Hannibal Review (TV)

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Blood, guts, shootings, stabbings, impalings, serial killers, psychopaths, nightmares, hallucinations, breakdowns, insanity and the FBI’s answer to rain man. Within the opening three minutes of Hannibal’s first episode, aptly named Aperitif,  the audience is immersed in Will Graham’s world; the camera walks us through a blood-soaked, body-littered crime scene, played out in the minds eye of the overly empathetic FBI agent. He is a genius. He can get into the mind of any killer. He’s slightly unhinged and seems to sweat a lot. Right got it. Scene has been set.

Here’s what worked for me. Hugh Dancy is instantly brilliant as Graham and manages to pull off likeable crazy without alienating the audience too much. Laurence Fishburne, as Agent Jack Crawford, was reliably great, and the supporting cast did the job they were required to do. The production values are clearly very high and all the special effects were on a par with what you expect from a movie. The dialogue wasn’t patronising; it actually credited the audience with a brain and the plot didn’t make me want to punch someone. Now to the problems.

On paper this was fine. Stellar cast, stellar script etc but I found it hard to shake the feeling that I was having the proverbial kitchen sink thrown at me. Hannibal was heavily stylised and violent right from the start. Everything I mentioned above was packed into the 43 minute episode. Unfortunately the style removed you from the action instead of drawing you in. A bit of restraint was needed. Dramatic foreplay if you will. Silence of the Lambs had this simple, unnerving and dirty quality which was noticeably absent from Hannibal. It may be unfair to compare. Different mediums. Different time. However, it’s impossible, as a lover of the films, to disassociate the two. These characters and stories have been done and they have been done well. The result is that character twists are removed due to prior knowledge, and with the plot points already laid out it’s difficult to become engaged or intrigued by characters; we know that dude is a cannibal blah blah blah. Which brings me onto Hannibal Lecter himself. Surely he will be so fucking terrifying the rest won’t matter? Err..

Now we definitely fly the flag for team Mads on this site but I really had a problem with him in this role. The issue is that when you have a character as established in pop culture and as fantastic as Anthony Hopkins, you leave yourself with no room for error. You need to make your Hannibal a Hannibal you haven’t seen before but equally as creepy. Mads Mikkelson currently is missing something. He lacks the quality that made Anthony Hopkins so compellingly sinister. If they cannot overcome or rectify this it will alienate older fans who hear Hannibal and simply think Hopkins.

Now all is not lost. Let’s give Fuller the benefit of the doubt.  He may have panicked at the size of the task and thought that going all out on the stylistics and heaping on gore would make this a compelling ride. Hopefully the show will relax into a more sustainable pace as the series matures. To make this work we need to start to appreciate the characters in their own right, introduce unknown threats, tone down the visual barrage and make Lecter terrifying. We’ve got the whole series to see how this pans out. I hope this turns out to be brilliant. Watch this space…

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The Hunt

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If you were to ask an audience why they go to the cinema, rent, buy, stream or pirate movies, you can almost guarantee their answer would be that they watch movies to be entertained. However, if you’re lucky [read: unlucky], you’ll watch a film and know, even whist it’s playing in front of you, that it is going to stay with you for a long time. I felt the same about The Hunt as I did about Martyrs; both films shocked me to my core, as both tackle the human condition, albeit in totally different ways.

The Hunt sees Mads Mikkelson play Lucas, a teacher at a small nursery in a marginally larger village. Just as life is taking a turn for the better, after a seemingly nasty divorce, a little, innocent lie spirals out of control, forcing Lucas and his son, Marcus, to face the increasing tension alone together.

This is not a film to watch. Much like after Martyrs, when the credits rolled I felt like my emotions had been hung, drawn and quartered. There was no gore (apart from a few bloody noses/eyebrows), very little bad language, and a quick sex scene, but the subject matter the movie deals with is harrowing, compelling, depressing, and frightening. Mikkelson is 10/10 in his role as a man who loses almost everything, with one of the most believable performances I have seen in recent times. There were points in the movie when I felt every emotion, felt every single thread of dignity he was trying to maintain while going about his daily business in a village that was totally against him. Before the disruption in his life you see all of the little incidents and know exactly where the film is going, which makes it even more difficult to watch. The movie has a very European ending, which is to say we are left questioning the film. There is resolution but not in a classical Hollywood narrative way. I think this is another reason it weighs so heavy on the mind.

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Vinterberg has done an amazing job with the direction, with nods to French New Wave jump cuts, which alienate the audience, but are also an indicator of how human behaviour can be so erratic. The camerawork is also fantastic, with a perfect mixture of shots; handheld, the Dutch angle and wide shots all add to the rich tapestry of the movie. And the setting, it goes without saying, is beautifully haunting.

The Hunt is a movie about fear, paranoia, gossip, lies, and being too close-minded to consider a situation objectively. It’s about innocence, the projection of innocence and the loss of innocence. The acting is top draw, the setting is beautiful and the direction faultless. Everyone should watch this movie, but I really cannot suggest a time, place or situation in which it should be watched.