JUMPSCARECUT: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney, Ted Levine, Kasi Lemmons

Written by Lucy Buglass

It’s no surprise to any of you that I absolutely adore The Silence of the Lambs. You name the merchandise, I’ve probably got it. I can remember the first time I watched it so vividly, and it’s continued to captivate and transport me ever since. Jonathan Demme’s adaptation of Thomas Harris’ novel is a masterpiece and I’m so excited to finally share my detailed thoughts with you all. Here we go…

First off, Clarice Starling is up there on my list of top female characters. She’s strong, determined and smart, yet still has some vulnerability to her and there’s nothing wrong with that. I loved this honest portrayal of a young, trainee FBI agent and all the troubles she faces on the job. Jodie Foster did a stunning job of portraying her character and after reading the book, I can confirm she met my expectations completely. It’s refreshing to see such a three dimensional, well written female protagonist within the genre. Of course, she’s not the only one, but she was part of my introduction to the horror genre and I’m thankful for her. She showed younger me that horror has a place for educated, respected and smart women. Go Clarice. Both you and Jodie deserved that Best Leading Actress Oscar.

As for Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, I honestly believe this is his greatest performance to date. His meticulous attention to detail when getting into the mind of a psychopathic cannibal was flawless. Despite only being on screen for 24 minutes, he delivered a chilling performance that won him the Best Leading Actor Oscar and infamy amongst horror fans. The Silence of the Lambs actually won 5 Academy Awards in total, and I can’t think of any film that year that was more deserving. Maybe I’m biased though. Lecter really is a fantastic character that many experts have praised as being a thorough and realistic depiction of how a psychopath’s mind works. He really nailed the character and continued to do so throughout the other films. It’s so nice to see an intelligent, darkly courteous and utterly terrifying villain portrayed this well. It’s hard to argue against that. I also loved the way the film deals with cannibalism in a non-gratuitous fashion. It’s very obvious what Lecter is guilty of, but the film doesn’t need gallons of blood or over the top violence in order to scare you. Anthony Hopkins’ acting style does that for you. It’s brilliant.

Whilst Hopkins and Foster steal the show, how could I forget Ted Levine as Buffalo Bill? If you thought Lecter was scary, wait until you meet this guy. He will literally skin you alive with zero remorse. With Lecter’s help, it’s up to Starling to apprehend and bring this guy to justice, and since he was named because he likes to ‘skin his humps’, who can blame her for being a little terrified? Not me. The way Levine plays Buffalo Bill is stunning, and it gives me chills just thinking about it. The scene where he dances to Q Lazzarus’ Goodbye Horses’ has gone down in history and gives us a chilling insight into just what he really desires. That scene will probably haunt your dreams actually, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Moving away from the acting, The Silence of the Lambs also has an incredibly well-paced and well-written script. Whilst a lot of this is to do with Thomas Harris’ novel, director Jonathan Demme and screenwriter Ted Tally made it shine on the big screen. From lingering shots to fast-paced scenes, it keeps you gripped until the very end. The cinematography reflects this too, with a variety of impeccable shots, my favourite being the way Lecter is reflected in his cell window as he speaks to Starling. It’s well polished, iconic, and utterly terrifying. The stylistic choices in this film are well thought out, especially when dealing with the descriptions of crimes and murders throughout. It’s not as visually graphic as some horror films, but the verbal descriptions alone are enough to make your stomach churn. I really loved the way it makes the audience use their imagination, making it 10x more horrifying than anything special effects could achieve. Sometimes, not seeing is worse. The Silence of the Lambs puts the worst of the gore and horror in the hands of its spectator, instead of spoon-feeding them all the information.

Whether you want to call it a crime thriller, a psychological horror, or something else entirely, The Silence of the Lambs is the perfect film to watch this Halloween season (or any other time, ever). The characters have gone down in cinema history, and it’s full of twists and turns and iconic moments that you’ll never forget. It’s a film that will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I hope it has the same effect on all of you too.

Lucy’s Verdict:

5

Transformers: The Last Knight

Year: 2017
Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock, Isabela Moner, Jerrod Carmichael

Written by Corey Hughes

Whether you love it or hate it, franchising has become a fundamental influence on Hollywood’s success in film today. From the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the Fast and Furious series, movie franchises come in many shapes and sizes. Yet despite an overwhelming consensus of negative reviews from critics, the Transformers franchise is one that refuses to die down.

And why should it? With Michael Bay’s retail-toy adaptations being as lucrative as they are, Bay wipes the tears of negative criticism with $100 dollar bills. But with ‘The Last Knight’ reputedly being the final one to be directed by Bay, (fingers crossed), is there a possibility that the fifth film will defy all odds?

Nope.

Summarising a synopsis for ‘The Last Knight’ is as useful as a eunuch in a brothel. As the film begins, we are thrown back into the ‘dark ages’ of England, where King Arthur and the Vikings are at war. With the battle against Arthur and his men, the king seeks out the magic of Merlin (Stanley Tucci’s second outing in the franchise) to tip the balance of war in his favour. 1600 years later, the fate of the human race relies entirely on the discovery of Merlin’s magical staff. Blah, blah, blah; if you’re really into the plot at this point, then all credit to you.

This boils down to what I believe is Michael Bay’s biggest flaw as a filmmaker. Barring his over reliance on slow-motioned, explosive and debris-propelling action, he is entirely incompetent at telling a coherent and engaging story. His films, especially his treasured Transformers flicks, are told exclusively through these grand, spectacular action set pieces. Narrative, for Bay, seems secondary; a grout to fill in the gaps. The action, nonetheless, does look spectacularly convincing. The use of CGI, especially for the appearance and movement of the Transformers, is unparalleled in its presentation.

With the story being as convoluted as it is here, with multiple sub-plots in play, the film is desperately calling out for strong performances, but there’s none to be seen here. Although new arrival Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of the crude, but whimsical old Brit is amusing, it’s Wahlberg’s ‘The Happening’-esque wooden performance that will have you shaking your head in disbelief. Yet that’s the least of the film’s problems. ‘The Last Knight’ establishes no sense of continuity from its predecessor and with the onslaught of new characters being vomited onto the screen, Bay and co. are discouraging their viewers to invest in the characters and the conflict that they find themselves in. Even the on-screen relationship between Wahlberg’s Cade and Laura Haddock’s highly-educated and snobby Vivian Wembley seems forced, with no eye for attention being invested in their developing attraction. It’s sloppy, unconvincing, and if we didn’t care about the film before, we surely don’t now.

In the end, this fifth outing for the Transformers franchise regrettably ticks all the boxes for a totally unforgettable Michael Bay action flick. Hot girl? Check. Unforgivable product placement? Check. Flat-lined humour with a paper-thin story? Check. Resisting the urge to pluck your eyes out from their sockets? Check.

On a more light-hearted note, I’ve created a new drinking game for ‘The Last Knight’: take a shot every time Optimus Prime declares, “I am Optimus Prime!” That way, by the time the final credits roll, you’ll be absolutely shit-faced. It’s by far the only way you’re going to enjoy this one.

Corey’s rating: 3.5 out of 10

 

Hela Wreaks Havoc In The First Teaser Trailer For Thor: Rangarok

Right out of nowhere the first teaser trailer for the upcoming third instalment of Thor has been released and it gives us our first proper look at the the tone and plot of the film. 

In this teaser, we see Hela (Cate Blanchett) giving Thor a run for his money as she catches and then destroys his Mjolnir, rendering Thor basically powerless. We also see Hela up against an army of Asgardians, which she the lays waste to.  Subsequently, Thor is captured and made to fight in an arena where he is pitted against fellow avenger ‘The Hulk’ – much to Thor’s delight it would seem! 

As well as a better look at Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, we also get our first look at Karl Urban as Skurge and Idris Elba’s return as Heimdall. We also get a couple of shots of Loki, who we know Thor will team up with at some point in the film to try and find their father who is stuck on Earth. 

Since being announced as the director of this film, I’ve had high hopes Taiki Waititi would do Thor justice, and from the look of this teaser I will not be disappointed. Already there are a lot of people on Twitter comparing it to the likes of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ in tone and style, but is that necessarily a bad thing? What I’m taking away from this teaser is that Thor is finally going to get the love he deserves from fans of the MCU, where he’s only really shined in the ‘Avengers’ films, and less so in his solo outings due to poor plots and villains. It’s an exciting year to be a film fan, and even more so for lovers of comic book movies. 

What are your initial thoughts on the trailer? Are you sold on Thor’s new tone? 

The official synopsis for ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is: 

Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok — the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization — at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger — the Incredible Hulk!

Written by Tom Sheffield

Take A Look At The Brand New Transformers The Last Knight Motion Posters

Love them or hate them, the Transformers are back this year in what Michael Bay assures fans is his last ‘Transformers’ film (Like we haven’t heard that one before!).

Bay took to Twitter earlier today to share these brand new motion posters of the Transformers, which includes Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Barricade,, Hound, , Hot Rod, and of course Megatron! New additions to the franchise are Sqweeks and Cogman, who we get our first good look at in their motion posters. 

Continue reading

Transformers: The Last Knight Teaser Trailer

The first teaser trailer for the fifth installment of Michael Bay’s ‘Transformers’ films has landed and, as you probably guessed, there are more explosions than you can shake a stick at!

Whilst the actual plot is still firmly under wraps at this point, from the trailer we can deduce that Optimus Prime is left in a bad way after the ending of the last film, ‘Age of Extinction’, as we see him floating around in space. The film looks set to show us how the Transformers have played a part in the Earth’s history as we see shots of wars across the years, and Antony Hopkin’s voice over talks about “two species at war. One flesh, one metal” and teases he knows the real reason the Transformers are on Earth. Amongst all the explosions, there’s a short shot of Optimus Prime fighting Bumblebee where he asks for forgiveness as he’s about to land a fatal looking blow. Is Prime set to be the villain of the film? Or is this just an out of context shot to get rumours circulating? We’ll have to wait and see…

The latest outing for Mark Wahlberg and the Autobots looks set to be bigger than ever, but does that necessarily equal better? I’ll admit that I lost my faith in the Transformers films after the first one, which was released in 2007 and is the only one I actually enjoyed. Since then, Michael Bay keeps trying to one-up himself and go bigger and better than the last, but this seems to come at the sacrifice of storylines true Transformers fans are begging to see.

I won’t lie, despite my reservations I will more than likely be going to see this in IMAX when it’s released (thank you cinema card!), because I know Bay likes to push his films visually and whilst the actual plot of the film may not grab my attention, the CGI and IMAX will. 

What are your thoughts on the first trailer? Are you a fan of the Transformers films?

‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ rolls out into UK theatres 23rd June 2017

Written by Tom Sheffield