THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn
Misguided and counterproductive gay activists (is there any other kind?) who purport to love movies but seem to be perpetually aggravated by the cinema and know nothing about it set upon The Silence of the Lambs and made fools out of themselves as usual simplifying and misinterpreting certain elements of this flawless masterpiece.
When they insisted that Jodie Foster had to be a lesbian and that her character in this film, Clarice Starling, was probably gay too, they were diving headfirst without looking into a shallow pool of old-fashioned sexist ideas that if a woman was independent, tough and at loggerheads with the patriarchy, then her sexuality was in question, as she wasn’t behaving like a good woman should. As a letter writer to the Village Voice pointed out, “under the guise of promoting gay consciousness, they’re falling back on the same reliable weapon that men have used for centuries against women who claim a little too much for themselves – they’re calling her a dyke.”
When they expressed outrage that gay stereotypes had been attached to the film’s psycho killer, Buffalo Bill, they miss the film’s quite obvious point – something that is stated through action, theme, and even dialogue (“Billy [only] thinks he’s a transsexual”) – that the killer is struggling, just as Clarice is, to find some kind of stable identity in a world of strict, sometimes unfair and unrealistic, gender roles, a struggle which gay activists should have perhaps applauded, or at least related to. As Judith Halberstam noted, “Buffalo Bill could be another victim of the heterosexist culture which believes that anatomy is destiny.”
Furthermore, sulking at the side lines while eager moviegoers lined up around the block to see this film or Basic Instinct, they shot themselves in the foot with gusto as they isolated themselves from the cultural mood of the times by objecting to blockbuster movies about non-straight antiheroes that everyone else loved. They may have been better to have nailed their colours to the mast of Hannibal Lecter, the film’s other fey killer, a sophisticated villain of ambiguous sexuality who continues to enjoy Darth Vader level popularity with audiences of all stripes.
Anyway, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is an ambitious FBI trainee sent to the dungeon cell of Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to collect any information Lecter may have on “Buffalo Bill”, an elusive serial killer who “skins his humps”. Hoping to advance her career and put her own demons to rest, Clarice embarks on a fascinating quasi-romantic relationship with Dr. Lecter, who in turn revels in turning Clarice’s brittle psyche every which way but loose. Clarice also battles her superior, Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), and, eventually, “Buffalo Bill” himself, Jame Gumb (Ted Levine) in a thrilling pre-finale.
Director: Oliver Stone
Stars: Colin Farrell, Jared Leto, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer
It’s a shame that this rich and beautiful movie became the turkey of 2004. Alexander’s primary liability is its lumbering biopic style which checklists every event, major or minor, in Alexander’s life from infancy to death. But apart from this structural flaw, the film has many merits, including a lush sensuality built into fabulously hammy acting as well as beautiful sets and costumes.
Farrell - an odd casting choice - plays the great conqueror, who journeyed from Macedonia to the edge of India, annexing every state and tribe in between, and all in a flabbergastingly short time (he was dead at 32). Sexually ambiguous and mercurial as well as being a military genius, Alexander burnt down the palace at Persepolis after a drunken orgy and killed one of his best friends and closest advisors, Cleitus, in a heated alcohol-feuled argument. Plutarch claimed that Alexander descended from Zeus, who made love with Alexander’s mother Olympia, who slept with snakes to keep her boorish husband, Philip II of Macedon, away from her at night.
Angelina Jolie, who plays Olympia, brings her bedtime snakes with her wherever she goes. They coil metaphorically around her tanned ankles, and she fingers them affectionately as she stares out windows and vacantly addresses her adored, faraway son in a very distracting accent that is more Ukranian than Macedonian. However, Jolie and Farrell don’t share any charisma and look uncomfortable in their scenes together. The once-gorgeous Val Kilmer, who plays Philip II, is swollen and haggard and overacts for no apparent reason. Many of his long banquet or trying-to-fuck Olympia scenes go nowhere. In any case, the backstory of Alexander’s childhood and pedigree could have been suggested by a line of dialogue here or there, or a poignant glance at a statue and the weird performances from Kilmer and Jolie make it all seem even more redundant – get rid of it!
Anthony Hopkins, made up to look about a hundred and fifty, plays a narrator who records Alexander’s life at the library of Alexandria, which was a grand building but in this film looks more like Elton John’s bathroom or an ad for Yves St. Laurent’s “Kouros”.
However, the film’s battle scenes are stunning, replete with charging elephants and a retreating King Darius of Persia. Also, Stone has teased out some sort of essence of pre-Christian sexuality, with his camera falling with equal adoration on nubile women and hunky men, and Alexander’s love life cascades across a series of stunningly beautiful people with no regard for or interest in (homo/hetero)sexual identities. Worth watching, but not Great.
The Silence of the Lambs enjoyed an early-1990s Russian release, then, in another lifetime, welcomed so many followers on Twitter that their avatars could comprise a quite sophisticated montage of the original poster art (below).
I don’t really understand Twitter. I guess I’m more the generation that may have gone out and bought a Hannibal Lecter doll (after the jump).