Read any good Swedish novels by dead authors about financial corruption lately?

If that sounds obscure, then your Amazon cart has probably been woefully neglected of late -- and you've been spending way too much time worrying about how on earth Sandra Bullock is going to make it on her own.

The truth is, 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,' a novel by Stieg Larsson, who passed away in 2004, has been a sensation on the bestseller list for close to 40 weeks. And, just this past week, a Swedish film adaptation of the novel hit art houses across America. Up next: A planned US adaptation barreling toward a green light. Read any good Swedish novels by dead authors about financial corruption lately?

If that sounds obscure, then your Amazon cart has probably been woefully neglected of late -- and you've been spending way too much time worrying about how on earth Sandra Bullock is going to make it on her own.

The truth is, 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,' a novel by Stieg Larsson, who passed away in 2004, has been a sensation on the bestseller list for close to 40 weeks. And, just this past week, a Swedish film adaptation of the novel hit art houses across America, creating a buzz in movie circles. Up next: A planned US adaptation barreling toward a green light.

Still not interested? You should be. Although 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' is, on the surface, about totally boring things like power, money and greed, those themes are just part of the story: there's also mystery, gruesome, gory murder and, yes, sex. While the story appears to focus on Mikael Blomkvist, a maverick financial reporter in the depths of a corporate scandal, things really start moving when the tale veers off when he is hired to investigate the case of a missing girl who was last seen 40 years ago.

And just when you thought you had enough to chew on, another character -- an anorexic-looking, cyber-punk chick named Lisbeth Salander -- enters the picture. Salander, a super sleuth hacker with a dark past and a kick-ass attitude, is hired to help Blomkvist find the girl who's been missing. Increasingly, Salander overshadows Blomkvist as the more compelling character. She's one-part 'Girl, Interrupted,' two-parts Trinity from 'The Matrix' -- which brings us to those film adaptations.



The Swedish movie has received strong reviews, but it's such a limited release, that it surely won't undercut the Hollywood version that producer Scott Rudin is putting together at Sony, with screenwriter Steve Zaillian ('Schindler's List') putting it to paper. The talk is that David Fincher may be inching toward the helm, which seems like a natural fit.

But let's not get too comfortable about all of this A-list pedigree. When Hollywood takes on European fare, things tend to turn out badly. First off, fans of the novel can kiss the bleak Swedish setting goodbye. And if the rumor that George Clooney will play Blomkvist comes true, you can toss this whole production in the garbage.

Look no further for an example of star power killing a remake of a European story, than the fantastic, weird, head-trip from Spain, 'Open Your Eyes.' It was remade as 'Vanilla Sky,' the Tom Cruise vehicle that bludgeoned all the edge off of the original, and replaced it with, yeah, you guessed it: vanilla. Another prime example: 'The Vanishing,' a Dutch film that is so haunting, so unforgiving, it stands shoulder to maimed shoulder with 'Silence of the Lambs' -- but it was turned into Hollywood schlock, starring Sandra Bullock. (OK, I admit it, Sandy has been on my mind of late. You, can bounce back, babe!)

So, yes, Clooney's star power would outshine any actress who could play Salander, and nullify her power. If they have to go with stars, they'd be better off with Jake Gyllenhaal or Johnny Depp. But the male lead is really not the place to start. We can all just pray that Rudin ('Wonder Boys,' 'Closer,' 'No Country for Old Men') hangs this whole film on the actress who plays Salander. It could well be the juiciest role for a young woman in years. So you know every actress in Hollywood will be clamoring to get it. And Rudin will be tempted to put a recognizable face on the film. Recent suggestions Ellen Page and Natalie Portman miss the mark, while Kristen Stewart comes closest. An unknown newcomer would be a bold move. Too bold, perhaps, for such a potential juggernaut (there are three books in the series). She's got to look damaged, beautiful, smart and dangerous -- and be a natural with ink all over her body. You know who that sounds like to me? The young Angelina Jolie. And who once played the younger version of Jolie, in the HBO movie 'Gia'?

Mila Kunis. Huh? The kid from 'That '70s Show?' The babe in 'The Book of Eli'? You think I joke? Too pretty? Salander is supposed to be gorgeous. Too glamorous? Give her a punked up hair cut; that'll do the trick. Too Hollywood? She's from the Ukraine! Not skinny enough? I've seen her up close -- she looks like a bird. Doesn't have the acting chops? I saw her working on the set of the upcoming 'Black Swan,' opposite Natalie Portman, and I would say she's got the chops and the edge to breathe fire into this screen version.

Go ahead. Read the book. And tell me who's a better fit. Yeah, I'm talking to you, Mr. Rudin.

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