Manhunter

Manhunter ★★★★★

How... did I get this far into my life without seeing this movie?

I only saw Silence of the Lambs a couple times, and only saw Red Dragon and Hannibal once apiece. I heard good things about the TV show, Hannibal, but I could not wrap my head around anyone else but Anthony Hopkins playing that character. Why? The turn in Silence of the Lambs is iconic, but is it really worth the fuss? I can't decide, but at this point it's been way too long since I've seen it. When I think of Hopkins, though, considering the other films of his I've seen, I don't think of a dangerous person. Brian Cox, however... his most memorable role to me is as a pedophile, in L.I.E. When I see Brian Cox, I see a man capable of some shit.

But that whole train of thought is somewhat moot, because this movie is about William Peterson and Tom Noonan. Cox is only there for maybe 10 minutes of the movie. The other two totally electrify the screen every other minute that Cox isn't there, and when Peterson and Cox are together... holy shit. Those are great moments. Without giving too much away, for anyone who may not have seen this yet, Cox tries to convince Peterson of something that may or may not be true, and Peterson is so frightened of this something that it makes their time together some of the most intense screen time I've ever watched.

Noonan deserves his own paragraph. This 6'6" man is both delicate and monstrous because of his proportions. He towers over everyone, but looks like s stick figure. He's mostly bald, has a hare lip, and is so uncomfortable in his own skin that it rubs off on you. I know him best as Frankenstein's monster in The Monster Squad, so my image of him is as an innocent, gentle giant. He is anything but that in Manhunter. Where this movie goes wonderfully, perversely right in my book, is in exploring the dangerous, sexy quality of his character. Like Hannibal, he has a certain charm. And in the right circumstances, it's even more frightening than overt malignant intent. The woman he finds himself with does not know the fire with which she is playing, and there are moments where it seems he has no idea what kind of fire he is. What it does is make him painfully human, and the terror that this exerts on the viewer is the same terror that Cox exerts on Peterson. You don't want to see the capacity in yourself to be something that scares you. This movie does that on two levels, and it's great.

The movie is really beautiful to look at. I had no idea how nice that element would be until Scumbalina convinced me that I had to see it, and did so by speaking my language, unlike anyone else prior. The movie is worthwhile for the tiger scene alone. Now I think I understand why some people are rabidly obsessed with another Michael Mann movie I haven't seen, The Keep. That has to happen soon.