Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs
seen @ Landmark Loews Jersey Theater, Jersey City NJ

I think part of the reason The Silence of the Lambs is as unsettling as it is has to do with the cinematography. Jonathan Demme (and his DP, Tak Fujimoto) used so many tight close-ups, which in another film, might feel different, but here I found them claustrophobic, as if Jodie Foster was trapped in the frame with Anthony Hopkins — which, in a way, she was.

Apparently, this was a motif of the late Demme's work, although I don't remember for sure because it's been a long time since I've seen his films (Married to the Mob, Stop Making Sense, Philadelphia, Beloved, Rachel Getting Married, etc.).

Usually we welcome seeing our favorite stars' faces twenty feet high, but in Silence, I longed for room to breathe, metaphorically speaking, to get away from Hannibal Lecter. And of course, Ted Levine as Buffalo Bill was so revolting, you wouldn't want to look at him up close, but we get that too.

At the time of Demme's death last year, this article by a gay writer went up on Slate, discussing Silence and Philadelphia in a gay context. You may recall the Buffalo Bill character was the focus of controversy from gay groups, and the latter film was believed to be Demme's apology for it.

At the time, I understood very little of the whole thing, and I'm probably not the one to address it now; I only bring it up here to note how the conversation about Demme and Silence has evolved, however slowly, in the past quarter century.

I was pleasantly surprised to see who else was in this movie. I knew about Kasi Lemmons, who went on to become a filmmaker. Demme's former mentor, Roger Corman, has a brief cameo as the FBI director; Charles Napier is the guard Hannibal kills when he escapes; singer Chris Isaak is a SWAT officer; even George Romero has an uncredited bit as a fed (though that one I found out about later, on IMDB).

Going to the Loews JC was a last-minute decision, but as usual, I'm glad I did it. Nothing particularly special to report this time; just another fun night out at the best place to see a film in the tri-state area.

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