Manhunter

Manhunter ★★★★½

Michael Mann style for miles and miles. Mann saw Argento’s “Tenebre” and, so, saw the light - though this is very much in his "Miami Vice" mode as well, which also post-dates Argento’s seminal early 80s imagery.

But honestly, for me, the b-story relationship between blind Reba & serial killer Francis saves this movie from being a beautiful looking, laughably metered out conglomeration of William Petersen over-indulgences and thinly scripted romantics (romanticizing heroism, villainy, action beats, investigation procedurals, relationships, trauma, on and on. Every single moment of this film is romanticized through style, except for perhaps the scenes with Lecter, interestingly enough). But boy is that b-story relationship incredibly watchable.

I’m still of the hipster notion that Brian Cox is the best Lecter. Though, looking on here, this seems to be an increasingly held opinion. Hopkins is too much of a scene muncher for my taste. Cox is dead eyed yet sports lunch-pail charm. He’s schlumpy but dangerous seeming. Absolutely great. I believe Cox, I don’t believe Hopkins.

Mann can’t help but make meta commentary here, with the endless talk about dreaming being equated to cinema. Particularly his own cinema. Playing a drinking game that features the root word “dream” will put most of us under the table before the runtime is done.

This has an outstanding score, often sounding like snippets from the Vangelis “Blade Runner” soundtrack. Also, the diegetic “In A gadda da vida” drop is huge and used to greater effect than almost any needle drop of the 80s that comes to mind right now.

If it might seem like I’m slagging on this, just know, what is good about it is mountainous and what is “bad” about it is entertaining in its own way. But, I’m sorry, almost every single scene William Petersen is in makes me laugh - except for the grocery market scene with his son, which is really great and adds a lot of context to his performance.

According to Wiki, we could’ve had a David Lynch film version of the novel. I wouldn’t want it to replace this in our historical timeline, but it could’ve occupied the space where Brett Ratner’s version is, for sure. No one in the world would be less off if Ratner’s “Red Dragon” didn’t exist. Also, William Friedkin was considered for the role of Lecter(!).

Scene that plays in The Great Movie Theater in the Sky: blind Reba explores the body of a drugged, catatonic tiger while a human predator watches on.

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