8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963)
Moonstruck (Norman Jewison, 1987)
Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991)
The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer, 1995)
Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis, 2001)
Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009)
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.