninger, an indieWIRE contributor in the New York office, is also the shorts programmer for Newfest and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Media Studies at Rutgers University. He can be reached via Twitter.