Anthony Hopkins

Silence of the Lambs

Year: 1991
Directed By: Jonathan Demme
Written By: Thomas Harris (novel) Ted Tally (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I distinctly remember the first time I saw this movie. I was about 10 years old and staying at some relatives house who were cool enough to let me watch the grown up movie. Unfortunately the grown up movie was this one and for some reason I thought it was based on a true story. My Uncle may or may not have told me as much. I will never forget lying awake afterwards in straight up fear. Lying in the dark just staring at the ceiling, my ten year old mind unable to process anything beyond the horrible Hannibal Lecture being lose in the world. Where else could he possibly be on a late summer night besides right outside the door wanting to kill me???

In less than 25 minutes of screen time Anthony Hopkins not only earned the Academy Award for Best Actor but he scarred my prepubescent self to a new level. I would feel foolish about my youthful fear but in truth Hannibal Lecter still scares me. Nothing is quite as intimidating as superior intelligence and Lecter brings more to the table than just that. Lecter won’t just outsmart you, he’ll bite your face and then cut it off of you. If he has enough time he might even eat you! Add that to the fact that the man never blinks and I challenge anybody not to be scared of the guy. Imagine thinking he was a real person, loose in the world with the freedom to kill and eat anybody he wanted, and maybe you can relate to the 10 year old Ryan who laid awake in fear for an entire night some 20 something years ago.

For somebody who was born out west, Jodie Foster has always been able to pull off a hell of a southern accent. Though she won the Academy Award for this movie and is the hero I tend to think she is overshadowed by her co-stars. I have also always held it against her that she didn’t return to the sequel with everybody else ten years later with Hannibal. Even though I think she was overshadowed I still think this is one of her finest performances but that is coming from a specific non fan. She has had a long and distinguished career but few of her roles have ever really gotten to me on a fan level.

The obvious person who overshadowed her was Anthony Hopkins who gave the performance of a lifetime but I also think Ted Levine stands out more than she does too. As Buffalo Bill he is a combination of several real life serial killers and he is absolutely terrifying. He has a voice that will haunt you in your worst nightmares and his dress up scene will make your skin crawl. Even scarier is the persona that goes with that villainous voice. A man who captures women and drops them into a pit is something to fear and he makes my skin break out in goose flesh every time I see him. Unfortunately I have never been able to separate Levine from this role and no matter what else he is in I keep waiting for him to say, “It puts the lotion in the basket.”

As bad as my fear was that this movie was based on a real story I think I have been more terrified to know about the men the movie was actually based on. Buffalo Bill is a combination of a few serial killers who actually did most of the things we saw in the movie. The skinning of victims was actually done by a serial killer so fearsome he has become legend. Ed Gein is the basis for not only part of Buffalo Bill but also Leatherface and Norman Bates. He would dress up in his dead mothers clothing, dig up corpses to steal skin, and the women he actually did kill were hung up and gutted in the same fashion hunted animals are. Ted Bundy would use a cast on his arm to lure women into his van and then use it as a weapon to knock them out. The scariest thing though, if not Ed Gein, is the fact there was a serial killer who had a pit he kept women in. Gary Heidnick terrorized six women during the 70s and 80s doing many awful things, including keeping them in a pit. The things he did were so awful and unbelievable that when one of his victims escaped and told police they didn’t even believe her story until seeing physical evidence. Each one of these men are terrifying in their own rite but put together they created a haunting villain in Buffalo Bill.

This movie went through pains to be legitimate with all the actors doing their due diligence in research. Hopkins studied several serial killers and even attended some trials for violent crimes when trying to get into character. The not blinking thing was his own idea as he knew a person who never blinked and it freaked out everyone that talked to him. Ted Levine also did plenty of research into both serial killers and the transsexual community. There was also an actual FBI Agent on set in a consulting role to help make sure everything went right. I think all these efforts went a long way to making the movie so great and memorable.

There were few lasting effects from my fearsome evening with this movie for the first time but I will never forget it regardless. It was simply the product of my youth but I still have doubts that just any other movie could have elicited such a response out of me. This movie is awesome hands down and it’s one that hardly needs my stamp of approval. The efforts to bank on its success afterwards including both a sequel and a prequel could not match what was done with this film. There are memorable parts in both Hannibal and Red Dragon but some things simply can’t be replicated and the same type of magic wasn’t present in those films. This is a movie that nearly everyone has seen but if you somehow missed it then you need to go back and check it out. This one is definitely worth your time.

NEXT MOVIE: Silver Lining Playbook (2012)

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Joe Black

Year: 1998
Directed By: Martin Brest
Written By: Eight different people are credited with writing, which makes sense given the movie makes so little.

RYAN’S REVIEW

Let me start this review by being brutally honest.  We didn’t finish this one; in fact we barely made it half way through before deciding we couldn’t take another minute of it.  I’m going to blame Maverick. We gave that film the full viewing and felt our time was completely wasted so when this one started wearing thin we threw in the towel early.  It’s an interesting story that offers plenty to think about and appreciate but I don’t think it transitioned into a good film.  This film is UNBEARABLY long, and on top of that the portrayals are all wrong.  Brad Pitt portrays Death like a child in the world for the first time, Anthony Hopkins is just going through the motions, and I thought the best performance came from Jeffrey Tambor, doing his best Dr. Phil impression.

There are things I like about Brad Pitt’s performance in this movie but too much I don’t like.  I am a fan of Pitt but in this movie he looks too boyish and ridiculously good looking.  What? Death couldn’t pick a more realistically looking person with 7 billion people to choose from? Did he really need chiseled features and highlights in his hair?  Good thing he didn’t pick the cab driver that hit Brad Pitt in the beginning.  Hopkins cohorts would have been perplexed in completely different ways and Death probably wouldn’t have been able to bang the daughter.  Now, about Pitt’s portrayal, this in truth is probably how the character was written.  Why is he so childish? I get the peanut butter thing but beyond that I am scratching my head.  Wouldn’t Death, who has been walking the Earth since the beginning of time, be more familiar with the nuances of the people he takes on a daily basis? It’s implied that Death knows all dialects easily but he doesn’t know any of the little things about everyday life?  We found it all too ridiculous to dedicate any more of our weekend night to.

Anthony Hopkins is terrific in everything; the man just beams power and dignity even when he isn’t doing anything exceptional.  Maybe that’s part of having been knighted I don’t know.  In this movie I really feel like he is just going through the motions and cashing an easy paycheck.  He plays a man who knows his time is up and he is struggling with that realization quietly with little dialogue.  So much of what I saw from him was simply that look of being lost on his face. However, the man did a damn good job with it despite whether it called for heavy acting or not.  Back in the 90’s Anthony Hopkins could easily hold our attention for lengthy films and we would have watched more if it was there.  Times have changed, and looking at this film now the power of Hopkins wasn’t enough to keep me interested for an outrageous running time of two hours and fifty eight minutes.

I am a huge fan of Jeffrey Tambor, specifically because he is awesome in everything.  He can play the serious part and then turn around and be the funniest person on screen in his next part.  Tambor will never be the leading man, but as a supporting actor you can’t do any better no matter what the role calls for.  In this film, I literally had to look him up to make sure it was him playing the part and not Phil McGraw. Look at this side by side and tell me if I am wrong:

meet-joe-black-280.jpg        

In fact, looking at it myself now….can you even tell me which is which? Where these guys separated at birth or was the button to make this human design punched twice by accident in the whole larger scheme of creation? (I know that last analogy is a little odd, excuse me I’ve been reading Brave New World). Despite the obvious lookalike problem I have still loved Tambor in everything, and he is just as good in this film as he is in all the others.  I think he brings a great personality to an otherwise dull film and if I remember correctly his character is rewarded in the end as the heir to the empire.

I don’t see the need to discuss this film any further as we can’t honestly review having not finished it.  If you have your own thoughts about this film and I have horribly offended you then by all means leave a comment and make your case for it.  If I gave up too soon and made a horrible mistake I would be the first to admit it.  It would only take the easiest of suggestions from someone with the opposite opinion but absent that there is no way I’m giving this film another hour and a half of my time.  Having said all that I can’t recommend it to you, but I would really appreciate the thoughts of anyone who wants to speak up for the movie.

The Bounty

Year: 1984
Directed By: Roger Donaldson
Written By: Richard Hough and Robert Bolt

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was in college studying history the first time I saw this movie.  So naturally I enjoyed it both because of its relation to my field and of course, the natural native nakedness.  It was not in any class that I saw this for the first time though.  I believe it was around 2004 when I saw it because it was on television all the time, and it would have fallen on a 20 anniversary.  This movie sports a great cast and an interesting story based on actual historical events.

Anthony Hopkins plays Lt. Bligh, the captain of the Bounty who lost his ship to an angry mutinous crew. Hopkins has an intensity that he brings to his characters and this movie is a great example of it. As Captain Bligh he has a temper that strikes fear and a look that will turn you cold.  His unreasonable demeanor will make you understand how he managed to lose the favor of his crew.  Mel Gibson isn’t bad in this movie, he does have his crazy Lt. Riggs moment during the mutiny though. Is it possible that the making of this movie with all the native nakedness had any influence on Mel Gibson’s decision to make Apocalypto? This wasn’t Daniel Day-Lewis’s best role, it wasn’t even particularly good, but it would be a crime to not mention him.  Liam Neeson plays a good part in the film, I have to mention him because Amber is in love with him. Not the last movie Laurence Olivier made but it was at the end of his career.

I don’t know very much as far as historical accuracy goes, I can say truthfully that no film is actually accurate despite its intentions.  I have done a little bit of research as I always do though.  The film isn’t 100% accurate, The Bounty never tried to sail around Cape Horn among other minor inaccuracies.  The film did many things right though as you can plainly see when you watch the movie.  It may be deemed inappropriate by some however, the nakedness may be of good intentions and natural but it is still aggressive nonetheless. I think many would agree that there is a lot to learn from this movie.  This is also a good movie and worth your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I didn’t even know we owned this movie. When we watched this the other night, I actually had to play close attention because I realized that I had never seen it before. Soon after I was completely sucked in and watched it through to the end. I really enjoyed this story line, which is surprising to me. i thought this movie looked like something I wouldn’t really be interested in, but I was wrong. This story is different and it also includes a lot of actors that we know really well now, and they looked like babies in this film. This was even pre-crazy Mel Gibson. He is skinny and young and actually quite attractive. Anthony Hopkins look super dapper in this movie, and super young. The story is great, like I said and I think it is hard for us in today’s time to think about a world where you have to travel by ship to reach different lands and learn different cultures. The British thought that the Tahitians were savages, and really after watching the movie, you in some way side with their way of life. They are all about happiness and being carefree and loving and making love. The British soon fall in love with their culture and way of life and this upsets the ship’s captain, played by Hopkins. The turmoil that happens within the crew after is what sets up the conflict.

This movie is definitely worth watching, especially if you haven’t seen it before. It is interesting and worth the time to put yourself into a different time and place.

NEXT MOVIE: The Bourne Identity (2002)