Maybe it’s just because I got a cat this year — the first living, breathing creature I’ve owned since I failed to keep a hamster alive circa 1995 — but I couldn’t help noticing that the films of 2011 featured some damn great animals. Some were the stars of their films, like Rango (Johnny Depp) in Rango, while others played second fiddle to less interesting, or at least less adorable, human stars, like Rosie (Tai) in Water for Elephants, but all deserve special mention in my book.

And yeah, okay, the fact that they also serve as a convenient excuse to post cute animal photos during a slow news week happens to a nice little bonus as well. Read on after the jump.

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In this episode, Dave Chen, Devindra Hardawar, Angie Han, and Adam Quigley discuss The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011). Do screenwriter Steven Zaillian and director David Fincher find something profound or interesting to add to the pulpy source material? Tune in to find out!

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Live broadcasts will resume in 2012.

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(This review originally ran last week when Sony lifted the review embargo, but we’re running it again today to coincide with the film’s wide opening.)

Something at the center of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium novels has captured the attention of millions. Actually, make that ‘someone.’ The first novel, Män som hatar kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women, softened to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in many countries) spins around an unlikely nucleus: counterculture heroine Lisbeth Salander, a determined outsider possessed of keen investigative skills, a vengeful spirit and a strong sense of fairness. In the 2009 Swedish film adaptation, Noomi Rapace played Salander as a character just different enough to be a forceful vision, and familiar enough to become nearly iconic. But the film in which she lives is a routine potboiler of a thriller.

The directly translated Swedish title is promising in a way, as ‘men who hate women’ hints at a thriller that will use the conventions of a serial killer story to explore the ways in which abuse and violence shape people and their relationships to one another. The first film didn’t skimp on the intersection of sex, power and violence, as a dethroned magazine publisher is hired to discover the truth about the murder of an industrial magnate’s niece, but it was never any good at getting under the skin of the story.

Enter David Fincher and screenwriter Steven Zaillian with their own take on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Fincher also doesn’t skimp on sex and violence, and in the middle of his dark, frosty film is a strange but tightly controlled performance from Rooney Mara as Salander. This film trims minor players and subplots to focus, in a slightly more effective manner, on these characters who have been molded by violence. And yet it remains merely a routine thriller. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a technically proficient piece of work, but it is almost as bloodless as an old murder victim. Read More »

We’re covering a few sequels in very different stages of the development process today — one that’s gearing up to begin shooting soon, another that’s yet to be greenlit, and two more that’ve been in the works for what feels like forever. After the jump:

  • Bill Murray literally shreds the latest Ghostbusters 3 script to pieces
  • David Fincher wants to shoot the two Dragon Tattoo sequels back-to-back
  • Gary Mitchell — or Harry Mudd or Trelane or the Talosians or the Horta — could be the baddie in Star Trek 2
  • Kathleen Kennedy says Roger Rabbit 2 is stalled for now

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Briefly: Maybe I’m the only one incredibly excited by this, because I’m traveling on December 21, but Sony has now officially pushed the opening of David Fincher‘s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo up from that Wednesday to Tuesday December 20 at 7 p.m.

“This is one of the busiest times of the year for moviegoing and we can’t wait to share this outstanding thriller with audiences all over the world,” Sony Pictures chairman Jeff Blake said. “We feel that by opening for night-time shows on December 20th, fans of the book will be given the perfect opportunity to get a jump start on the release of an exceptional film.”

We’ll have a review of the movie up shortly, but in the meantime you can revisit the long-ish trailer for the film.

The beginning of the working relationship between director David Fincher and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails was the opening credits to Fincher’s film Seven, in which a remix of the NiN song ‘Closer’ was used as the uncomfortable sonic accompaniment to a montage of the film’s killer assembling the sort of notebook that would peg even the most mild-mannered next-door neighbor as a crazed sociopath.

The continuing relationship between Fincher and Reznor has resulted in a massive amount of music that Reznor and co-conspirator Atticus Ross composed for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

One song on that score that Reznor didn’t write is a cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song,’ featuring Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on vocals. We got our first taste of the song in the film’s teaser trailer, and then via a free sample when the full soundtrack details were announced last week. Now we’ve got a video for the song; it begins as a black and blue collage of low-resolution images that we’ll see as part of the opening credits for Dragon Tattoo. Trent Reznor and a strange Fincher opening credits montage: things have come full circle. Check out the video below, along with another video piece about Dragon Tattoo that shows off some footage you might not have seen. Read More »

We’re getting into the full swing of the awards season for 2011, and this evening four organizations announced their picks for best achievement in film in 2011. The biggest group is the American Film Institute, which released a simple unranked list of ten ‘movies of the year,’ which includes Bridesmaids, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo and The Tree of Life.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association named The Descendants as best picture of 2011, while the Boston Society of Film Critics named The Artist best film of the year, which was also voted as the top film by the New York Film Critics Online.

Lists from all four organizations are below. Read More »

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The /Filmcast: After Dark is a recording of what happens right after The /Filmcast is over, when the kids have gone to bed and the guys feel free to speak whatever is on their minds. In other words, it’s the leftover and disorganized ramblings, mindfarts, and brain diarrhea from The /Filmcast, all in one convenient audio file. In this episode, David ChenDevindra Hardawar, and Adam Quigley chat with Eric D. Snider about the lengths studios will go to control the story and explain why Cars 2 should actually make people from the South mad.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Tune in to Slashfilm’s live page on Sunday (12/4) at 10 PM EST / 7 PM PST to hear us discuss Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

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