Unless you’ve been living under a literary rock, you’ve probably heard of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – the sizzling Swedish crime thriller and first part of the ‘Millennium’ trilogy. In fact, the entire trilogy is currently ranked atop The New York Times Best-seller list.

Like any sizzling sensation, Hollywood wants their piece. And with a Hollywood adaptation firmly on the way, I decided to pick up the first book this past weekend and read it for myself. Always skeptical about the hype machine, I was surprised to find myself thoroughly engaged. And the words “hard to put down” ringing through my head.

Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander.

The novel is a slick, page turning thriller that follows two fascinating characters: Mikael Blomkvist, a well-respected financial/investigative journalist who has been recently disgraced and sent to jail for libeling a shady businessman, and Lisbeth Salander, a tough as nails hacker with a slew of authority issues and a mysterious past. The two are brought together by Henrik Vanger, a wealthy industrialist, who wants to find out what happened to his great niece, Harriet Vanger, who went missing some 40 years ago.

What makes the book special is its use of moody psycho-sexual tension set amidst a chilly Swedish landscape. The themes of power, corruption, and justice are mixed in with violence and sex. Not to mention, one twisted genealogy. And one of the most original, crime fighting heroines of this generation.

As a result of its international success, the novel (originally called Men Who Hate Women) has been primed for Hollywood by Steven Zaillian and is set for release in December 2011 with director David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) at the helm. But the question remains: Who will portray the dynamic duo? Daniel Craig and Brad Pitt are names circulating for Blomkvist while Kristen Stewart, Carey Mulligan, and Ellen Page are names being tossed around for Lisbeth.

Faithful readers, of course, are concerned that Hollywood will ruin the story. And based on the string of underwhelming adaptations like The Da Vinci Code, Memoirs of a Geisha, and The Golden Compass, it’s easy to see how. After all, the Swedish have already adapted the novel into an excellent film (they’ve done the whole trilogy) starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist and directed by Niels Arden Opley. In fact, you’ll find it as one of my picks of the week.

Just remember: Read the book first!

-Mark Sells, “The Reel Deal”

This Week’s Picks:

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Don’t let the subtitles scare you away. This clever Swedish adaptation of Larsson’s vintage crime novel is a compelling thriller about a 40 year old missing person investigation gone unsolved. Featuring a stand out performance by Noomi Rapace, as the resourceful computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, the film is a complex, chilling mystery with some heavy adult content, but terrific character building. Well worth the ticket to Scandinavia.
  • Cyrus – Indie filmmakers Mark and Jay Duplass put together a story about a divorcee named John who struggles with single life. But after a chance encounter at a party with a beautiful woman named Molly, things appear to be on the upswing. Until, that is, he meets Molly’s twenty-one year old son, Cyrus, whose awkward relationship with his mother puts them in a territorial battle of wits. Well constructed and honest, the result is a humorous experiment in social discomfort. Read Mark’s Review.

Film Event on the Radar:

Dennis Hopper

  • HopperTuesday and Wednesday nights in August – Starz Film Center. Hollywood icon. Famed actor and director. Dennis Hopper earned a reputation for being a rebel, often misunderstood, but never compromised. In 1955, he collaborated with a young James Dean to direct Rebel Without a Cause. In 1969, he and longtime friends Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson, put together an adaptation of Terry Southern’s Easy Rider. And the rest is history – from David Lynch’s Blue Velvet to basketball fever in Hoosiers to the racially charged police drama, Colors. Stay cool and celebrate all things Hopper at the Starz Film Center in August.

For tickets, go to the Denver Film Society – Hopper.