demons. Everyone is perverted, or has at least a sliver of evil
in his soul. Well, okay, retarded people and maybe little tiny babies
don't, but the rest of us do. The difference between people is how
well they hide their demons. Someone like the Harelip wears hers
on the surface, like charms on a bracelet, flashing 'em around and
showing 'em off like vacation souvenirs. "Oh, I got that one
for having a daughter in foster care." "Oh, this little
old thing? Why, they gave me that for all my domestic disturbances."
"They gave me this one for always talking about how much I
like pornos." I suppose the honesty is nice, but it's kind
of nasty when a lady boasts about getting horny over dirty movies.
I like the more old-fashioned kind of girls: the innocent kind who've
never seen a porno and never want to, but then start rubbing you
like a magic lamp when they accidentally see a little girl-girl
on the other hand, buried her demons deep between her bones. Maybe
she had a thing for golden showers, wanted to take a shit on Brad
Pitt's chest, or knew to sell her imClone stock last Christmas.
Whatever, she probably had just as many demons creeping around under
her skin as the Harelip or Dick Cheney or me. It's just that she
suppressed her impure thoughts, burying them under heavy blankets
of good deeds and kindness.
the Harelip who don't hide their demons aren't very interesting.
It doesn't take long to figure them out. But people who do hide
them are, especially when they can't suppress all the evil. I mean,
think about how fascinating Mother Teresa would have been if she
were also a serial killer.
That's the sort
of person the villain Francis Dolarhyde is supposed to be in Red
Dragon. He's supposed to be the sort of serial killer that we
sympathize with because he wants to be a good person, and tries
to be a good person, but his bad intentions keep poking out, like
a boner from a Speedo. I say he's supposed to be, and maybe he would
have been in the hands of a subtler director than Brett Ratner.
As it is, he's a cartoon, but not funny like "Peanuts."
More like "Garfield."
is a prequel to Silence of the Lambs, based on Thomas Harris's
book of the same name. It is the second adaptation, following Manhunter
by Michael Mann. In fact, the first 90 minutes of this movie are
damn near identical to Manhunter, except that the earlier
movie respects our intelligence, leaves more to the imagination
and looks like a "Miami Vice" video. Visually, Red
Dragon has nothing in common with the earlier prequel movie.
It's more a rip-off of Silence, using the same images, actors,
and hoping to God a little class will rub off on it. At least that
makes it about a billion times better than the steaming pile of
last year's Hannibal. Really, as long as the movie doesn't
veer too far from the book it's a passable thriller. It's efficient,
swift and ahead of the audience, at least until the predictable
he's-not-really-dead ending that looks like something on a Skinemax
An older Anthony
Hopkins is back to play a younger Lecter. He's too old for the part,
really, and to compensate he pancakes on so much makeup he looks
a little like Ronald McDonald. He must be willing to play Lecter
so long as the check clears: next he'll be doing Lecter in industrial
safety videos, reminding factory workers not to get eaten by co-workers,
helping Pontiac sell Azteks to the psychopath demographic, and appearing
as the center square on "Hollywood Squares", so long as
the check clears.
if you are a big crybaby, do not read on. I probably give away some
of the movie's surprises. I believe whiny pricks call them "spoilers".
I don't even know what I give away, but some fucking crybabies will
bitch about something like me revealing someone's hairstyle or shoe
size. Hell, why don't you fucking pissants just blindfold yourselves
until you're in the theater so that even the movie's title is a
is a former FBI agent, great at understanding the motives of lunatics,
but retired after nearly being killed by Hopkins. A new serial killer
is on the loose, killing families, slotting shards of mirror into
their eye sockets and fucking the mothers. He has killed two unrelated
families and will kill a third the next time the moon is full. Stumped,
the FBI calls Norton out of his Florida Keys retirement home. It's
partially because he's good, and partially because he is the only
agent who can draw out Hopkins's Lecter. As a psychokiller, Hopkins
is very good at understanding other nuts.
is insecure pretty-boy murderer Francis Dolarhyde, the kind of bad
guy that lives in a ramshackle nursing home with an ancient safe
full of news-clippings and a mammoth painting of his mean grandmother
on the wall. Some of us consider digs like that a Goddamn country
club compared to the one-bedroom apartment by the railroad tracks
that we share with an incontinent dog and a plus-sized wife. In
Red Dragon it's meant to be creepy and sinister, like the
low-budget horror standards of an old summer camp, a remote cabin
or an abandoned mental institution. Fiennes is a harelip (swear
to God) that is self-conscious about the thin scar running from
his mouth to nose. That and his grandmother's abuse have driven
him to an obsession with becoming a dragon. He's tattooed, sculpted
by free weights, and he kills the families for his god complex-fantasies;
he props up the bodies to "watch" as he fucks the hot,
Because of a
nosy journalist (the criminally-underused Philip Seymour Hoffman),
Fiennes learns his crimes have caught the attention of Norton and
Hopkins. He's flattered and writes to his idol Hopkins, who helps
him out with encouragement and Norton's home address. Then it becomes
a cat-and-mouse game. In fact, Ratner and writer Tally have no problem
telling us many times that everyone involved is very clever, and
this is a very smart movie. That's thoughtful of them.
The catch is
that Fiennes plans are disrupted by love. He meets blind film processor
Emily Watson, a woman who can't see that he's disfigured. As love
always does in movies, it transforms him. He doesn't want to kill
anymore, he wants to settle down and have a bunch of scaly little
dragon babies. Jealousy and insecurity drive him into rage, though,
and he commits acts of incredible stupidity that seriously jeopardize
his chances of making it into the serial killer hall of fame. Among
other dumb acts of a man the story wants to think is a mad genius,
Fiennes eats a rare painting, hamhocks two museum workers and shoots
a man in public.
from meticulous lunatic to irrational lover is bullshit. I know
for a fact that true love can't even get a guy to take out the garbage,
let alone stop a killer. In the hands of a writer equipped with
a junior college psychology text, however, love has infinite powers.
It's a decent
movie, at least until the "twist" ending. By borrowing
so heavily from Silence of the Lambs, the movie looks pretty
good, and for the first ninety minutes, it moves fast and tight
enough that the lack of character isn't too big a problem. Hopkins
is too old, but he still makes a bad-ass Lecter. Under the bad make-up
is a tight performance about a guy so damn creepy that's he's scary
as shit while behind bars. Every time he's on screen I couldn't
help thinking "He's smarter than the guards and he's gonna
figure out an escape."
though. Holy fuck, what a disaster. Like so many bad horror movie
monsters, Fiennes appears to be dead but isn't. His character, logic
or the story does not dictate his survival. It's the result of lazy
storytellers' insatiable cravings for cheap "surprises".
Fuck the cat and mouse game, to hell with all the efforts to make
it a mental game. Harris, Tally and Ratner would rather gorge their
worst tendencies like Mrs. Filthy on a diet and faced with a pan
of double deluxe brownies. That cheap, fast sugar high is too easy
goal of being a smart thriller is also tainted by the cheap and
obvious pop psychology used to paint the characters. Norton's FBI
agent is supposed to be just barely on this side of sanity. He's
a man who once had to be institutionalized because he thought too
much like the killers he tracked. He quit the FBI because he was
afraid he'd crack again and go too far. None of that is in Red
Dragon. Instead, the character's as dull as wet bread. They
might as well have a laptop computer with voice synthesis on the
screen for all the personality Norton provides. The rest of the
FBI is similarly dull, like the Bat Computer. You feed a tidbit
of information in, and after a few beeps and clicks, an improbable,
yet correct, conclusion spits out. We don't even get the treat of
watching Adam West suck in his gut. For it to be interesting, I
want to see the demons these guys are burying.
is a Goddamn mess, and the problem is the fiddling Tally and Ratner
did. They piled on the explanations and justifications for why he's
such a creep, but none of it's interesting or original. He's more
like a few chapters from "Intro to Psychology" than a
person. It's a case where the less said the more we imagine.
I give it Three
Fingers. All in all, though, I 'd rather see a Mother Teresa
with a leather mask and chainsaw.
to tell Filthy Something?