MY FAVORITE MOVIES
These are not EXACTLY in order..somewhat..and I'm sure that there are some missing..but I'll keep adding as I remember..and as I see more to recommend
REquiem for a Dream
Lost and Delerious
Life is Beautiful
Lord of the Rings
The Dark Crystal
The Princess Bride
The Object of My Affection
I Am Sam
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
RED DRAGON REVIEW -by James Hrivnak
RED DRAGON **Ĺ
by James Hrivnak
With the exception of Attack of the Clones, no other movie this year will be unable to escape comparison than Brett Ratnerís Red Dragon. Not only is it a prequel to Jonathon Demmeís The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Ridley Scottís Hannibal (2001), but is also a remake of Michael Mannís excellent Manhunter (1986).
Being an enormous fan of both Manhunter and Silence (plus a having a large disliking for Hannibal), I am going to be completely honest; I cannot review this film without bias or comparison. However, I do not feel bad about it; surely the filmmakers knew what they were getting into undertaking this project.
The story concerns former FBI agent Will Graham (Edward Norton) being called back into action to help solve a case involving a grisly serial killer who targets families. Graham chose early retirement after catching, and being wounded by, the now notorious Hannibal Lector (again played by Sir Anthony Hopkins).
Screenwriter Ted Tally (who also adapted Silence) has fleshed out the character of Lector to give him a larger roll (and top billing). It is obvious, and I am glad Tally centered his efforts on making those scenes good, particularly the opening scene. However, he seems to neglect the rest of the story.
In direct comparison to Manhunter, Red Dragon has a much slower pace and it is more ponderous; at times the film loses its focus. Edward Nortonís Will Graham is mostly devoid of personality until the remaining twenty minutes of the film. He is a little detached, and sleepy-eyed next to William L. Petersonís pensive portrayal. I like Norton as an actor, and some of his scenes are good, but on the whole, it just did not feel right. He did not really look and feel like a once hard-boiled, now wounded FBI agent.
Much has already been said about the Hannibal Lector character, and Iím positive much more will be said. In terms of this film, he is tamer than in Hannibal, but more openly frustrated than in Silence. Thankfully Hopkins has learned to tone down his enthusiasm for the role, and not bitten off more scenery than he can chew.
My main problem with Red Dragon is its obviousness and contrivances. The relationship between the killer (Ralph Fiennes) and a blind co-worker (Emily Watson) is more of a gimmick than anything else. As well, there is an early scene in a restaurant where Graham is contemplating visiting Lector for his help with the case, and glances over to the table next to him and sees (in slow motion, no less) a happy family. Only then does he realize he must do this. It is this kind of beating over the head with, not necessarily the obvious, but what should be subtle character development that is unnecessary. The simple fact that Graham has chosen to help with the case in the first place is enough for the audience to gather and understand that information.
The other obvious aspect I did not like was Danny Elfmanís score. In many scenes it is used not to underscore the action and increase tension, but used to scare the hell out of the audience by being loud and jolting. A technique like this is usually reserved for lesser films of this genre.
Quite simply and plainly Red Dragon is not nearly as involving or frightening as Manhunter or The Silence of the Lambs. It does however, have some very good material, which borders on the great. The majority of the scenes with Lector are vastly entertaining, even if not completely needed (particularly a dinner scene toward the end). I also especially liked the very last scene between Lector and Dr. Chilton (Anthony Hearld, reprising his role from Silence), and that wry smile on its face.
I suspect people will flock to this film because the Lector character is more than a screen villain, but an icon in popular culture. It is like the next installment in the James Bond series. It has an equal chance of being a good film or a bad film, but we go anyway, with a sort of curiosity directing us toward the theatre, even if the trailers donít quite make any sense.
The Silence of the Lambs ****
This film is a documentary about the history of marijuana in the United States. Narrated by Woody Harrelson (bonus!), it explains how marijuana legislation began as an attempt to deter Mexican immigration to the States. The first man to head the anti-drug campaign, Anslinger, supressed marijuana research and instead promoted propaganda that claimed "If you smoke it, you will go insane!" and many other lies.
After Anslinger, Nixon was the next major figure in the "war on drugs". His campaign was based on "returning the US to order" but most laws were goverened by individual states. Drug laws were the only laws he could really control so he created more and more drug laws and suppressed the truth about marijuana. Nixon created a new drug agency that incorporated all of the earlier ones. He paid million for research to find out more about the effects of marijuana (hoping to find evidence of it's negative effects). When the study found no negative effects of marijuana and suggested that the laws against it be decreased, Nixon threw the report in the garbage without even reading it.
After the Watergate scandal NIxon's VP took over where he left off, but then found himself running against a surprise candidate in the election, Jimmy Carter ("Jimmy Carter says YES").
Jimmy Carter was the first president to attempt to diminish drug laws, but his stance on the subject changed when he was accused of using cocaine. He then had no choice but to appear tough on drugs so couldn't follow through with his campaign promises of decriminalization.
Many, many billions of dollars (.9 billion from 1980-1998) have been spent on propaganda (claiming that marijuana will make you kill people and lead to heroine use) and the so-called "war on drugs". Aren't there better things the money could be spent on than lies and jail costs for people doing something that isn't hurting anyone else??? Couldn't the government in fact be MAKING money from marijuana???
Waking Life is SUCH a beautiful movie...I just discovered the website and it looks very interesting.
This movie challenges many traditional views of reality. If we can control our life what happens when we control our dreams? Anything is possible in our dreams if we make it happen, so why don't we control our life the same way, as if anything was possible? What happens when we do?