So once again we have survived.

Manhunter

Michael Mann feature #4 is MANHUNTER. Instead of a moody portrait of a thief like in THIEF he does one of a profiler trying to identify a serial killer. This is of course Mann’s adaptation of Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon, the pre-SILENCE OF THE LAMBS story of a guy chasing a killer called “The Tooth Fairy” after having caught Hannibal Lecktor (that’s how they spell it when he’s played by Brian Cox). William Petersen (THE SKULLS) plays Will Graham, who FBI agent Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina, CODE OF SILENCE) nudges into the investigation by showing him some crime scene photos and making him feel bad. That was a pretty shitty thing to do because Will is just starting to get his life back together after getting inside the mind of Lecktor also got him inside the rooms of a mental hospital.

“You’re supposed to be his friend. Why didn’t you leave him alone?” Will’s wife Molly (Kim Greist, C.H.U.D.) asks resignedly.

This is a story of professional brilliance. Not the type that makes speeches and proudly spits out lingo and statistics (see: ALEX CROSS), but the quiet, intensely thoughtful, almost shy type that knows every odd angle to consider and stays persistent even as others think he’s racing toward a dead end. He’s the type of investigator – not as commonly seen in movies and TV back then, if at all – who goes to the scene of the crime alone, sits on the floor, looks in the windows, walks up the stairs talking to the killer about what he did. “Didn’tchya? Didn’tchya you sonofabitch?” He watches the family’s home videos over and over and over again and broods and percolates until the answers come to him.

Crawford is the procedure part of the investigation. Sometimes he questions Graham and tries to steer him in different directions, but mostly he follows him, wide-eyed, constantly at the ready to point to some guys and tell them you do this, you do that, you go with him, or get on the phone and call in whatever experts or backup or tests or answers they need. I’ve never seen a movie that paid such attention to speedy transportation during a murder investigation. He’s always calling in the Lear jet or helicopter to get Graham where he needs to be ASAP. No time for long drives. One of the most exciting scenes is when they’ve snuck a toilet paper note out of Lecktor’s cell and they’re running up and down a hallway to different labs trying to get as much info out of it as they can before they have to put it back in Lecktor’s book without him noticing.

But my favorite sequence is less forensics and more emotions. Graham sits on the dock with Molly  after the family has been threatened and uprooted by his choice to take the gig. She keeps asking questions like “Where are things?” and “What’s next?” that sound like she’s talking about their relationship and their lives, but his answers are always about the case. At first I thought he was misreading her, but it turns out they are on the same page, she gets it, or at least has learned to accept it. But he surprises her by being the one to say that it has to stop after this. And then he convinces her to go to her dad’s in Montana, “and I’ll come up and get you afterwards.” The sequence crescendos in the next scene, a THIEF-esque stunningly textured look at Graham staring out the window of a diner on a rainy night. There’s activity in the diner but his mind is outside floating through the city ready for a one-on-one. “It’s just you and me now, sport,” he says. “I’m gonna find you, god damn it.” And you can feel that it’s the profiler version of the “Oh Shit, It’s On!” moment of badassery.

Also great: the scene where he finally tells the story of what happened with him and Lecktor… to his young son Kevin (David Seaman, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF PIPPI LONGSTOCKING) while they’re grocery shopping. We get a breakthrough in the crucial familial relationship at the center of the story and at the same time an enlightening piece of backstory.

It’s interesting that Petersen stars in both this and TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., William Friedkin’s Secret Service procedural that’s way more action-oriented but equally slathered in uncut 1980s stylishness. MANHUNTER is also a relative of the Mann-produced Miami Vice, with its mix of gloomy keyboard score and pop songs, its potent, broody atmosphere and artful rather than dated ogling of the era’s clothes, cars and furnishings. And at one point it made me think of one of my other favorite icons of ’80s style, Brian DePalma’s SCARFACE, but only because they stay in a house with a giant beach mural.

The visuals are especially stunning once Mann steps into the private world of the killer, Francis Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan, LATE PHASES). He’s shy and secluded due not only to his evil activities but his shame over his disfigured mouth. He’s some sort of photographer and his apartment is stunningly designed with floor to ceiling photos of outer space and the surface of the moon. Instead of a suspicious white serial killer van he drives a cool one with round submarine style side windows. One of the doors in his house has three round windows too. I’m a little wary of this now-cliche of serial killers with great style and imagination, when I suspect most of the real ones are just filthy broken people in houses that smell like animal pee. But I think Mann sort of invented this type of exoticization, at least in its cinematic form, so he was trying something new, not perpetuating something old.

Noonan is great, as always, and really puts that combination of his startling size and gentle demeanor to good use. We’ve seen what he’s all about (including kidnapping a reporter [Stephen Lang, BAND OF THE HAND] to rant to and then roll in a wheelchair into a parking garage while on fire) before we see him in the workplace, where he manages to pass as a gentle giant. He awkwardly convinces blind co-worker Reba (Joan Allen, DEATH RACE, FACE/OFF) to get a ride home with him, and she ends up at his place drinking a gin and tonic that he prepared for her. It’s so scary and gross and then there’s a stunning twist where not only does her cocktail not seem to be drugged, but she makes a move on him and they end up in bed, consensually. With a song playing, no less! I mean, kind of a dark Leonard Cohen-y sounding song (“This Big Hush” by Shriekback), but still, it plays almost like a normal sex scene.

The next morning, as they stand on a dock gorgeously silhouetted against the sunset and talking quietly, you contemplate what’s going on in his mind, whether he’s thinking maybe he can make this work, and leave all the murdering-of-families behind.

You know what’s a weird scene? When Reba is brought in to see a sedated tiger, and she rubs her hand across his fur, and his face, even pushing his lip aside and touching the teeth. And then she lays on him and hears his heart. It’s a symbol for the danger she’s about to flirt with by hanging around Francis, but just on a literal level it’s kind of fucking terrifying. And it sure as hell looks like they used an actual sedated tiger, not a fake one. Knowing Mann either it was a real tiger or there was a real tiger hired as a consultant to teach the fake one how to do real tiger stuff.

I have never really gotten into these Thomas Harris joints that everybody loves, and hadn’t seen this since the VHS days, so it was nice to revisit now that I have more taste and now that there are Blu-Rays. (I chose to watch the theatrical cut, but there’s a director’s cut also included.) This is a good example of Mann’s techniques turning a pretty normal story into a trip through time. The style and the mood and the attention to detail are so strong that you feel like you’re there in the middle of it, in a different era, a different world, witness to a collision between spacey psychopathy and science-and-logic-based expertise; between two weird, obsessed, introverted men who are both struggling to make it work with women and who share a mutual friend who is in jail and slicks his hair back and is really smart but a total dick.

Mann wanted to keep the book’s title, but producer Dino De Laurentiis insisted on changing it because YEAR OF THE DRAGON bombed. Dragon titles were bad luck I guess. Admittedly MANHUNTER is more generic, but I like how it could describe either the hero or the villain, fitting with the theme that they reflect each other. Both are obsessed and introverted, causing problems with their relationships, and Will has to think like Francis in order to catch him, so they blend together. Who manhunts the manhunters?

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, March 20th, 2017 at 11:58 am and is filed under Crime, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

103 Responses to “Manhunter”

  1. What I love most about this, is how the Hannibal character is almost resigned to his fate. I say it like he’s an evil inverse of Morgan Freeman in THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, a cynical lifer that (at least outwardly) is accepting of his life now. Brian Cox probably doesn’t even stand for any more than half a minute throughout the whole thing. This is especially telling when he’s on the phone with Graham, talking about the power of God. He’s laying down on his bed, feet up on the wall. Compare that to Anthony Hopkins, who plays him in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS comparatively as a caged animal, it’s a striking dichotomy.

  2. It’s weird that we meanwhile got three different versions of the story. The dark and stylish 80s version, the commercially streamlined 2000s version (that reportedly made Anthony Hopkins want to quit acting) and of course season 3.2 of HANNIBAL. Out of the three screen Tooth Fairy’s, Noonan is definitely the best. He is one of those rare actors, who can be scary and creepy as hell, but also pass as the nice guy from across the street who you would let babysit your kids, without changing anything about his appereance and as you noted in the review, this gift is used to full effect here.

    Like most of Mann’s 80s joints, the super stylish approach can come across a bit cheesy at times (I chuckle every time when Noonan enters a room with those crazy, silver spaceman sunglasses on), but when he is more focusing on mood and atmosphere, it still delivers 100%.

    In conclusion: I really like this movie. Too bad, that it’s a bit obscure these days.

  3. I never bothered with the series HANNIBAL as it seemed to be treading similar footsteps without leaving any footprints of its own. A shame, as I really love Mads Mikkelsen as an actor. he is a favourite of mine.

  4. The TV show was actually all about leaving its own footprints on the material.

  5. Well, I watched two or three episodes, so maybe I am not qualified, but it was enough of me not to dwell on it.

  6. Vern, I notice that you’re shying away from the big Hannibal debate you know this is going to turn into. As most people over here I’m on team Cox. He owns the role.

    Shoot, you only like him because he can speak fluent Swedish!

  7. I always appreciated the sheer *boredom* with which Cox plays, uh, “Lecktor”. Nothing but love for Anthony Hopkins, but there’s something deeply off-putting about the naked contempt Cox broadcasts, as opposed to the glee with which Hopkins-Lector plays with his opponents.

  8. I always thought people were either nuts or just being hipsters about it when they said this one was better than SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, but the new Blu-ray makes me better understand that point of view. It’s still wrong but I can see how a case could be made.

    I gave HANNIBAL my usual three-episode trial run and gave up. I just found it tedious. All that serial killer stuff that MANHUNTER helped pioneer is just so old hat now, so watching a show about a profiler so perceptive there’s no functional difference between his talents and those of a psychic as he tracks serial killers who really should have just gone to art school and gotten into video installation or something, especially a show that takes itself so fucking seriously that it practically has a disclaimer at the beginning informing the audience that what they’re about to see is ART, goddammit…well, it was all a little laughable, while also being very boring. I’ve been told it got better but those same people like MAD MEN so I’m sticking with my assessment.

    Also that wet-eyed wiener they had pretending to be Graham was the most milquetoast detective I’ve ever encountered. He always looked like he was a second away from raising his hand to ask to be excused from the murder investigation because he had to tinkle.

    Yeah, I didn’t like it. MANHUNTER is pretty dope, though.

  9. I also don’t think that you can accuse the TV show of taking itself so fucking seriously. We are talking a show, that released its own cook book and people getting killed by being turned into human cellos or having an arm (or a living eel) shoved down their throat. A running gag was that one recurring character got heavily mutilated once per season and survive. (I guess by season 5 he would have been a badly burned torso.) If anything, we learned that it apparently takes more than three episodes to realize, what a great show it was.

  10. (There are some words and letters missing from my post above. I still haven’t learned to read before I send, but I think I need to change the battery in my keyboard, which is nothing anybody here should be concerned of.)

  11. I’ve seen this one so many times and continue to really like it. Like many, I saw it after SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, thanks to Leonard Maltin for mentioning it in his review. Can’t imagine them making a serial killer movie like this today. It seems we never really moved past SILENCE OF THE LAMBS or SEVEN for the genre.

    As for the oh so fun Cox vs Hopkins debate, I think it goes on the director’s shoulders for which take you enjoy more: Mann tackles the material as a cop drama, Jonathan Demme tackled the material as a horror movie. I like Cox’s more grounded bored/pissed take like Brendan said. Hopkins’ performance goes full cartoon and in hind-sight it is kinda funny we ever found his take so ‘terrifying’ AND the Academy awarded him an Oscar for it. I wonder if that gave Al Pacino hope when he got nominated for DICK TRACY?

    Guess while I’m here… HANNIBLE is a typical Ridley Scott joint, it’s beautiful to look at but stupid and boring as all get out. RED DRAGON I remember being enjoyable, suffers from ‘Not as good as MANHUNTER syndrome. I wonder how it would have been if they stuck to the original (backup) plan and cast Tim Roth as Lector? I guess then the studio/producers would have felt it wouldn’t have been worth making then. HANNIBAL RISING is one of those ‘I can’t believe this got made’ movies and as such I kinda have a soft-spot with it’s re-imagining Lector as a tragic avenger ala BATMAN BEGINS.

  12. Majestyk pinpoints and expresses way more clearly than I ever could why I never cared for the series. Thank you.

  13. As for the TV show, it’s okay I guess. It’s a really silly show. I get a kick out of the crazy killer-of-the-week plots that kept trying to top the one before it. I never made it past the half way point of season two. I hear it gets better but I wasn’t as in love it as other people. Maybe I was just burnt out on this type of show past the (sometimes) enjoyably silly DEXTER?

    I also feel I shouldn’t make it sound like I don’t like SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. It’s been years and years since I’ve seen it but I remember really liking it on last re-watch (early 2000’s on the Criterion DVD).

  14. I, as someone who doesn’t care for horror generally and completely understands the DEXTER fatigue factor, thought HANNIBAL was a great show. The idea that the character could be, after being portrayed by two middle-aged pudgy men, a genuine physical threat and a figure of strength was appealing to me. That’s something you rarely see even in other serial killers, they’re always played by…middle-aged pudgy men. Even Michael C. Hall on DEXTER came off as an average guy. After the big fight scene in season one, I retroactively sort of regretted that Mads didn’t have a fight scene in CASINO ROYALE.

    Anyway, here is a video compilation of a Graham/Lecktor (Lector) scene using MANHUNTER, RED DRAGON, and an episode of the series

    Recovering the Mindset

    "Recovering the Mindset" intercuts the three different interpretations of Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon; Manhunter by Michael Mann, Red Dragon by…

  15. You guys are wrong about Hannibal. I mean, you’re not wrong about the first three episodes, but it actually develops (mostly in season 2) into an entirely different beast. The procedural stuff fades into the background and it turns into a dreamlike dance between the main characters. Not to mention the food segments.

  16. CJ: If there’s one thing my time on this sight has taught me, it’s that there’s no such thing as objective greatness. One person’s timeless masterpiece is another person’s sleep aid (both of those are BLADE RUNNER), and no amount of argument will make somebody enjoy something he/she didn’t. So while I’ll agree that three episodes isn’t enough to determine greatness (I didn’t even think my favorite show of all time was great afte only three episodes) but it is enough time to determine whether or not the show has the elements (inteiguing premise, charismatic cast, solid writing) required to make you want to watch another 50 hours of it. HANNIBAL did not pass that test for me. The premise would be tired even if it wasn’t the sixth time the character has been adapted to the screen, I didn’t care for the cast (I’ve discussed that bedwetter they have in the lead before, and, while I have no beef with Mads, I have to say that beyond a certain baseline intensity he doesn’t bring much to the table for me), and the writing was too eyerollingly purple for my tastes. I understand that it refined those attributes over time but unless it reinvented itself completely I just can’t see myself ever getting into it. And that’s fine. It’s likely that whatever I disliked about it is exactly what made it great for you.

  17. Hey, but MANHUNTER though. Solid movie. Even better use of “In A Gadda Da Vida” than FREDDY’S DEAD.

  18. Hopkins as Hannibal,c’mon, man, it’s not even close. Brian Cox is obviously the shit, and I don’t really see a point in comparing them, since the screen time and whatever. It’s apples and oranges. But, c’mon, Hopkins as Hannibal is just greatness, right there. The HANNIBAL film is incredibly over the top camp, but I like it on that level. Hopkins is a complete beast in all of them. He’s tons of fun in RED DRAGON. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, that’s best actor award-winning ish right there.

    I enjoyed MANHUNTER but do not think it’s on the same level as SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

  19. Hannibal went in the only only direction it could go by the end of season 3, and that was straight off the cliff (narrative-wise, and for two characters, literally). I loved it. Michael Pitt playing Mason Verger like a Gotham villain was pretty special also. I hear they’re attempting a Hannibal Resurrection of the series already.

  20. Also, I like like repeating words for no apparent reason.

  21. Bryan Fuller and others maintain there will be some sort of continuation. But with how it ended, I just can’t see it.

    Anyway, back to MANHUNTER. I watched Mann’s interview on THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR, and thought it was funny how Rodriguez at first thought the whole shootout in Dollarhyde’s house was a lot of stylistic choices, but really was just a lot of winging it because they had very little money and time to get it done. A lot of real low-budget stuff being done, but in the end it does look more on the level of everything else.

    Vern, the theatrical cut is the way to go. I assume you have bought the recent Blu special edition from Shout! Factory. It includes the director’s cut, but it’s done a little weird. The extra stuff is in standard definition while the rest, essentially all of the theatrical cut, is in 1080 HD. It makes it look a little odd, but I guess they couldn’t find the elements to update those other scenes in HD. That aside, the Blu-ray is fantastic. I wish Criterion had done it, mainly because they put out one for SILENCE OF THE LAMBS too. But I have no complaints, it’s a fantastic disc.

  22. This is a solid Mann joint, although it occasionally slips into cheesy 80s territory and William Peterson hams it up a bit too much. Still, Mann’s got a great eye for style. I love how Graham jumps through the glass just as “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” starts to freak out. It seems clearly influenced by 80s MTV but filtered through Mann’s eye.

    I didn’t mind Red Dragon. It was an enjoyable if not particularly memorable serial killer movie, but there are images in Manhunter that stay with you.

  23. The other thing about RED DRAGON is it gives us Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Freddie Lounds, which is one the great, pathetic dirtball performances of all time.

    I should probably give MANHUNTER another try, as I don’t think I’ve watched it since early 2000s. At the time, it seemed very strange and affected, just kind of like an oddball 80s movie. However, I think I’d have more patience for some of Mann’s stylistic fetishes this time around.

  24. I prefer the TV show to any of the movies, but I think it exists in a less grounded environment than the real world so if one doesn’t like that, I can see why one wouldn’t agree.

  25. This movie, and <To Live and Die in L.A. (one of my personal favorites) had me utterly convinced that William Petersen was bound for movie stardom.

    I’m wrong a lot, I should add.

  26. caruso_stalker217

    March 20th, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    DON’T TALK TO ME ABOUT LATE, PAL. I’LL TELL YOU WHEN IT’S TOO FUCKING LATE. UNTIL THEN WE GO AS LATE AS I WANNA TAKE IT!

  27. CJ, where did you see that Hopkins almost quit after Red Dragon?

    My first impression of Manhunter was tainted by seeing it on VHS first. The tape was open matte with tons of booms in the shot. I assumed that had to be in the print because why wouldn’t you crop that out?

    On Blu-ray Manhunter has grown on me but I still think Petersen running back and forth down four levels of museum steps (doubling as the prison) is ridiculous. In the ’90s I thought the ’80s cop drama approach was wrong for Red Dragon. Now that genre is far gone enough that I can see the value of it in its time. The “dintcha” stuff is very overwrought but Petersen does it with conviction.

  28. I haven’t seen this movie in a few years, but my take on it was that it compared unfavorably to Silence of the Lambs and even Red Dragon. I had a hard time getting past the cheesy 80s excesses. For example, I seem to recall an outlandish scene early in the movie where Graham grabs reporter Freddie Lounds by the arm and flips him over into a car windshield that was like something out of a comic book. So stupid.

    And the thing about Brian Cox as Hannibal, I think that performance would have vanished into relative obscurity if not for Anthony Hopkins making the character an icon a few years later. Practically the only time anyone ever mentions Cox in the role is to compare his performance to Hopkins for better or worse; the Cox performance is like a footnote and doesn’t have enough juice to be memorable in its own right. If Hopkins and Silence of the Lambs had never happened, no one would be talking about Brian Cox’s performance at all today. His acting was fine, it was workmanlike, but it wasn’t indelible the way Anthony Hopkins was in his first time out in Lambs.

  29. Fred: Can’t remember where I read it first, but I know on one account a writer for another website told me that during an e-mail convo, and he apparently heard it from Hopkins himself. In all fairness, it wasn’t the movie itself that made him wanna quit (and obviously his retirement plans didn’t last long), but the shoot was highly frustratring, mostly because of very unprofessional shenanigans from the director. (Also it’s telling that Hopkins refused to make another Hannibal movie, despite being offered a shit ton of money and having made a few paycheck movies in his life.)

  30. One more shoutout for the TV show, though it took its time to become awesome. But you know, It’s TV, if you quit after first 5 or so episodes, you wont see a shitload of good material. There were like 2 sitcoms that were any good at this point.

    Anyways, Im glad we had three distinct takes on Hannibal by three awesome actors, this is some good quality/quantity ratio.

  31. I’m another one that greatly prefers the show to either of the RED DRAGON movies and I enjoy both movies. I really love the music in this movie best though.

    Something about atmospheric 80s synth scores that just always cuts through to me. Probably growing up on SCARFACE and John Carpenter movies did it for me.

  32. Zombo: He certainly had a few chances at that. Right around the time of MANHUNTER and TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. he was offered PLATOON, but chose to do some HBO movie (back when doing anything original on HBO didn’t mean a whole lot) instead. And according to IMDB he was also offered the lead in GOODFELLAS, but I suppose filling James Coburn’s shoes as Pat Garrett in YOUNG GUNS 2 was more appealing too.

    I get the impression he’s a bit like James Spader, who similarly could have had a much bigger career too but chose a different path, and maybe more motivated by a steady income as opposed to becoming a huge star.

  33. I guess I don’t get TV.

    You watch a movie you don’t like. They make a sequel with the same cast and crew. You don’t watch it. This is considered common sense.

    You watch the equivalent length of a TV show you don’t like. They make more episodes with the same cast and crew. You don’t watch them. This is considered a personal failing on your part because if you had only suffered through eight more episodes (four sequels worth of material), you might find that it improved, even though the people telling you this obviously thought those original 11 hours (five or six sequels) were worth sitting through in the first place. No one keeps watching a show they initially thought was terrible.

    I don’t get it. I don’t like something, I don’t watch it. It’s that simple. I don’t care if the entire running time of the FRIDAY THE 13TH series later it’s gotten really good. Life is too short.

    Maybe I missed out. Oh well. Every episode of a TV show I quit on is half a movie I now have time to watch. The math adds up for me.

  34. I’ve always thought this was the best Red Dragon adaptation, and Brian Cox the best Hannibal Lecter by a mile. I absolutely love the scenes with Joan Allen where you can see Dolarhyde considering whether he could have a normal life but his sadness knowing that it can never be. The tiger scene is just spellbinding.

    Hopkins’ nostril flaringly hammy performance always annoyed me although I like the film, but I definitely don’t think he deserved an Oscar for it.

    As far as Hannibal TV goes, I loved the first 2 seasons as it was all about the intense relationship between Will Graham and Hannibal. There were some great murder tableaux and supporting characters, and some exquisitely played conversation scenes. Season 3 however lost me. It looked gorgeous thanks to many episodes being directed by Vincenzo Natali, we effectively get a remake of both Hannibal and Red Dragon, but we lost that intense relationship between the 2 central characters. I don’t think Richard Armitage/Rutina Wesley were up to the job as Dolarhyde/Reba and there wasn’t enough different or unique about it as a Red Dragon take to make it worth doing. Was great to see the scene where he went and consumed the The Great Red Dragon though. Much as I’d love to see more Mikkelsen/Dancy I’m quite glad it got cancelled, especially as the next season would have been a retelling of Silence of the Lambs in which Will Graham has no place.

  35. I dig this movie. It explores many of the themes Mann touches on in his other films including men that are married to their job or code and the complex relationship they have with the women that love them, but it also feels unique from Mann’s other crime procedural films because MANHUNTER at it’s core is a horror film. It is a movie about real life monsters and the type of man who has made a career out of hunting them. Will is the real world embodyment of Van Helsing, a true monster hunter.

  36. Movies I almost always watch to the end. But TV shows I can easily quit after less than one episode. If they haven’t grabbed you from the get go, what’s the point? The worst ones are those who are really great for a couple of episodes and then get shitty for the rest of the season. You watch those, hoping that they will get good again.

  37. As much as I enjoy MANHUNTER, HANNIBAL the show is my favorite interpretation of the material. Mikkelsen is my favorite Hannibal, and I love the giallo influences and touches on the show. Really HANNIBAL is a giallo show, it is a grisly crime procedural only slightly grounded in anything that resembles the real world prestened in an extremely stylized fashion with dramatic use of color, music/sound, and filmatism. The show also presents gore and violence in a very artistic at times even elegant fashion that is a trademark of the best of the giallo genre.

    However, as much as I like the show I acknowledge that it is uneven at times and season 3 starts slow, but does feature my favorite adaptation of THE RED DRAGON.

  38. Majestyk, actually judging a TV show after its first 3-5 episodes, is more like watching a movie and turning it off after 20 minutes. Maybe you didn’t like those first 20 minutes, maybe they were truly bad, but that doesn’t mean the whole thing can’t become great afterwards.”

    I learned years ago, that you shouldn’t decide if a TV show is good or bad, unless you’ve seen at least the first season. Unfortunately, as I mentioned several times when we were discussing the Marvel Netflix shows, it became harder and harder, because now, that everything has to be serialized, most shows are just treading water in the most awful ways. And some pilots are just so awfully bad, that they turn me off immediately. (*cough*Buffy*cough*BoJack Horseman*cough*)Still, there are way too many shows that don’t find its rhythm until later in the season!

    Shit, SPARTACUS was a shitty 300 rip-off until episode 7 or 8! And THE WALKING DEAD was actually pretty good in its first season. THE VENTURE BROS was just another “Look! Violence and popculture references!” cartoon at first (although admittedly a damn funny one) and GAME OF THRONES seemed to have an actual story that went somewhere early on.

  39. I think it is way harder to write and construct an on going TV show than a stand alone feature film. The problem with story telling on an on going TV show is that is is hard to create and maintain a story arch that can sustain a TV series season after season without there being some let down of at least a couple of episodes that are not up to par or do nothing to adavance the overall story arch. Especially if you are telling a story without a clear ending in site.

  40. Sorry, guys, I just don’t have time to watch 13 hours of something before I can decide if I want to watch it. I’ll give you three. That’s more than the length of a movie. If you can’t convince me by that point that you at least have the potential to be something I’ll enjoy, I’m not gonna feel bad about ditching you.

  41. I’m with Majestyk on this one. On a TV show they have to have a start, middle and ending in each fucking episode. The “you’ll be rewarded in three months time” shit doesn’t cut it with me. That’s a soap, not a proper show.

  42. Life’s too short to wade through a series that has a slow start. Sure, I used to do this a lot many years ago, and plenty of my favorite shows had terrible first seasons, but with so much to watch these days, it’s a lot harder to wait until a series gets better. That’s why I rarely recommend TV shows anymore. I’ve heard that Hannibal is a good show, but I never got around to watching it. I might never get around to watching it. But with so many options, I don’t think I’m missing much. There are so many other options.

    I feel like I get a lot more out of a two hour film than I do out of thirteen or more hour season of TV. Even if a movie isn’t very good, it can at least be interesting, and you don’t feel like you’ve wasted a large chunk of your life. I’m okay with giving two hours to a film that’s messy or even outright bad, but I can’t say the same thing about many TV shows.

  43. RBatty, I agree that getting into a TV show especially an existing series with a number of seasons available can seem like an overwhelming commitment. I still have never watched BREAKING BAD or BETTER CALL SAUL, and I am sure I would enjoy both but it is hard to find the time.

    I think there is a lot of quality TV being made these days but in general if I have the free time I am going to watch a movie.

  44. I actually gave up on HANNIBAL early in its first season while it was being broadcast, but my wife stuck with it since she is a big fan of the books and she convinced me to give it another chance after the conclusion of the first season. I primarily did it just in hopes that it could be a show my wife and I watch together since there are not many TV shows that we both enjoy. However, by the time the series concluded I think I enjoyed it even more than she did.

  45. How many movies do you watch a year? And unless you already know them, you don’t know if they are any good unless you watch them till the end. Since you don’t have to “binge”, as the kids say these days, the whole season at once, it’s not 13 hours, but 13 x 40-60 minutes. And that’s a lot less time than watching 13 movies.

  46. But at the end of the same expenditure of time, I will have watched six or seven movies instead of one part of one TV show that I still might not wish to continue. I never regret watching any movie to the end, but I do regret wasting time on a series I don’t finish.

    If the math adds up differently for you, CJ, that’s great. It’s your time. Use it however you want. I’ll do likewise.

  47. I agree with what you guys are saying about wasting time on a series that doesn’t grab you by the nuts from the get-go. I can think of three or four in the last few months that I’ve aborted after staggered attempts to watch – Black Sails, The Last Ship, Tyrant, for instance. None of these shows are half-assed productions or lacking in quality actors and interesting story-lines. It’s just that they don’t interest me.

    The irony is that I stuck out the entire season of the glum Wayward Pines because of Shyamalan’s name on it and because I like bizarre mysteries. Same thing with The Leftovers.

    And in Hannibal’s case, the hook was the entire Lectorverse of preceding books and films. Which is what a hundred other properties count on when they launch a tv series. The payoff was that it turned out to be pretty great, in my opinion.

  48. If anyone was curious Season 3 episode 8 through 13 of HANNIBAL is the shows adaptation of the RED DRAGON. It is still around a five hour commitment, but you could watch those episodes on there own without having to watch anymore of the series before jumping in at that point. Those six episodes almost function as a standalone miniseries adaptation of the Tooth fairy. They are even better if you have watched the whole series leading into it, but it is still strong as an individual story on its own. As I stated in my previous post those six episodes are my favorite adaptation of THE RED DRAGON.

  49. There have been a few instances where I stuck with a show much, much longer than I should have. TRUE BLOOD and DEXTER being the main ones. They both started out well enough, and even though I can look back at them now and tell you where the rails went off, I still stuck with them. In TRUE BLOOD’s case, it became too much of a fantasy show when it introduced fairies, werewolves and so on. DEXTER was DOA at the beginning of the 2nd season for me. Despite John Lithgow owning everything about the 4th season (“Bought it, brought it home, put it on his mantle, sat back in a fluffy armchair, and enjoyed owning it”, as Mr. Subtlety put it), there wasn’t much beyond that for me.

  50. CJ, if you KNOW movies you sort of know if you’re gonna like it. And if you don’t, at least you don’t have to watch 12 more just like it.

  51. I think Majestyk’s three episode rule is a sensible one. It’s a rule I try to live by as well. My time is too precious to watch a full season of a show that doesn’t grab me straight off the bat. I think the comparison to watching the first 20 minutes of a movie is absurd and epitomizes everything that’s wrong with serialized TV. If you’re not treating each episode as a discrete unit with it’s own story arc and themes, something that is satisfying all on it’s own, then you are failing to use the medium to it’s full potential. If you film it as a 10+ hour movie and then arbitrarily chop it up into hour-long amorphous blobs of story you’ll end up with something that doesn’t work as either a movie or a TV show. Besides, I HATE watching movies over multiple chunks of time.

    Anyway, these days I try not to recommend TV shows to people unless I’m asked. It’s too subjective. TV is something personal that we do in our own home for a number of different reasons. That said, HANNIBAL is a beautiful baroque masterpiece and those of you who think it’s bad are the wrongest people who were ever wrong.

    Oh, and Mann’s MANHUNTER is pretty great too.

  52. pegsman, but only watching movies, that you know you will enjoy, is boring. Not to mention that you won’t even know if you will like them, until have watched them to the end.

    Crustacean, my “one full season” rule doesn’t even apply to serialized TV only. I came up with it in the 90s, when cliffhangers and season arcs were rare, unless you were watching a daily soap. (Not to mention that season 1 of HANNIBAL is more procedural than serial.)

  53. Guys, I have a thought experiment for you.

    It’s 1993. Dino de Laurentiis and Orion pictures come to some sort of a deal and decide to remake RED DRAGON aka MANHUNTER there and then.

    Screenwriter Ted Tally returns to write the adaptation. Jonathan Demme declines, preferring to do concentrate on the post-production for PHILADELPHIA. Anthony Hopkins, after the double-drama whammy of REMAINS OF THE DAY and SHADOWLANDS, decides to give Hannibal Lecter another spin. Casting begins once a new director is found.

    So, for actors and director, who do you go to first?

  54. CJ, I tend to stick to genre movies – westerns, kung fu, war movies and thrillers from the 60′ and 70′ – and I can honestly say that I haven’t watched a single one that I didn’t like. And I don’t find it boring at all.

  55. You know, I get the feeling from this discussion that TV shows and movies are entirely different things and shouldn’t really be compared to each other.

    Good TV can be very rewarding in a way that movies rarely are – I can’t think of a movie where I felt so connected to the characters as in Enlightened, Mad Man (sorry Mr M) or Sopranos, and a good, cinematic, late-season episode happening to the characters you know and care is its own beast entirely.

    But movies don’t eat up your time, there are no cases when they get good at the second season (or as in Bojack’s or Buffy’s cases, at the very end of the first one) and have no filler episodes. Got only so much time in this bastard and all that.

    (The exception to the rule could be expertly done serialized shows, but there were like two of those and everyone loves them)

  56. For the record, I watch a lot of TV as well as movies. And there are a sea of great ones out there. Shows that are good from start to finish.

  57. This film is so great and underloved that it always felt to me that all the love and kudos sent towards SILENCE OF THE HAMS later was kinda undeserved. Or that it shoulda been made to share it with MANHUNTER.

    For me this is the best Hannibal, best film about mental illness ever and Best Male Perm (William Petersen).

  58. Quite frankly, I’ve seen the movie I don’t know how many times (10, easily) and I have never really gotten around to comparing it to the other movies, the books, the TV series. It’s just of no importance to me or, I think, to the movie itself. MANHUNTER is just such a pure piece of cinematic expression and of that Michael Mann State of Mind that that always is enough. I’m just never through with that kind of stuff and I hope I never will be and I hope Mann won’t be either. The way he shows you what these characters want to do and what they can do/what they’re good at and this huge fucking gulf that he rips open between these two things – it just always lays me bare.

  59. I really like this movie. A very Michael Mann moment for me is when Will is in the plane coming into St. Louis, and the camera shows us the Gateway Arch, through the plane window, verifying that yes, we are landing in Missouri. Kind of parallels how in THE INSIDER, Al Pacino makes cell phone calls from a beach in the Caribbean, because his character is on vacation there (instead of shooting at some easier to reach beach). The extremely high degree of literalness in his movies means that there are fewer jumps to make to suspend my disbelief. Which is super fun for me as a movie viewer. It’s world-building.

  60. I think they shot the scene of Graham falling asleep on the plane on an actual commercial flight.

  61. The elephant in the room about TV is you can just jump back in when it gets good. Let the people who slogged through it decide if it gets that far.

    The idea that you have to watch entirely from the beginning is bullshit. We’re all smart enough to pick up a story in the middle and understand what the characters’ relationships and motivations are even if we don’t get every single reference.

  62. That’s true, FF, but how do you know when it gets good?

  63. He’s great in this, but Tom Noonan is so much more than what this movie pigeonholed him as for awhile. He was a recurring character on DAMAGES for awhile, playing a detective and it was fascinating seeing him subverting the sort of expectations his presence usually brings.

  64. I sincerely believe that Hannibal is the best film in the series AND one of Ridley Scott’s top 3 directorial efforts. Wonderful script by Mamet that features so many truly upsetting moments intermixed with hypnotic dialogue and surprisingly complex through lines. (the latter two elements spilled over into Mamet’s take on Faust; his best latter-day stage work.) Ibe probably seen it 15-20 times over the years.

  65. Tawdry, I am curious, what are the other 2 films in your RS top 3? I am guessing ALIEN is one of them.

  66. Onthewall, you are right about that shot of Will falling asleep on the plane. On the commentary for the directors cut Mann says that they shot those scenes without permission. He says they bought tickets for the cast and crew on a commercial flight and brought their equipment and once they were in the air the just started shooting. There is no way you could get away with messing around on a commercial flight like that without permission these days.

  67. Matchstick Men is probably my third, Alien is, of course, first.

  68. I would also put those two in my RS top three as well. My third would be a toss up between BLADE RUNNER & BLACK RAIN.

  69. For me it’s ALIEN, BLADERUNNER and THE DUELLISTS…

  70. Charles —

    Those are 4 and 5 for me. Blade Runner is visually awesome, but narratively inert and the twist ending is idiotic.

  71. Tawdry, I agree about BLADE RUNNER.

    Pegaman, I still needed to see THE DUELISTS.

  72. If I were to categorise a RS top 3 by how many times I’ve returned to the film, it would have to be MATCHSTICK MEN, HANNIBAL and BLACK RAIN (Yakuza’s, neon, motorcycle duels, Andy Garcia).

  73. Tawdry, what twist ending?

  74. Nobody likes BLACK RAIN? To be fair, that film feels a lot more archaic now than most of Ridley Scotts films. A lot of anxiety of Japanese takeovers and how everything would be japanese in America makes it a bit of a time traveling relic. But it is very stylish , beautiful cinematograpy and a marvellous soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. A good asian/american buddy cop movie with some poignant character moments. I love how Nick and Masahiro overcome their differences. It is a east meets west cliche, but I like it a lot.

  75. BLACK RAIN is so, so great.

  76. I would like to add that while HANNIBAL is pretty great, it completely falls apart with the incredibly lameass ending. The book ended on such a great note of depravity, but the film decided to chicken out on the one part that actually mattered. All the gore from the book is there, except for Mason Vegers spectacular death, which is fucking lame in the film compared to the book. In the book he is fed one of his eels that continues to eat his tongue and as the eel eats his way down the throat blood rises and he is slowly choked to death. I mean, Jesus. In the film he is just simply fed to the pigs. Not that great in my opinion.

  77. Ford is not a fuggin replicant. It makes no sense whatsoever. People – including the noodle salesman in the street – know him well and he doesn’t have super strength. why the hell would you make a replicant to hunt replicants but not give him super strength? It’s a idiotic, “Oh Henry!” Plot twist that feels more like a half-baked fan theory than an actual ending.

  78. Yeah, well, that is like your opinion, man…

  79. Tawdry, that’s not said in the movie, so relax. It’s just a fan theory. There’s absolutely nothing idiotic about BLADE RUNNER.

  80. I thought that the Director’s Cut was pretty clear on that, with all that unicorn business.

  81. But it’s still just indications. Ridley has changed his mind several times on the subject. Deckard could just be a unicorn dreaming kind of guy, or he could be something else. But it’s not that important, and certainly not a stupid plot twist. AND since he turns up in BLADE RUNNER 2 he would have to be a very special kind of replicant, wouldn’t he?

  82. Yeah, I think we need to make the distinction of what is being impliead and what we are actually told. Visual signifiers or cues are implied. Not specifically told

  83. The important thing here is that Deckard, replicant or no, is a terrible, boring character who makes the bulk of the movie unwatchable. I think we can all agree on that.

  84. It’s often famously lauded as ambiguous, but really BLADE RUNNER was written as Deckard being a human, but Scott then tinkers with it because during the initial script meeting he was STARING OUT OF A WINDOW and misheard.

    I kinda like that.

  85. Mr M, you can do better than that! Why don’t you tell us how fat our mamas are and how our breath smell like her nether parts!

  86. Didn’t Scott admit that he just did the BR: DC for the extra money and that it wasn’t really what he considered canon? Or was that ALIEN?

  87. pegs: Why would I do that when you all clearly are in total agreement with my completely rational and commonsense views on Space Detective Dullard Boringpants McBadAtHisJob?

  88. Way to go namecalling people, Mr Marcel Leopold Copernicus III…

  89. Dopest name I ever heard, except for my real one.

  90. Even without the twist ending – which, I guess, could also just be a series of totally irrelevant sequences and ideas instead of information sewn into the movie – the narrative is inert and soporific. Literally, I have used Blade Runner to cure insomnia. I’m not joking, one time I couldn’t sleep so I put blade runner on and konked right out.

    The film should have been about the replicants, not the blade runner. They were the only engaging characters. I guess that could be a choice or artistic statement… but that doesn’t mean it was a good choice or artistic statement to focus on a detective who detects nothing and from whom I could not detect a pulse.

  91. Tawdry: I’ve still to this day never gotten through BLADE RUNNER in one sitting. I’ve tried at least four times in different versions and at different times of day and I fall asleep every time.

  92. Agreeing with you, Majestyk? Are you going to pull another quote out of your ass? Have I been drunk online again? BLADE RUNNER’s been on my Top 10 since it came out 35 years ago, so it’s safe to say that I don’t even have the imagination to get what you’re talking about. But that’s okay, this masterpiece is not for everyone.

  93. Tawdry, you don’t seriously think that’s what BLADE RUNNER is about?

  94. pegs: I’m just joking with you. I am well aware that my opinions on the functional unwatchability of BLADE RUNNER are unpopular.

  95. I guess that’s something. But you should seriously consider consulting a doctor about your sleeping disorder. According to the world wide web sleeping sickness is an infection caused by germs carried by certain flies. It results in swelling of the brain.

  96. I don’t like all this anti-sleep bullying that happens far too often around here.

  97. Sterny- try sitting up when watching films. It helps. You can play the horisontal body positioning game later when you are in bed.

  98. Yeah the cop out at the end of HANNIBAL (the film) was a let down, considering the book’s take was beautifully fucked up, and consummated all the previous macabre foreplay between Lector and Starling. The tv series has a lot of fun switching things around between the book and the films, and it works really well.

    SPOILERS

    For example, the Freddy Lounds character is now a woman. But instead of the Red Dragon kidnapping her and playing burning wheelchairs, he does it to Doctor Chilton. Mason Vergers death is accurate to the book. Also I think the final scene of season 3 is beautiful the way Lector and Graham finally reveal their (obviously repressed homosexual) love for each other by simultaneously disembowelling and ripping out the throat of Dollarhyde, then hug each other before final curtain. Or is it final curtain, as the last camera shot suggested?

    The season 3 finale is everything and more the HANNIBAL ending should have been.

  99. And yes, I know Hannibal was always homosexual. Graham, as far as I remember was never written that way until the series came along.

  100. I’m not sure that I ever bought that they were gay, the implications are certainly there but in execution it came off much more subtle than how you’re saying it. Plus, they’ve slept with women on the show which rules it out for me. They are certainly attracted to each other, but in something that goes beyond sex. At least that’s how I saw it.

    I will say that the show did go out of it’s way to make Graham as less butch as the previous films did. Having him in the autism spectrum, and having him show a clear aversion and almost disgust with weapons from the start changed things that way. For the better I’d say.

  101. Onthewall, I always read Will and Hannibl’s relationship on the TV show as queer but a-sexual. However, (SPOILERS)………….

    I swear in the the finale of season 3 they tease a kiss between the two during the climax.

  102. I think there’s enough in Graham and Lecters words to argue that while Hannibal is the out-of-the closet homosexual, Will is struggling to come to terms with his ‘becoming’ (as he himself calls it) in his final dance with the doctor.

    Lecter shows all the signs of the narcissistic jealous lover, manipulating and grooming Graham for his own delight. Concerning Will’s wife and stepson, Hannibal says he chose a ‘ready-made’ family so he wouldn’t be responsible for any genetic fuck-ups, shorthand for Will being ashamed or scared of who he is or what he is becoming. Also, Wills wife has the face of a chubby 12 year old boy (subjective long-shot argument).

    SPOILERS TOILERS

    Skip to Lecter letting himself be caught by the FBI and locked up, Will says ‘you let yourself get caught, so I would always know where to find you. But only because I rejected you.’

    In their final embrace Hannibal says ‘this is all I ever wanted’. Will, his head on Hannibal’s chest says ‘it’s beautiful’. They fall off the cliff together.

  103. While I’m not anti-gay, I never thought of the Will/Hannibal relationship as gay. Yes, the writers obviously loved to throw the shippers a bone (Another example of the show not taking itself too serious), but for me it just showed what happened, when two deeply broken people (One a socio-/psychopath, the other just completely messed up from having seen too much disturbing shit in front of his 3rd eye) find someone who they don’t have to hide their real personalities from, but on the other hand have no idea how friendship works.

    Onthewall: “They’ve slept with women on the show which rules it out for me.” Or it makes them bisexual.

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