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Clarice Starling is a top student at the FBI's training academy. Jack Crawford wants Clarice to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist who is also a violent psychopath, serving life behind bars for various acts of murder and cannibalism....
Remains the King of thrillers and is SO memorable (and so often parodied) that I could hardly forget any of its plot points. Well, that's not true, actually. The Hannibal Lecter stuff is unforgettable, sure, but the Buffalo Bill case itself wasn't necessarily as imprinted on my brain. What struck me most this time around was the direction. The camera keeps placing us on the other side of conversations, making actors talk directly to the lens and involving us, peering into us like Lecter and Clarice both do. It's cleverly done and can be disconcerting, especially considering the psychopaths involved. No matter how well Jonathan Demme does (or Jodie Foster, for that matter), the day ultimately belongs to Anthony Hopkins, a depraved villain you somehow end up rooting for, particularly during his clever escape from prison. Not because you want him to kill anyone, but because he's earned his freedom through sheer intelligence. That said, it's too bad that freedom led to the cheesy grand gignol that is the sequel, Hannibal.
Ted Levine's Buffalo Bill is creepy, disturbing and completely off his head, but, at least he gives us a glimpse of humanity; Anthony Hopkins’s Lecter is something else entirely. He is something animal, something completely monstrous. He is something akin to the Big Bad Wolf crossed with The Bogeyman, and all in the guise of an extremely measured, polite and respectable human being. Terrifying and brilliant.
"Good evening, Clarice."
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Currently in 33 official lists, but has been in 36