Sunday, January 31, 2010

Top 100 movies of the '90s: #4

4. Silence of the Lambs, 1991
Dir: Johnathan Demme
Cast: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins

Some avid film fans may wonder how Johnathan Demme, who was already a veteran filmmaker by the time he made Silence of the Lambs, was able to make a movie that was far and away his best work. They look at his other work and do not see anything that they recognize so they call him a one film wonder. Of course, anyone who has seen his films before Silence of the Lambs could see how much of a talent he was and that Silence of the Lambs is just him utilizing his talent with some really, really good material. Yes, Silence of the Lambs is the perfect combination of top-notch writing, directing, and acting that lead to it winning all five major awards at the Oscars.

I don't quite know what it is about this film that made it such a hit with audiences and critics' alike. It is a perfectly realized, brilliant movie... but how was it able to connect with so many people? Consider the graphic violence, the disturbing images and characters, Hannibal Lector... how is that so many people are willing to forego things that they'd normally be turned off to and enjoy this movie?

It might be because despite all those things, this movie has a hell of a story and a script. The actors sell the characters so much so that you do not dissociate yourself with the movie because of the violence, it just happens to be a part of the whole journey. Not to mention the wonderfully layered performance by Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector whose commanding on-screen presence resonates throughout the film which is why he won the Oscar for best actor even though he's only in the film for about twenty minutes... or something like that. Jodie Foster also gives a terrific performance as the young FBI agent who interviews Hannibal Lector to help gain insight on the mind of serial killers which is essential to a case that the FBI is currently on.

Here is so a film that succeeds on all levels of filmmaking. It represents what filmmaking is all about - collaboration. The perfect collaboration of talent in the fields of directing, writing, and acting is what makes this such a masterpiece. A masterpiece that is enjoyable to watch by any kind of audience both young and old.

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