REVIEW: THE PAPERBOY

Starring

Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike)
Zac Efron (17 Again)
John Cusack (Runaway Jurys)
David Oyelowo (The Butler)
Nicole Kidman (Aquaman)
Macy Gray (Brotherly Love)
Scott Glenn (Daredevil)
Ned Bellamy (Terminator: TSCC)
J.D. Evermore (Cloak & Dagger)

Matthew McConaughey in The Paperboy (2012)Anita, the chain-smoking maid of the Jansen family, recounts to an unseen reporter the events of the summer of 1969, when idealistic reporter Ward Jansen came back to his hometown of Lately in Moat County, Florida, to investigate the events surrounding a murder in an effort to exonerate a man on death row, Hillary Van Wetter. In 1965, swamp-dwelling alligator hunter and small-time criminal Van Wetter was jailed for the murder of a violent and unscrupulous local sheriff, Thurmond Call. Four years later, Charlotte Bless, a woman from Mobile, Alabama, whom Van Wetter has never met but who has fallen in love with him after exchanging correspondence, is now determined to prove his innocence and have him released so they can marry.John Cusack in The Paperboy (2012)Charlotte requested the help of Ward and his colleague, Englishman Yardley Acheman, who are both investigative reporters from The Miami Times. Ward’s younger brother, Jack Jansen, is hired as their driver. Ward has mixed feelings about returning home to his estranged father, who runs a local newspaper and distributes The Miami Times in their town. Both Jansen brothers dislike their father’s latest girlfriend, Ellen. Jack now works as a paperboy for his father’s business after having been expelled from college for vandalism, ending his prospective career as a professional swimmer. His only real friend is Anita, who brought him and Ward up after their mother left them.Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron in The Paperboy (2012)The evidence against Van Wetter is inconsistent and Ward and Yardley are confident they can expose Van Wetter as a victim of redneck justice. Meanwhile, Jack has fallen in love with Charlotte, who only desires Van Wetter. During a day at the beach, Jack gets stung by a jellyfish and has a life-threatening allergic reaction. Charlotte saves his life by urinating on him, an embarrassing circumstance that his father promptly exploits for an article in his newspaper. Anita suggests that Jack can never stop thinking of Charlotte as she is his first true love.Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron in The Paperboy (2012)Van Wetter is hostile to the reporters at first, and contrary to the romantic portrayal he had painted of himself in his letters to Charlotte, he reveals himself to be a racist, a sexist and, in general, rude. One day, after finally acquiring some useful information from Van Wetter, the Jansens travel to meet Van Wetter’s uncle, Tyree. Tyree is the only one who can corroborate Van Wetter’s alibi, since, according to Van Wetter, the two men were stealing sod from a golf course in Ormond Beach the night of the murder. Tyree, who lives in pitiful conditions in the middle of the swamp with his “white trash” family, is initially ill-disposed and wary of admitting his own crime to save his nephew’s life, but finally caves in. In the meantime, Yardley and Charlotte have visited the golf course to verify that side of the story; Yardley comes back claiming to have tracked the developer who bought the sod stolen by Hillary and Tyree, but the man only agreed to talk upon a guarantee of anonymity, so Yardley refuses to disclose his name even to Ward. Satisfied with his findings, Yardley goes back to Miami to start writing the article.John Cusack and Matthew McConaughey in The Paperboy (2012)Suspicious of Yardley’s motives, Ward decides to go check the truth in Ormond Beach himself, with Jack and Charlotte in tow. During the trip, Ward gets drunk, approaches two black men in a bar, and takes them to his motel room. During the night, Charlotte wakes up Jack after hearing alarming sounds from Ward’s room, and the two find Ward naked, beaten, and hogtied and gagged. As Ward is taken to the hospital, Jack does not resent him for secretly being a homosexual or for “what he was into”, but just for keeping from him this side of his adult life.Zac Efron in The Paperboy (2012)While Ward is still in the hospital, Jack goes to Miami to try and convince Yardley not to publish the article in his brother’s name without checking all the facts first. During the confrontation, Yardley reveals he’s actually an American pretending to be English to escape discrimination. He also reveals he had given Ward sexual favors in the past, which was the beginning of Ward’s guilty, self-hating infatuation with black men. After the article is published, Van Wetter obtains a pardon and is released from prison, and Yardley leaves for New York with a deal to write a book on the Van Wetter case. Van Wetter takes Charlotte away to the swamp to live with him. Months later, she is unhappy with the demeaning lifestyle she has to endure, and sends a letter to Jack telling him she now realizes she made a mistake and plans to reunite with him at his father and Ellen’s wedding reception. However, Jack only finds out about the letter one month later, on the very day of the wedding, when Anita, who has been fired from the Jansen household, gives the letter to him and reveals Ellen decided to hide it from Jack.Since Charlotte is not there, a worried Jack leaves the party to go find her, followed by Ward, who has lost an eye due to the incident at Ormond Beach and is now an alcoholic. When Jack and Ward confront Van Wetter, Charlotte has already been killed after Van Watter refused to let her leave to attend the wedding. A fight ensues, and Van Wetter kills Ward as well, by slashing his throat with a machete (the same weapon the sheriff was murdered with), but Jack manages to evade Van Wetter by diving into the swamp; the next morning, he retrieves Ward and Charlotte’s bodies and leaves. Anita finishes narrating by revealing Van Wetter was later convicted for the murders of Ward and Charlotte and sent to the electric chair, yet the identity of the sheriff’s murderer was never ascertained. Jack would later meet his mother at Ward’s funeral, but he would never get over Charlotte.Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron in The Paperboy (2012)The cinematography is excellent as Roberto Schaefer’s camera gets so close to the characters that you can almost smell their body odour in the immense heat. Yes, I told you this film would make you feel dirty. A great example of this is where Charlotte meets Wetter for the first time. They are sat apart in the prison meeting room; Charlotte spread her legs and begins to masturbate. This scene wouldn’t have been so bad if they were alone, but Yardley, Ward and Jack are also in the room. Take that as you will… Even though The Paperboy is an uneven thriller, what it excels in is placing the audience in uncomfortable positions. A Haneke film this is not, but by doing this the whole issue of morality and senses in the cinema is raised. As such, Daniels new feature is a sweaty, sexy and visceral experience, which needed to take some more pointers from other more complete films. All in all, you may have to scrub yourself clean, but you won’t forget the experience for quite some time.

REVIEW: THE DEFENDERS

CAST

Charlie Cox (Stardust)
Krysten Ritter (Veronica Mars)
Mike Colter (Zero Dark thirty)
Finn Jones (Game of Thrones)
Élodie Yung (Gods of Egypt)
Sigourney Weaver (Avatar)
Rachael Taylor (The Loft)
Eka Darville (Power Rangers RPM)
Elden Henson (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
Deborah Ann Woll (Ruby Sparks)
Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones)
Ramón Rodríguez (The Taking of Pelham 123)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Simone Missick (K-Town)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Wai Ching Ho (Cadillac Man)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Chuck)
Peter McRobbie (16 Blocks)
Rob Morgan (Stranger Things)
Marko Zaror (Machete Kills)
Amy Rutberg (NCIS: New Orleans)

 

The Defenders is Marvel’s best Netflix show, hands down.  While the crossover between Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage can occasionally veer into a fragmented set of mini-episodes early on, the awesome foursome eventually unites to form a show greater than the sum of its parts. The street-level superheroes provide a fantastic eight-episode run with high stakes, a frenzied pace and, most importantly, effortless chemistry.Things don’t start off that way, though. The opening pair of episodes read almost as a greatest hits collection of each hero’s respective shows before the narrative eventually relents and shoehorns the plot in a comically convenient way for the four to come together. The lack of instant gratification can be grating, but this is easily relieved by the fun interaction between fan-favourites that leads up to the team-up. Misty Knight and Jessica Jones’ brief scenes are worth the price of admission alone and there are a few, shall we say interesting, crossovers you won’t see coming. Without giving too much away, a cataclysmic event is unleashed upon New York and The Defenders, each following their own leads, stumble into each other’s paths in the same building. And then things get good. Really, really good. Unsurprisingly, The Hand are the villains of the season and are led by Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra. Her performance is tempered by an unidentified terminal illness which spurs her character on and at least drives her away from the realms of cartoonish MCU villain as  she has an actual character arc rather than the bland go there, be evil trope of prior bad guys. When the show does focus on The Defenders (and, in fairness, that’s 90% of the time) the show is a rollercoaster of wisecracks, quips and, yup, Jessica Jones’ side-eye. It’s glorious fun and, for my money, feels like a much bigger event than The Avengers ever was. There’s a spine-tingling moment, complete with an inspirational score bubbling up in the background, where the four heroes unite to take on a foe at the midway point which ranks as an all-time great Marvel moment.Yes, The Defenders run is short, but those thinking a mere eight episodes won’t cut it can have their fears put to rest. Coupled with Game of Thrones season 7’s clipped seven-episode run, it feels like we’re reaching a watershed point in television where shows don’t need to be chained to a long episode run anymore. Barely a second is wasted in The Defenders: Every quiet character moment is poignant and fleshes out something or someone; every action sequence leads to something bigger, better, and more shocking; and every one-liner and on-the-nose dig at Iron Fist will make you laugh. Nothing outstays its welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: DAREDEVIL – SEASON TWO

MAIN CAST

Charlie Cox (Stardust)
Deborah Ann Woll (Ruby Sparks)
Elden Henson (The Buttefly Effect)
Jon Bernthal (World Trade Center)
Élodie Yung (Gods of Egypt)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Stephen Rider (Safe House)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Men In Black)

GUEST CAST
Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michelle Hurd (Flashforward)
Royce Johnson (Jessica Jones)
Peter McRobbie (Lincoln)
Rob Morgan (Pariah)
Amy Rutberg (The Mansion)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Jessica Jones)
Wai Chang Ho (Robot Stories)
Peter Shinkoda (Masked Rider)
Matt Gerald (Terminator 3)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Daredevil is a character about contrasts. Matt Murdock practices as a lawyer by day, but beats criminals as a vigilante at night. He’s a practicing Catholic, but dresses up like the devil. Also, he’s blind, but he can see the world around him unlike anyone else. Coincidentally, it is the second season of Marvel’s Daredevil that chooses to really explore the dichotomies, not only in its title hero but in those around him and the world at large. Charlie Cox once again stars as the Man without Fear in the series, and brings the same amount of dashing charm and selflessness that makes Matt such a great character. Cox has transcended himself in the role, too. Much like Robert Downey Jr. and Iron Man or Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool, there is no separating the actor from the character; they are one. He provides the pivotal anchor for the rest of the cast, who also continue to hit home run after home run. Elden Henson’s Foggy Nelson is still the perfect Milhouse to Matt’s Bart, the right combination of endearing, annoying, and funny. A combo that personifies the comic book character to a T, and makes him integral to Matt’s story. Furthermore there’s Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, bringing a lightness to this supremely dark (in tone and lighting) series. Woll and Cox also work off of each other in perhaps the most believable romantic subplot of the MCU. Then there’s Frank Castle.
Jon Bernthal takes on the role of The Punisher for the series, and he brings the goods. This is a character that also has two sides at work, not simply inherent to his actions but in how he is written as a piece of the puzzle. Bernthal can handle the militaristic elements with ease. No one has looked more natural walking down a hall while aiming a shotgun with precision, but when the more sensitive aspects of the character and his background unfold, he’s got it covered. The Punisher is at his most satisfying for an audience as an unstoppable killing machine, always five moves ahead. At his most interesting and nuanced, however, The Punisher is a fatally-flawed and broken individual that is two steps behind. The good news is that you get to have your cake and eat it too. When Bernthal isn’t laying waste to criminals, he’s tasked with delivering Shakespearean monologues, which he hits like a headshot.
The second season of Daredevil also brings along Elodie Yung as Elektra Natchios, the perfect wrench for everything Matt Murdock. Though The Punisher may be at his most satisfying when he’s a human hurricane leaving a path of destruction, Matt Murdock is at his most satisfying when literally everything is going wrong for him, and Elektra is a guarantee for that. Yung embodies the spirit of Elektra that shines a light on the character’s personality in exciting ways. She brings duel ferocity and gentleness that made me recognize something I had never thought before – Elektra is like a cat; Playful when it suits her, but mysterious and often a supreme and bitter jerk when she doesn’t get her way. The same way that Charlie Cox and Deborah Ann Woll hold onto everything wholesome and good about love, Cox and Yung grab all of the dangerous and potentially hurtful parts and hang them out the window while speeding down the highway.
The true achievement of Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 is not how in how it escalates the stakes from Season 1 or how it manages to properly juggle new and returning characters with satisfying arcs, it’s in its narrative composition as a whole. Season 2 is perhaps the most comic book-like series on TV, because it mirrors the structure of comics in a way that ceases to feel like television. While the first season held onto the framework of serialized TV, guiding us through every turn, Season 2 takes the graphic novel approach. Clusters of episodes form their own cohesive arc for a few hours, but when all combined they form the grander story at hand of the season. And that larger story? A further example of the two dividends of Daredevil. Daytime Matt and nighttime Matt get equal footing, which you need in order to make them both special.
As hard as it may be to believe, Daredevil‘s second season is a step up from the first. By embracing the comic book form, the series has further separated itself from the rest of the MCU and scratches an itch none of them can reach. It’s not all perfect though, as what worked the first time keeps working, and what didn’t work remains a drag, specifically the tired exposition wherein characters must explain to other characters the things the audience already knows. The drama screeches to a halt in these moments, but luckily they are few and far between.
If you were as enthusiastic about the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil, I hope you’re as pleased as I am with the new episodes. There’s an intensity and toughness in the storytelling that gets at the heart of the character and provides further proof why Daredevil is the one of the best heroes in comics. The new additions to the series are welcome and only enhance the storytelling in thrilling ways.

REVIEW: THE BOURNE LEGACY

CAST
Jeremy Renner (The Avengers)
Rachel Weisz (The Mummy)
Scott Glenn (Daredevil TV)
Stacy Keach (Two and a Half Men)
Edward Norton (Fight Club)
Donna Murphy (Spider-Man 2)
Michael Chernus (Men In Black 3)
Corey Stoll (Ant-Man)
David Strathairn (Alphas)
Albert Finney (Big Fish)
Joan Allen (The Notebook)
Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)
Elizabeth Marvel (Homeland)
The CIA lost track of Jason Bourne’s whereabouts in Moscow six weeks ago. Meanwhile, Aaron Cross is a government operative assigned to Operation Outcome, a Department of Defense black operation program using experimental pills known as “chems” to enhance the physical and mental abilities of their users. Aaron is assigned to Alaska for a training exercise, where he must survive weather extremes and traverse rugged terrain in order to arrive at a remote cabin. The cabin is operated by an exiled Outcome operative, Number Three, who informs Aaron that he has broken the mission record by two days.
Reporter Simon Ross of The Guardian, who has been investigating the CIA programs Treadstone and Blackbriar, is assassinated at London Waterloo station. When the illegal adaptation of the programs is exposed by Jason, the FBI and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigate CIA Director Ezra Kramer, Deputy Director Pamela Landy, Blackbriar supervisor Noah Vosen and Treadstone medical director Dr. Albert Hirsch.After the mayhem in New York and Jason’s escape, Kramer requests help from Mark Turso, a retired United States Navy admiral, who runs the National Research Assay Group (NRAG). Turso informs Eric Byer, a retired Air Force colonel overseeing NRAG’s research and development of various clandestine enhancement programs used by the CIA and Defense. Byer discovers a potentially scandalous video on the Internet showing Hirsch socializing with Dr. Dan Hillcott, Outcome’s medical director. To prevent the Senate investigation from learning about Outcome, Byer orders everyone associated with the program killed. He sees the sacrifice as acceptable in order to protect NRAG’s next-generation “Beta programs”, including the supersoldier program LARX.Byer deploys a drone to eliminate Outcome agents Number Three and Five (Aaron) in Alaska. Aaron hears the drone’s approach and leaves moments before a missile destroys the cabin with Number Three inside. Aaron removes the Radio-frequency identification implanted in his thigh and force-feeds it to a wolf which is then blown up by a missile, tricking Byer into believing Aaron is dead. Hirsch dies of an apparent heart attack before he can testify before the Senate. Dr. Donald Foite, a researcher at a bio-genetics laboratory, uses a pistol to kill all but one of his top-level colleagues employed by Outcome. When security guards enter his lab, Foite turns his gun on himself, leaving biochemist Dr. Marta Shearing as the sole survivor.[3] Meanwhile, other Outcome agents are eliminated when their handlers give them poisoned chems. When four elite “D-Track” assassins ambush Marta at her country house and attempt to fake her suicide, they are eliminated by Aaron. He saves her life as she is his last link to the chems so that he can retain his enhanced capabilities and avoid withdrawal symptoms. Marta reveals that Cross has been genetically modified by a tailored virus to retain the physical benefits without needing the green chems anymore. He still requires regular doses of blue chems to maintain his intelligence, but he is running out. Aaron confides to her that he is Private First Class Kenneth J. Kitsom (reportedly killed by a roadside bomb in the Iraq War) and that his recruiter added 12 points to his IQ, enabling Aaron to meet the United States Army’s requirements. Without his enhanced intelligence, Aaron believes they stand no chance of survival. Aaron and Marta travel to Manila, where the chems are manufactured, to try to infect him with another virus so he will not need the blue chems.Aaron and Marta bluff their way into the chem factory. Marta injects Aaron with the live virus stems. Byer alerts the factory security, but Aaron and Marta evade capture. Byer orders LARX-03, a chemically-brainwashed supersoldier, to track down and kill them. Aaron recovers from the flu-like symptoms but hallucinates about his Outcome training Police surround their shelter while Marta is buying medicine; she warns Aaron by screaming. Aaron rescues her and steals a motorbike. They are pursued by both the police and LARX-03. After a lengthy chase through the streets and marketplaces of Manila to Marikina, they lose the police, but not the assassin. Both Aaron and LARX-03 are wounded by bullets. LARX-03 is killed when Marta causes his motorcycle to crash into a pillar. Marta persuades a Filipino boatman to help them escape by sea. They sail away, while back in New York, Vosen lies to the Senate that Landy committed treason by trying to sell Treadstone secrets to the press and by assisting Jason, the only reason why Blackbriar existed
This is not meant to be an extension to the Matt Damon franchise and doesn’t try to be. It is very good in it’s own right and has to be viewed as a stand-alone, parallel story that uses references to the on-going Bourne saga to place it in context. Very well paced and filled with detail, it should more than satisfy any follower of the ‘Bourne’ trilogy and makes a worthwhile addition to the series.

REVIEW: THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

CAST
Matt Damon (Dogma)
Julia Stiles (Silver Linings Playbook)
David Straithairn (L.A. Confidential)
Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz)
Edgar Ramirez (Wrath of The Titans)
Albert Finney (Big Fish)
Joan Allen (The Notebook)
Daniel Bruhl (Captain America: Civil War)
Scott Adkins (X-Men Origins)
Following his pursuit by Kirill, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) evades Moscow police. Six weeks later, CIA Deputy Director Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) divulges the audiotaped confession of Ward Abbott, the late former head of Operation Treadstone, to Director Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn). Meanwhile, in Turin, journalist Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) of The Guardian meets an informant to learn about Jason and Operation Blackbriar, the program succeeding Treadstone. The CIA tracks Ross as he returns to London, after his mention of “Blackbriar” during a cell-phone call to his editor is detected by the ECHELON system. Jason reappears in Paris to inform Martin Kreutz (Daniel Brühl), the step-brother of his girlfriend Marie Helena Kreutz (Franka Potente) of her assassination in India.
Jason reads Ross’s articles and arranges a meeting with him at London Waterloo station. Jason realizes that the CIA is following Ross and helps him evade capture, but Ross ignores Jason’s instructions, despite warning him and is quickly assassinated by Blackbriar assassin Paz (Edgar Ramirez), on orders of Deputy Director Noah Vosen (David Straithairn) right in front of the crowd of citizens. Vosen’s team, reluctantly assisted by Landy, analyzes Ross’s notes and realize Neal Daniels (Colin Stinton), a CIA Station chief involved with Treadstone and Blackbriar, was his source. Jason makes his way to Daniels’s office in Madrid but finds it empty. He incapacitates gunmen sent by Vosen and Landy. Nicolette “Nicky” Parsons (Julia Stiles), a former Treadstone technician who shares a history with Jason, tells him that Daniels has fled to Tangier and aids his escape from an arriving CIA unit.
Nicky learns that Blackbriar “asset” Desh Bouksani (Joey Ansah) has been tasked with killing Daniels. Vosen sees that Nicky accessed information about Daniels and sends Bouksani after Nicky and Jason as well, a decision with which Landy fiercely disagrees. Jason follows Bouksani to Daniels but fails to prevent Daniels’s death by a planted bomb. However, Jason manages to kill Bouksani before he can kill Nicky. After sending Nicky into hiding, Jason examines the contents of Daniels’s briefcase and finds the address of the deep-cover CIA bureau in New York City, where Vosen directs Blackbriar. Jason travels to New York.
Landy receives a phone call from Jason, which is intercepted by Vosen. Landy tells him that his real name is David Webb and mentions “4-15-71”. Bourne tells Landy to “get some rest” because she “look[s] tired”, tipping off his presence in New York. Vosen intercepts a text to Landy from Jason, apparently of a location to meet up and leaves his office with a rendition team to capture him. Instead, Jason enters Vosen’s office and takes classified Blackbriar documents. Realizing that he has been hoodwinked, Vosen sends Paz after Jason, resulting in Paz forcing Jason’s car to crash into a concrete barrier. Jason holds Paz at gunpoint before sparing his life.
Jason arrives at a hospital at 415 East 71st Street, memories of which were triggered by the numbers that Landy had given him earlier. Outside, Jason meets Landy and gives her the Blackbriar files before going inside. Vosen figures out Landy’s code and warns Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney), who ran Treadstone’s behavior modification program, that Jason is coming. He follows Landy inside the building but is too late to stop her from faxing the Blackbriar documents out. Meanwhile, Jason encounters Hirsch on an upper floor and, with Hirsch’s help, remembers that he volunteered for Treadstone. As Jason flees to the roof, he is confronted by Paz, who asks, “Why didn’t you take the shot?” Jason repeats the dying words of The Professor: “Look at us. Look at what they make you give.” Paz lowers his gun, but Vosen appears and shoots at Jason as he collapses into the East River.
Some time later, Nicky watches a news broadcast about the exposure of Operation Blackbriar, the arrests of Hirsch and Vosen, a criminal investigation against Kramer, and the whereabouts of David Webb a.k.a. Jason Bourne. Upon hearing that his body has not been found after a three-day search of the river, Nicky smiles. Jason is shown having survived from his attempted killing and swims away.
Wonderful. It just keeps on getting better., every new Bourne film improves on the last and this is, without a doubt, the best of them.

 

 

 

REVIEW: THE VIRGIN SUICIDES

CAST
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Josh Hartnett (Lucky Number Sleven)
James Woods (Another Day In Paradise)
Kathleen Turner (Serial Mom)
Michael Pare (Bloodrayne)
Scott Glenn (Daredevil lTV)
Danny DeVito (Batman Returns)
A.J. Cook (Wishmaster 3)
Hayden Christensen (Awake)
Sherry Miller (Bitten)
Melody Johnson (Goosebumps)
Andrew Gillies (Mutant X)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Joe Dinicol (Arrow)
The story takes place in the sleepy and decaying suburbs of Grosse Pointe, Michigan during the 1970s, as a group of neighborhood boys, now grown men acknowledging in voice-over (narrated by Giovanni Ribisi who speaks for the group as a whole) reflect upon their life-long obsession and memories of the five entrancing Lisbon sisters, ages 13 to 17, and whose beauty had bewitched them as teenagers. Strictly unattainable due to their Catholic and overprotective, authoritarian parents, math teacher Ronald (James Woods) and his homemaker wife (Kathleen Turner), the girls — Therese (Leslie Hayman), Mary (A. J. Cook), Bonnie (Chelse Swain), Lux (Kirsten Dunst), and Cecilia (Hanna R. Hall) — are the enigma that fill the boys’ conversations and dreams.
 The film opens in the summer with the suicide attempt of the youngest sister, Cecilia, as she slits her wrist in a bath. After her parents allow her to throw a chaperoned basement party intended to make her feel better, Cecilia excuses herself and jumps out her second story bedroom window, instantly dying when she is impaled on an iron fence below. In the wake of her act, the Lisbon parents begin to watch over their four remaining daughters even more closely. This further isolates the family from the community and heightens the intrigue and air of mystery about the girls to the neighborhood boys in particular, who long for more insight into the girls’ unfathomable lives. At the beginning of the new school year in the fall, Lux forms a secret relationship and short lived romance with Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett), the school heartthrob. Trip comes over one night to the Lisbon residence to watch television and persuades Mr. Lisbon to allow him to take Lux to the upcoming Homecoming Dance by promising to provide dates for the other sisters, to go as a group. After winning Homecoming king and queen, Trip persuades Lux to ditch the group and have sex on the school’s football field. Afterwards, Lux falls asleep and Trip, becoming disenchanted by Lux, abandons her. At dawn, Lux wakes up alone and has to take a taxi home. Several years later, Trip will admit to wrongfully abandoning Lux, but ironically confesses that he has never gotten over her.
Having broken curfew, Lux and her sisters are punished by a furious Mrs. Lisbon by being taken out of school and sequestered in their house of maximum security isolation. Unable to leave the house, the sisters contact the boys across the street by using light signals and sharing songs over the phone as a means of finally sharing their unrequited feelings. During this time, Lux rebels against her repression and becomes promiscuous, having anonymous sexual encounters on the roof of the house late at night; the neighborhood boys spy and watch Lux in action from across the street. Finally, after weeks of confinement, the sisters mysteriously leave a note for the boys, presumably asking for help to escape. When the boys arrive that night ready to run away with the girls, they find Lux alone in the living room, smoking a cigarette. She invites them inside to wait for her sisters, while she goes to start the car, leading the boys to believe they will soon elope with the girls. While they wait, the boys briefly fantasize the group of them driving blissfully away on a sun-soaked country road.
Curious, the boys wander into the dark basement after hearing a noise and discover Bonnie’s dead body hanging from the ceiling rafters. Horrified, they rush upstairs only to stumble across the dead body of Mary. The boys realize that the girls had all killed themselves in an apparent suicide pact moments before: Bonnie hanged herself; Mary died by sticking her head in the gas oven shortly after; Therese died by taking an overdose of sleeping pills and Lux, being the last one to go, died by Carbon monoxide poisoning, when she left the car engine running in the sealed garage. But there is no sole explanation why.
Devastated and puzzled by the suicides of all their children, Mr. and Mrs. Lisbon quietly flee the neighborhood, never to return. Mr. Lisbon had a friend clean out the house and sell off the family belongings, especially those belonging to the girls, in a yard sale; whatever didn’t sell was put in the trash, including the family photos, which the neighborhood boys collected as mementos. When the house is emptied, it is quickly sold to a young couple from the Boston area. Seemingly unsure how to react, the adults in the community go about their lives as if nothing happened or that the Lisbons ever lived there. But the boys never forget about the girls however much they try, though everyone else eventually does. And the girls will forever haunt them and remain a source of grief and lost innocence for them, long into adulthood. As the film closes, the men acknowledge in voice-over, saying that they had loved the girls. And that they will never find the pieces to put them back together, to understand why the Lisbon sisters went to be alone in suicide for all time.
This is a great film, despite the tragic end. Nicely shot and superb acting. The best film I’ve seen Kirsten Dunst in.

REVIEW: THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (The Mask of Zorro)
Jodie Foster (The Beaver)
Scott Glenn (Daredevil)
Ted Levine (Evolution)
Anthony Heald (Deep Rising)
Brooke Smith (Interstellar)
Diane Baker (A Mighty Wind)
Frankie Faison (Luke Cage)
Charles Napier (Maniac Cop 2)
Tracey Walter (Batman)
Obba Babatunde (John Q)
Cynthia Ettinger (Gilmore Girls)

It’s always interesting to reflect on The Silence of the Lambs and remember that, though terribly iconic and singular, it’s a follow-up of sorts to Micheal Mann’s 1984 thriller, Manhunter, and an adaptation of Thomas Harris’ novel “The Silence of the Lambs”, a sequel to the original novel “Red Dragon”. Hannibal Lecter existed long before Anthony Hopkins took the reins, first given a more debonair cinematic air by a criminally-overlooked turn from Brian Cox, while the primary protagonists in this story arc was Will Graham at first, brought to life by the likes of William Petersen and Edward Norton. Lecter’s legacy of secondhand FBI assistance and cat-and-mouse psycho play with its agents has understandably taken many tones over the years.Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)But when we think about Hannibal Lecter, we instantly think of Anthony Hopkins toying with Jodie Foster’s Clarice like a predacious cat with its victim. There’s a reason for that: The Silence of the Lambs brings a director adept at communicating human emotion under dire circumstances together with the haunting inhumanity penned by story adapter Ted Tally. We’re introduced to Clarice Starling (Foster), an up-and-coming FBI student who has fallen into a dense and disturbing case involving psychotic serial killer Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine). She begins her involvement by innocently interviewing Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins) about his knowledge of Bill, but it slowly evolves into a “quid pro quo” dance with the macabre as Lecter points her into specific directions that will allow her — and only her — to solve the paramount case.It takes the viewer into a world teeming with bizarre psychoses, one that drives us to feel compelled to relish in its shiver-inducing nature. Jonathan Demme not only appreciates the partition between fear and indulgence, but he takes his involvement with character nuance and clashes it all together into a bleak yet thoroughly engaging atmosphere. The Silence of the Lambs exists in a shadowy, antithetic environment filled with the slaughterings of innocent women and the bloodthirsty nature of the criminally insane, yet it never forgets to open doors that allow us to comprehend exactly what’s going on in their minds — and not in a blatantly monstrous way, but more in a contorted humanistic light that drives real fear into our bones. We get the quakes from mythical monsters that go “bump” in our dreams, but the true fright we feel exists in the monsters that walk the earth with us.As Starling begins her trip down the rabbit hole by way of Lecter’s profiling of Buffalo Bill, it’s clear that all of these odd underlying layers will largely rely on the dynamic that the FBI student develops with them. A few years out of her show-stealing (and show-making, to be frank) performance in The Accused, Jodie Foster takes her plummet into the mind of a serial killer and delivers a performance filled with lamb-like jitters and compelling ambiguity between masculinity and femininity. Her Clarice Starling is strong enough to back as a heroine, yet there’s coyness behind her strained vigor that makes her dance with Lecter compelling and, more importantly, involving enough to cement her post-Taxi Driver and Accused status as a powerhouse actress.

Then, there’s Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, who’s only on-screen for a nudge over sixteen minutes in The Silence of the Lambs. It’s amazing to think that such a seminal entity could be so transient in the film that made him an everyday name alongside horror greats like Patrick Bateman and Jack Torrance. But his time on screen never feels short-lived, that’s for certain; as he gazes through his acrylic glass screen and mutters to us of eating a man’s liver with a “can of fava beans and a nice Chianti”, he shatters that fourth wall separating him from the audience in a way that gives us direct, eye-to-eye interaction with a well-mannered psychopath. It’s a cinematic luxury that we don’t get to indulge in very often, especially in a natural and effective fashion. His glances and bone-chilling words, though fleeting as they might be, float in our minds across the entire film as the contained, docile voice of one of many possible variations of Buffalo Bill’s psyche — a killer on the loose in the backwater crevices of southern America, potentially right around the corner of anyone’s neighborhood.Though Foster faultlessly captures the essence of an intelligent rookie FBI agent on the prowl and Hopkins, well, “makes” Hannibal Lecter, it’s the times when they’re face-to-face that transcends The Silence of the Lambs into a lasting piece of filmmaking. Their characters, when separate, are compelling in their own right, but it’s in the ways that they make slight alterations in their personalities that create the film’s signature sensations of vagueness in character archetypes. Each element surrounding Demme’s design in capturing their dialogue, from Badlands cinematographer Tak Fujimoto’s photography to the stellar emphasis on long pauses in Craig McKay’s editing, are impeccable, but it’s the actors’ subtle shifts in power struggle that grips us repeatedly in their startling-captured exchanges.


Once we follow Starling outside of the confines of Lecter’s cell, there’s a tense, blood-curdling air about her chase for Buffalo Bill that reinforces a sense of graspable danger. As we watch her combine forensic talent with Lecter’s clues, it becomes a downright thrilling procedural that never feels formulaic and remains exhilarating up until its expertly executed conclusion. All along the way, The Silence of the Lambs adorns her trials and tribulations with a medley of characters to play off of, from the sagely tutelage of FBI bigwig Jack Crawford (Scott Glen) to the quirky acts of sexual aggression from Dr. Chilton (Anthony Heald). They emphasize the near-androgynous nature of Starling’s persona, painting her dual-edged innocuous demeanor into an intriguing character study.The Silence of the Lambs taps heavily into a parallel between Starling and the “lamb” that she speaks of during arguably the most prolific character moment in the film, one that gives us a subtle reminder that she’s something of an puerile entity transforming into an investigator. It’s not the only splash of symbolism used in the film to illustrate the characters, as the metamorphosis of a demented mind repeatedly stands out with the focus on Death’s Head Moths later in the film. They circulate around Buffalo Bill’s character, a perfect example of the danger that arises when a deviant blossoms into a perverse serial killer. Yet the metamorphosis concepts also circle around Starling as the film presses forward, which continues the nerve-racking mechanic of balancing humanity with the killer’s mental instability.There’s a world of depth at your fingertips underneath The Silence of the Lambs — about as deep as you really want to dive into the criminal mind — but it’s first and foremost an exercise in skillfully crafted suspense. An innocent-yet-adept protagonist, a worthy villain, and a series of aptly strung-together clues wind tightly around the dangerously hypnotic presence of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, building into one of cinema’s more unique dynamics. Diving into the ominous mind of a killer isn’t the most pleasant experience in the world, but it’s certainly captivating in the eyes of a daring, young FBI agent willing to weave through a thrill-a-minute labyrinth to stop one. It’s Jonathan Demme’s call-to-fame, and a tour de force in the horror genre that’ll hold on to its unnerving presence for years to come.