Manhunter ★★★

I come today not to praise Michael Mann but to...well, I guess not bury him exactly. I mean there are worse things in this world than a Michael Mann film.

Like Ebola for instance.

Maybe I come today to declare that Michael Mann is generally better than Ebola.

Manhunter is an early Mann effort, when he still hadn't entirely come into his own as a unique visual stylist. The aesthetic sense is undeniable. Deliberate pacing, the fractured masculine psyche, entire scenes peppered with synth-pop. It's all there. None of it is bad. I like the movie; even admire it on some level. I just don't quite love it; and that is an emotional reaction difficult to quantify. Maybe it's because I saw the Brett Ratner version first, and the veil of incompetence was already drawn over this story. Maybe I'm still seething over the complete gobshite that was Public Enemies; a stain that will not wash easily.

Brian Cox though, has plenty of fun with Hannibal Lecter (or Lecktor as it's spelled here). He manages to humanize the character, which to be honest is almost a welcome relief from Hopkins' inscrutable, Ubermensch star-child of a man. We fear Hopkins because our minds instinctively recoil as we try to make a connection with him. There's a certain alien-ness that Cox doesn't exude. Hopkins is an insidious boogeyman from another realm; Cox is just a bored, intellectual who dabbles in cannibalism on the side. I like both performances, it's just an interesting contrast in approach.

By the way, was William Petersen stoned the entire time the camera was on him? I had to turn on the subtitles because I wasn't sure if he was trying to reconstruct a crime scene or asking for more Funyuns. Dennis Farina carries Petersen's ass through most of it; threatening to explode into full-blown 'Cousin Avi' mode at any moment. Kim Greist is in the movie too; I'm not entirely sure why. Tom Noonan is solid, and the "do you see" projector scene has instantly made one particular "South Park" moment that much more hysterical.

So yeah, South Park. That's a funny show...

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