Red Dragon

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Red Dragon (2002)

Director: Brett Ratner

Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel and Ralph Fiennes

Synopsis: In his Baltimore townhouse, famous local psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) hosts a dinner party. The main subject of conversation over dinner is the disappearance of a local musician who was criticized for playing several wrong notes at a concert that Lecter attended. After dinner, Lecter is visited by Will Graham (Edward Norton), a young gifted FBI agent, with whom he has been working on a psychological profile of a local serial killer. Edible body parts of the victims, such as the kidneys and liver were removed from the bodies after being killed, and Graham is convinced that the killer is actually a cannibal. During the consultation and brainstorming session, Graham discovers evidence implicating Dr. Lecter in the murders, shortly before Lecter returns and attacks Graham, wounding and nearly killing him before Graham resists and subdues him. Lecter is subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment in an institution for the criminally insane while Graham, severely traumatized by the experience, retires from the FBI. Years later, another serial killer appears. The killer is nicknamed the Tooth Fairy, because of his unique bite pattern. He stalks and murders seemingly random families during sequential full moons. Hoping to speed things up and capture the killer before his next attack, Special Agent Jack Crawford (Harvey Keitel) seeks out Graham and pleads for his assistance. Graham, believing the death of another family to be an unbearable burden on his conscience, reluctantly agrees. After checking over the crime scenes, with only minimal insight, he comes to the realization that most of his previous successes were achieved due to the insightful collaborations of Dr. Lecter, and concludes that he must once again visit Lecter and seek his help in capturing the Tooth Fairy. The Tooth Fairy turns out to be Francis Dolarhyde (Ralph Fiennes) a delusional video editor who worked on both families videos. Graham must now set a trap to stop Dollarhyde from killing another family.

Trivia: In William Blake’s “Great Red Dragon” series of paintings, there are two with very similar names. The novel “Red Dragon,” by Thomas Harris, uses the title of one painting (“The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun”), but in describing the image, gives a description of another (“The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in the Sun”). Due to the muddled reference, the first adaptation of the the novel, “Manhunter” (dir: Michael Mann), Francis Dolarhyde is obsessed with the painting that Harris cites by name, while this film features the painting as described by Harris, which is a back view of the dragon with his tail wrapped around the woman. Ralph Fiennes’ back tattoo took eight hours to apply.

How scary is this really?: I love Red Dragon it is such a great film with an amazing cast. Anthony Hopkins is amazing as Lecter and he does very well back in his comfort zone locked away. Edward Norton is also great is this but the film belongs to Ralph Fiennes who is incredible as Dolarhyde. Brett Ratner delivers his best directorial effort to date as he he channels Jonathan Demme very well. An amazing film and a perfect Halloween film and the perfect companion to The Silence of the Lambs.

Films to See Before You Die: #46 Fight Club

fight club

Fight Club (1999)

Director: David Fincher

Cast: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf

Synopsis: An insomniac (Edward Norton), who is stuck in the same old grind every day is desperately seeking some kind of human contact. Most evenings he ends up at support groups pretending to be dying of terminal cancer or recovering from testicular cancer where he meets Bob (Meat Loaf). During his days he works for an automobile company employee who travels to accident sites to perform product recall cost appraisals. Everything seems to be going smoothly, that is, until Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) starts going to the same meetings as him which infuriates him because she is pulling the same con as him but is much less subtle so he worries he will be caught. They decide to reach an agreement on which groups and nights they will attend so they don’t overlap. While on a business trip he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a peculiar soap salesman who leaves a profound impression on him and a business card. When is apartment building is burned down and he has nowhere to go he call Tyler who is happy to let him stay in his dump of a house. While out drinking one night he and Tyler decide to get into a fight which they both seem to enjoy a lot. After a few nights of doing this they decide to start a “Fight Club” which has several rules to protect everyone involved. After not too long there fight clubs all over the country and Tyler starts something call Project Mayhem, which commits increasingly destructive acts of anti-capitalist vandalism in the city. When Project Mayhem starts to go too far he tries to stop it and Tyler but what he doesn’t realize is fight club has gotten too big and the members are willing to do anything to make Project Mayhem goes off without a hitch.

Trivia: Some of fake names used by the narrator in the self-help groups are taken from Planet of the Apes (Cornelius), as well as classic roles played by Robert De Niro (such as Rupert from The King of Comedy and Travis from Taxi Driver). When the Narrator hits Tyler Durden in the ear, Edward Norton actually did hit Brad Pitt in the ear. He was originally going to fake hit him, but before the scene, David Fincher pulled Norton aside and told him to hit him in the ear. After Norton hit him in the scene, you can see him smiling and laughing while Pitt is in pain.

Why I think you should see this: The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. I really love David Fincher’s work and while this may not be his best film it is safe to say that this is his most popular film to date. Both Brad Pitt and Ed Norton are absolutely amazing in their lead roles as well as Helena Bonham Carter. This is a vicious film but it is so well made I can deal with the excessive violence although I can understand it is not for everyone. If you haven’t seen this then definitely check it out soon and if you’re like me and have seen it tons of times give it another watch.