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The new anglophone film of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo directed by David Fincher is really superb. I don't know when I've seen such a gripping and well-told suspense mystery. And there's a wonderful piece of less-is-more (compare with the impressive example of absence of language that I described in my post about The Ides of March) when Lisbeth says she is reading Mikael's notes on his computer. "They're encrypted!" says Mikael indignantly. And Lisbeth raises her eyes for a half-second withering look and says, "Please." That syllable transmits a whole paragraph of exposition about her skill in the hacking arts. You can see in the way she says that single word that she is so skilled she thinks standard encryption is for babies and that Mikael is one.

Lisbeth Salander is a fabulous part, and Rooney Mara really lives it. ("I've never done this before, and there will be blood," she tells the tethered rapist, and it's so menacing that the director doesn't need to show the operation or the blood at all.) It takes some real charisma to make Daniel Craig look like a wimpy second string on the screen, and Rooney Mara does that. Stunning performance.

So I have two problems now. One is that I now want to back both Michelle Williams's performance as Marilyn Monroe and Rooney Mara's performance as Lisbeth Salander for the Oscar for best actress, and that's a contradiction, I have to get off the fence. And the other is whether I have enough about language in this post to convince the people in accounting here at Language Log Plaza, as I usually manage to do, that my cinema ticket was a justifiable business expense.

[Will I open comments? Please.]

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