Patterns in the rice terrace in Bali
Patterns in the rice terrace in Bali
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
the way this movie had not just my favorite queen song AND my favorite elton song what the hell
~don’t be afraid to dive, take a look
A Sunset, 2016
Credits: myself and an iPhone 5S
When Green Book won Best Picture in 2019:
🎨Gabriel Mark Lipper
He is a contemporary painter, working in Los Angeles
UNIQUE AND ARTISTIC PICTURE
Paramount Famous Lasky
Paramount Famous Lasky
The Caddo Company
Photographer David C Phillips
In order to establish a standard period of time between awards, two ceremonies were held in the same year, the only time in history. Sound films officially became eligible for all categories. The Broadway Melody became the first sound film to win Best Picture.
🖼The Last of England
🎨Ford Madox Brown, 1855.
On May 16th, 1929, the organization that would become known as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, (at the time comprised of 230 members) gathered to celebrate and honor the best of films made between August of 1927 and July of 1928. The winners of the 12 categories of films had already been announced, and the ceremony was short, but a ceremony it was. The film Wings won for Best Picture, the only silent Best Picture winner ever made.
The next film we reviewed for the AFI Top 100 was was a thriller that borders on a slasher/horror movie, The Silence of the Lambs (1991). This film was one of only three movies in the history of the academy to win the “Big Five″ awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Jonathan Demme), Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins), and Best Actress (Jodie Foster). Jonathan Demme used a lot of extreme close-ups throughout the film and it really gave all of the actors a chance to shine. Knowing the ending and all of the pieces to this movie legitimately spoils it, so I want to give a brief overview that mostly stays away from these spoilers and then come back to describe some of the shots and how they ramp up the thrills:
SPOILER WARNING!!! I AM GOING TO DO MY BEST NOT TO SPOIL THE WHOLE THING BUT THERE WILL BE SOME THINGS MENTIONED IN THE OVERVIEW THAT MIGHT TAKE AWAY FROM WATCHING THE MOVIE COLD!!! IT IS QUITE THE CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE AND I HIGHLY SUGGEST WATCHING ON A LARGE SCREEN IN THE DARK AND THEN COME BACK TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE PRODUCTION!!!
The movie starts out with Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) running an obstacle course for the FBI. She is called in to talk to Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), who is part of the Behavioral Science Unit. Starling is assigned to interview a cannibalistic serial killer named Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a former psychiatrist that is currently in custody and might have information about a killer at large nicknamed “Buffalo Bill.” The name was given due to the killer’s consistent removal of his victim’s skin.
Starling goes to a hospital for the criminally insane in Baltimore where Dr. Chilton seems to be toying with Lecter, making the inmate unwilling to give any information. Starling is a small, pretty woman and it becomes apparent that Crawford thinks Lecter will take interest and talk to her. She gets information out of Lecter because one of the other inmates does something nasty to her (watch the movie, it’s gross) and is told to go to a locker. She finds a severed head which Lecter admits he did not do, but suspects that it was done by Buffalo Bill. Another victim is found and Crawford takes Starling along to examine the body. They find a very rare moth in the mouth of the new body which gives them some possible leads.
We see Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) abduct a new victim who turns out to be the daughter of a US Senator. With this ticking clock aspect, Starling is authorized to offer Lecter a fake deal for information about Buffalo Bill. Lecter instead asks personal questions of Starling (probably the best aspect of the film) and she explains the death of her father and her life on a farm with foster parents. Lecter reveals information that Dr. Chilton records and the warden exposes the ruse offering his own deal so he can get the credit. Lecter is taken to see the Senator in the famous wire face mask and he gives her information about a man named Louis Friend.
Lecter is moved to a giant bird cage on the 5th floor of a Tennessee courthouse where Starling visits him once more to note that Louis Friend is a trick. To find the real information, Starling reveals why she left the farm house, but is unable to figure out the clues from Lecter. Shortly after she leaves, Lecter is able to escape and does terrible things to his guards (it is a real mess).
Starling does not seem to be worried that Lecter will come after her because she says “it would be rude.” She does go over the notes that Lecter had made and, while reviewing the case file for Buffalo Bill, Starling is able to figure out what the killer is trying to accomplish based on what skin is being cut from the bodies. She calls Crawford to inform him, but he says they were able to trace the purchase of the rare moth to his residence. Starling is relieved and she is assigned to follow up with the families of the previous victims. While investigating the first victim killed, she goes to interview a person that knew the victim.
Here is some spoiler territory so go back now if you haven’t seen the film…
The FBI go to the wrong house and Buffalo Bill moved into the home of the woman that Starling is going to see. She quickly realizes who she is talking to and finds that the victim is still alive and in the house. So begins the most intense house search that pits Starling vs. Buffalo Bill. I won’t say exactly what happens but Starling is able to survive.
The film flashes forward to Starling’s graduation from the FBI Academy when she gets a call at the after party. It is Lecter calling from a pay phone. He offers his congratulations and says that he won’t come after her, but he is shown hanging up and following Dr. Chilton through a crowd outside an airport with his last line being “I am having an old friend for dinner.”
Throughout the film, Director Demme uses distance from the actor’s face to show how close they are to making a revelation. There are a couple of moments, especially when Starling and Lecter are talking, where we get a shot/reverse shot in extreme close up. We get closer and closer to the eyes. A clever use of the bullet resistant plexiglass walls to Lecter’s cell allowed for Lecter’s reflection to appear right next to Starling, almost like a thought bubble (exampled in the top picture above). He is literally in her head.
This is not the type of movie that the Academy generally favors, so it really speaks to the quality of the story and the acting that they did so well. Anthony Hopkins was only on screen for 24 minutes and 5 seconds, the second shortest “lead acting” role to win Best Actor. It was especially interesting since there were many other actors with close to that much time in the same film, yet no other male actor from the film was nominated for Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor.
There were a couple of laughable moments that involved the amount of police used when attempting to move Hannibal Lecter. They use something like 20 armed guards in half a dozen cars with a SWAT truck in tow. Also, Lecter is strapped to a dolly and shackled with a straight jacket and full head restraint. If he was actually that dangerous, they would have never moved him. But I must admit, it made for a pretty cool show of force.
Some of the possible slasher aspects of the movie were replaced with good cinematography. There is no “killer eye view” and there are no gratuitous murder shots. The director wants you to understand the killer so as to know what he will do next, not fear his random hatred and be disgusted. In fact, I would say that Hannibal Lecter is the ultimate anti-hero: a serial killer that is a dangerous killer that part of you is rooting for. It is an amazing story telling feat that is complimented by superb acting.
It is weird to think that Jodie Foster would be able to keep up with Anthony Hopkins (at least I thought it was weird) because he is a seasoned actor and 25 years her senior. She was barely 30 when she filmed the role. Yet, it shouldn’t have been surprising since Foster starting acting at 8-years-old, giving her over 20 years of acting experience by the time she took the role and it was actually her second trophy for Best Actress. Agent Starling was a lovely, youthful spark in a world of dank death and decay. Her name is fitting, then, since a starling is a small, almost shiny bird that seems to be able to survive in just about any environment.
So does this movie belong on the AFI Top 100? Yes. Although I must admit that there really isn’t anything deeply “American” about this film besides the location. It is still a fabulous film made in the states that Americans can be proud of. It is a quality film in a rarely recognized genre featuring two of the most stand-out acting performances of the last 30 years. Fantastic film. Would I recommend it? Definitely for adults. There were some things that scared me and some things that I did not understand when I first saw it around age 15. If you are not overly sensitive to violence and/or suffering, then I highly encourage experiencing this film…because it is quite the amazing experience.