Monday, 12 February 2007

Reviews of The Queen and Hannibal Rising

So...Stephen Frear's The Queen scoops the big one at the BAFTAS and rightly so in my opinion. A good British film about British issues and for once, no mention of terrorism, Osama, Bush or Iraq. Fantastic - its so nice to see a director making a film that centres on one thing that affected the British public so much and, I expect, still carries a lot of emotional weight, not to mention conspiracy theories even ten years on. I only got to see this film last night, and I hasten to add, before the title of 'Best Film' was awarded, and I felt it was a fair portrayal that did not force you to side with one person or the other; all parties were shown in an unbias light. Helen Mirren was wholly convincing as Elizabeth and deserving of her best actress award. I found Cherie Blair's character utterly irritating and I'm not sure whether this is intentional on the films part, similarly whenever Gordon Brown's face poked round Blair's office door, his quirky almost flirtatious arse-licking sentiments failed to add neither depth or humour to the situation. Again, whether this was intentional I'm not sure.

I watched The Queen after another entertaining episode of Top Gear on BBC1. This time with Clarkson, May and Hammond on a tour across the southern states of America - aka hick country. The highlight was when they decorated their cars with offensive (to the residents of deepest darkest Alabama) slogans, such as 'Man love rules', 'Country and Western music sucks' and 'Hilary for President'. Seeing them get chased out of a petrol station by a woman and her 'boys' made for great TV, and Jeremy Clarkson's comment after the ensuing chase, hinting at the locals preference for breeding with vegetables, topped it off.

I also went to see Hannibal Rising last night having already read the book a couple of weeks ago which is always a bit of a dubious way to do things. I enjoyed the book although it didn't really leave a massive lasting impression as the other Lector books have. The film was a close adaptation of the book with a fair few subplots from the book left out, I expect for time allowance, and to its credit I did enjoy the film largely because I could see the embodiment of what I had imagined when reading a book. My first impressions on leaving the cinema was 'that was good'. But today I feel a bit different. For one, my interest in the Lector books has risen as part of a seminar paper I'm writing for uni at the moment. During the film, a fair few ideas for my paper struck me and I had an urge to write them down. Now, in retrospect, I shouldn't have been thinking about my seminar paper while watching a film; especially not one in the same vein as the previous Hannibal films. I have come to the conclusion that the film just isn't all that gripping, you never feel any real suspense about what action is happening or coming up. Yes, the deaths are brutal; blood and savage killings are rife (decapitations are rife and gourmet cheek is dish of the day), but you never get the feeling that young Hannibal, played by Gaspard Ulliel, is capable of the atrocities; he is creepy but not a monster. The truth of it is, Anthony Hopkins has been the personification of Lector for so long that any one else playing the role would be trailing behind even before the starting pistol. With Anthony Hopkins you get a sense of the monstrous and the inhuman in Lector's personality, some mysterious psychosis which evades diagnosis in all of the previous films. Here, the explanations for his character add up to one messed up man with one hell of an unsettling smile - but not the creation of a monster that I have seen in the previous films.

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