Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Wednesday Horror: Hannibal

Film: Hannibal
Format: DVD from Cortland Public Library on The New Portable.

So let’s talk about sequels for a moment. Typically, sequels are a disappointment, although I have to admit that they’ve gotten a bit better in recent years. But they still don’t have the best of reputations when it comes to movies. I hadn’t heard a great deal good about Hannibal going in. It’s ten years removed from The Silence of the Lambs, which isn’t necessarily a problem, but can be. It also replaced Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling with Julianne Moore. Far be it from me to complain about Julianne Moore, but Clarice will always be Jodie Foster to me, especially since Moore spends a good chunk of the film attempting to recreate Foster’s patois.

Hannibal kind of picks up where the previous film left off. Lector (still played by Anthony Hopkins) has escaped and is somewhere in the wider world. Clarice is continuing to work at her job with the FBI, and is in charge of a drug bust that goes badly. She’s saddled with the responsibility and blame for this despite it clearly being the fault of another person. As it happens, a considerable amount of Hannibal concerns her relationship with the bureau, being particularly antagonistic. I honestly don’t remember this from the first film; here, all of her interactions with others at the FBI are hostile, particularly with Paul Krendler (Ray Liotta).

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Was Scarlett Johansson Cast?

Film: Crazy Rich Asians
Format: Various media on rockin’ flatscreen.

My viewing of Crazy Rich Asians took a week. It’s not the fault of the movie itself. Sue and I watched about half of it a week ago, but she started to fall asleep, and it took us a week to both have the opportunity to finish it up. This is a movie I’d heard a great deal about, so I was interested to see it. Now that I have, I’m a bit torn. I get that it’s a good movie, and I certainly understand the wealth porn aspects of it. What I don’t understand is that no one else seems to see that this is really a very standard rom-com in a lot of ways.

On to the plot—Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is an economics professor at NYU and is successful by all standards of American society. Her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), needs to return home to Singapore for the wedding of his best friend, and naturally Rachel is going to come along as his plus-one. Nick has kept a great deal of his family history a secret from Rachel, telling her only that the family is comfortable. Rachel is excited to go, for the wedding itself, to meet Nick’s family, and because her college roommate Peik Lin (Nora Lum using her stage name Awkwafina) lives in Singapore.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Off Script: Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary

Film: Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary
Format: DVD from Northern Illinois University Founders Memorial Library on laptop.

Long-time readers will know that both of my daughters are heavily involved in ballet. Kid #1 has her degree in dance performance and is a couple of months away from auditioning for full-time positions at companies around the country. Kid #2 also dances, commuting into Chicago a couple of days a week. Why is this relevant? Because Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary is a version of Bram Stoker’s story performed by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and directed by Guy Maddin.

Maddin is an artistic director, which in this context mostly means that a lot of his work is dense and hard to understand. Maddin frequently manipulates the film itself, or changes film stock to achieve particular visual effects, and much of what he does is heavily symbolic and doesn’t seem to have any easily discernible meaning. I have to admit that I found this interesting when it came to this film. After all, I know the story. I’ve seen umpteen versions of Dracula in cinematic form, have seen it performed on stage, and have read the book once or twice. It’s also worth noting that Dracula has been performed as a ballet before. Maddin didn’t create the idea and had nothing to do with the choreography.