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These guys have had it too easy. Far too easy. Don’t believe the insane hype.
Good flicks that have gotten too damn big for their britches.
Asshole, you love this film for all the wrong reasons.
WHAT THE FUCK
Something went horribly wrong here and it’s carried over the the fans, who are blinded by shizer.
Why The Silence of the Lambs is Overblown
Your guide: Nick Nunziata
CHUD’s Logline: A newly minted Fed with a pungent vaginal smell is thrust into a major case thanks to a brilliant Machiavellian serial killer and a cross-dressing dude who can maneuver with his prick betwixt.
Its Legacy: Nominated for seven Academy Awards. Won five, all big ones. #24 on IMDB’s top 250. Grossed almost $300,000,000. One of the films people mention when discussing the best thrillers of all time. “I can smell your cunt” now a popular Food Network catchphrase. Anthony Hopkins afforded opportunity to become a faster Indian. Ted Levine joins pantheon of penis tucking thespians. Character of Hannibal Lecter parodied by luminaries Jim Carrey & F. Murray Abraham. Jonathan Demme allowed to rape Charade right in the ass. Raspael’s case solved. Gag orders placed on lambs the world over.
Why It’s Here: There’s no denying that this is a very good movie. It’s based on a very good book, all things considered. Thomas Harris hasn’t written a meaningful passage since this book, but the fact remains that this is a very solid serial killer flick. That said, the directing is somewhat pedestrian and though the performances range from good to great but it’s not one of the proudest years in Oscar sweeps and watching the film now really showcases a somewhat bland product. Yeah, I think Jonathan Demme is extremely overvalued in this mixture. I also feel that of all the films in the series ranging from Manhunter all the way through to Hannibal and even on to Red Dragon [Hannibal Rising is a crotchfire] are entertaining and with merit and the difference in quality between them isn’t some vast expanse like many people feel. There’s a lot of great procedurals in film history. There’s a lot of great thrillers. There’s a lot of great portrayals of brilliant madness. This just isn’t the one stop shop for all of them and too easy a choice.
A Moment of Piss: The entire discussion involving the film’s title, of Agent Clarice Starling and her poor childhood lambs, is so overboiled so that when the issue is revisited later in the film when Lecter asks her “Well, Clarice – have the lambs stopped screaming?” it feels like some high school writing exercise. For all of the good stuff here, the whole metaphorical mire involving screaming lambs is just dumb and has no emotional payoff in the film. It worked a little better in the book because it didn’t have to be said aloud where it totally sucks a baby’s sweet balls.
These Ain’t Chopped Liver Alternatives: The Talented Mr. Ripley. Badlands. M. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Seven.
Russ Fischer Agrees: How is this commonly agreed upon as one of Hopkins’ best roles, Oscar or no? Paul Lynde’s work is more restrained. But nothing validates genre like great actors getting high-profile awards for letting their guard down. Or is it just that in America, we hate educated/cultured people like Lecter (and Hopkins) so much that we can only appreciate them when they’re also eating people and helping to capture rampantly violent cross-dressers? If you actually love movies about well-mannered deviants you know that The Vanishing (in addition to Nick’s mentions above) is the go-to project. Now, who wants to buy my first-print Criterion edition of this flick?
Jeremy Smith Disagrees: If pressed, I’ll take my Demme psychopaths crass rather than epicurean (i.e. Ray Liotta in Something Wild), but the elocutionary splendor of Anthony Hopkins’s Hannibal Lecter, a delectable hybrid of Hal 9000 and Joseph Cotton’s charasmatically evil Uncle Charlie from Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, is a (sometimes quite literally) ripping good show in its own right. As a portrayal of madness, it’s as psychologically acute as Colin Clive’s Dr. Henry Frankenstein, but that’s in keeping with the heightened, fright-film tone of Harris’s novel. And that’s why Demme’s picture is, far and away, the finest adaptation of Harris’s work: it knows to succeed as a monster movie first. Other A-list directors might be embarrassed by the garish, page-turner surface of the such a tome, but Demme’s Roger Corman pedigree is perfect training for what is, at heart, a B-movie. And Ted Tally, an Obie Award-winning playwright, is careful not to intellectualize the hoary material; he focuses on character and pace, and while it’s not the subtlest script you’ll ever read, it is an expertly structured Hollywood entertainment. Those are kinda hard to pull off. If it were just a matter of cut-and-paste, Red Dragon would’ve been Silence of the Lambs‘s equal; absent Demme’s emotional intelligence (and just plain intelligence), it’s just an insipidly-shot greatest hits show that leaves you yearning for the genuine article. It’s a testament to Silence of the Lambs‘s lasting power that the film even got made.
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