12/27/2015

The Hunger (1983) ****

I finally got around to seeing this and it's excellent, despite a studio mandated ending. I only wish David Bowie had more screen time. And why did Tony Scott never make any more art films? Scott's brother Ridley was clearly a big influence because THE HUNGER is basically the vampire version of BLADE RUNNER (complete with slow-motion dove shots).

12/12/2015

Hannibal (2001) ***1/2

Fresh off re-reading the novel and having not seen this film for over 10 years, I have to say that, while I still think it's great, it's not nearly as great as I remember. Gary Oldman is a scene stealer, but Mason Verger's demise is much more interesting in the novel. Margot Verger's omission was a poor choice. And the climax of the film is but a shadow of the novel. In general, everything just feels truncated. The sequence where Hannibal is caught by Mason's hired thugs is completely different in the film as well and stems from a whole newly-written sequence which just isn't terribly good.

All that said, I don't expect films based on books to be 100% beholden to their sources and there is much to savor here - including facial expressions, the still excellent Mason makeup, and some dialogue made more concise.

12/11/2015

Thomas Harris 'Hannibal' (1999) ****

**SPOILERS**

This was my first time re-reading this novel since its release and I had forgotten some details but remembered much, as I've seen the film adaptation more than once. I like the film very much and have always found it underrated so I'm interested (and excited) to see how a revisit will fare, since I'd forgotten that numerous characters were left out of the celluloid adaptation. Some of them, like Jack Crawford and Ardelia Mapp, aren't essential to this story, like they were to 'The Silence Of The Lambs'.

But then there's Margot Verger. How (and why) on earth did writers David Mamet and Steve Zaillian leave her out of the film?? She is so integral to the novel - her relationship with Barney, her plot against her brother, her walnut-cracking... Fortunately, her character made her way into the TV series, still as a lesbian but not a bodybuilder. The TV series also included Crawford's wife Bella and her passing, another key element from 'Lambs' left out of that film. Margot's desire to have a child using her brother Mason's sperm was brought to life in the TV series as well.

Mason Verger is extra nasty in the book and I don't remember that from the film but maybe a rewatch will refresh my memory. I remember his storyline (and largely the rest of the novel) being adapted fairly faithfully (and acted with aplomb by Gary Oldman), but I honestly can't remember how he meets his demise in the film. In the novel, and replicated in the TV series, it's death by eel.

I remember the first time I watched HANNIBAL the film that I didn't know how to feel about Clarice being portrayed by Julianne Moore but soon moved past any initial reservations. Again, I'm intrigued to discover how my reaction will be on the next viewing (which will be momentarily).

I suppose the fact that Hannibal and Clarice ended up together romantically was controversial to some, but it's never bothered me. I've always enjoyed that 'Hannibal', the novel, has an incredibly different tone than either 'Red Dragon' or 'Lambs', being that it's not a procedural affair, but a poetic and unique revenge tale and love story.


Howl's Moving Castle (2004) ***1/2