An FBI agent-in-training is tasked with enlisting a jailed serial killer to catch one on the hunt.
Directed by Jonathan Demme
Starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and Ted Levine
Initial Review by Jon Kissel
When it comes to movies, I don’t have the sharp memories of childhood that most people do. An emphasis wasn’t placed on culture in my childhood and a lot of my adolescence was spent in a cold emotional shell, so I just didn’t get those kinds of revelatory cinematic experiences until I was 17 or 18. That being said, the network TV edit of The Silence of the Lambs was one of the first R-rated movies I saw, recorded late at night on a VCR. The sequel, Hannibal, was the first DVD I ever bought, and I do remember gleefully watching that on Christmas Eve 2001, to my mother’s great disappointment. The character of Hannibal Lecter and the world that Thomas Harris (author of the books) created around him has always fascinated me, and we’ve been fortunate enough to receive takes on the subject matter from directors as varied in their tastes as Michael Mann and Vincenzo Natali and in their talent levels as Ridley Scott and Brett Ratner (Ratner’s the shitty one). Jonathan Demme’s version in Silence of the Lambs is certainly the most iconic, dominating the Oscars and placing Anthony Hopkins’ Lecter continuously at the top of any Best Villain list. We just discussed another Best Picture winner in Dances With Wolves, and determined that it’s still an entertaining, if imperfect, film. Will Silence of the Lambs get a more generous sort of praise? Jon, aged 17, certainly would say so, but that kid was an idiot.
M. Night Shyamalan gets officially welcomed back into Hollywood with the massive success of Split. When a person gets the power to do anything, as Shyamalan did for several years, it’s easy to imagine how quickly things can go off the rails, like when the adaptation of a beautiful animated show is rendered unwatchable or when Mark Wahlberg is forced to ask where all the bees went. Working with tight-fisted Blumhouse Studios and their fairly brilliant economic model is a good career move for Shyamalan. They dump all these low-budget horror films on the market, and while they’re critical success is low, there’s enough of a gorehound audience to recoup the small investment. Half of the receipts from Split could fund ten to fifteen new Blumhouse films, and suddenly Shyamalan’s minting money. But is it any good? Split has equal amounts of what the director’s always been good at, as well as some new crutches that are expected from the genre, but no less ugly through his lens.
I’ll start with a question: what is the quintessential summer movie?
For me, two films come to mind—“Jurassic Park” which I saw when I was 12 and was one of those cinema experiences that make you fall in love with going to the movies. The second was “Speed,” which came out the next summer and which I think I saw at least three times in the theater and I definitely owned on VHS.
I start with this question because I first heard about “Train to Busan” about a year ago on NPR. They ran a story because “TtB” is, apparently, the quintessential Korean summer movie. It’s the highest grossing Korean film in that country’s history and, according to the NPR story a year ago, almost 1/5th of the whole South Korean population had seen the film, which is a pretty remarkable number. I was, at first, reluctant to pick another Korean film since we’ve already had “Okja” in our queue this round, but I really wanted to watch a summer movie, and so why not watch one of the most successful ones in recent years that so few in the US have seen?
One of the worst scoring 2016 films on the exit-polling site CinemaScore, Robert Eggers' The Witch deserves far better than that ignominious footnote. The usually-schlocky horror genre spits out a lot of duds, but there's always a handful each year that break out, shedding the tenuous compliment of being a good horror movie and simply being a great film. The Witch joins compatriots like The Babadook, Goodnight, Mommy, and It Follows as another horror entry that is far more than jump scares and musical stings but gets at a primal fear in a dramatically compelling way. Why that so agitated those who graded The Witch for CinemaScore is a complete mystery.
This was on my radar because of Jon. While singing the praises of "the upside down" in Stranger Things, Jon mentions that this is not a new thing. He proceeds to inform me of Under the Skin and we enjoy watching David Ehrlich's top 25 movies from 2014. This was number 3.
Overall, the movie was beautifully shot with incredible nature scenes and equally incredible CGI. The music and sound effectively had my blood pressure raised the entire movie. I had to immediately turn it off because my heart rate needed to come down.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.