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We Were Soldiers (2002)
Vietnam -- Its Legacy, Its Lessons for Us Today
This film touched my heart in the way it showed the valor, the commitment, the utter devotion and supreme dedication of those whose awful task it was to go to Vietnam and suffer and die, or suffer and live (in many cases a fate worse than death), all for nothing. Well, it wasn't exactly for nothing, was it?. Many made fortunes off that war, and it is the contrast of the dedication of these great patriots, misguided and downright misled though they were, with the behind-the-scenes corruption and greed that used Communism as an excuse to wage a no-win war at the expense of human life that I wish to address.
I must say the movie did a good job in portraying just how awful it was to have to endure all that over there in Vietnam, and it gave me a new respect for those who went through it all.
Frankly, I didn't make it past the first jungle scene or two before I had to switch off. I couldn't bear to watch all that suffering and dying... all in vain. I was looking at this story of the war in Vietnam with hindsight, since I knew how it was going to end, and my heart groaned over that waste of human life that was going to accomplish nothing good. We were never meant to win.
Vietnam stank of Machiavellianism on an international scale.
Niccolo Machiavelli was a sub-human parasite. He lived in the 1700's I believe. He was a master at profiting from wars and disputes between peoples. If there was no conflict going at the moment he would try to instigate one, and then pretend to befriend both sides behind both their backs. By controlling the purse strings he could keep each side from getting too dominant and annihilating the other, thereby destroying that side's ability to pay off the war debt and also keeping the conflict alive as long as possible. Can we see any resemblance to the Vietnam war here? People back here at home smelled a rat and hated the war. Maybe they couldn't put their finger on the problem, but they knew something was deeply wrong. There was some talk about America having lost her resolve to make the world safe for democracy. Why should the world's greatest power not be able to bring a two-bit country like North Vietnam to its knees, they wanted to know, and couldn't articulate why not.
It wasn't about resolve, it was about money, and sacrificing human life to feed the economy and line the pockets of the ones who stood to gain at the expense of our fighting men's very lives. The problem is that some of those people who opposed the war also hated our own soldiers for participating in the war. It is in the honor of those valiant men that this review is dedicated. They were patriots and should never have been mistreated by their own, no matter how misguided or exploited they were. They didn't question, they just obeyed. They followed orders, as they were taught to do.
I can't speak for the Army of today, but I can tell you about how it was back in the sixties. Independent thought was discouraged. You were taught to follow orders without question. Military life may always be so. It always has been, that's for sure. I remember one of the Dirty Dozen movies where there was a mission given the dozen to kill some general who planned to assassinate Hitler. The sharpshooter had the general in his sights but the problem was that Hitler was there too, and he thought Hitler made a better target. I remember Lee Marvin's character saying several times, "Just the general".
He knew that the higher ups in America wanted Hitler alive so he could keep on making his strategic blunders and keep on losing the war for his country. But would Marvin's character confide that to his sniper underling? Not on your life. Just obey orders and do not ask questions was his approach to command.
When I took an oath upon joining the Army I remember I had to sign a paper giving up my rights under the Constitution of the United States of America, especially that of free speech. We were ushered into another room after the swearing-in where it was explained to us that we were now property of the U.S. Army. "GI" stands for government issue. You became a part of the weapons arsenal, with your own serial number, even. The power and control that is exerted over you is deep and intense. It is hard to imagine what pressure these men who went to Vietnam were subjected to in order to get them to fight this awful war.
All I can say for those poor, blind, and misguided souls who fought in Vietnam is may God bless them, both living and dead. I deeply appreciate their unselfish devotion to their country and to the oath they swore .
And the opposite for all those who exploited them for financial gain.
Sugar-Coated Version of the Time
It's commonly asserted that the war between the states was fought over the practice of slavery. The truth is the North had slaves also, plus all the slave ships were owned by the North. Bringing slaves over was a real money maker for the people up north.
No, it was about money. Lincoln could not let the South go in peace because it was such a cash cow. If Lincoln had been as honest as they claim he was, then at Gettysburg he would have said, "I am hereby highly resolved that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth whether they like it or not, and any attempt by the southern states to go and form their own nation will be met with force even if we have to slay every last fighting man among them."
One of the things I found true to life about the movie was how the Lincolns were opposed to their son joining the army Mrs. Lincoln bitterly so. People of power and influence seldom had to serve in the armed forces, and if they did it was usually well behind the front lines. JFK was a notable exception that comes to mind.
Another accurate portrayal was how the Democrats were the party of slavery, and the Republican party was founded to counter that stance, with Lincoln being their first president to be elected. (Well, the Democrats still are about enslaving people, but now they have had to become a bit more subtle about it. Not that I am standing up for the Republicans, mind you. They have sold out the country here lately to a treasonous degree.)
The movie did a fair job of showing the dead, the maimed, the amputated parts being carted off in wheelbarrows to a mass grave a la Private Ryan, but the fact is that all this carnage took place because of Northern aggression. Lincoln could ride his horse among all the fallen and mourn and look all sorrowful, but the fact is that he and he alone was the one whom he should have blamed for all the bloodshed.
Still, Lincoln can be a moving tale, and the acting by Daniel Day-Lewis is compelling. As a vehicle to dramatically transport one to another time and place this is worth a watch, but be prepared to suspend any true knowledge of history during your trip.
Star Trek (2009)
Punk with Attitude Takes Over Starship - Saves Universe
Whew! Where to start? Kirk can't keep a car from falling off a cliff but somehow has the moxie to command a starship and understand all its workings while still in the Academy... and where he was about to get drummed out of the service for messing with the mumbo-jumbo unwinnable scenario at that! Ergo, Spock testifies against him at the hearing and so they start off their relationship as adversaries. Was the groundwork EVER laid in the original series to even hint at this version of their meeting?
Then too, Spock somehow innately knows how to drive an alien ship because in the future he had somehow gotten familiar with it, and therefore he kinda has the knowledge before the fact back here in his younger days. Does that make any sense, even given the futuristic setting of the Star Trek Universe? But to make this foreknowledge credible we have the presence of the aged Spock (Nimoy) existing as a contemporary of his younger self.
Was this a sop to appease the older viewers and give this new version of the Star Trek Universe some sort of credibility? Personally, I can't see how Leonard Nimoy could have consented to lending any legitimacy to this version by appearing in it at all. Maybe he just needed the money. Maybe principles and loyalty for all that went before got a back seat to a lucrative offer. Who knows?
And what about the fact that in a previous Star Trek movie James Kirk says he changed the no-win scenario's programming and got a commendation for original thinking? In this "effort" Star Fleet Academy was looking like they were going to run him off for cheating.
Also, in the original series there was enough of a Vulcan civilization to man at least one entire starship with a crew comprised of all Vulcans, so forget about this Vulcan-getting-destroyed jazz. Spock's mother had appeared in the original TV series as well, so there goes the black-hole nonsense, count two.
And speaking about the black-hole stuff, how about the fight scene aboard the black-hole driller where the camera goes into hyperspasm and gets a terminal case of the jitters? I guess this is to cover up the fact that Kirk can't carry on a convincing fight scene. But then too, I don't guess he was very good with his fists anyway, or he would not have gotten the crap beaten out of him back there in that slop chute. LOL
All I can do is echo the other reviewers that complained that this was done by people without the creativity and integrity to invent their own premise, so they instead took a cheap shot and just appropriated Roddenberry's idea... and corrupted it to give their usurpation of the franchise a fake air of originality. This shows ignorance of all that has gone before, or worse
Contempt for the original concept and arrogance by the ones who came up with this story... in other words, people who think they have the right to do whatever they freakin' please for their own ends.
If you are a younger viewer who is not familiar with all that has gone before, this movie can be entertaining even dazzling. But for those who know the history of Roddenberry's version at least in my opinion the playing of the TV series' theme music during the final credits was a slap in the face.
The Caine Mutiny (1954)
A Movie As Schizophrenic As Its Antagonist
This movie is about the ravages of war and what it can do to a man under the strain of combat.
But much more than that it is an indictment of an armed service that remained in denial when it had a problem until forced to deal with it, and then treated the ones who brought the problem to light as the enemy. In other words, the old "Shoot the Messenger" mentality.
The details: A ship's captain snaps and has a nervous breakdown at a crucial time. A junior officer relieves him of command in order to save the ship and the lives of all aboard. A company of three of the captain's junior officers had previously gone to speak to the admiral about the captain's bizarre behavior and then one of them backed out. He was made to look gutless and yellow for doing so, but he was really just being practical. He recognized the futility of trying to tell a system that operates in denial -- where covering things up when they portray the system in a bad light is SOP -- that they have a problem.
The attorney for the accused put on a competent defense and then spat venom at his client after he got him declared not guilty of mutiny. How dare he shame the nice war-hero captain who had done so much for his country! See? If they had just let the captain sink his own ship then he and they would have been dead war heroes and everybody involved would have been properly mourned and remembered. This way they had to deal with the reality of one of their heroes having lost it because he couldn't take the pressure.
I sat there at the end of this movie and wondered if this movie was as schizoid as its antagonist. The subordinate officer followed the rules according to Article 1088, was later vindicated, and the movie called his actions "Mutiny". What was the message? Follow the rule book and relieve a senior officer when he shows mental incompetence and you deserve to be judged a rat fink later? Hardly a recruiting technique designed to attract the finest to the service of their country, is it?
In the end this movie deals -- whether consciously or unconsciously -- with the age-old conflict in the mindset of the military armed services: Do they put the country first, or the service itself? It's a balancing act that will always go on in a free society, where a country's domestic enemies are the most dangerous and insidious of all.
We need our finest at the helm -- the ones who aspire to high command for the most noble and unselfish of motives. And we need armed services that deserve such a class of men and women. Insofar as The Caine Mutiny depicts reality in the armed services, we have a ways to go.
Little Fish (2005)
If You Are Into Things OZ...
If you are into things about Australia (as I am) you might be tempted to see this movie.
If you succumb to the temptation, here is what you can expect to see:
* A movie full of losers with capital L's.
* A movie full of drug addiction.
* No discernible plot.
* No apparent purpose for making this flick.
* A beginning and end that seem to be totally disconnected from the middle.
* People who tell lies to try to compensate for their failures as human beings.
* Losers who enable each other to stay losers.
* A mother who is a failure at raising and disciplining her children, presumably compensating for the lack of a father by spoiling her offspring to death and anguishing over the result.
One positive note here: Cate does a wonderful job of portraying her character (Tracy), who by the way finally shows a bit of spunk at the end, though this hardly rights the wrong she committed by embezzling money in the first place. No amount of good acting could get me to like her character, however. All I could think is that life is about choices and the wrong choices bring with them consequences. If I could feel sorry for Tracy it would be because nobody cared enough to teach her that. But since she was a fictional character I didn't bother to care about her in the first place. Or maybe I remained detached because I have learned that to care about terminal losers is a waste of love and nothing in the end had showed me that she would eventually turn out OK.
The only other good thing I can see about this movie is that it is a hard look at junkies and what can happen to someone who is thinking about dabbling in drugs. But it is so poorly crafted I had to wonder if people who are themselves real addicts made this movie.
Well, there is one thing that wowed me. When Tracy flopped her head on the bed the camera was in just the right spot to frame her face perfectly. That bit of camera work really impressed me. If you watch this movie you will see why. As someone else mentioned, it looked like the movie was shot with a hand-held camera.
Superman Returns (2006)
I Felt Letdown Somehow...
Superman knocks up Lois without knowing he did because he was too self absorbed to think about her getting pregnant. He was too busy buying into the lie that Krypton might still exist -- the fact that the shards of Krypton floating in space proved it was a goner not withstanding.
Lois had moved on, had found herself a substitute father for her son, and wasn't hurting for money. She was however, tacitly embittered by the abandonment, as one can deduce by her piece telling the world why it didn't need this super hero no kind no way no more.
Speaking of Lois, what is the latest fad in casting? See how young and barely post-pubescent you can find them to portray grown-up women who are supposed to have been around the block? Lois' only stab at being a hard-boiled, seasoned, big-city journalist is when she sneakily defies her boss' orders. Kinda like a rebellious teenager almost.
So how did this movie choose to portray our super hero whom we have come to idolize? Did he follow his father's admonition to put Earth and its inhabitants' needs above self interest? Hardly. He runs off to outer space cuz he's homesick. Does it occur to him that if Krypton still exists and he gets within 500 miles of it he will be rendered one of them -- mortal, weak as the rest, and stuck there? Hardly. How's he going to fly home with a whole planet made of kryptonite putting the snatch on him? Huh?? Huh??
Does it occur to our vacationing super hero that he needs to invent a cover for his secret identity's absence? Hardly. He just takes off, doesn't say good-bye even to the gal he felt so drawn to that he slept with her, or to the cub reporter so devoted to him, or to his boss, apparently. Some role model for the youngsters, right? And how about the teens? Not only does this character not show any reproductive responsibility he doesn't have a work ethic either. He even seems to be out of character when he is saving people almost. Like he can't make up his mind if he wants to be a super hero or just a muscular self-absorbed yuppie engrossed with getting in touch with his overwhelming feelings.
Even George Reeves as the original (as in TV) Superman had enough sense of responsibility toward the kiddos who looked up to him to not smoke or have bimbos hanging around when he was making public appearances. Today's creative geniuses responsible for determining our hero's makeup and conduct have even less.
Or perhaps better said, they have none at all. But then positive peer pressure has not been in vogue for decades. Only mavericks engage in it, or so it seems. Out of fashion it is, and well, you fill in the blank: judgmental, forcing one's values on others, etc. are some of the name calling. In terms of religious "values" these terms are accurate. But I'm talking about Superman and his powers, and his admonition from his father on Krypton and stepfather on Earth to use them unselfishly and for the good of others. What a neat world it would be if everybody did just that.
Yup. This movie had a chance to make us feel good and to inspire us to a higher level of humanity at the same time. In this area it failed miserably.
Anyway, there's contrived stupidity (not a clever plot, just bumbling characters) so we can have a story: *Planet keeps poison on display so villains can use it to kill its super hero. *Supe knocks up Lois then has no thought to the consequences and just beats it, leaving Lois to pick up the pieces, resent him bitterly, and find someone to replace him as father. *Lois takes child with her on a visit to the abode of a world-class psychopath who gets the unheard-of idea to hold them captive. *Superman forgets to lock the door on his villa at the polar ice cap so Lex can sashay right in and rip off some of Supe's crystals. *Lex figures he can use said crystals to create a new continent and inundate all the rest but only breaks windows, ruptures pipes and knocks the globe off the top of the Daily Planet building. *Also he creates a landscape he will now need at least one nuclear device to level and make inhabitable. *(In 10,000 years maybe.)
And how did Superman manage to get rid of this new land mass of Lex' by flinging it out into space with that kryptonite shiv still stuck in him and more kryptonite embedded in the rock? How did he even manage to fly, much more do the Atlas thing with this gazillion-ton chunk and hurl it into space?
And speaking of Lex, I couldn't make up my mind if he was a real villain or not until the end. I was even liking him, sorta. At least he didn't go around hamming it up. He wasn't the emoting buffoon any more (a la Hackman). Naturally when he turned savage I hated him, but then he turned semi-insipid once again when his girl friend jettisoned the crystals and he only got minor peeved; and at the end he even ran out of gas. Had no viable escape plan, you see. Some mastermind.
So what was the plot of this movie? Was there a message? Was there a moral? None; No; No. Unless perhaps the message was that we people in Hollywood are dead inside. We who make our living making movies are dead of mind and soul and can only offer same out of our empty hearts and for your viewing pleasure.
( I gave it an ambivalent 4. It really is entertaining on certain levels, not to mention swell escapism.)
The End of the Affair (1999)
OK, I Get It... I Think...
OK, I Get It... I Think...
They made this movie so Ralph could practice being Francis Dolarhyde and Julianne could practice coughing on cue.
No wait. This was the nostalgia genre to take me back to the old British movies I used to watch on TV as a kid. You know, where they filmed all the scenes and then put them in a hat and drew them out one at a time in order to decide their order in the film. And where if a particular scene gave the viewer any sort of a clue as to the plot, direction, or purpose of the movie it got trodden upon on the cutting room floor.
AHA! I SAAAAAAAY! BY JOVE! I THINK HE'S GOT IT! JOLLY GOOD SHEW!
Seriously, it's one of those that leave you with questions, this movie is. Nagging questions, since I am a people watcher. Questions I wish I could ignore, but can't.
For starters, I wonder if in the book Sarah Miles was a redhead too. That would explain perhaps her desire to make it with a man other than her husband who, whether due to physical impotence or staid British upbringing, was apparently dead sexually.
(Redheads are famous for being hot blooded, not to mention fiery of disposition, and must have had an awful time with the internal conflicts caused by suppressing their temperaments in merry olde (and stuffy) England of the period.)
Now to his credit, Sarah's husband (Henry) did love her in his own stiff-upper-lip way. Perhaps he even understood his wife better than the movie may have given him credit for. If so that would explain his willingness to look the other way when she was having an affair.
OK, so Sarah had an affair. But why with Maurice? What did she see in him? OK, so he was handy, maybe. Not sure. But why love him so you would even promise God to not see him any more if He would only bring him back to life? Why the sudden selflessness on Sarah's part?
I mean, what was Maurice's attraction in the first place? Was it because Sarah's husband seemed disinterested in her and Maurice was obsessed with her? Did she go for the opposite to fulfill a need? If so, does that sort of need fulfillment engender deep undying love?
The movie never did explain (to me anyway) what their mutual attraction was; how it got started; how and why it grew. Maybe I got too glassy eyed while watching it?
Yeah that's another question, and a legitimate one. Did this movie put me half to sleep so that I missed some things?
Towards the end we find our three characters in a polyamory situation of sorts. But jealousy is the bane of any sort of poly relationship. Henry could have been a successful member of such a relationship, but never Maurice. How did Maurice make it living with the couple and keep from crawling out of his skin?
Like I said. Questions. Maybe if I read the book they would be answered. I'm glad I hadn't. Perhaps if the book did a better job of explaining things I would be unconsciously filling in the holes this movie left in the story, and this review would never have seen the light of day.
But it needed to be written, in my humble opinion.
Now if someone who works as a film writer would only see it... and derive inspiration... (sigh).
Two for the Money (2005)
We left with questions....
My son and I went to see this movie recently. We are both admirers of Pacino for his intense portrayals of whomever he is being at the moment, so we felt that we had a safe bet (pun intended) with this movie. The last movie of Al's that we saw together was Devil's Advocate, and that sparked some lively discussion after viewing it.
This time as we left the theater we were groping for something to talk about. All I could do was ask, "What was this movie trying to say? Do you know?"
I said, "In the case of Devil's Advocate, at least there was a message--that ego, vanity, materialism, and self serving ultimately resulted in failure in life, and that if you sell out your principles you flounder on life's reef mentally and emotionally, and perhaps physically as well.
"This was Devil's Advocate without any message, at least as far as I could tell. With maybe a little Simone thrown in...." He hadn't seen that one so I had to explain that Simone was a creation of the main character that ended up running amok, or at least at cross purposes with the motives of her creator.
Then we both wondered if Pacino and company were as bankrupt as the main character in this movie. Even at his best, Pacino's character (Walter Abrams) was a parasite. He performed no useful function in society, only lived off the baser interests of low-level humanity who want to get something for free in life. In other words he capitalized on human greed to make his living. So was this movie a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of Pacino and company? Have they hit the bottom of the creativity well and did they just grind out a movie because they needed the money? Does their money slip through their fingers like it did for Walter? I really can't think of any reason to make this movie other than somebody needed some quick cash.
Another question we had was what happened in the case of Walter's protégé? OK, so if you ride a false wave of success you eventually crash, but what was it that caused the crash in this case? I just KNEW he was going to blow it, but when it happened I knew not why. I mean, all of a sudden he lost his gift for picking winners. Why? Had he quit doing his homework thinking he had become some sort of god with a permanent gift? Was he too caught up in the New York materialistic lifestyle to bother studying the teams any more? He had time to work on his body, why not time to study the teams and their players?
Did he just become cocky and arrogant and was that supposed to be his fatal flaw?
In the end, we wondered, did the main character improve any? His protégé left him and went back to his home and took on a serving-humanity lifestyle. He had had it with the Big Apple and its hustling ways. But what about Walter? Did he quit committing slow suicide (smoking)? We gave him the benefit of the doubt in that he probably learned to appreciate his wife who stood by him through it all, loser that he was. (And speaking of his wife, what was her motivation anyway? Why did she love him still when she deserved so much better in a man? What was his appeal?)
The movie ended giving us little (if any) hope that Walter wasn't going to continue to be a loser until he gasped his last. Did he go on to turn his life around, get an honest job, and become a caring family man and a credit to the human race?
We both didn't want to put any money on it.
(Five stars for the intense acting which carried this movie--but which maybe had no business being made in the first place.)
The Forgotten (2004)
Drama, Suspense, Introspection, Inspiration
This was an absolutely riveting performance by Julianne Moore. I soon forgot her appearance in Hannibal (q.v.) and became totally absorbed with her in her quest to find out what happened to her son.
I knew nothing about the movie beforehand. I hadn't seen any trailers, hadn't talked with anyone who had seen it before me. I had no expectations. When the government got involved and appeared to be behind the conspiracy to erase the memory of her son I felt they must have been responsible for his death or disappearance somehow and wanted to cover it up. I never dreamed that there were extraterrestrials pulling the strings with the feds attempting to cover up their presence here on earth to keep it all quiet. I was pulled along gradually towards the revelation that there were people from outer space doing all this. No doubt that is what the ones responsible for this film intended. With me they succeeded.
I don't know at what point in the film I started to get the message of this film, but this mother named Telly (Julianne Moore) inspired me with her tenacity to never quit on her son. I wondered how many mothers (and fathers too for that matter) who "balance" family and careers and personal selfish interests at the expense of their children and somehow convince themselves that they are good parents would look at Telly's example of a good mother, and find themselves woefully inadequate by comparison.
I say that this film had a message--though the director and writer may not be aware of it- because it came to the writer in a dream. When he awoke he spent two hours taking notes and writing the story line. Even the director joked in his commentary that he (the writer) was overpaid since he didn't have to come up with the story himself.
So when I say that this movie was an inspiration it's because since the writer was inspired I receive inspiration knowing that a higher power was behind this, namely God. Well what do you know? God is starting to care, and even becoming active in His caring. I think He is cleaning up His act, and taking responsibility for His trashy creation. Heretofore His policy was to keep a low profile and maintain a laissez-faire, hands-off policy towards our planet, only interfering when absolutely necessary. And look to what level we have sunk as a society, where madmen rape and rip up little girls and there are even some who defend or make excuses for them.
This was not meant to be a Sci-Fi masterpiece. It was never meant to entertain the mindless who are dead inside, not meant to shock the unshockable. It is a movie with a powerful message, and perhaps sent to start a culling process among us earthlings. I sure hope so. I am sick of God loving the perpetrators and leaving their victims twisting in the wind while He gives the perps chance after chance to clean up their act and they in turn treating that treatment as pearls to be trampled in the mire. Maybe this movie is a call to get aboard the unselfish train. Maybe this is God recruiting more Tellys.
Oh how this world of ours needs more Tellys!
I finally came to like this one the best of the three in the series...
I saw this movie some time back and had a few problems with it but didn't think they were worth addressing. I was content to just settle for the parts of the movie that appealed to me and overlook the rest.
But now that I have seen The Forgotten (starring Julianne Moore, for which I will write a review as well), I think it it time for me to deal with my problems with the movie, especially my earlier disappointment with Julianne as Jodie Foster's replacement. I had tried after watching Hannibal to do some soul searching as to why I had a negative reaction to Julianne, or, better said, disappointment that Jodie didn't do the sequel. Well, OK. The truth be told, I was right the first time. I found Julianne a disappointment.... Then.
I think the reason why those of us who were disappointed that Jodie Foster didn't return felt that way because she projected an air of vulnerability and a certain, well, humanness that Julianne's Clarice seemed to lack. Jodie's Clarice was a woman trying to fit in a man's world the best way she could, while Julianne's Clarice had the air of a hard-boiled feminist type who thought she could get ahead of (or at least hold her own with) her male counterparts with just raw ambition and bad attitude. But if that was the image that Julianne was trying to project, why the scene where she breaks out sobbing? A part I conveniently overlooked in my biased opinion of her as a person, by the way.
Well, after seeing Julianne's performance in The Forgotten I am ready to give her the benefit of the doubt and attribute my negative impression of her portrayal of Clarice to bad writing, or worse--to someone in charge of production who may have had an agenda of some sort. I think Julianne did the best she could with what she was given. Actually, I have come to see that I should like Julianne's Clarice better than Jodie's... she lived in the real world of the FBI, and suffered accordingly.
Before I get on with the strengths of Julianne's character and her real-life portrayal of what it can be like to work for the Bureau, one little point that struck me as gratuitous: Hannibal cutting off his own hand at the end. Sheesh. What a cheap shot. Well, I imagine that was not thought of as a problem since that was going to be the last of the Lecter appearances in film, chronologically speaking, even though it was shot before the final one, so they didn't have to deal with him being one-handed in the future sequel. (Or was that just a screw up and the final sequel had to therefore take place before the amputation? Maybe I am giving someone too much credit here.) But c'mon, give me a break. Would Hannibal handicap himself living as a fugitive the way he was going to be? I know he respected/had the hots for Clarice, but would he be capable of such selflessness even with her? And where did she hide those handcuffs in that little number she was wearing anyway? Hannibal was much too intelligent, too astute, too observant, to have overlooked a pair of handcuffs concealed on her person. And while he was an M.D. and could sew up bullet wounds, I have a hard time imagining he could have reattached his own hand with only one hand left with which to work. Like I said. Gratuitous. What a shame, since the movie had so much potential to live up to.
OK, now that I got that out of my system, I want to get to the heart of the matter: Who made the more realistic FBI agent? Jodie's Clarice or Julianne's? Well, if you believe that honesty, integrity and high moral character ever rule in the agency and that ALL the bad guys are on the outside, then you believe in Jodie's fairyland agency world. But if you believe that there are agents who stand by their oath, who refuse to bend the rules beyond a certain point and love and respect the Constitution and are penalized for it career-wise, then you believe in Julianne's Clarice. You know that it is possible to do your job by the book and still get knifed in the back by your own superior, as did happen in the movie. In fact, Julianne's Clarice did her job so well, and took her oath so seriously, that she even begged Hannibal for the life of her dirty double-crossing boss. Now THAT is commitment to one's sworn duty, isn't it?
And that is what inspired me about Julianne's Clarice and the movie itself. They both were honest and showed us what is present reality as well as what can be if we pursue greatness--even in the face of adversity.