So I watched Silence of the Lambs in HD late last night and I am glad to report it still holds up very well. Even though it was inevitable, it’s a shame that sequels were made. They never came close to the terrifying excellence of this horror film that took home a best picture Oscar. Some things I noticed this time around:
*Cameraman Tak Fujimoto’s work here is just amazing. So many scenes with low light and dark colors. Hannibal in those bright white clothes with blood splatter. The rural Ohio stuff has a dirty, wintery (minus the snow) look to it.
*Much has been written about the consistent male gaze in this film and it still creates enormous tension. Clarice is constantly being stared at and director Demme makes sure that you are aware of it. And of course the scenes of Hannibal and Clarice looking directly into the camera for long takes is still a marvel of acting and directing. When Lector thanks Clarice for being vulnerable (she tells him the story of the lambs), his eyes (looking directly into ours) well with tears. Powerful stuff
*The basement of the Lipman house is seemingly endless in it’s hallways and doors. It’s positively absurd but it works.
*Clarice discovers the naughty photos of the first victim and then just lays them down on the dresser and walks out of the room-kinda rude considering her still grieving father downstairs will now find those. I was kind of amused I had never picked that up before.
*The most gruesome scene where Hannibal takes the face of the officer and hides under it doesn’t seem as plausible to me now but it’s still a shocker.
*I distinctly remember what scene took me from being an observer of the film to being at the mercy of the film (and it comes very early). Dr. Chilton is walking Clarice down to meet Hannibal for the first time. As he is rattling off the dos and don’ts – which starts to make us the viewer nervous- Demme starts slowly raising a low frequency rumble and the pace of the scene quickens. It shows them in medium shots as they continue downward. Then, Demme cuts in close, looking slightly down at Chilton who’s now bathed in red light as he shows Clarice (but not us) the photo of the nurse who Hannibal mangled with his teeth and says “The doctors managed to reset her jaw more or less. Saved one of her eyes. His pulse never got above 85, even when he ate her tongue”. Bam. The movie owns you and you haven’t even met Hannibal yet.
I also watched Paranorman today with the kids. Pretty good. Great character and set designs. A great looking film. It never really becomes anything special. It has some genuine laughs. Fun overall but a little dull. Not for little kids that is for sure; a bit scary. The script also has some adult humor that was a little surprising to me.
Finally, I watched Friends with Kids which was better than I felt it was going to be in the first 10 minutes. It doesn’t make a great first impression and it has problems (many scenes don’t ring true, swings back and forth from being overly written to underwritten) but Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt (who also wrote and directed) make it work when it counts (especially Scott who pulls off a gradual transformation that is very effective).
I had hoped to do a piece on some 80’s teen films but that will have to be next time.