Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thriller #5 - The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Thriller #6 was Alien, which I've already watched back in Science Fiction, so the next movie was The Silence of the Lambs. This is definitely the most disturbing movie I've seen so far. It's about serial killers and you see all kinds of corpses and mutilation and it is very creepy. I thought it was going to be scary, though. I thought it was really going to stick with me and keep me up at night and pop into my head in the dark, like that creepy dog-guy in The Shinning, but it didn't. It was definitely very creepy while I was watching it, but that's about it. I thought I was going to have trouble with the movies in this genre, and I haven't so far. I'm a little disappointed, really.

So, The Silence of the Lambs: Clarice Starling, a trainee FBI agent, is trying to catch a serial killer, Buffalo Bill. The FBI decides that the best way to do this is to send her to Hannibal Lecter, a cannibal who's already in prison, and ask him to help. And that works, which just goes to show what I know about crime investigation, because it is not the route I would have taken.

Silence of the Lambs is, justifiably, really well-known for Hannibal Lector. Even though the rest of the movie is good, Hannibal Lector is what makes it really stand out - Sort of like the end of The Usual Suspects. Hannibal Lector is a serial killer and he's always going around just knowing things about people and making hissing noises, but he's also very refined and cultured and elegant. Part of what's so creepy about him is that he's not nearly as creepy as he really should be. He's a serial killer, and they have you sort of rooting for him! That's pretty intense. Hannibal Lecter is really what you come away from this movie remembering, even above the guy making a suit out of skin.

Hannibal is Anthony Hopkins, and he's really good. I've only seen him in one other movie before - Othello, as Othello, which seems like a bizarre casting choice to me, but whatever - and he's way better in this one. He won an Oscar for it, even though he was only on screen for 24 minutes. The Silence of the Lambs is actually the last movie to win all five major Oscars - Actor, Actress, Director, Screenplay and Picture - and is the only horror movie to ever win Best Picture. Jodie Foster is Clarice, and she was terrific, but I've seen her in a lot of stuff, and she's always good. Someone tried to kill Ronald Reagan for her, you know.

This movie is actually also famous for, of all things, treating the animals they used really well. All of the moths they used had there own little homes and costumes and not a single moth was hurt. There actually is a real moth with a skull on its back, the Death's-Head Hawk Moth. It looks like this:

It's disgustingly gigantic. The moth on the poster, however, is not that type of moth - The skull is actually a Salvador Dali painting of seven naked women made to look like a skull. And now you know.

I liked The Silence of the Lambs, even though it was disappointedly un-scary. Again. The acting and the story is really good, and it's got a lot of good imagery. And, that hissing thing that Hannibal Lector does? Anthony Hopkins just threw it in, and the whole crew liked it so much that it made it into the movie, even though they were all convinced that it wouldn't. If you watch that part, you'll notice that there's a nice long pause between "Chianti" and "Hisshisshiss," so it could be cut out easily. Fun Fact.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thriller #7 - The Birds (1963)

So The Birds is an Alfred Hitchcock movie about all of the birds attacking people. Why? We don't know! It makes for a very bizarre movie. It's actually really creepy - You'd think that a movie about birds attacking people would be horrifying and hilarious, but it's not. It's just horrifying. It's not so much the bird attacks that are scary - because of the old technology they are a little bit amusing, and the phone booth scene is distracting because the set is obviously larger than a real phone booth (Gasp! It's a phone booth that's bigger on the inside! Of course a time machine would protect her from seagulls!). But the other scenes - The birds flocking and hitting doors and sitting around watching people - those are really creepy. Shockingly, this Alfred Hitchcock film is very suspenseful.

The Birds doesn't have any music in it - just a carefully composed set of sound effects - which really helps the atmosphere, I think. It makes it seem more realistic - That's what makes most of the movie so scary, actually. Birds won't just start attacking people, but they could. And what would we do? There are all kinds of birds out there - It would be the Bird Apocalypse! That's really scary!

The movie stars Tippi Hendron and Rod Taylor, who I think looks just like Cary Grant even though nobody else sees it, and they're very good. Alfred Hitchcock is in it at the very beginning, and apparently owns poodles, which makes sense, really. I really liked The Birds. It was really pretty scary, and it was well-done, and I've been watching the birds for signs of conspiracy ever since, so it was obviously effective. The acting is sort of outdated though, so seems kind of stiff, and it really needs to be restored. There are all sorts of little blips in the film and the color is really uneven from one scene to another. But boy is it scary.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thriller #8 - The French Connection (1971)

So you know how police work seems really boring because a lot of it is just sitting around waiting for something to happen? Well The French Connection is a lot like actual police work. It's about these policemen, Doyle and Charnier (Doyle is Gene Hackman, by the way), who are trying to catch a guy they strongly suspect is smuggling cocaine, and the man who's selling it to him - A french guy: The french connection, one might say.

That's really it.

Something about this movie makes it really hard to connect to - Maybe it's because you can't really understand anyone, maybe it's because the storyline is kind of vague - but I just did not ever feel engrossed in the movie. When I watch the other movies, I usually feel like a part of them, even if I don't really like them. This movie, though: It was like the movie was just playing in the room I was sitting. I get more invested in Mythbusters than I did with this movie. There have definitely been other movies like this - Reds, All Quiet on the Western Front, most of The Third Man - but that doesn't make this movie any better.

It did have its good points, though. It was very 70's, which was kind of fun. I was slightly disappointed by the 70's that I got, though - the DVD menu plays this funky 70's cop show music, and there was nothing like that in the actual movie. There's a pretty good car chase with a train, but that was really the only interesting thing that happened the whole movie. It's a shame - it had looked promising. I probably won't ever revisit The French Connection.