Archives for posts with tag: Anthony Hopkins

‚ÄčI just watched Solace, and, along with a general impression, moments and images still flash through my mind. Ironically, it reminded me stylistically of the TV series Hannibal. It used unexpected imagery in artistic ways, embedding impressions flawlessly in the viewing experience. The irony of course is that Anthony Hopkins starred in Solace, long after he made Hannibal Lecter a horrorhousehold name. It’s probably entirely coincidental that the Hannibal Lecter TV series he had nothing to do with had so much in common visually with the movie Solace. It’s very odd, though.

His John Clancy is my favorite of his characters in quite some time. Rich and deep, Clancy gives his portrayer a lot to work with, which he does to perfection. A touch telepath who wears tragedy like an uncomfortable overcoat, he reluctantly helps an old friend find and stop a killer. Along the way, he finds a new friend, a strength he thought he’d lost, and possibly a measure of peace.

For all its artistic beauty, the movie shows crime scenes in real and surreal detail. Some of Clancy’s vision are bloody and violent. All of it leads to a showdown played out on mental as well as physical planes. Emotional trauma is at the forefront of many moments, particularly a satisfying ending I thought I glimpsed early on, from mere hints of foreshadowing. Or perhaps bits of writer’s instinct. 

Jeffrey Dean Morgan played his old friend Joe, a dedicated cop with a secret he knows Clancy knows. The eventual reveal and quiet acknowledgments revealed as part of the story’s unfolding the burdens such a man as John Clancy must bear. Morgan’s excellent performance was a reminder of what a wonderful actor he is, for those who can’t help being caught up in the dark days of the Negpocalypse that is his role on The Walking Dead.

I’d seen trailers for Solace for some time. They didn’t do justice to this tight, taut, and mesmerizingly vivid film.

Solace Trailer

Once again I find myself saying I love Twitter. I can’t quite sleep, so of course I start scrolling through, wondering what marvel I will happen upon in the middle of the night. This time it was The Elephant Man who caught my eye.

I’ve been interested in Joseph (John) Merrick, known as The Elephant Man because of his terrible disfigurement, since seeing the movie about him, starring Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt. Many people could not bear to look at him, while conversely others paid to see him. Much of his life was one of degradation and despair.

His eventual friendship with London surgeon Dr. Frederick Treves led to the letters chronicled in this article , which I found extremely moving. They shine a bright light on the wonderful, in the often dismal quality in various walks of life of the people of Victorian England. This Wikipedia entry goes into a lot of fascinating information about this remarkable man’s life. My favorite moment depicted in the movie is that Princess Alexandra befriended him, apparently seeing the erudite nature of the man behind the deformities over which he had no control.

Something I didn’t expect to find within these letters was Francis Carr-Gomm’s eloquent explanation of why God allows such horrendous suffering. This question becomes a point of anguish for those of us who must watch someone we love dearly suffer tremendous pain, especially for an extended time. Carr-Gomm showed himself through his words in these letters on behalf of Joseph Merrick to be a wise, kind, and benevolent natured man, while Treves and all the people who found ways to help a lovely, gentle, intelligent soul trapped within a monstrous exterior were examples of the best the Victorian Age had to offer.

I wish Joseph Merrick had been given opportunity to live his entire life among the kindest of strangers, many of whom became friends. Regardless of his earlier treatment, it is a beautiful thing that in his final years he found peace and the experience of happiness most of us take for granted, even when we think we know what true unhappiness is.

I just finished watching a thrilling thriller that bombed at the British box office. It made just $141 in a weekend. I’m so used to seeing box office figures in the millions that I had to go back to check the numbers. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a movie with such a high caliber cast make just $30 per theater on opening. My taste in movies often goes against the critical reception, and this time is no exception. It’s always strange that two people can watch the same movie, then have diametrically opposed reactions to it. In the case of Misconduct, I seem to be swimming upstream in my enjoyment of this movie. Ah well, all the more reason for me to run toward something critics flee.

My title for this post is tricky. On its surface it is what it is. The case at the center of Misconduct is about as open and shut as they come. Not. Well, sure, it seems so at first. It’s obvious who the white hats are, and equally obvious that Anthony Hopkins’ character is a very bad man. A corrupt  big pharma exec, with a ruthless black heart. But…but…but he does seem to care about his beautiful young girlfriend, when she’s kidnapped. Those but…but…buts keep coming until the final frames. By the time of fade out, I felt as if my center of intellectual gravity had shifted…several times. As I waited for the mental room to stop spinning, I realized the biggest but…but…but was the floppiness of this slick, red herring riddled twisty thriller. It may be fair to say every movie is at the very least somewhat different for every person who sees it. In this case I seriously feel as if I saw an entirely different movie than the critical pariah that bombed so badly in Britain.

Anthony Hopkins was riveting, but of course I feel that way about his Barclay’s Big commercial, so consider me at least slightly prejudiced on the subject. On the other hand I’ve seen at least…seventy five of his movies and only disliked two, while still admiring his performances, so I can speak with considerable authority on his prowess with whatever script he crosses paths with. The man is brilliant. Pacino is no slouch, of course, and I always like Josh Duhamel’s tall, charming, talented, good looks (not necessarily in that order). Those three came together as a multipronged powerhouse, of obfuscating cinematic glory.

The plot boasts as many twist as the Iron Throne does sword points. Yes, it is confusing. It is extremely complex. It takes a nimble mind to keep up. Maybe you have to like the three male stars as much as I do to even try, but the reward for the effort is sitting back in awed comprehension of a puzzle with not one missing piece. It falls together in a way that makes you want to hit somebody. Several somebodies. But there’s more than enough blood and bruise makeup on display to make you realize several some bodies have already been hit hard enough for one movie. So you mentally applaud,  and in my case start the search for the next Anthony Hopkins movie in the quest to see them all.

Now about that title. Beneath the surface it’s a nod to the beautiful, seamless camera work in Misconduct. I started noticing the way we watch externally, as characters glide from one location to the next. They often traverse rooms, even buildings, with an elegant grace that is so organic that it almost seems they’re transported elsewhere by nontraveling motion. This way of handling scene transition is not only visually beautiful, but technically so as well.

The reason I’m so attuned to that kind of thing is that when I first started learning the art of crafting a screenplay, I had trouble with scene changes. I didn’t realize it at first, but as I started the extended period of proofread-and-rewrite that is such an integral part of the process, I came to see that I had not yet learned the how and where of location transition.

This odd sticking point may be due to the fact that I was a novelist first. With fiction writing, the narrative flows subconsciously, often intuitively and assumptively for both writer and reader. With screenplays it’s more technical. The script is all about what the camera sees.    Physical transition is a series of opening and closing doors. While you don’t need to describe these doors, or acknowledge their existence even, you have to make sure you clearly get a character out of a location, without zipping him into a different room as if by magic. Unless you’re actually writing Harry Potter. Then you can apparate him to your heart’s content. What you can’t do is have muggles disapparate into walls.

The more you write, the more automatic proper transition becomes, but while learning it takes concentration. I was busy remembering proper slugline structure, to CAP or not to cap, and how many lines were trying to slip into any given action block. Eventually, I came to realize that while I concentrated on all that, I was slamming cameras into walls and doors and quite possibly people I’d forgotten to move out of the way.

Watching Misconduct glide people along from an external vantage point made me realize there’s always going to be more and more and more to learn about ways to make what a screenwriter sees in his head translate to the screen visual. Thus, location transition doesn’t always have to involve opening and shutting doors, literally or figuratively.

So, another movie I went to the opposite corner with the critics on. And the box office. I wonder what the handful of people watching in each almost empty screening thought. I’d like to think at least some left thrilled with the thriller they just saw, and wondered what movie the critics who panned it had seen instead.

Misconduct–Official Trailer #1

Barclay’s Big Commercial

Here’s the first trailer for Go With Me. It’s an upcoming action thriller starring Anthony Hopkins and Julia Stiles that looks intense and intriguing. Anthony Hopkins is certainly keeping up his incredibly prolific pace. I’ll be looking forward to adding this one to the watched list in my constant quest to see his movies.

What a horrifying, yet perfect day to release the brilliant serial killer thriller, The Silence of the Lambs. That happened 25 years ago. Yes, Doctor Hannibal Lecter was unleashed into movie history on Valentine’s Day. How appropriate… if, like me, you consider the movie a love story of sorts.

I’ve seen it that way from the moment I sat down and braced myself to try to get through something so scary. This was years after the movie had been in theaters and on video. At the time it just wasn’t my kind of thing. Though I’d been devouring movies for most of my life, it took the imaginary accompanying fava beans and chiante enjoyed by Doctor Lecter over a misfortunate census taker to push me over the edge of movie going mediocrity and set off down the road toward film connoisseur.

Simply put, The Silence of the Lambs is a masterpiece. As I watched, I was horrified, as expected. I was also intrigued, spellbound, and so impressed by the story and the way it was told on the screen that I had to know the source material. That led me to discovering the work of Thomas Harris, author of the novel The Silence of the Lambs. Since then I’ve read all of his Hannibal Lecter novels, and from the beginning declared him a genius. He paints pictures with words in a rare and beautiful way. In Hannibal, his Florence imagery made me long to go there. For every scene of ugliness and brutality, there are moments of gorgeous phrasing and evocative description. His prose is spare, yet elaborate, and somehow the adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs takes all this on and elaborates on it.

I fell in love with Anthony Hopkins’ work when I saw The Edge, and started watching everything he’s done. I say started because the man is incredibly prolific. I’ve seen scores of his movies, but they never run out! If not for wanting to see all of his movies, I doubt if I would ever have watched The Silence of the Lambs. Now, just because of that one movie, I discovered one of my favorite authors and genres. In fact, I’m working on a serial killer thriller screenplay, and if you’d told me I’d ever do that before I watched The Silence of the Lambs, I would have looked at you in bugeyed horror, like Doctor Chilton when he realized he was being one upped by a female FBI agent in the making. It was simply unthinkable.

So now on the 25th anniversary of the release of a movie that was not only a chilling study in crime and criminal hunters, but also a subtley romantic story of the crush from hell told in nuanced glances, fleeting vocal adoration, and one alarmingly lingering touch, I celebrate a movie that opened my eyes to a new world of possibility and led me to a future that is now my present screenwriting endeavor. If not for that movie, I might never have discovered that labeling something horror did not mean that’s all it was, that it would be exclusively horrifying, that I wouldn’t…couldn’t enjoy it. Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a movie by its genre.

The Silence of the Lambs remains a testament to the talent that went into its existence. It also continues to make me be creeped out by the obvious elements, but also such simple things as sewing patterns, lotion, and moths. It puts the images in its mind….

Entertainment Weekly article about the 25th anniversary of The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs Trailer

I’m afraid we have a logical explanation now for the tantalizing picture of Anthony Hopkins in suspiciously Downtonesque atire, with a beaming Mrs. Patmore outside Lesley Nicol’s dressing room. And it doesn’t lead where all Hopkins and Downton fans hoped.

Ian McKellen recently tweeted a still from The Dresser, and said they were filming next door to Downton Abbey. Most likely scenario: A–Anthony Hopkins was visiting the Downton set, in his The Dresser costume + B–It would be beyond wonderful if he were to guest star on everyone’s favorite period drama = media conclusion jumping + fan frenzy = widespread disappointment.

Ah, well. It was a lovely what if while it lasted. Now I just really want to see The Dresser….

This article goes into plot and character details of the TV movie The Dresser. It will be the the first time the stars have worked together on film.

I’ve been looking forward to this movie since first learning about it. Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen are two of the finest actors of their, and any, generation. One way I look at the pairing is each actor’s legendary history on stage in Shakespeare’s plays and many others. The other cause for fangirlish excitement is that we’re talking Odin and Gandalf together onscreen. What’s not to look forward to from both angles?

The bottom line of course is the sheer thrill of enjoying the work of two such amazingly talented actors. Since my cable doesn’t have Starz, I’ll also “enjoy” the thrill of waiting for the DVD.