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The Remains of the Day (1993)
A marvelous movie - beautifully filmed and acted. Superb!
Merchant and Ivory couldn't have cast this movie better. Hopkins and Thompson were superlative -- their supporting cast simply wonderful. This movie has such pathos and gentle understanding of the human condition, it's always a pleasure to see.
Hannibal is a pure pleasure! While a little unevenly paced (the beginning was a bit slow), David Mamet and Steve Zallian have done a good job of telling the basic story Thomas Harris gave to us - and, incidently, the book was incredibly underrated by critics whose thought processes seem to have been damaged by too little quality literature. People have complained that it took ten years for Harris to write it - well, read it! It is chock-a-block full of mythology, astronomical and religious themes that weave their way throughout. The threads never break. The movie would have had to be eight hours long to even begin to explore the depths plumbed by Harris in the book.
Anthony Hopkins is, as usual, brilliant! Julianne Moore was sexy and strong. Giancarlo Giannini was outstanding and Gary Oldman creditable. My only complaint with casting was Ray Liotta, who just didn't have "it".
Having seen this movie three times thus far, I will say that watching it is like peeling layers off an onion. You see more and more with each viewing - little treasures and nuggets that you find almost by accident. The first time I saw it, I left the theatre not really knowing what I thought of it. Then I found myself smiling. I did like it. When I went back again (and again!) I liked it more and more.
Gory? Not really - and I consider myself pretty sensitive to gore. I have seen far worse. The story does have violence in it, and I think Ridley Scott, while depicting an integral part of the story, handled the violence tastefully (if you'll pardon the expression).
Is it as good as Silence of the Lambs? No. It's DIFFERENT from SotL. In Silence we had a caged monster whose intensity was extremely focussed. Here, we have a monster who is on the loose in a great big world, free to indulge in his passions. Hannibal Lecter's essence has not changed. He's merely in a different situation.
My only disappointments were: The changed ending. This was the major one. I realize the critics lambasted Thomas Harris for the ending in the book, saying "Clarice would never have done that", but Clarice was the child of Harris' imagination. The author is god, and if god says a character will do something, who are we to second-guess?
The length of the movie. It could have been a little longer and more focus could have been put on the relationship between Hannibal and Clarice - specifically, his obsession with her, and the time they spent together after the fiasco at the Verger Estate.
It was also too bad that Mason Verger's sister, Margot, was written out of the script.
All in all, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the dark humor and the adventure. Hans Zimmer's score is magnificent! This is a really good film - not a great film, but a really good one. Don't go into it expecting to see another Silence of the Lambs. It's not - and I don't think anyone has ever tried to claim that it is. Expect to see a weird and wonderful love story and an adventure! (It's just too bad about that ending!)