The Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame: The Silence Of The Lambs
Butterflies aren't always free.
Kristin's back with a '90s cable staple. Hit it, KR.
I think Silence of the Lambs belongs on this list, and I realize it's a strange entry, in a way. Not exactly an uplifting movie in the traditional sense, and yet it is — it's about a young woman finding out who she is in a world of men who make assumptions that she has to overcome; I think Clarice Starling is a very modern and totally admirable movie heroine.
There's some controversy about the portrayal of Buffalo Bill as a transsexual, and the film does only a passable job of making it clear this guy was headed for murder long before he decided to make himself a girl suit. The book has more detail, but I honestly think in retrospect it's clear his application for a sex change wasn't really this guy's defining characteristic, and I'm not entirely sure movies need to pander to the lowest common denominator on these issues. In other words, people who are prejudiced against transsexuals or drag queens or gays or whomever were likely already pretty entrenched in those opinions and it's not this movie's job to change that. But I get why some might find it a bit offensive, particularly because it's a little bit dated in its vocabulary on the topic.
Otherwise, though, I think it's fairly timeless despite its age. Pay phones aside, anyway…
Below are the criteria as discussed, but I never fail to stop and watch this when it's on, and I've owned it forever and seen it a gabillion times. And yet. Thanks for the consideration!
- lengthy? 118 minutes, but with time added for commercials, it gets up there.
- familiar/frequent? I feel like A&E lived off that film for a long time, but I've seen it just about every place but Nickelodeon, lately on the more auteur channels too, like AMC and TMC, I think?
- classic/award-winner? Hell, yeah — it won all the biggies in its time (almost 25 years ago, I AM SO OLD!) and was mega-popular to boot.
- "Greetings, Professor Falken" (big payoff/long-shot victory a la WarGames)? I actually think there are three — both Catherine Martin and Clarice Starling outsmart the killer against seemingly insurmountable odds, and despite our better angels, let's face it — we root for Dr. Lecter over Dr. Chilton…having an old friend for dinner, indeedy do.
- "Wanna have a catch?" (Pavlovian tear-jerk; anything with dads opens the ducts for this guy)? Depends — Clarice's flashbacks at the funeral home are pretty intense, and the way she turns on the accent to calm down and get rid of the local officers is touching, to me, as is the scene with Catherine cuddling the (not-at-all-broken) dog as she's being rescued. YMMV, though. I'm a weirdo, thus why this is a comfort movie for me.
- quote-fest? God, has anyone wanted liver, fava beans, OR Chianti for the last 20+ years? Plus the aforementioned friend for dinner, and many, many more.
- caper-ish or -adjacent camaraderie? Sort of, actually. Clarice and Dr. Lecter have an odd camaraderie during their conversations that casts them somewhat as colleagues, if not friends. Clarice's friend Ardelia is a good sounding board and friend, and I love the relationship between the two entomologists to boot.
- "forget you, melon farmer" (you own it, but will still watch bowdlerized TV verzh) [see above]
Thanks, KR! Welcome back; well and efficiently argued.
This is a no-brainer yes vote for me. I get sucked into it every time. That may make us both weirdos — I also can't not watch Zodiac wherever it may appear — or it just means that sometimes a serial-killer-based film is also a well-built, magnetic film.
Still quoted nearly a quarter-century later; featuring a character who's still at the center of pop culture (okay, NBC booted Hannibal to Saturdays, but…NBC, enough said); won a ton of awards; fantastic sound design; still creates tension even though I've seen it dozens of times. I am on record as not thinking Jodie Foster is as gifted as conventional wisdom suggests, and the big scene with the screaming-lambs story is, I'm afraid, laughable in how overacted it is — but Hopkins is so discomfiting that it balances it out. And of course we root for Lecter over Chilton, because Anthony Heald is turning in a quintessentially Healdian/William Athertonian tin-slimepot performance.
I don't think we'll see much dissension here, but maybe the readers would…consider that rude. (Hee.) Let's find out!
[Update, 8/28/15: Looks like we're taking this thing back to Baltimore!]
The Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame is here. To nominate your own PFM, email bunting at tomatonation dot com with a rundown of the criteria and your argument for why it deserves a cushion. If I use your entry, free loot shall be thine.
Tags: Anthony Heald Anthony Hopkins Brooke Smith Hannibal Jodie Foster Kasi Lemmons movies poppy-fields movies Ted Levine The Silence Of The Lambs TV William Atherton you can't spell "readers" without "rad" Zodiac