Everybody knows how the yuppie from the coffee shop died, and that as Joe Black, Brad Pitt can do a Jamaican accent. I started tuning into this movie when Joe’s fiending for peanut butter in Bill’s (Anthony Hopkins) kitchen, and slept before the end. And how is Joe the angel of death yet Bill has to tell him what’s right from wrong? This is mid-career Pitt, where most of his movies centred on how he looked. It was the 90’s when for some reason, everyone got away with ridiculous pre-Justin Bieber hair like that. Claire Forlani’s terrible and wooden which means, yes, I disagree with Mick LaSalle. Marcia Gay Harden’s character is the only redemption in this film, yet she still can’t convince me that she doesn’t mind being the favourite. This is a terrible movie, just take my word for it.
While ruffling through old…stuff I guess, Nathaniel R found issues of his old zine. He re-listed what he thought the greatest performances of that decade are.
Best Supporting Actor
– Joe Pesci, Goodfellas, (199o)
Hey look, it’s Joe Pesci with feelings!
– Ted Levine, Silence of the the Lambs, (1991)
You know what, this performance is a little bit campy, but scary and will offend generations to come.
– Anthony Hopkins, Dracula (1992)
Scarier here than as Hannibal Lecter.
– Leonardo di Caprio, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
He’s proven what he can do at such a young age.
– Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction (1994)
Put cool, hilarious and scary into one gunman.
– Vincent Cassel, La Haine (1995)
Great as the funny, deluded guy from the Paris ghetto.
– Steve Buscemi, Fargo (1996)
Makes the audience realize how crazy these kidnapping plans go.
– Timothy Spall, Secrets and Lies (1996)
This family man role puts him on different emotional fields.
– Robert Forster, Jackie Brown (1997)
You wouldn’t think of him as Pam Grier’s best leading man, but there he is.
– Brendan Fraser, Gods and Monsters (1998)
Remember when this guy did actual acting?
Best Supporting Actress
– ETA: Lorraine Bracco, Goodfellas (1990)
Can’t believe I forgot about this innocent turned crazy-emotional performance
– Jessica Lange, Cape Fear (1991)
Smoldering sexuality comes easy with this lady.
– Angela Bassett, Malcolm X (1992)
The only woman who could play Malcolm X’s wife and in one or two incidents, his formidable opponent.
– Winona Ryder, The Age of Innocence (1993)
As May Archer, a woman who sounds so nice saying the most manipulative things.
– Melanie Lynskey, Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Gotta give Ms. Lynskey a hand for how brave she tackled her sexually blossoming character.
– Sharon Stone, Casino (1995)
Goes all out as Ginger, the boss’ damaged wife.
– Kristin Scott Thomas, Richard III (1995)
The best in show in a film of great women, she gives her one speaking scene as Queen Anne great complexity.
– Bridget Fonda, Jackie Brown (1997)
Exudes confidence as the surfer girl, Melanie.
– Julianne Moore, Boogie Nights (1997)
That scene outside the courthouse.
– Anthony Hopkins, Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Slithers his way into Clarice Starling’s sympathies, and ours too.
– Denzel Washington, Malcolm X (1992)
Great range from anger to spiritual enlightenment.
– Colm Feore, Thirty-Three Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993)
Feore helps us learn about this fascinating man.
– Bruce Willis, Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Out of the performances in this list, his is the most visceral.
– Billy Bob Thornton, Sling Blade (1996)
He makes interesting choices in this role.
– Samuel L. Jackson, One Eight Seven (1997)
Again, scarier than Jules when he teaches us about the ‘philanges.’
– Johnny Depp, Donnie Brasco (1997)
One of the greatest performances within the performance.
– Jeff Bridges, The Big Lebowski (1998)
Boring answer, but he plays a stoner awake.
– Dylan Baker, Happiness (1998)
Such a sympathetic portrayal that you won’t even believe the truth about him.
– Matt Damon, The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Great as a love-to-hate shape shifter.
ETA: Italics represent Oscar winners.
- Flashback: Best of the 90s. (Pt 1) (filmexperience.blogspot.com)
The Merchant Ivory adaptation of E.M. Forster’s Howards End has its Murnauesque tendencies. A drama about property, class, and family, the film’s first four minutes have no dialogue, as Ruth Wilcox (Vanessa Redgrave), owner of the titular house, walks ghostly outside in the garden. She looks in while her husband Henry (Anthony Hopkins), the rest of her family, and a guest, Helen Schlegel (Helena Bonham Carter) are inside having a party. The film evokes a poetic atmosphere within the English suburbs, with the grass and wisteria and trees and the moon. Helen lightly blames the moonlight for her short engagement with one of the Wilcox son, Paul.
Helen’s poor friend Leonard Bast gets enthralled by his environment as well, and thus gets his silent sequences. They meet after a lecture on Beethoven’s Music and Meaning, showing his intellectual side despite his poverty. She steals his umbrella, he walks in the rain to get it back. He goes on walks because of a book he’s read, much to the chagrin of his wife Jacky. He also has a strange recollection of his first meeting with Helen, the gates close on him but she looks back, smiling.
Howards End is a movie of many tones, but I don’t mean that it’s uneven. There’s the comedy of errors tone, when the other Wilcox son Charles (James Wilby) drives the Schlegel aunt to the house. She confuses him for Paul and a row ensues. Helen and Margaret (Emma Thompson) are pretty funny characters themselves, calling themselves chatterboxes, the Schlegel children critical of their outspoken ways.
Then there’s the elegy, represented by Ruth. If you’ll indulge me in overreading, Ruth is also after a Biblical figure of unwavering loyalty and standing by her family. She was born in Howards End, Howard being a prominent name in some noblemen, a family plagued by tragedy. She’s kind of fragile, most of her children have grown up and married. and her husband tends to leave her in the house for business. She symbolizes permanence, shocked by the notion that Margaret has to move from the house where the latter was born. She has bursts of energy now and then, thanks to Margaret’s friendship, and there’s an implication that Henry and her family bring her down. This role’s part of the roles Redgrave has been getting in her later years, a woman haunted by her past.
There’s also a sense of urgency in the film’s drama, culminating in the forty minute mark, with Margaret becoming the protagonist. She’s like sunshine to this movie, her early moments especially with Ruth, we see her smiling and accommodating. Ruth’s last wish is that Margaret would inherit Howards End, Henry eventually asks Margaret to marry him. In Ruth’s last moments, she inadvertently passes the torch to Margaret, her silence replaced by Margaret’s protestations. Thompson made leading roles out of being the elder sister or friend with the voice of sanity, and her Margaret is still that archetype to Helen. But here in Howards End, she’s stuck between Helen’s idealism and Henry’s ruthless prejudice. Her last fight with Henry is one of the riveting arguments I’ve seen in a British period film and perfectly encapsulates Forster’s liberal stance.
There’s no need to say that Anthony Hopkins is amazing in this film. He plays his character with charm, ruthlessness yet repressed humiliation, opposite yet same from the cannibal that won him the Oscar. It’s reminiscent of other actors doing something different after their Oscar-winning or infamous roles. Like Marlon Brando dabbling in musicals after winning for “On the Waterfront,” or Denzel Washington becoming a sensitive shrink after becoming a psychotic cop, or Jack Nicholson playing a wounded playwright after playing a homicidal novelist, or John Wayne playing fatherly after playing racist.
Isn’t Clarice Starling is such a nice girl? There’s something about way she smiles and jokes around and has good rapport with others. No wonder Hannibal Lecter has a thing for her, just like every other leering pervert who goes to school with her.
In the scene in the Your Self storage facility outside downtown Baltimore, she asks the manager with a nervous laughter to call her friends at the FBI if the door falls down. She’s cordial yet in control. I wouldn’t even joke about getting stuck in some skeevy guy’s storage room. And as a first time viewer like I was a few months ago, I kind of was expecting the door to close. But watching the way she talks about the worst case scenario, we should have known nothing is gonna happen and she would be fine. If your definition of ‘fine’ is uncovering Benjamin Raspel’s decapitated head.
That early scene, as well as most of the earlier scenes, have such different qualities from the Clarice Starling later on who looks like she’s on the brink of tears. Jodie Foster had to give unity to the character after all. She’s a character appealing enough that Hannibal wanted to know her. I wanted to see her deal with other situations, and I was a bit frustrated but then again it’s a relatively short text – 118 minutes – in a genre film, and they can only allow certain things in there. But then, there’s always gonna her friendliness and wide-eyed constant learning and her humility when she’s not directly dealing with the case. Good enough for me.
The movie has always been a movie in parts for me, always catching the ‘transsexuals are very passive’ scene, because they could only either be passive or serial killers. And all British guys know how to put condiments on a cadaver. And all redhead chicks are both strong yet vulnerable. And all blonde guys have manginas.
While we’re in the ‘gender and sexuality’ thread of the conversation, Clarice is all we have as a representation of the female and feminine in this movie. Catherine, although with a coarser vocabulary, isn’t really Clarice’s foil because she’s just as resourceful yet vulnerable. And Ardelia isn’t a fully developed character. The boys, however, are a different case. An LGBT character is a serial killer yet Clarice’s declaration on the passivity of transsexuals isn’t invalidated. I didn’t take an Angus Reed poll or anything, but a queer man can love women as much as another can hate them. Technically Bill already has foils, but if the film had characters presented as Clarice or Bill’s foils, they wouldn’t be as effective on their own.
I first saw it in its entirety at the Toronto Digital Film Festival, a ‘horror’ film that froze me instead of jolted me, despite of the cloudy quality of the digital film . I won a poster for answering the trivia question of how many Oscars it won. I haven’t opened the poster yet, I don’t know where to put it in my room, I don’t even know where it really is. Then there was the crispier AMC’s televised run Monday night, when Miggs can smell Clarice’s ‘scent’ and Hannibal imagining Crawford imagining ‘fondling’ Clarice, and Bill ‘having’ himself so hard.
I discovered new things in this awesomeness the second time around, that ‘good bag and cheap shoes’ sounds like a hell of a fey insult and I should use it someday. Someone should tell Clarice about that ugly ass coat too. That Clarice kinda looks like Scully. That Buffalo Bill is capable of love. That apparently Anthony Hopkins and the girl who plays Catherine reunited in a really terrible Chris Rock movie that I still wanna see.
That adds to what we already know about that galvanizing moment when Lecter beats the shit out of that guard. And the poetic sequence when Clarice really finds the killer. The little Western touches within the film. That if Jodie Foster wasn’t a lesbian, I’d prescribe it to her. That Clarice is getting better at her game the same way Bill is. That you can never listen to Tom Petty the same way again. That this movie is probably a metaphor about the 90’s paying for our collective sins in the 80’s but I haven’t fully figured that out yet. That this movie’s the only Best Picture winner that encapsulates ‘grunge.’ And like Liz Lemon told her gay cousin, never help someone move a couch into a van.