Saw Red Dragon last night with Neva. It was better than I expected. I don’t think you’ll find a more star-studded film this year. It also carries with it a lot of contextual baggage that maybe only film buffs like myself would be interested in. To wit: it’s an adaptation of a Thomas Harris novel, which has Hannibal Lecter in it, but takes place before The Silence of the Lambs. But it was already adapted in the mid-80s by master filmmaker Michael Mann, as a movie called Manhunter, which featured Brian Cox (Rushmore’s Dr. Guggenheim) as Lecter and William Christensen in the lead role (he’s currently undergoing a career revival thanks to CSI). So is it a remake, an adaptation, or both? A lot of film critics and scholars love Manhunter to death (I love it too); a good number think it’s superior to Silence. Inevitably Red Dragon will be compared to these films and as expected, will not stand up, though it has its moments. A point of contention seems to come from the fact that this Red Dragon’s origins are in making money, pure and simple. The DeLaurentiis Group, who have the rights to Harris’s Lecter novels, made so much money off of Hannibal they green-lit an adaptation of Red Dragon, even though Manhunter came out as recently as the 80s. Now Hollywood remakes films all the time, but usually they’re foreign films being remade to appeal to mainstream audiences (recent examples include Insomnia and The Ring) or fairly old stuff recontextualized in a “modern” setting, not a mainstream American movie from a celebrated director that came out during my life span. When Mann was asked what he thought about Red Dragon being re-adapted, he didn’t comment. The film was given to director Brett Ratner, who directed Rush Hours 1 & 2 but just came off of a well-received though underperforming The Family Man. I suppose it showed he could do something besides action comedies. The best thing he did there was hire cinematographer Dante Spinotti, who can make anything look good. He kept Spinotti for Red Dragon, which is terribly amusing because Spinotti shot Manhunter (he’s a favorite of Mann’s as well, having shot The Insider, Heat, etc.). There’s a tip for young directors: hire the best fucking Director of Photography you can find. Brett Ratner knows it, and so does Sam Mendes (committed to Conrad L. Hall). So wa-lah: a young, “hot” director you don’t have to pay too much, because you need the money for the cast: Edward Norton, Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker, Harvey Keitel, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Script by Ted Tally, who wrote Silence. Score by Danny Elfman. With that talent, you’d have to be a complete fucking moron to get it wrong. Two weeks out and it’s got something like 60 million US already, and Ratner’s next in line to direct the next Superman movie. Plus, the DeLaurentiis Group are already prepping the next (and, it is hoped, last) installment in the Hannibal Lecter tetralogy.
The performances are terrific, though I thought Fiennes was a bit much in his portrayal at times. It’s like the film constantly had to remind audiences that this guy’s a fucking psycho. I’m more likely to blame Ratner, though. In Manhunter Tom Noonan’s Tooth Fairy seemed scarier because he was someone human, who you could sympathize with when someone starts showing him some affection, possibly for the first time. In Red Dragon it’s typical psychopath tropes being wheeled out conveyor-belt style. There’s even a scene where an audio flashback gives overly bombastic insight into his childhood (this could have been done in other, better ways).
Been really curious about horror the past few weeks. Since I watched the Ring movies, actually. And Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale, which is a different kind of horror. Still haven’t gotten around to watching Takashi Miike’s Audition (sorry, Harvey). And there’s this trailer I’ve seen for a movie called The Eye that looks really interesting, by the Pang Brothers, who I know nothing about. It’s funny, but when the buzz started going on Battle Royale and Audition, people were thinking they were made by young, upstart Japanese directors, but both Fukasaku and Miike are in their 50s or 60s. Miike’s an influence of Tarantino’s, and works at an amazing pace. In the past 3 years alone he’s made 5 films, so while some people are only now catching up about Audition, he’s way past it already. Damn. Then there’s Hideo Nakata, now in the US developing some projects.
Right now I’m looking for the following: Cronos by Guillermo del Toro, Suspiria by Dario Argento, The Vanishing by George Sluizer, and Black Christmas by Bob Clark. But I’m also really looking for this Japanese science-fiction porno (you read that right) called I.K.U. It’s actual X-rated porn, by a famous Japanese producer, who hired an avant-garde director (who’s also female), with a big budget. And get this: it’s inspired heavily by Blade Runner. I MUST SEE THIS FILM!!! It’s not out on video (only bootlegs), and no way will it be shown here except maybe in the CCP (which is the only place in the Philippines you can show stuff even if it’s X-rated). Not only that, but Lars Von Trier is producing the director’s next horror porn, Fluid. Cool beans.
A new shirt idea, based on Carlo’s recent entry: I FUCKING HATE BIGOTS