Posts Tagged ‘ 1990’s films ’

Thirty-Day Movie Challenge: Day Twenty-Three

30 Day Movie Challenge

Day Twenty-Three: Film That Inspires You:

Slacker (1991)
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Richard Linklater, Stella James, Marc Weir

Slacker was another one of those glorious accidental discoveries. I couldn’t sleep, I switched on what I believe was IFC, and there it was. The movie had just started. Had just opened on that wonderful, completely random scene of a man (writer-director Richard Linklater, who has almost always managed to blow me away) getting in a cab, rambling through some story about how he should have stayed at the bus station. There’s more to it than that, but I won’t go into it, if you haven’t had the distinct pleasure of seeing it for yourself. Describing and much of the movie is difficult. Impossible in the sense that it’s immensely tricky for me to relate with words what you should see for yourself.

For example, wouldn’t you like to know which one of these guys has probably been drinking a bit too much coffee?

Obviously, I’m going to try and relate my love of this independent (back when that meant something, or at least back when it meant more than it does now), but I’m just saying that it’s going to be difficult. It might help if you take my word for it now, see the movie and then get back to me.

Maybe.  It couldn’t hurt. This is one of those times when I feel as though I can only write for the people who have already seen it. I’ll try to keep the rest of you in mind.

Anyone who has ever successfully managed to listen to me for more than five minutes without running me over knows that the eventual goal of all this writing I do is to eventually get a chance to make a film. Hopefully, you’ve been paying attention to these rambling thoughts on films, but if you haven’t it might be worth noting that my greatest creative passion through the years has been filmmaking. I’ve never been to college (and there’s a good chance I probably never will get to go), so I’ve tried to give myself the best education possible with the vocation I’d like to spend the rest of my life in. Acting is fun, but I want to put the whole thing together. I watch movies for pure entertainment, but I also try to pay attention to the ones that really blow my hair (what little of it there usually is) back. Should I ever get an opportunity I want to at least have a rough idea of what I need to do. It’s an overwhelming, intimidating vocation. I barely know where to begin. Just writing the scripts I’ve written has had a difficult learning curve going for it.

Film inspires me for all kinds of different reasons. Some encourage me in the whole ridiculous thing of making a movie. Slacker has been a fixture on that last since seeing it in on TV that night. It was around 1999, and it’s unreal how much time has just flown past me since. The film is certainly a product of its time in certain ways (the way Austin was at that time, the whole Generation-X vibe), but in its most important ways, it doesn’t seem like something that belongs in a time capsule. This is largely due to the fact that I know people like this still exist. Slacker captures a long-gone time and place, but people like the character’s of the film’s world haven’t gone anywhere. Take out the inspirational aspect of the film, and it’s the characters that I love the most about Slacker. I know people along those lines. I’ve known a couple of guys like the Kennedy fanatic. I’ve seen friends compel a buddy to hurl something that belonged to his ex-girlfriend over a bridge (it was a moving car in my experience). I’ve run into people trying to sell things eerily similar to a piece of Madonna pap smear.

I’ve encountered dozens of real-life counterparts for the wide array of wonderful, believable and engaging personalities that make up Slacker. They’re one of my favorite things about traveling so much. Linklater uses non-actors and unknowns to bring them to life. That helps considerably with the realism and strength of their portrayals. Almost every performance here gets me in some way. A few are more interesting than others, but all are memorable.

Slacker is one the films I’ve paid the most attention to as an on-again, off-again unofficial film student. It’s also served as a long-standing influence on not only the few screenplays I’ve written but also on a great deal of the other things I write. It’s living proof of function winning out over form. At first glance it looks like a two-hour vacation film. Everything about the movie suggests a concept that just barely managed to be realized. Linklater is still going strong as a filmmaker. He would use this loose, multi-character story structure again in Dazed and Confused. He then moved from that to make a startling range of films. His resume includes the surreal adaptation of A Scanner Darkly to the straight-forward, commercial remake of The Bad News Bears. Slacker is still the reigning champion for my favorite of his filmography. It was not the first film to use this kind of wandering structure, giving us one character’s life for a moment, and then switching to another when they pass someone on the street. Not the first, but it’s one of the best. I think that’s because Slacker represents a mindset and culture unique to not only its era but to the city in which it was filmed. There aren’t twenty or thirty films exactly like Slacker (although I know there are numerous films and documentaries that certainly seek to evoke a similar spirit).

As far as I know, this is the only one.

That doesn’t automatically grant it greatness, and there will always be some who just can’t get into a movie like this. Slacker feels like the sort of thing in which a camera just happened to be around by coincidence. That kind of thing can annoy tastes that prefer stories to be a bit more linear and focused. Slackers is pretty easy to follow, and it has a linear form of sorts, but it’s not the kind of linear everyone tends to expect from their movies. To some Slacker may just seem like a whole lot nothing. Nothing in the way of the point and nothing in the way of a real story or meaningful, deep characters.

The structure, story (such as it is) and characters work just fine for me, and it seems to work pretty well for a lot of others. Slacker opts for a far-less traditional breed of storytelling and filmmaking at almost every turn. Less-than-traditional, but it works as both a compelling, funny and strange story, and as a lesson to anyone who wants to make movies on their own time. It proves that a good story, a great cast and an endless amount of creative enthusiasm can potentially override anything else that might be working against you. There isn’t a suggestion of a guaranteed artistic victory, but at least it conveys the fact that it can be done.

Slacker comes out of a different filmmaking era. This is very true. It’s also true that a whole lot more has to happen than what I listed above for a movie to go from idea to finished cut. I keep this mind, and I still choose to consider Slacker an inspiration.

I’ll watch Slacker because it’s just a great movie. My favorite scene remains the one in which a young man (Michael Laird) has his life changed by breaking into the home of an old anarchist (the great writer and Philosophy teacher, Louis H. Mackey). It’s the most appealing scene in the film, and one that had a tremendous impact on me. That kind of thing can indeed happen in the real world, and it perfectly illustrates a fundamental about Slacker that nothing in its celluloid world is artificial. Coincidence can change someone’s life, and we are sometimes most altered by the random. I’d love to know what happened to that burglar the next day.

I love this movie, but I continue to pay the most attention to its biology. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance someday to see if I can create something worthwhile out of what’s available to me. Filmmakers are out there doing that right now. That gives me a steady line of hope. It reminds me that it’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either.

Thirty-Day Movie Challenge: Day Fourteen

I’ll be happy when this challenge is over and done with. Writing these reviews has been fun, and I plan to write more, but I’m eager to get back to running more poetry, more fiction, other writings and stuff created solely with this blog in mind. I’m still trying to figure out what that stuff might entail. I hope it will at least be interesting.

I’m just spinning my wheels. I tend to feel that way about my life in general, and it’s one of the main reasons why I’m so chipper and upbeat about things like my career, my love life, and my ability to relate, and be useful to people at large. I can only control but so much, but I’d like to think I’m at least in charge of anything I do creatively. Writing hasn’t had that great rush for a while now, and this blog is ideally one of the things meant to change that.

And one of the ways to do that is to get into writing things I normally wouldn’t write.

Does that make any sense?
**********

Day Fourteen: Favorite Documentary

Crumb (1994)
Directed by: Terry Zwigoff
Starring: Robert Crumb

I didn’t start watching documentaries until I was about fourteen or fifteen. I don’t think I ever had a particular dislike for them. It was just one of those things that didn’t exist on my radar. That changed, because I started catching stuff (usually by accident) on channels like IFC and Sundance.  Those were the two movie channels I watched the most. They usually offered the best selection, and they usually had a better chance of surprising me with something, I never would have seen otherwise. That fantastic ability to be surprised like that was best seen in how many documentaries I started to watch, and appreciate.

I’m probably going to forever be a couple hundred documentaries behind. I’ve been able to see a lot of great ones over the past ten or so years, but I’ll probably never see every single one, I’d like to see. That’s not a big deal. It just means I’ll never run out of possible titles. At this point I’d say I get as much influence and enjoyment from them, as I do from fictional works.

The wildly egotistical (and very small) part of my thoughts wonders how a documentary about me would turn out. I have a feeling it would be more of a roast than a tribute. That would at least be kind of entertaining. I do know some pretty funny people.

I think everyone wonders how something like that would sum up their life. And then we switch back over to daydreams and fiction, because that’s usually a lot more appealing. That’s at least true of my own life.

I feel strangely guilty for not going with more serious fare for this review, but I keep coming back to Crumb, as one of the most compelling films I’ve ever seen, so I think that should grant the movie the top spot over any other candidates. The field I have to choose from is pretty good, but I know it’s missing countless classics, that I just haven’t gotten around to seeing.

Topping Crumb wouldn’t be easy though. I’m pretty confident about that.

I first heard of Crumb, and its subject matter, from a commercial I happened to see on IFC at around two-thirty in the morning. This was around 1999, 2000 (I’m guessing), and IFC was in the habit of running spots for their upcoming movies, that consisted of just showing a thirty or sixty-second second clip of the movie. I liked that. It was simple. The clips were often memorable, and I discovered a lot of great movies through them.

The snippet they showed for Crumb was the part where Robert Crumb talks about his childhood sexual attraction to Bugs Bunny. He tells the story, the way anyone who loved Bugs Bunny as a child would tell it. The tone isn’t disconcerting. The disconcerting part is the way that tone is recounting a sexual attraction to Bugs Bunny.

There’s also a somewhat unsettling story about an aunt, her boots and how that got Crumb through his growing-up years.

How could I not want to watch a documentary about someone like this?

I saw the documentary, and the impact was immediate. I wound up becoming a huge fan of his work. Crumb’s comics are some of the most original, disturbing, sometimes horrifying and often hilarious examples of not only comic books but art in general. It’s a comfort knowing his kind of weirdness is out there, and that it yields things like Fritz the Cat and an illustrated adaptation of the The Book of Genesis. It was also through Crumb that I eventually discovered people like Harvey Pekar, whose comics were sometimes illustrated by Crumb.

Director Terry Zwigoff’s Crumb is one of the best examples of a documentary I’ve ever seen. It’s a study in the bizarre that’s never dictated with judgment, arrogance or an infatuation with weirdness that doesn’t go anywhere or reveal anything. Zwigoff is obviously a fan. He approaches his subject matter, with reverence and fascination, but he doesn’t let that get in the way of presenting a complete portrait of a man, who has largely avoided any public forums. Crumb is like any perfect documentary, in that Zwigoff never gets in the way of what we’re watching. For the most part he’s no different than us. He melts into the background for large chunks of the film, and is merely an observer into Crumb’s art, dysfunction, opinions, day-to-day life and family. Nine years is a long time to make a film happen. It’s hard to imagine Zwigoff giving up so much of his life without truly believing in the ability for his subject matter to be interesting on its own.

Crumb’s family life takes up a lot of the movie, and it perhaps provides the most intrigue. We meet his brothers, who provide the film’s most saddening, quietly tragic moments. Maxon and Charles Crumb both display artistic brilliance as great as that of their more-famous brother. An assortment of personal demons and psychological troubles just happened to get in the way. Maxon has since gone on to some success as a writer and artist. Charles, the far more troubled of the two, would pass away before the film was released in 1994. I wasn’t surprised about that. There’s only a sad fascination with his scenes. They are the most difficult moments in the movie to sit through, because we know there’s no hope for Charles. On his artistic potential alone that’s unfortunate.

Indeed.

Family is a crucial part of Crumb’s work. The influence from his brothers (Charles was the one who encouraged him to take up drawing in the first place), his abusive, alcoholic father, his sisters (who declined to be interviewed), his intelligent, profoundly strange mother, his wives, children and closest associates is considerable. They are everywhere in his stories and illustrations, and they’re around for most of Crumb’s opinions and travels in the film.

It’s not all tragedy. There are some genuinely touching, funny moments to be had. It’s as interesting to see Crumb working with his son on a piece as it is to watch a get-together with Robert, his brothers and his mother.

It might be even more interesting when we see Robert head off to a photo shoot arranged by the editor of Juggs and Leg Show (it’s funny, but it’s also eerily surreal, to see this entire thing arranged with girls, who represent some of Crumb’s more well-known fetishes), but that’s up to you.

His artwork will never be for the world at large. Some of what we see in Crumb will always be regarded by many as sick, brutal and the product of a diseased mind. The guarantee of both his art and this film is that it’s going to draw a reaction from people. Crumb has a wide range of fans and supporters, but his detractors have always been there, too. Zwigoff allows a slew of opinion-makers, to weigh in with views of disgust, and serious concern for Crumb’s output. You might agree with them, and you might not. What it accomplishes is a complete, rounded portrait of not only Crumb’s life and career (both perpetually tied together), but of the affect that career has had on everyone it’s touched. Art likely saved Crumb’s life, and we’re lucky that this has had implications on the lives, beliefs and professions of so many others. Crumb is both an autobiography, and a critical analysis of an important American artist. Zwigoff uses both of these approaches to create a flawless portrayal.


It’s not a small wonder that the film took so long to complete and very nearly drove him to suicide.

Crumb is one of the things that taught me there are some stories fiction can never hope to duplicate. That’s an essential part of the documentaries I love, and that’s more true with Crumb than any other documentary I can think of. It’s a moving, classic piece of filmmaking, and it’s an indispensable commentary on creativity and madness, and how the rest of us react to a particular form of it.

Not surprisingly, Crumb was also produced by David Lynch. That makes entirely too much sense.

Thirty-Day Movie Challenge: Day Twelve

30 Day Movie Challenge:

Day Twelve: Favorite Love Story

As Good as It Gets (1997)
Directed by: James L. Brooks
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear

No one ever believes me, but I happen to think I’m quite romantic. I think it’s likely that I just have a weird idea of the subject. That would certainly explain most of my relationships with women, the kind of women I tend to fall for and how my concepts of love and romance influence those things. It’s worth repeating, that I’m naturally cynical about a lot of things, but I always try to leave some room upstairs for what I think love is. It’s a perspective I’ve tried to understand in my own writing, in how I try to get around in the world and in the movies, books, music and more that speak to my perspective in some way.

It’s not a complicated perspective. Straightforward love stories usually don’t grab my interest. It could be that I’m difficult to please. With movies I think my favorite love stories, are the films that go about the whole love thing without being obvious. Strong performances and writing help considerably with that. It doesn’t have to be credible or even realistic. The best romantic films I’ve seen, are those that can yield a sincere reaction from me without some blatant attempt at manipulation. It’s also nice when a movie can bring up love, without smashing sentimentality over my head until one of my eyes is missing, and I have a concussion of some kind.

The best movies I’ve seen, usually wind up sending me into my own ridiculous past, while making me wish I was a little better at capturing love in my own stories. Love is not something I enjoy thinking about a lot. My favorite movies that feature it are able to change my mind if only for a little while.

People can do that, too, of course, but historically speaking I usually tend to wear out my welcome with most after a few hours or less. There’s typically not a lot of room in that space of time for things like love.

Favorite love story could probably be interpreted a number of ways. I’m choosing to go with the romantic one. Even though the movie I’m picking includes at least a couple different kinds of love.  As Good as It Gets made the cut over other titles (The Girl in the Cafe, Punch-Drunk Love to name a few) for that very reason. The movie is primarily about love, and the way it reveals its opinions about that (both in the writing and acting) has spoken nicely to my own feelings and ideas ever since I saw it by accident at some point in 1998. I think it’s an amiable, slightly pessimistic story that at no point makes me feel foolish for liking it so much. It’s simple but not simplistic.

It’s more than just really well-written dialogue, and it’s more than just a lot of great performances. I’m not sure anyone would agree with me, but this may well be my favorite Jack Nicholson performance (he won his third Oscar). The movie isn’t just some of the best work this cast has ever done (which is really the strongest driving point As Good as It Gets has—It’s character-driven in every sense of the word). As Good as It Gets is a love story that covers more than just the weird, constantly strained relationship between Melvin Udall (Nicholson) and Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt, who also won an Oscar). That’s the bulk of the movie, but James L. Brooks knows how to juggle more than one viewpoint, and more than one narrative. The script (co-written by Mark Andrus from his own story) gives Nicholson and Hunt the ability to create fully fleshed-out, believable characters in just a few early scenes. In the beginning their lives only intersect, when Nicholson shows up at the restaurant she works at, to order lavish breakfasts and abuse anyone who is forced to exist in the same universe as him. Circumstances force them to interact more often, and their relationship builds slowly, perfectly from there. It’s the main story arc, but there’s also just enough time and energy spent on developing their characters individually. They don’t simply exist within the confines of their relationship and nowhere else. They live and breathe in the scenes that reveal their personalities, outside of what they show each other and in their dealings with everyone else.

As Good as It Gets is not just their love story. The beginning, middle and end of their romance is not told in a straight line. It veers constantly into other directions and mediations on other kinds of love.  There’s also the beautifully-handled, beautifully-written friendship that grows between Melvin and Simon Bishop (Greg Kinnear), Melvin’s openly gay artist neighborhood who has recently fallen on hard times. It’s handled with sharp humor and fantastic performances from Nicholson and Kinnear. We don’t buy that Udall truly hates gays (or Jews, black people, cops, old people, children, women, bartenders or waitresses). He’s simply built up a good defense against ever having to deal with people, on any level that puts him at risk. (I can relate to wanting to do that). It’s obvious that he’s going to have to change in order to finally find chaotic happiness over lonely consistency. Falling in love helps him accomplish that, but it doesn’t end there. Melvin’s growth also comes about from reluctantly becoming a source of friendship and comfort for Simon, and from also taking care of Simon’s small, irritating (at least initially) dog. These are three different versions of love, and all of them succeed in telling the story and giving depth to their characters. This is done with Simon, and his friendships with those closest to him (Cuba Gooding Jr. in my favorite role of his and Yeardley Smith, with a small but memorable part). This is also done with Carol, and her family (Shirley Knight and Jesse James). The best stuff typically involves Melvin and everyone else.  It’s still impressive that so many different types of relationship are referenced and explored. All of them eventually bring us back to the main story between Melvin and Carol, and a conclusion that is constantly up in the air.

I think Nicholson is trying to decide if a weepy Helen Hunt turns him on or not. Probably did.

It’s the Melvin/Simon story that contains my favorite line in the movie, and the one I feel sums up the entire story. Simon tells Melvin that he loves him, to which Melvin wearily but touchingly replies “I’ll tell you, buddy, I’d be the luckiest man in the world if that did it for me.” There are a lot of great lines, but I think that one perfectly describes why this movie works so well. As Good as It Gets has a lot of sarcasm and bitterness going for it, but there are also moments of genuine warmth and affection. Brooks maintains a balance of these things. As you’ve probably figured out I’m drawn to things that are sweet, but manage to avoid making all my teeth disintegrate from the saccharine. This movie never even gets close to that. Brooks’ considerable career in TV and film is full of similar examples. I wouldn’t call As Good as It Gets realistic by any means, but its dysfunction underneath its varying stories, is closer to my own my idealized notion of love, than most stories that come to mind.

My other favorite exchange in the film?

Secretary: How do you write women so well?
Melvin: I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.

I don’t necessarily agree with that (Well, maybe sometimes), but it’s easily my favorite film insult of all time. It doesn’t surprise me a bit that this movie can have a vicious line like that, only to then turn on a dime, and give us a line or scene that is the polar opposite. Brooks has always been good with stories like those. Here he has a script and cast that allows him to realize this kind of story perfectly. As Good as It Gets isn’t his only triumph, but it’s nonetheless my favorite movie of his. It’s love expressed in terms I can actually understand. If I didn’t believe in that stuff I think I’d still rate this perfectly. I can watch and enjoy this even when I deeply suspect that love is a profoundly painful, annoying waste of time. It probably won’t change my mind, but that hardly matters with a movie this good. There are so many ways to enjoy As Good as It Gets. I can think of several pretty quickly.

Thirty-Day Movie Challenge: Day Eight

Someone suggested to me the other day that I should do these reviews as videos on YouTube. I honestly think there’s entirely too many videos of people just talking on any of those sites. I also still kind of prefer the written word and don’t own a webcam (a tragedy when you consider how many requests I get for one of those Avante-garde live sex shows that all the college kids are big into these days) and

I’ve always wanted to rather create hopelessly weird, potentially stupid sketch-type material with a webcam. It’s just not something I’ve gotten around to yet.

I also blame the heat for what was just now a completely random, unnecessary thought.

Let’s move on.

**********

30 Day Movie Challenge:

Day Eight: Favorite Thriller
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

It baffles me that some people consider The Silence of the Lambs to be overrated.

Why? Because it won a bunch of Oscars? I’ve yet to hear a compelling argument for why this might be overrated in a larger sense. It doesn’t bother me if someone doesn’t like it. My life seems to demand entertaining a certain amount of delusion to get through the day, but it’s not quite at the level of believing that it’s worth getting upset if someone doesn’t like a movie that I happen to love. That part doesn’t bother me. The term “overrated” is what annoys me a little. It seems to be only used as a way of dismissing something entirely without explaining why that word should come into play. People seem to use it as a shortcut to getting the final verdict on something. I’ve seen the word used for The Silence of the Lambs a few times, and while I don’t mind someone not digging the movie I would like someone to elaborate on why they feel that way. You could probably call that one of my inane curiosities. It’s just an excuse for me to talk to somebody about movies.

I’ll label a movie as overrated, but I’ll at least try to explain why I think so.

Personally I wish there were more character-driven horror/thriller movies along these lines. As hard as I try I honestly can’t think of a film where Anthony Hopkins (who won the Best Actor Oscar in spite of only being in the movie for less than twenty minutes) or Jodi Foster are in better form.  The Silence of the Lambs is an amazing piece of work for a lot of reasons. The story is a faithful, multi-layered and constantly chilling adaptation of Thomas Harris’ novel. It features beautiful, deeply disconcerting and voyeuristic cinematography by Tak Fujimoto. Howard Shore is one of my favorite composers of all time. His work here amounts to one of the eeriest, most memorable scores ever created. Everything is a striking marriage of music and camera manipulating story and performance at one moment and then flipping that marriage around at the next moment. Somehow it’s a film that’s smooth in every facet of its delivery and yet at the same builds a layer consisting of a strange, dream-like personality with troubling undertones. You can be completely engaged by the detective story (it’s a pretty good one), or you can enjoy that, and then go further into the vast psychological landscape of the film’s world and characters.

All of these things are true, but what has brought me back to watch The Silence of the Lambs more than once is Hopkins and Foster. It bears repeating again that Hopkins is in a two-hour movie for less than twenty minutes. That’s been a source of contention for some people who wonder if that qualified him for the Best Actor Oscar he won in 1991. It does raise points about the difference between Best Actor and Best Supporting, but I haven’t the faintest interest in arguing those points here.


What I will argue is that Hopkins gives a performance as Hannibal Lecter so breathtaking, so absolutely in control of a character awash in disturbing personality and depth that it’s impossible to imagine the movie without him. When he’s not on screen we wonder just what in the hell he might be up to (something involving culture and insanity is a good guess). We know Jodi Foster as Clarice Starling is wondering that. His shadow looms over every scene that he’s not in, and in everything Starling does in pursuit of the even-more frightening Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine at his very best). Their relationship is almost immediately established on several different levels within minutes of their first encounter. It’s the heart of the movie. It’s because of both Hopkins and Foster that so much is established or just suggested in the very limited amount of time they share the screen together. Foster has proven time and time again her range. Her talent and how completely she realizes this character only further enhances the impact Hopkins has when he’s on screen and when he’s not. As much as Lecter seems to be in control of everything around him it’s obvious that he comes to rely on her (for what can be debated) as much as she relies on him. For both information on Bill and what is clearly a black hole ripping apart the center of everything she is and hopes to be. This thought can even extend towards the actors themselves. Both won Oscars, and both absolutely needed the other to accomplish that. Foster gets the whole movie to both create her own character and enhance Hopkins’, but Hopkins only gets that limited window of time to create something that can allow Foster to do that. I would say doing that more than makes up for his not being in every scene.


Captain Leland Stottlemeyer enjoying some quiet time after work.
I also love the somewhat deranged assortment of names and faces popping up in small roles or as cameos. This includes Tracey Walter, George A. Romeo, Chris Issak, Dan Butler (who I note mostly because I’ve seen the entire run of Frasier way too many freaking times) and Roger Corman. I’ve always been a little amused by the fact that Corman’s career includes cameos in a slew of A-list pictures directed by filmmakers (Demme, Francis Ford Copolla, Joe Dante and others) whose careers he helped launch. None of this is critical to The Silence of the Lambs as a whole. It’s just a small bonus for me to see so many different talents round out the cast after Foster, Hopkins and Levine (who also deserved an Oscar nomination). Credit for kicking in something memorable should also go to Anthony Heald as the greedy, despicable and dangerously inept shrink who keeps Lecter under lock and key. Also to Scott Glenn as Starling’s mentor and as one of those actors who’s so steady and reliable that you almost forget he’s there.

It’s easy to see why this movie got so much love from critics and Hollywood in general and continues to do so. The Silence of the Lambs is a slick, well-acted and well-made film. Calling it a thriller is fine (I’m doing just that myself), but I think it’s still a straight-forward horror movie beneath the supposedly classier label of thriller. I suppose it may just be a question of semantics. That’s another argument I don’t have the patience for. I just like the notion of calling this one of the greatest horror movies of all time. I don’t know why, and it doesn’t really matter. All that really matters is that I wind up watching this about once a year. It just pulls me right in every single time. I still remember thinking as a kid that just on atmosphere this was one of the creepiest movies of all time. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve maintained my love of that atmosphere, one I’ve never really found anywhere else, and I’ve added so many other things to the list.

Let’s just hope and pray that nobody ever makes a musical out of this. That thought scares me more than Buffalo Bill ever did.