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Hannibal – Roti (Review)

Roti is the point where Hannibal really starts to gear up for its finalé. The decision to thematically name each of the first season’s episodes after a part of a meal seems oddly appropriate, as the whole season can be seen as a banquet, each of the courses painstakingly prepared to ensure a rich bouquet of flavour and a pleasing array of tastes. Each course is individual, and yet it remains part of the whole. It’s all one gigantic and enjoyable experience, just broken down into sweet digestible chunks. Each serves a clear purpose, like a chapter in a book, or a course in a meal.

Roti features the return of Abel Gideon, the show’s obvious homage to Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Doctor Hannibal Lecter. It also positions Will precisely where he needs to be for the first season’s rapidly-approaching climax.

A piece of the action...

A piece of the action…

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Hannibal – Sorbet (Review)

Hannibal took its time building up Hannibal Lecter as a serial killer. According to creator Bryan Fuller, there would have been a joke in Aperitif about Lecter’s culinary habits, but holding off on the sight of Lecter as a serial killer until the end of Entrée feels like it was a shrewd move. Not because it could ever fool the audience into forgetting that Hannibal Lecter is a murdering cannibal or anything like that. Instead, it builds up a certain amount of tension and suspense around the character, allowing us to see how those around him could have been blinded by his persona.

With a few obvious exceptions – knocking out Doctor Bloom in Potage or phoning the Hobbs household in Aperitif – we’ve mostly seen Lecter through the eyes of others. While the very premise of the show counts on the audience knowing who or what Lecter is, keeping him at a distance allowed the show a bit of breathing room in its first year. However, now that we’ve caught a glimpse of Lecter in action, Sorbet feels like its willing to pull back the layers on our eponymous epicurean.

Best served warm...

Best served warm…

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Hannibal – Entrée (Review)

It’s nice that we got this far into the season before Entrée was necessary. It’s the kind of episode that a show like Hannibal was always going to have to produce relatively early on, allowing it to air the laundry, so to speak, and to overtly and clearly distinguish itself from a popular predecessor. In this case, it’s The Silence of the Lambs.

Although we haven’t met Clarice Starling yet, although the credit at the start of each episode cites Red Dragon as the show’s inspiration, it’s hard to escape the shadow of one of the most popular horror films ever made. Many argue that The Silence of the Lambs was the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar. Even today, it remains a cultural touchstone, and there’s an incredibly large number of people who are only familiar with the character of Hannibal Lecter through that story and – in particular – through the film adaptation.

Hannibal hasn’t been shy about referencing The Silence of the Lambs, nor should it be. Crawford’s office from the start of Aperitif seems arranged in homage to the film, while the arrangement of two of the victims in Coquilles couldn’t help but evoke Hannibal’s dramatic escape from his cell at the film’s climax. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that Entrée exists mainly to allow the show to indulge and engage in the imagery and iconography of the film, so that Hannibal can truly distinguish itself.

"Oh, goodie..."

“Oh, goodie…”

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Hannibal – Aperitif (Review)

I’ll admit to being a bit sceptical about Hannibal as a concept. I am quite fond of all three of the Anthony Hopkins films, although I realise that both Red Dragon and Hannibal are flawed pieces of work at best. I also have a soft spot for Michael Mann’s Manhunter, even if I am not as firm a devotee as others. However, there’s a point where you reach saturation even with an especially interesting character.

There was something increasingly frustrating about watching Thomas Harris and various writers and directors delve beneath the surface of “Hannibal the Cannibal” to offer trite explanations and rationalisations for a character who was originally a force of nature. A television series seems to be the perfect way to over-saturate the market even further. If the character of Hannibal could seem trite and mundane after four films released years apart, how do you make a weekly television series exciting?

Surely you’ll either resort to explaining away all the mystery of the character, or you’ll simply wind up with a particularly shallow and generic serial killer show. There is a middle ground to be found, but it will be hard to strike that balance. With that in mind, I will confess that I am quite impressed with the pilot for Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal. Although it’s too early to form a definitive judgement, Aperitif is quite appetising.

The meat of the matter...

The meat of the matter…

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Watch! Alfred Hitchcock Presents a PSA About Texting At the Movies

I’m quite looking forward to Hitchcock, the trailer of which premiered last week. The marketing team have sent around this lovely PSA, in which Anthony-Hopkins-as-Hitchcock lets us know his stance on texting in the cinema. It’s written in the dry punning style of Hitchcock, and I like Hopkin’s deliver – it’s not really an accent, just an attempt to emulate Hitchcock’s rhythm of speech.

As for the video itself, it looks – ironically enough – like it was shot on a mobile phone. But, considering the fact that it’s being pushed so widely, I assume that’s the intent. (Indeed, it would have been interesting for the trailer to end with a smash cut of somebody turning off the mobile.

Still, it’s a light and fun piece of marketing, and one I can easily get behind. Although I wish I could say that texting in a theatre was the worst thing I’ve had to put up with.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Hidden Thing (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here. I thought it might be worth taking a look at an episode from a director other than Hitchcock.

The Hidden Thing is a bit of a strange little episode. It has a strong central theme, even if it is a little blunt about it. It also has an interesting set-up, playing off a sense of unjust randomness. However, it never really ties all of its ideas together, finishing on a rather bland and – inappropriately enough – forgettable ending. In many ways, it seems like the ending to The Hidden Thing is a twist that just fell apart and, rather than enhancing the surrounding story, ultimately detracted from the episode.

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Case of Mr. Pelham (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s contributions to his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I’ll be looking at some of the episodes of the classic show that he directed. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here.

Due to circumstances outside our control, tragedy will not strike tonight. I’m dreadfully sorry, perhaps some other time.

– Hitchcock’s introduction; well, at least he apologises

The Case of Mister Pelham picked up the series’ first Emmy nomination, with Hitchcock himself nominated for outstanding direction. It’s not too hard to see why, as The Case of Mister Pelham is a wonderfully compelling piece of television, a psychological character study masquerading as a supernatural mystery. In many ways, it feels like the best episode of The Twilight Zone that was never an episode of The Twilight Zone. It’s sharp, cleverly constructed, and features and astounding central performance from Tom Ewell as the eponymous Mister Pelham. What more could you want?

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