Manhunter

Manhunter ★★★★★

I love William Petersen in this. I think he works the same way Joe Mantegna works in a Mamet movie - Mann movies don't take place in our universe, but in an alternate one right next door to ours. There's some overlap, but for the most part his people don't act quite like anyone would in real life. Like Mamet, it's often like watching a group of aliens trying their best to impersonate humans (The Tooth Fairy is on Mars after all), and once you get a handle on that you can roll with it. Same goes for his weird use of pop songs, and on this rewatch I found those scenes pretty effective instead of awkward. On Planet Mann, feelings reflect in songs with lyrics containing metaphors that are much too obvious and synth sounds that will be outdated approximately two months after they're released. I get it now! (Dollarhyde imagining a romantic moment from his car - how can a normal human being come up with this stuff?) I questioned myself about whether I'm using this to excuse obviously bad acting just because I love the movie, but the important part is that I feel Will Graham's most emotional moments come off as authentic. It's hard not to crack a smile when he screams at this phantom killer alone in a room, but it's also hard not to feel deeply sad while watching his dreams or seeing him try to handle a subject much too big for an innocent kid. Seeing this on a big screen (with big speakers) made me realize how heavy this is, not just because it's about psychotic killers. Interesting also to watch it after viewing the two seasons of Hannibal, when I have a different understanding of the characters (also appreciated that the show made Freddy Lounds into a woman, but kept the hair). There are so many scenes and shots that left me breathless, but the real punch in the gut was the final showdown - incredible. I was close to sobbing during the tiger scene, and seeing Will Graham sprint out of the prison/irl art museum again made me understand why that was the scene that stuck with me the most since I saw it last. The most effective thing about the end is that we've just spent the running time thinking about perverted voyeurism and are now participants in being excited by something vile. There's something disgusting about watching a formerly confident blind woman stumble around terrified, if you (like me) found WAIT UNTIL DARK chilling this is close to unbearable. I can't even begin to go into this as an exploration of cinema itself, the Hitchcock layers of audience participation. I love this stuff. I love to walk out of the theater asking myself why exactly I got such a joyful thrill out of someone bursting through a window.

There's a moment at the first crime scene where Will Graham looks directly into the camera, then a moment where a now dead father looks directly into Will Graham through a home video. Like, are you fucking kidding me?! If this review seems haphazard it's because for me, it's impossible to recall one great piece of this film without remembering three more. I know I sound like an obnoxious Mann "fanboy" or whatever, but it's because so many of his films feel like he asked me specifically how my perfect dream movies would look, sound, feel like.

extra note: I find Petersen's voice when he does his monotone tape recorder voice incredibly relaxing, and I love the way he says the word "glass", and boy was it weird hearing him talk about a brutally murdered family and wanting to drift into a peaceful sleep. Also strange to be super in love with a supposed-to-be-creepy serial killer's apartment, but the heart wants what it wants.

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