Does The Silence Of The Lambs Ride The Performance Of Anthony Hopkins? (A Review)

My new interest in the fictional killer Hannibal Lecter has led me to not only watching the show Hannibal, but also deciding to watch all of the movies with the character. Along with that, I have also ordered the collection of books by Thomas Harris where the character originated so that I can also read them. The best thing about all of these various forms of media surrounding the character, I have gone into each one almost blind. The one exception being The Silence of the Lambs. An Oscar darling of a movie that took some of the biggest awards home has always been something that I knew about, but have never had the pleasure of actually watching.

Yes, I said it. I have never seen The Silence of the Lambs. I have never even seen portions of it. All I know about the movie is that the stars are Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. Had I not watched the Hannibal TV show prior to watching this, I likely wouldn’t have known anything about the character of Hannibal either. Even with how well Mads Mikkelsen played the character in the TV show, I went into this movie with a blank slate understanding that it was Hopkins himself that defined the character before Mads took his shot. 

With the success in the back of my mind, I did my best to shut those thoughts out so that I could just enjoy the movie. The one point that kept nagging at me though was that I have continuously heard that Hopkins is outstanding but is only in the movie for about fifteen minutes. The moment they introduced him, I started to get worried that the rest of the movie wasn’t going to be able to live up to the quality of character he is right off the bat. 

The fifteen minutes however is a little exaggerated. Maybe on a technical level if we break down the total time, I might be wrong and it might actually be closer to fifteen minutes, but it never feels like it’s a short amount of time spent with the character. Understandably though, Hannibal is not the main villain of the movie so his role should have been limited the way it was. The unfortunate result though is that I think they got more out of Anthony Hopkins than they expected. He falls so deeply and perfectly into this role that it really is just a damn shame that the movie wasn’t focused on him. 

He was putting on an acting clinic in every scene that he’s in with Jodie Foster as Clarice being the perfect contrast to what he was bringing. The incredibly odd yet perfect chemistry between the two is what makes those scenes the absolute best and highest points of the movie. If not for Hannibal, we would not have had such a powerful performance pulled out of Jodie Foster. That’s not a knock by any means on her part because she’s a very gifted actress, but you could see her skill being pulled out of her with every Hopkins interaction. 

I keep bringing up these two characters as the main points of a movie that is actually about another character, Buffalo Bill. A sadistic serial killer who has a gender identification problem with himself. I’m not sure if that’s the correct way to say that, but essentially he wants to be a woman but is unable to get a hospital to do the surgeries. This leads him to turning a bit psychotic and kidnapping women to eventually kill them and pull their skin off so that he can wear their skin.

Yeah, crazy enough that’s actually the kind of serial killer that matches up with what I was hoping to get as a second to Hannibal even though Hannibal technically is a second to him. The good thing though with Buffalo Bill being this crazy in what he does is that it makes him a truly fearful villain for Clarice. He never reaches the bar that Hannibal sets, but works for what the story was trying to do. The only downside of the character and movie as a whole is the ending encounter between him and Clarice. It seemed a bit cheesy and unlikely that he would have left himself that open to be killed. Unless of course you assume that he had just given up on everything but with him getting ready to kill her, it just didn’t seem that way. 

This brings me to the story as a whole from start to finish. The story is very strong in how it sets up the plot and mystery and everything coming together with all of the moving pieces, but it doesn’t quite stick the landing as much as I expected it to. I believe this is by nobody’s fault except that Hopkins was just so damn good as Hannibal. He gives an all time performance that overshadows the rest of the movie and leaves you wanting more. Especially with an ending that leaves you hanging and wanting the story to continue with just Hannibal and Clarice. 

Does the movie deserve to be recognized as well as it is or is it riding the back of an all time performance of a villain seconded by another fantastic performance by Jodie Foster? I can’t say that I have actually seen all of the other movies that were nominated that year, so it’s hard to say. The performances are well deserving of the awards, but the story itself I feel doesn’t quite live up to how good the characters were. Now again it’s nitpicking because this movie is so much better than most movies that have attempted to do a similar story, but I was just expecting a bit more. 

It also leaves me wondering what could have been with a season 4 of Hannibal that was expected to introduce Clarice where we could have gotten another adaptation of the Silence of the Lambs storyline. There are just a lot of moving parts when discussing all of the different adaptations of a story that I have yet to read. This movie in the end is a great movie, I was invested the whole time and couldn’t get enough of the chemistry by Foster and Hopkins. I can see why it has received as much recognition as it has, but I still have some questions for what could have been better. 


I will be reading and reviewing the books soon enough, so it will be an interesting comparison when I get to that point. I will also be reviewing the other Hannibal films that have been released, so again we will see how those end up being. If you have seen The Silence of the Lambs and have your own comments or questions then feel free to comment below or email us at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and follow us @TowerCityMedia

Mrs. Miniver (1942) Review

An essential watch for any film fan and a great companion for several World War II films. This week for our Oscar Bait series of reviews where we watch a past Best Picture winning film randomly selected each week, we had to watch the 1942 film, Mrs. Miniver. Coming off of The Greatest Show On Earth, I was hoping this next classic film would pack a little more punch with its story. I knew nothing about this movie going in and had never even heard of it despite my several film classes. I guess that just goes to show that I must not have done enough research of past winners as I maybe should have. I can’t say I was entirely excited since watching these older films tend to have drawbacks such as being black and white or dated special effects, but of course I went in open minded and ready for whatever it was about to give me.

This movie is a little slow to start as it sets up our main character Mrs. Miniver who lives a life of extravagant spending and returns home to her husband and children. They take time to develop this family and how they are well off with a nice home and maids or butlers. While it really was slow to start because I wasn’t sure where the story was actually going, there is a point about thirty minutes in where you actually get to the heart of the film.

It’s about this family as they deal with the events of World War II, and not just living through its existing in the world, but rather having a son that is in the Royal Air Force and having some of the battle actually taking place in their town. It’s an interesting change in tone as we go from this upbeat kind of well off feeling with this family that changes into a more serious drama about the important things in life.

All of the characters are excellent with Vincent, the son, and Mrs. Miniver being the real standouts. Vincent was of course in the Royal Air Force and served as our possible fodder to the war at hand. For the longest time I was expecting this movie to go into a direction of maybe killing him off that it never takes. Rather this movie shows itself to be one of the earliest films I’ve seen so far to actually trick me with a twist that I didn’t see coming. SPOILER ALERT*** In case you don’t want this 80 year old movie spoiled for you, Vincent’s new wife Carol actually ends up being killed during the air raids above their small town.

It’s a twist that is unexpected and heartbreaking and very clever all that same time. It’s a moment like that where I feel at the time it came out, that it was probably a very bold decision to make, but narratively is such a smart choice that I applaud the director for being willing to take it. It’s a subversion of expectations that I believe strengthens this film to being very much worthy of its Best Picture win. It’s not just that twist that cements this movie as being a surprise hit for me though. It’s also the incredible directing, cinematography, and writing on top of all of the actors.

The writing, dialogue specifically is so sharp and quick that even though the movie feels like it’s moving slow, you are still invested in every word their saying because they don’t give you a second to think about the slower pace towards the beginning. On top of that though, the writing is clever and witty and just makes the movie that much more fun as I feel the actors truly embrace the characters the more they actually get into the quick pace of talking and snappy dialogue. It makes them easier to connect with and feel for.

One of the true highlights of The Greatest Show on Earth was the train wreck scene that happened towards the end of the film. I could very much tell that it was a model, but it still held up as being impressive to watch. This movie is older, but has a scene in which we a see a huge group of ships joining together as they head towards the battle of Dunkirk to rescue the soldiers on the beach. It’s a shot that is visually impressive and I really can’t tell if they are models or if it was done with real ships. Either way it doesn’t matter because it’s one of the best shots of the whole movie.

Also on a side note, I mentioned the battle of Dunkirk which this movie talks about and if you haven’t watched the Christopher Nolan film “Dunkirk” then I definitely recommend watching it before giving this a watch. It’s not necessary to enjoy this movie, but adds another layer because I know what the battle of Dunkirk is like and what was actually happening since we don’t actually see it in Mrs. Miniver. As I said in the beginning of this review, this is a great movie to watch along with several other World War II films because this will add some understanding to the more civilian element of what the war was like.

Finally, it’s clear that none of this would have been successful if it weren’t for the director who managed to pull all of this together and make a movie that is truly impressive and is great to watch. The only issue I did have other than the beginning being a little slow is that the rose competition sucks since I can’t actually see the difference in the roses. I know that they are different shades of grey, but I just wish I could see this movie in its full color just to have a better understanding of that competition. I would definitely watch it again in a heartbeat if there happened to be a color version, but really though this movie is great.

Look, I know that there aren’t too many people out there, especially in my generation or younger, that would be willing to seek out this movie and watch it, but hear me out. If you love movies and the history of film and like to go out of your way to better understand where your favorite directors learned from then you need to go back to the past and watch these movies. Not all of them are going to be easy to watch or enjoyable, but you have to venture out and give them a shot. Mrs. Miniver is a must watch for any film buff or film history fan and I really think it should be watched for anyone who wants to branch out and broaden their spectrum of movies they’ve seen.

If you have seen this movie or haven’t and have your own comments or questions then be sure to comment below or send us an email at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and follow us @TowerCityMedia

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) Review

A good movie that runs too long and isn’t great until the last thirty minutes. The Greatest Show on Earth brings me to reviewing this weeks “Oscar Bait” movie. If you have been reading my past Oscar Bait movie reviews then you’ll know that I am watching a previous Best Picture winner each week randomly picked and this week is a movie from the 50’s that I definitely haven’t seen before. I did look up a bit of trivia and found out that this was the first movie that Spielberg watched and has influenced some of his films, and I can really see some similarities in this film that make me think of his movies. I also have read plenty about how many think that this is one of the worst Best Picture winners, so I was full prepared for this to not be good.

The first thing I noticed when I started the film was that it was two and a half hours long which took me by surprise. I don’t mind watching movies that long, but it was going to have to have a petty compelling story for it to be worth the runtime. Also, the credits are all in the very beginning of the film which we somewhat see now, but not the way it was back then. They actually show every bit of the credits for this movie in the very beginning rather than the end and by the end it just sort of wraps up and then cuts back to my Vudu screen.

So if you aren’t familiar with this movie like me then I’ll break down the premise real quick. Hugh Jackman plays as…Just kidding. That’s The Greatest Showman. The Greatest Show on Earth is about the circus plain and simple. The only real compelling bits of story is the fight for the center ring between Holly and The Great Sebastian, and apparently two guys who were kicked out of the circus are now wanting to rob the train the circus is travelling on. Oh and a love triangle between Holly, Sebastian, and Brad…

The conflicts are all great except for the love triangle and the movie really peaks when we get to see the two conflicts. The first one is between Holly and Sebastian vying for the center ring where Holly feels she deserves it but will do anything Sebastian can but better. In one of the best parts of the movie we actually get to see the two go back and forth giving us some truly amazing stunts. This brings me to by applaud for the stunt crew and visuals as a whole. I am not entirely sure if they used any movie magic to make it look like they were performing these stunts or if they actually did them, but they were very impressive.

That goes for the whole movie though. I know that a bunch of the performers were actually from the circus, but as for the actual known actors, I wonder if they went through training to be very good performers in the roles they had in this film. If that is true then I really am impressed with how well they did and wonder how long it took to actually nail it down. That brings me to the next conflict between the two former members of the circus and how they want to steal the money from the train.

It was weird how much was actually set up early on in the movie that I just didn’t pick up on at all that actually comes into play later. I can’t remember the names of the two guys, but one was working with the elephants and the other was scamming people by the games to take their money. They both have a grudge against Charlton Heston (Brad) who kicks them both off the circus so they try and steal the circus money from the train.

The scene is clearly shot with very small models that most people of my generation would see and immediately dismiss or laugh at for being too cheesy or fake, but given the times it was actually very entertaining and quite good. It’s this scene that sets up the last bit of the movie. The train crashing leads to Brad being injured and the whole circus crew pushing for the show to go on. Of course they do and the show goes on as planned despite not having everything they had before since the train wrecked and then the movie ends.

It’s unfortunate because all of the loose ends and set up come into play in this last thirty minutes whether it be the wreck by the two men or Buttons the clown. Both of them elevated the level to a point where I was starting to get more engaged, but the film doesn’t do much else with those plotlines and the movie ends as soon as the excitement really starts to pick up.

The last major conflict is the love triangle between Brad, Holly, and Sebastian. I think the worst part about this is the writing for Holly or possibly even the acting by her also. She seems to overact as if she is in theatre on a stage, but it doesn’t help that she isn’t given much dialogue that is compelling enough to make her more than an object for these two men. I really just didn’t care at all about any of the tug of war between these three and wanted them to just get back to the stunts and circus parts.

Finally, the circus parts are quite good and come off as being somewhat like documentary filmmaking where we get an inside look of what the behind the scenes of the circus is really like. While I think the movie is quite good in moments, it doesn’t feel like it is a real worthy winner, but I can see why it won. It isn’t a fantastic movie, but with the stunts and the great inside look at the circus I can understand on a filmmaking level why it was picked to win. It seems like they really brought everyone to the circus without actually having to go to the real circus. It also was the highest grossing film that year.

While I did quite enjoy the film as a whole, I do feel that it could have been better if it had cut out about thirty minutes and kept a tight two hour runtime. I was surprised with how impressed I was with the stunts and how much I actually enjoyed it, but I can’t say that I would recommend this for anyone. I think that if you are the kind of person that will go out of your way to really dive into film history and go far back to watch historical films then you may enjoy this, but it is not by any means the kind of movie that just anyone would like. By all means though, give it a shot if you seem interested.

If you have seen this movie and you have comments or questions then comment below or email us at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and follow us @TowerCityMedia

The Shape of Water (2017) Review

A very fascinating and well-made movie worthy of nomination, but a Best Picture winner I think not. The Shape of Water was the surprise winner of the Best Picture award the year it came out. It had a lot of hype going into the awards and was beloved by most if I remember right, but even those hadn’t necessarily pegged it as the frontrunner. It was I would say the most unique of all of the films released that year and of course that comes with the director being Guillermo Del Toro. This movie has been on my list to watch for a very long time, but I really just never got around to seeing it, and finally I decided to give it a watch. If you have been keeping up with my reviews then you’ll know that I have been watching a past Oscar winner each week and this week it was The Shape of Water.

My first impressions about this movie is that it does seem to be Guillermo’s best work to date and is an incredibly well directed film. It excels in all of the technical aspects and even the not so technical aspects, so with that said you would think that it is deserving of winning the award. Maybe it was the fact that I already knew that it won, but I may have had higher expectations going into it. While it does achieve everything it needs to be worthy, I still don’t see it as a truly exceptional film that stands above all of the others.

I’m not going to go into who I think should have won or do any comparisons, but while the film is successful at everything, it still feels like it’s missing something and still feels a bit empty. Strange to say that it feels empty when it’s a movie with a ton of heart, but I don’t know a better way to explain the feeling. I guess I’ll just get into all of the aspects of the film and maybe come to a more clear decision by the end of this review.

The first thing that struck me the most of being truly great was the music throughout the whole film that immediately hit in the opening scene. It’s classic music that fits perfectly with this story and I never had a problem with it. I think the music itself actually elevates this film and if they hadn’t gone the route they did, then I believe the movie maybe wouldn’t have even worked. It was unique and different yet familiar and I feel like it fits very well with the story.

Speaking of the story, this movie could be interpreted in many different ways I feel like in how it is interpreted. I was getting a strong feeling of the misunderstanding of beings that aren’t human, and that would even include animals. It seemed like there was a very clear message of humans misunderstanding the importance of communication between us and other species and how we just don’t seem to care. Eliza was the perfect example of a bridge between us and the water creature.

Eliza as a character was very good with how she was written being a mute and being the bridge between two worlds. I do however think that while she has a lot of heart for this character, it was hard for me to really connect with her. It’s not fair to say that it’s because she’s a mute, but it was hard to really connect with her, because she seemed to connect more with the water creature than we were to her. It almost seemed as if she was more related to the water creature than us which may have been the point, but for most people who don’t understand how to connect with the creature, it made it more difficult. I just wish that she was written more in a way for us to connect with her first, then connect with the creature, but I never felt like that was handled all that well.

The message though is very clear that we need to better understand things that aren’t human and we need to be more proactive in trying to better communicate and understand. The problem in this situation is that it was easy to set up the villains being the typical humans, but the hero didn’t quite come to be naturally. Unless I missed something, I don’t quite understand what Eliza’s drive was to actually connect with this creature the way she did.

I understand that she is supposed to be the example of a person that isn’t judging based on appearance, but we never really get a clear motivation from her at all during the film other than that’s what the story calls for. If you’re on board though then it’s very fascinating to see her relationship develop with the creature. All the way to the point where she actually makes love with the creature, which for most is probably a point where you jump off board. I went with it because I understood what they were trying to do and say with the message, but I can’t say that it was actually handled well enough to really work for the movie as a whole.

Outside of that though, the rest of the elements of the movie were very good indeed. All of the acting was top notch and a real delight seeing all of the characters on screen. The most fun character for me was Michael Shannon who just can’t catch a break. Thinking on it more though, the acting is quite good, but it also seems like not everyone really had that much chance to standout other than Sally Hawkins. I wish they were given just a little bit more outside of her and Shannon.

I also really enjoyed the overall direction and handling of the film. This is a story that doesn’t seem like it would work as well on paper, and with most directors it probably wouldn’t work. That’s props to Del Toro who manages to handle this movie masterfully despite my issues with the character and story. I will give credit where it’s due and this is definitely one of the more unique stories that I’ve seen on screen, but it also feels very similar. A lot of these points are what hold the movie back and why I think the film is worthy of nomination, but does not feel like a Best Picture winner.

I think anyone that is a film fan should seek this movie out and watch it, because it truly is a great movie with fantastic directing. I also think that this movie will not work for everyone and for the majority of the moviegoing audience, they will probably not like it. It’s unfortunate because the reason why most won’t like it is the exact message that they’re trying to get across in this film which is a bit ironic. If you are somewhat interested in this movie then give it a shot!

If you have seen The Shape of Water and you have comments or questions, be sure to leave them below! You can also email us at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and follow us @TowerCityMedia

Forrest Gump (1994) Review

If you aren’t aware of our YouTube channel then I will go ahead and plug it here because we have a show that we like to call Oscar Bait. Each episode we take a look at a previous Best Picture winning movie in no particular order. Our first one was the most recent winner Parasite and this week it’s Forrest Gump. I have seen this movie numerous times, but it has always been more of a pick it up sometime in the middle of the movie or I had only seen bits and pieces of it, so this is the first time I actually found myself sitting down to watch the movie as a whole. With it being the first full experience and for the purpose of writing a review and for our show I was looking at this movie differently and hoping to enjoy it as much as I always have.

While watching this movie, I wanted to brush up a bit on my knowledge of the year that it won best picture and found that it was up against Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction, so you could say it was a bit of a stacked year. I don’t want to get into it too much, but I wanted to watch this movie and see why it was maybe the more favored pick among those three.

The most instant reaction I had about this movie is that it really is a feel good movie from start to finish. Not that it tells a story that is always happy and positive, but that it tells an honest and truly feel good story of a fantastical version of history through the eyes of an unlikely tour guide of sorts. This movie makes the most out of the fantastical feel it has by approaching the alternate history factor in more of a way of how our character was affected by everything rather than your typical kind of what would our world be like if things were different.

The movie takes us away from the world we are used to and gives us a world that we know is different and not accurate, but it’s told in such a charming way that we don’t think twice about that aspect and simply enjoy the movie for what it’s trying to do. This movie is truly a fantasy movie at its core and Forrest himself goes through a sort of heroes journey that comes full circle by the end of the film.

I believe that it’s the multilayered and mixed genre that really sticks out as being the more unique factor that separates itself from those other films. It’s a movie that is more inspiring to watch than say Shawshank, and is more enjoyable to watch than Pulp Fiction. Forrest Gump gives us the life of a mythical hero of sorts, but one that is no different than you and I. That is the key point that I took away from watching this movie. It’s something so important to all of us that makes this movie so much more impactful than I think we realize until we sit down and understand some of the messages that are trying to be given to us.

This movie hinges on the character of Forrest played by Tom Hanks who also won Best Actor that year for his performance. I can’t remember who all was nominated alongside him, but I find it hard to believe that a performance like this could ever be passed up for winning. Tom Hanks gives us a performance that will etch him and his character into history forever and will always be remembered. We all know how good of an actor Tom Hanks is, but his legacy will be stapled by his portrayal of Forrest as well as a few others.

It’s incredibly hard to look at a character like Forrest on paper and be able to pull it off as well as intended inside someone’s head. It’s a great feat that Tom Hanks was able to fully embrace this character and make us believe that this character is a real part of our history, but of course it doesn’t all rely on Hanks. The supporting cast of his mom, Jenny, and Lt. Dan played by Sally Field, Robin Wright, and Gary Sinise, complete the circle that is Forrest Gump’s life. I would also highlight Bubba who doesn’t have as big of a physical role, but is greatly impactful to Forrest from the time he meets him.

If it wasn’t just the performances or the actual approach to the story than it was the expert directing by Robert Zemeckis. This is a movie based on a book that I feel on paper might seem like a difficult task to pull off. I’m also not a fan of voice over during a movie, and this movie has voiceover for a majority of the film and I never have a problem with it. Of course it stems back to the performance by Hanks, but it’s also the great directing to hold everything together and to give us great pacing and delivery on the actual story.

This brings me back to my point of just how smart this story really is. It’s more than just a silly movie about a silly character who goes through a fake version of history, but rather the story of a hero of sorts that goes through the heroes journey. We are introduced to Forrest who is the unlikeliest of people to succeed in life, but never once let’s things bring him down. When he finally starts his journey away from home he finds many obstacles in his path, but never once veers away from his purpose and plan. To live an enjoy life no matter what is thrown in his way.

We see him do anything and everything that he likes to do or go along with whatever is thrown in front of him like the war. He learns from everything he goes through in life, but in the end when he finally makes it back home and is taking care of his child at the end of his heroes journey, he hasn’t changed at his core, but rather changed from his experiences as a hero should. This is a movie that in hard times or in times where we feel insecure and unsure of the hard times in life we all need to watch and understand what is truly being told.

Forrest Gump is very much deserving of the Best Picture win that it earned. It’s a movie that is a feel good movie and is secretly one of the better most well-crafted stories with how well it tells it’s story and how unique the heroes journey is that we see. This is a movie that I know most of us have seen, but really it’s one that may be more important now then we realize. If you haven’t seen this movie then you need to go out and watch it because it truly is a great movie.

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