Sunday, August 13, 2006

My Saturday With Cannibals and Tooth Fairies

Why did I watch it again?

I HATED Red Dragon the first time I saw it. I thought it was garbage and I felt actual embarrassment for Anthony Hopkins for letting himself be involved with it. I noticed it happened to be on last night, so I watched it again. I don't know why. I guess I wanted to TRY and give it another chance. You see, I'm almost finished reading Red Dragon for about the eleventieth time and saturday afternoon, I watched Manhunter again:

I LOVED Manhunter. It's up there in my top 10 favorite films: the acting, the dialogue, the directing. Perfection. Considering how I feel about Manhunter, I suppose it's unfair to compare it with Red Dragon. Even before RD came out, I automatically viewed it as being nothing more than a pathetic remake of a far superior film and that nothing about it could possibly live up to the original version.

2 things I learned from my mother: Life is not fair, and "I told you so" is an acceptable response in some instances.

Instead of rehashing the entire movie, I'll just compare the three lead performances in both films. Again, I'm being unfair, but who am I to question my mother's wisdom?

William Petersen and Edward Norton as Will Graham:

I have made no secret of my love for Petersen. I think he's hot. He's also a highly underated actor and he's at his best in Manhunter. He's got this quiet, tortured thing going on that fits his character. Plus, you know, he's all hot and stuff. (I said that already? Oh. Well, it's true.)

Edward Norton on the other hand, caused me physical pain just watching him. It was like watching a 12 year old try and play a grown-up. The same lines that sounded so dag-blamed cool coming out of Petersen's mouth 20 years ago, made me laugh out loud coming out of Norton's. I'm not kidding. When he said,"You took your gloves off, didn't you, you sonofabitch?!", I swear to God, iced tea came out of my nose. Have you ever had that happen? It burns something awful. I should sue him.

Round 1 winner: Manhunter.

Tom Noonan and Ralph Fiennes as Francis Dollarhyde (The Tooth Fairy):

Tom Noonan freaks me the hell out. If you've never seen him, he's this big, tall guy, with white hair and he speaks in kind of a monotone and he ALWAYS seems to play these creepy guys. I'm sure he's a perfectly nice man, but if I ever saw him on the street, I'd probably kick him in the knee and run away, screaming. Which means that he's done his job.

Ralph, Ralph, Ralph. If I saw HIM on the street, I'd probably get arrested for trying to climb on top of him. He's just TOO pretty to pull this role off. Dollarhyde is supposed to be disfigured. Specifically, he was born with a harelip, and his teeth are all fucked up. Actually, from the various descriptions of him in the book, you get the overall impression that he's the ugliest man who ever lived, and the only woman he can get (the only LIVE woman, that is) is blind. They picked Ralph FRIGGING Fiennes to play him?! Sorry, slapping a scar on his mouth doesn't diminish his looks enough to make me NOT want to bite his tattooed heiney.

Winner Round 2: Manhunter

Brian Cox and Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter:

I ADORED Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. In RD, I just wanted to shake him and tell him to stop it, for the love of God, STOP IT! It was almost like his performance was done as a joke or something. I don't blame him though. I blame Brett Ratner. He's a piece of shit director and he managed to get the hammiest performance possible out of one of the world's greatest living actors. I hope he's proud of himself. He should be stripped, flayed and staked to an anthill.

I saw Manhunter BEFORE I saw SotL. I loved SotL. I really, really did, but (the following statement has gotten me some funny looks over the years) I prefer Brian Cox as Lecter over Hopkins. Maybe it's because I had his take on Lecter etched in my brain first, but it's something else as well. After watching both Sotl and Manhunter in the same week, (I'm not going to judge Hopkins' Lecter using RD alone. I'm not a monster) I think I've figured out why.

Cox is in Manhunter for approximately 10 minutes. He's calm; bored, even. You only hear a few vague, but telling, references to Lecter's crimes. He doesn't kill anyone onscreen. Because of that, you have to piece together just WHAT exactly he's supposedly done, in your own mind. Anything he could have possibly done is NOTHING compared to what I can come up with in my warped noggin, at least, nothing they could put on film. Because of that, the Lecter in Manhunter comes off as far more sinister and mysterious because of what you DON'T see and he gets to retain his dignity, because he doesn't have to get his hands dirty by actually killing anyone. Make sense?

Round 3 winner: Manhunter.

I think I've made it clear that I didn't like Red Dragon, but that's not to say it didn't have it's good moments. Granted, I can only think of 2-Emily Watson and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (although Hoffman loses a few points for that scene of him in his underwear. Jesus, that was just cruel.) but 2 good portrayals of minor characters are not a compelling enough reason to sit through a two and a half hour piece of crapola. Actually, since I've watched it twice, that's 5 HOURS of my life that they've stolen from me. Bastards.