Tagged Jack Crawford

Red Dragon Tells Harris with Little Flavour

Red Dragon. 2002. Directed by Brett Ratner. Screenplay by Ted Tally; based on the novel Red Dragon by Thomas Harris.
Starring Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Anthony Heald, Ken Leung, Frankie Faison, and Tyler Patrick Jones.
Universal Pictures.
Rated R. 124 minutes.
Crime/Thriller

★★★1/2
0d6a134caa608fef2f1b56c4cebfa44e I’m a big fan of Thomas Harris and his Hannibal Lecter-centric novels. Everything about them appeals to me, though, I’m not particularly fond of Hannibal Rising. My favourite, an unpopular view, is actually Hannibal – I think it’s an intensely savage, relentless piece of work with a wild twist at the end. But close by equally are Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs. The Jonathan Demme version of the former is one of the best movies ever made.
In opposition, I’ve got to say that I prefer Michael Mann’s Manhunter over this version. Regardless of how well this sticks to the story in comparison, I still love the way Mann treated that adaptation; incredibly different and cool.
Part of why I’m not huge on Red Dragon, even though it’s a good movie, is because I don’t really find Brett Ratner all that interesting as a director. I can honestly say this is the only movie he’s directed I genuinely enjoy. Everything else he’s done is so ridiculously generic. There’s nothing I find appealing about his work. I think the only reason he succeeded in making me enjoy his work here is because Thomas Harris provided the backdrop. Plus, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Kietel, Emily Watson, Anthony Hopkins, Philip Seymour Hoffman, a returning Anthony Heald and Frankie Faison – could it really have gone terribly wrong?
While I do like this movie, I don’t think there’s anything overtly incredible other than the performances. Ratner is a mediocre director at best, in my mind; plenty of people love him, I have no doubt. He is a successful man. Just not my cup of tea. Overall, the lack of a really palpable style is the only thing I find truly lacking about Red Dragon. The reason I loved Manhunter so much was because, aside from the excellent William Petersen and Tom Noonan performances, Mann injected the story with so much of his style that it came off so interesting and beautiful to watch. With this version, Ratner merely shows it to us. It looks good enough, but I don’t feel as much of the story as I do while reading Harris, or when I watch other incarnations of Hannibal Lecter on television and film.
35a1b1092ef44b60aa2d748f56f6fccbI’ve always thought the opening scene to Red Dragon showing Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) watching the orchestra was an impressive way to show why he kills. Part of him hates rudeness, another part of him also love the finer things of life – anyone who gets in the way of that is subject to being on his plate, as well as the plates of his dinner guests. With this sequence, we’re introduced to a piece of Lecter then also Will Graham (Edward Norton) shows up.
So it works in two ways, by both introducing Hannibal – though we’ve already seen him plenty on film – and simultaneously introducing his relationship with Graham. It’s an effective opener which draws us in immediately. Even more than that, the script starting from the beginning sets itself apart from Michael Mann’s Manhunter; I don’t know if you’d call this a remake, or more so simply another adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon. It’s an exciting, intense, and very wide opening in scope.

Being a fan of Edward Norton, he’s honestly one of the weakest links in this film. I think he has the potential to be a great actor, but some times he just looks to be phoning things in. There are moments in Red Dragon when he does excellent stuff. Other times he might as well be toeing a hole in the sand with his shoe. The character of Will Graham is complex. I think William Petersen brought something to the role in his own way, certainly Hugh Dancy has done a fantastic job with the 39 episodes of the NBC series, but Norton sort of feels generic here in the role. He’s not bad, I don’t mean to say that. There’s definitely a likability about Norton’s Graham, what I feel like I’m missing is the tortured side, the apprehensive man who doesn’t want to have to go back into what Jack Crawford (here played by Harvey Keitel) is asking him to do; something which nearly killed him before with Lecter. In Norton’s performance there doesn’t seem to be as much of that wary Graham, the one whose mental capacities allow him to feel and understand things no one ought to ever feel or comprehend.
35zXKpI do always enjoy Sir Anthony Hopkins, particularly as Hannibal the Cannibal. He has a highly quirky charm and chill at once. Some say it’s overacting, I say it’s an excellent fictional serial killer who has an odd affectation. It’s silly to me people will accept Hannibal and all his cannibalism, all the wild stuff he’s gotten up to over the course of his character-lifetime, yet then they’ve got a problem with how Hopkins is a bit hammy at times. Really? You’re going for that?
The only thing bad about Hopkins here is the fact I don’t really think he and Norton have much chemistry together onscreen. Their scenes are decent enough because Lecter is always creepy, but the back and forth between Hannibal and Will here is nowhere near as good as it was between Hannibal and Clarice in The Silence of the Lambs, and certainly doesn’t come close to touching the Hugh Dancy-Mads Mikkelsen energy in Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal series. It just doesn’t work as well as any of that, so it comes nowhere near some of what Harris did either. I think, again, this mostly has to do with Norton. He’s a fine actor, just not in this movie. There’s nothing impressive to me about his performance here, as say opposed to American History X or his debut performance opposite Richard Gere in Primal Fear.
reddragon3Ralph Fiennes is the actor who shines most of all in this good yet slightly dull version of Red Dragon. Francis Dolarhyde has always been a morbidly fascinating character, to me and to many out there. Even if Red Dragon is not my top favourite of Harris’ novels – though still amazing – there’s something about Dolarhyde in particular, even above Buffalo Bill, which terrifies me. Fiennes is one talented man beyond a shadow of a doubt. Here he brings a ferocious intensity to the role.
While it’s easy nowadays to forget this great performance due to Richard Armitage’s fabulously involving turn as Francis Dolarhyde on NBC’s Hannibal, Fiennes still knocks this role out of the park and into the lot. There’s a difference between Fiennes and the other incarnations, just as they’re unique in their own ways. What I like about Fiennes is that I find him highly unpredictable. He’s the type of actor who doesn’t telegraph his emotionality, he sort of springs into action so suddenly, which really comes through here. Truly, every single frame of the film in which you find Ralph Fiennes he is incredible. There’s a physical aspect to the character on several levels – he’s physically fit and actually a handsome guy, but inside he feels hideous, deformed, and like a monster. So what I enjoy is the fact that Fiennes is an attractive man, however, the makeup work for Dolarhyde’s hairlip gives him an unsettling feeling – not because of the scar, merely because of how Fiennes portrays Dolarhyde and the way he feels about his outer appearance. He’s at times equally sad and sympathetic, and also frighteningly savage.
Still, my favourite moment with Dolarhyde has to be his official introduction, a little over 40 minutes into the film. It’s such an unsettling view into his world, where we see him lifting weights and yelling at his dead grandmother whose voice scolds him – as a child and still as a grown man. Even creepier is the way he opens his big scrapbook, full of articles about Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham – it’s when he sort of strokes Lecter’s picture, specifically his smiling mouth, that you get this awful feeling in your gut. What an effective first look at Francis Dolarhyde here. Impressive sequence from Ratner, I must say.
reddragon4While I don’t find the movie to be poorly written, by any standards, for some reason I do not get the same feeling about Ted Tally’s script here as I did with his work on The Silence of the Lambs. Not sure exactly what it is about this screenplay, there’s not the same impact as his previous adaptation of Harris’ work. I do like plenty of scenes, but there’s less tension and suspense than in the Jonathan Demme directed film. Now, I’ve never actually read the script itself, so maybe there’s bits and pieces of Tally and his writing which didn’t make it through to what Ratner did onscreen. I’ll not know until I read the screenplay someday. But still, there’s an overall lack of the tensely cultivated atmosphere from Demme’s 1991 Harris adaptation, and I think there must be part of the problem there lying in the screenwriting. Then again, I’m not particularly big on Tally overall, as nothing else he’s done particularly impresses me other than The Silence of the Lambs.
2 vlcsnap-2010-09-04-08h34m49s254In the end, I can only give Brett Ratner’s Red Dragon 3.5 out of 5 stars. I know some will surely call me crazy. It’s not as simple for me to say this is an amazing movie. It’s just
 not. Better than average? Sure. There are great performances, from Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Emily Watson both of whom I forgot to mention – she does a fantastic job playing the role of Reba McClane, the blind woman who falls in love with Dolarhyde. Even further, the story itself is good enough to carry this even if the actors weren’t so great.
But the lack of style, a few little mistakes here and there, as well as a bit of a yawning performance from Edward Norton, all makes it hard for me to even feign agreement when people say this is SO AMAZING. I remember seeing this in theatre – I was so pumped, beyond excitement. It didn’t live up to the hype then, it still doesn’t now. I do own this on DVD, because I’m a completist; even own Hannibal Rising which isn’t the greatest either. I just really can’t get onboard with people saying this is incredible or that it’s better than Manhunter. Nah, not for me.
Still a decent adaptation of the Thomas Harris novel, Red Dragon is a good movie. Don’t think it’s better than it is, there are plenty of flaws and not enough style to Ratner’s direction to forgive them. See it and be your own judge, but do not get sucked into the hype. There are better visions of Will Graham, Hannibal Lecter, Jack Crawford, and Francis Dolarhyde elsewhere.

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Hannibal – Season 3, Episode 10: “
And the Woman Clothed in Sun”

ReddragonNBC’s Hannibal
Season 3, Episode 10: “
And the Woman Clothed in Sun”
Directed by Guillermo Navarro (D.P on Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado, & Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim)
Written by Bryan Fuller & Don Mancini

* For a review of the previous episode, “
And the Woman Clothed With the Sun” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “
And the Beast from the Sea” – click here
IMG_0482 IMG_0483 IMG_0484 IMG_0485 IMG_0486 IMG_0487This week’s episode, a slight different wording from last week’s episode which corresponds to the William Blake paintings “
And the Woman Clothed in Sun”, begins as Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) prepares himself.
For what? A conversation over the phone with an understanding ear: Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen).

Being an avid fan, an impressed spectator to the greatness of Hannibal’s crimes, Francis prepares himself. He doesn’t want his speaking voice to affect anything on his way to Lecter. He jacks into an abandoned building’s phone line (pretty sure that is actually Dr. Lecter’s old home/office if I’m not mistaken: look in the background carefully) to get in touch with the naughty doctor; he has on a telephone company uniform and all, SureTalk. This will hopefully quench the thirst of people bitching last week that there’d be no way Francis would’ve gotten through to Lecter. Solved now? IMG_0489Then all of a sudden, we are in Lecter’s Memory Palace it seems. Perfect little evolution to the scene, especially if Dolarhyde is in fact at the old office where Lecter himself once saw patients. He and Francis now sit and talk to one another. Here comes friendship again in Hannibal as an over-arching theme. Hannibal is looking for a friend, as is Francis. While Dolarhyde has certainly come to like Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley), he is still searching for that kindred spirit which understands the part of him that loves to – needs to – kill people.
So again, we’ve got this duality going. Added to the fact Hannibal is mad at Will, like a lover scorned and turned away, there is something dangerous and horrible brewing between these two. Worst part is, Francis Dolarhyde is half in, half out, as he struggles against the Great Red Dragon when he’s with Reba; her humanity brings him back to his own, in a sense. IMG_0490Francis: “I want to be recognized by you
Hannibal: “As John the Baptist recognized the one who came after
Francis: “I want to sit before you as the Dragon sat before 666 and Revelation. I have
 things, I would love to show you. Some day if circumstances permit, I would like to meet you
 and watch you meld with the strength of the Dragon.
Hannibal: “See how magnificent you are. Did he who made the Lamb make thee?IMG_0492Impressive image as this conversation closes, just as opening credits cut. I actually went “Phewf”. Incredibly powerful and so darkly vibrant looking. Couldn’t get enough of this bit! IMG_0493Now we’re seeing Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) spinning a web of lies. I suppose it’s no different from Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) passing the events three years ago off as something they were not. However, I’d argue that Bedelia had a hand in far too much to truly sit by and believe anything else. Regardless there she is, in all her glory, still on top of the world. She reels off tales of Hannibal Lecter and her forced captivity, when she was “swallowed by the beast“, and a whole room of people clap. IMG_0494Will: “Poor Dr. Du Maurier – swallowed whole, suffering inside Hannibal Lecter’s bowels for what must’ve felt like an eternity. You didn’t lose yourself, Bedelia, you just crawled so far up his ass you couldn’t be bothered.
Bedelia: “Hello, Will.
Will: “You hitched your star to a man commonly known as a monster. You’re the Bride of Frankenstein.
Bedelia: “We’ve both been his bride.
Will: “How’d you manage to walk away unscarred? I’m covered in scars.

An impressive exchange between Bedelia and Will. I love the pure sass coming out of Graham, like he’s just chewing on it. Furthermore, we’re getting so much in the way of the relationship between Will and Hannibal; it’s the truest, purest heterosexual male love story of the 21st century this far in. There are some enlightening bits here, especially one of Dr. Du Maurier’s last lines in the scene…

Bedelia: “I was with him behind the veil. You were always on the other side.IMG_0497Perhaps one of my favourite moments of the entire episode is when Francis takes Reba to see the tiger who is under medication for surgery. There’s this part where Reba is touching all the way up to the tiger’s face, the music is so tense and suspenseful as if we might get a crazy dream sequence where Reba gets her hand bitten off, and Francis has this look on his face, he’s almost biting his own hand, then nothing happens and Reba goes on touching the big animal, rubbing its fur. Just shows how much of a fixation Francis has on mouths, teeth, et cetera, he could barely even handle seeing Reba touch an animal’s mouth. So intriguing and also had my heart rate pumping a few times. IMG_0495 IMG_0499 IMG_0498How many times can I say it? Richard Armitage is doing a superb job with the character of Francis Dolarhyde.
I mean, I’m a massive fan of Ralph Fiennes – total nut for the guy’s filmography, but still
 I think because of his performance, and plus the ability to play the character in a handful of episodes as opposed to a single two hour film, Armitage has the advantage here.
There’s something about his quiet physicality. It moves me, honestly. Even in the beginning when he’s practicing certain sounds, making sure he can sound appropriate enough to make it through so he can speak to Hannibal, I felt this insanely vulnerable feeling for Dolarhyde. Not that he doesn’t scare me at certain times, but Armitage truly makes me feel bad for the guy.
The other incarnations – both Fiennes and also Tom Noonan – really came across with the insane aspects of the character; they didn’t overdo things, they just played it quite well on that end. With Armitage, I’m impressed by how he brings out that vulnerability and the traumatic past so much better. It’s really something to revel in. So glad he was chosen to play this part because even if someone else could’ve done a decent job, Armitage is making Dolarhyde one of the best villains ever on television. The essence of a sympathetic killer, if there ever was one. IMG_0500 IMG_0501P.S. The love making scene between Francis and Reba went insanely well. I love how those types of scenes in this series come out as these trippy, psychedelic affairs, which keeps up with the whole weird aesthetic Hannibal has going on. IMG_0503 IMG_0504 IMG_0505We’re seeing more and more now that struggle of Dolarhyde against the Great Red Dragon, bursting inside him, calling out from the painting, telling him to kill. Because now, the Dragon wants Reba, it does not need that side of Francis clogging things up. The pain, the sound in Francis’ head returns, but he wants to overpower it. No matter how strong the feeling that he is becoming, Francis clearly does feel something for Reba. IMG_0506Good dose of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon.
Hannibal is able to dial his way into Dr. Frederick Chilton’s (RaĂșl Esparza) office. He manages to con his way into getting Will Graham’s home address, the sneaky, dirty doctor.

Will: “If he does end up eating you, Bedelia, you’d have it coming.
I’m truly enjoying the scenes between Hugh Dancy and Gillian Anderson this week. Great episode for them. It’s like a tit-for-tat type of situation, the two of them going back and forth – Will trying to get to the bottom of things, Bedelia toeing the edges as long as she’s permitted. IMG_0507Bedelia: “Do no harm
Will: “And did you?
Bedelia: “I did. Technically.
Will: “You dared to care.
Bedelia: “Not the first time I’ve lost professional objectivity in a matter where Hannibal is concerned.IMG_0509I fucking love this! Zachary Quinto shows up again, finally not as a corpse like when we last saw him in Bedelia’s office. He was the patient she ended up killing in her office, the one whose death Hannibal Lecter, that damned dirty dog, helped to cover up. I think he’s an incredible actor, despite what anyone else wants to say. He has this very gentle, subtle quality that helps to frighten when things become intense.
His turn in American Horror Story: Asylum is one of my favourite characters on television – ever. Great to see him here. Adds to the ever increasing list of awesome guest stars the show has had in its jaw-dropping three seasons. Not only that Quinto is awesome, his character clearly knew how messed up Bedelia and Hannibal both were. Unfortunately for this he had to go.

Bedelia: “My relationship with Hannibal is not as passionate as yours. You are here visiting an old flame. Is your wife aware of how intimately you and Hannibal know each other?
Will: “She’s aware enough
Bedelia: “You couldn’t save Hannibal. Do you think you can save this new one?IMG_0510 IMG_0512The way we learn about Bedelia’s patient, Neal Frank (Zachary Quinto), the one who formerly went to Hannibal, is a great example of why Fuller & Co (this week’s episode is written by him and the most excellent Don Mancini) have done such a fabulous job fleshing the story out in an appropriate way. At least in a way I see as appropriate.
We’ve already seen bits and pieces of this stuff, but now we’re getting the full story, a better look at everything going on. The manner in which Fuller & Co. drop things into the story, little subplots and sidebars, then come back to things later instead of explaining things full-on right away, I think that’s the mark of some excellent storytelling.
Another reason this series is great, and another reason some adaptations are better off on television than necessarily becoming a series of films – I love, love, love the films featuring Hannibal Lecter, there’s just a special place in my fandom of the Thomas Harris novels for this particular version. So much room to move around and play with themes, characters, arcs, and so on.

Also, we come to see how Bedelia is actually more like Hannibal than Will. At the key moment between her and Neal Frank, she does what she does out of pure curiosity. For a moment, I thought it was actually going to be an accident what happened in the end, however, it’s curiosity that drives Bedelia – and drives her hand further down Neal’s throat instead of helping open up his airway. Very interesting. Then it feeds her continuing chat with Will Graham.

Bedelia: “You are not a killer. You are capable of righteous violence because you are compassionate.
Will: “How are you capable?
Bedelia: “Extreme acts of cruelty require a high level of empathy. The next time you have an instinct to help someone, you might consider crushing them instead. It might save you a great deal of trouble.IMG_0514We get more of Will and Hannibal together, working once more in unison towards understanding a killer. Of course, Hannibal has not revealed his call from the Tooth Fairy, Mr. Francis Dolarhyde; though, Lecter does not know the man’s name, only that he is
 becoming.
Hannibal certainly didn’t tell Will that he has gotten a home address for the new Graham family. Mostly he is teasing Will; that jealous lover side of him coming out, pissed that Will has decided to have a family, a wife, a child to look after. IMG_0515When Francis Dolarhyde makes his way into the museum, I got giddy. This has always been one of my favourite things out of Red Dragon, particularly because it shows just how beyond deranged Dolarhyde is, I mean, if it wasn’t sickeningly obvious. It has this fascinating quality that speaks to Dolarhyde’s delusions. Further reinforcing the fact he wants to gain control over the hold the Great Red Dragon has over him. Armitage had me just creeped out here, enormously. The teeth come out, he’s sniffing the painting, then starts biting into the thing. IMG_0516 IMG_0517 IMG_0518 IMG_0519BUT WAIT!
WILL GRAHAM. WHAT?
He shows up to see Blake’s painting just as Dolarhyde is chowing down, having himself a nice little snack. I was so blown away by this little moment, the meeting between Graham and Francis – the power of the former comes out as he manhandles Will, literally tossing him like a rag doll, beating him against the elevator’s insides and then throwing him out. IMG_0521 IMG_0522 IMG_0524IMG_0523 IMG_0525What a spectacular end to this episode. I cannot wait to see the next one, to the point I’m freaking out here. One of the greatest yet. Puts a wild twist on Harris here, which I think works perfectly.
We’re going to see one odd love triangle between Lecter, Dolarhyde, and Graham play out. Especially once the bad doctor drops Will Graham’s address to the Tooth Fairy.

Soon, my fellow Fannibals
. soon. The next episode is “And the Beast from the Sea” – so stay tuned with me!