Old 02-20-2001, 10:45 AM
Video: Manhunter (10/10)

Manhunter is director/writer Michael Mann’s 1986 version of Thomas Harris’ other Lecter Book Red Dragon.
It is all about getting into the mind of a serial killer. It begins like the climax scene in Silence of the Lambs, with a POV shot through the eyes of a killer in the darkness. We are in a home, it looks like it could be anyone’s house as we ascend the stairs we see children’s toys strewn on the floor, at the top of the stairs we enter the master bedroom. The lady of the house is awoken as we shine our torch on her and so begins one of the greatest serial killer movies ever made.
As the film begins we are introduced Will Graham (William Petersen) an ex-FBI agent who captured the notorious Dr Lecktor (Brian Cox). He is asked by Agent Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina) to help with the case of ‘the Tooth Fairy’ a serial killer that seemingly at random picks entire families to massacre. Relunctly Will leaves his family to help with the case, under the impression that his help in this high profile case will not be leaked to the press.
To help him understand the mindset of this killer Will decides to consult Dr Lecktor. It’s a brave move that may have devastating results.

I cannot stress enough how great this movie is. It shies away from the Gothic camp of SOTL and Hannibal and sets it in the real world, making it all the more terrifying. The performances are all solid. Brian Cox’s interpretation of Lecter (or Lecktor as it’s spelt in this film) isn’t a million miles away from Tony Hopkins, but it’s a lot less OTT. This approach to Lecter pays off when Will Graham visits for the first time. No Gothic dungeon here, but a clinically white cell. With Lecter sitting in it like an exhibit at a zoo. William Petersen and Brian Cox make the scene electric. You know Lecter has hurt Will Graham bad, you know he’s risking a lot by going there and when Brian Cox utters the line, “Do you dream much Will?” it sends a chill down the spine.
The actual FBI investigation stuff is brilliantly handled also. When a piece of toilet paper becomes a vital clue, it fascinating to see the processes it goes through as they analysis everything about it. Michael Mann’s direction is spot on, as it is for the whole movie. There are some genuinely inspired moments including a sequence edited to the Iron Butterfly song ‘Ina Gada Da Vida’ which is breathtaking.
I’ve not spoken much of the killer as I don’t want to give too much away to anyone who hasn’t seen the flick, but the guy is terrifying in a way that Buffalo Bill could never be. A brilliantly realised character, featuring a great performance from Tom Noonan (that shouldn’t give away too much). The absolute unsung hero of Manhunter though is Dante Spinotti the cinematographer. His work on this pic is on par with his work on Heat and LA confidential.
I should also mention the good performances by the other players Kim Griest, Stephen Lang and Especially the excellent Joan Allen.

I love this movie 10/10.

Where’s veers coming from:
Se7en (9/10), Silence Of The Lambs (8/10), When The Bough Breaks (6/10)
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Old 02-20-2001, 12:28 PM
Great review, veers. I'd give "Manhunter" a 8/10, overall. I dock it a point for keeping Dollarhyde completely enigmatic instead of explaining his motivations, and another for non-specific reasons. This flick blew me away when I first saw it. I couldn't believe the "whatever" reaction it received from most audiences and critics at the time of its release. I immediately snagged the book "Red Dragon" and devoured it. (I hear a "remake" is being planned, with Hopkins as Lecter. Your take?)

I haven't seen "Manhunter" in years, and now that it's hit DVD I will without out a doubt snatch up a copy as soon as I have a little extra cash in my pocket.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean when you say "Silence of the Lambs" is "gothic camp." "Hannibal," okay, but "Lambs"? Cox's take on Lecter is interesting to compare to Hopkins'. I'm not sure whom I prefer, but Cox was a little closer to how I visualize and hear Hannibal when reading the books. (Excluding "Hannibal," of course. I think even Thomas Harris was influenced by Hopkin's performance, since the Hannibal Lecter in the third book is much more theatrical and larger than life than he had been in the previous two.)

Another interesting comparison is Dennis Farina's Jack Crawford to Scott Glenn's. Farina is definitely gruffer than Glenn's calm intensity.

But even without the comparisons, "Manhunter" is one of the great movies of its kind. With trash like "The Watcher" passing for serial killer movies these days, the original is a refreshing change of pace.
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Old 02-20-2001, 05:35 PM
Here's some thoughts I had about a month or so ago...I added a couple bits of info from IMDB at the very end...I totally agree *veers*, "Manhunter" is a great flick...

While shopping last week, a new poster made me think of the upcoming theatrical
release of "Hannibal" (sequel to 'Silence Of The Lambs"), and suddenly I got the
urge to look for "Manhunter" again (I have had no luck in the past)…and wouldn't
you know it, I found a copy of Michael Mann's film adaptation of Thomas Harris'
novel, "Red Dragon". It was only a crappy VHS version (the manager said the
DVD version is set to be released as a Special Edition in early 2001), but I bought
it anyhow and here's what I thought after not seeing this film for years and years…

"Manhunter" is an uncanny, persuasive thriller that probably appealed to two kinds
of people upon its original release…fans of "Miami Vice" and psychopathic killers.
It is the story of the hunting down of a revolting psychopathic killer by a strangely
gifted FBI agent. The film was written and directed by Michael Mann, who first
achieved fame for developing and supervising "Miami Vice" and most recently
directed "The Insider" starring Russell Crowe and Al Pacino…he also directed
"Heat", "The Last Of The Mohicans" and the upcoming 2001 film "Ali".
"Manhunter" more closely represents the "Miami Vice"-style (slick compositions,
mesmerizing camera movements, a skillfully calculated color range and
over-reliance on rock music for emotional impact.) than any of his other work and
is to some degree dated material. What Mann attempts to do and what he does
best, is to compose a terrifying dreamscape in which psychological monsters
prowl for each other. Mann creates an extremely unsettling sense of
psychoculture…the film feels not only like it is taking place in the belly of the
beast, but in his brain as well…

William Petersen, who made his debut in "To Live and Die in L.A.", plays Will
Graham, the title character. Graham is an investigator who specializes in serial
killers at considerable risk to his own body and mind. His personality is familiar,
but his technique is puzzling. A conventional burnt-out cop, he's seen too much,
too soon and is discovered (by Dennis Farina) staring moodily out to sea, unsure
whether he'll join the hunt again. But, he's too good to sit this one out. The crime
that draws Graham from retirement…he lives on the beach in Florida with wife Kim
Greist ("Brazil") and son…are the murders, during consecutive full moons, of two
families. The deaths and subsequent mutilations of families in their beds at night
is evoked by the director just vividly enough for dramatic purposes without
seeming to dwell on them…which is good judgement on his part…

The real fascination of this film, for me, is in watching Graham work. Evidently
possessing a rare gift of psychic empathy, he likes to visit crime scenes and
re-create the crimes in his imagination as he traces the killers' steps and thereby
inspires in himself intuitive leaps in logic. Mann chronicles this process with
extreme believability, particularly as Graham draws near to the final discovery that
uncovers the killer. Another filmmaking triumph of "Manhunter" is the way that
Mann keeps track of the investigation. He labors vigorously here to keep the story
of the investigation moving forward and grounded in the realities of modern
forensics. (Note: Mann has an unbilled cameo as a lab technician) There's plenty
of convincing police procedure, helped in no small amount by Dennis Farina as
the extremely believable FBI supervisor…

There are times when Mann tries to cram too much in though. I was unsure how
Graham made a vital connection between Hannibal Lecter (Brian Cox in a
wonderful piece of acting, later made famous by Anthony Hopkins), a creepy
psychopath he had previously caught, and the "Red Dragon" killer-at-large, by way
of a secret communication between them. But the air of menace is so complete
and so compelling, it's easy to forgive this lapse. In the second half, we meet the
killer, played with gruesome geekiness by Tom Noonan. (great performance by
the way) It rings true with the novel by Thomas Harris, who made the killer a
sympathetic character. He's a giant, ugly man, with a cleft palate, who was
savagely abused as a child. In his strangeness he has taken to…this is muted in
the film… an over-identification with the poetry and art of William Blake,
particularly with the painting "The Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in the
Sun", and as fascinating as that is, it becomes somewhat distracting, particularly
as we watch the killer become involved with a blind woman (the phenomenal Joan
Allen) and seem almost to discover love…in fact it almost violates the ritual of the
hunt. I mean, do I want to really know and care about the killer? Isn't the
satisfaction of the moral tidiness of movies, as opposed to the messiness of real
life, the pleasure we take in blowing these psychopathic misfits back to hell? Just
a thought…needless to say the plot reverses itself once again and presto…in this
corner we have Will Graham (good guy) and in this corner we have the "Red
Dragon" (bad guy)…and we also have a .44 Magnum between them…guess who

(Note: The events in this film occur before the events in Silence of the Lambs, The
(1991). Although there are several characters common to both films, there are
only two actors who appear in both movies. Ironically, they both play different
characters in both films. Frankie Faison plays Lt Fisk in Manhunter (1986), and
Barney in Silence of the Lambs, The (1991), and Dan Butler plays an FBI
fingerprint expert in Manhunter (1986), and an entomologist in Silence of the
Lambs, The (1991)…Originally was to be titled "Red Dragon" after the novel, but
when Year of the Dragon (1985) flopped, Dino de Laurentiis decided to avoid a
"dragon" title.
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Old 02-20-2001, 07:33 PM
I read the book Red Dragon while in high school and it was a great novel.Makes you think about the film you send in to get developed.I really enjoyed William petersons work in this movie.Like brock said,he also starred in To Live and Die in LA.Let me take a minute to say that is one of the best films ever.Rent both of these movies and have a mini festival at home.
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Old 02-20-2001, 07:48 PM
You made me think of something playgames...whatever happened to William Peterson? Wasn't he last in "Fear" with Mark Wahlberg? I'll have to do some research on this one... [img]/ubb/wink.gif[/img]
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Old 02-20-2001, 08:32 PM
He's on a show called ... er ... "CSI," I believe. It's about forensic pathologists. I caught an episode one night, and it's pretty good. Can't remember what channel or what night, but you can probably find it in TV Guide, or something.

I know, I'm absolutely no help.
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Old 02-20-2001, 08:43 PM
Thanks anyway bra...I just remembered that Peterson was in "The Skulls" and "The Contender"...both good films to certain extents (Contender, real good...Skulls, not so good). I remember he played an alumnus of the "frat" in Skulls who helped Josh jackson out, and the fraudulent Senator who faked a heroic dive to try to get the vice presidency in Contender... He really is a good actor... and like I mentioned before, he was really good as the overprotective father in "Fear" with Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon...
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Old 02-20-2001, 10:14 PM
We have to support Manhunter(The best in the Lecter Trilogy) if for no other reason other than there is talk of a remake, why mess with a film just because the movie going morons didnt have a huge advertising campaign supporting the film the first time.
Ridley Scott has already refused to direct the remake because he thinks Manns vision is to good to change.
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Old 02-21-2001, 05:25 PM
Very much agreed Deckard [img]/ubb/cool.gif[/img] ... I too am sick of the disease known as remake-ulosis that is reproducing faster than two rabbits on crystal meth. Hollywood just can't come up with anything new or even decent, so they gotta rip-off the great s**t out there [img]/ubb/mad.gif[/img] ...what posers...good for Scott BTW [img]/ubb/wink.gif[/img]
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Old 02-21-2001, 07:54 PM
brock: That was beautiful [sniff]
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