Call me Lecter, Hannibal Lecter

James Bond just kills people and beds beautiful women. Hannibal does all that and somewhere, when he has the time, he eats them, arranges them in beautiful formations or helps us admire how blood can enchantingly squirt from a severed artery across a clean white wall.

And, I do mean the TV series, now in its 3rd season, although the movies are cool too.

Long time ago, I came across Manhunter Red Dragon (not the pathetic remake “Red Dragon”), which introduced me to the word of killing people for fun, and Hannibal (at the time played by some other British actor), enjoying himself. Then Silence of the Lambs with Agent Claricccccccccccce Sssssssssssterling and the bottle of Chianti. And a few days ago, I finally found time to watch Hannibal Rising, which I loved, for the death, the illustration of pain turning into psychosis and of course Lin Gond (sexier Joan Chen) with Samurai swords. God created Ms. Gond to wield a sword and do terrible things to men. Weird timing, as just before that scary movie, I did a marathon re-run of the first 2 seasons of Hannibal, with the awesome Mads Mikkelsen (look for his other movies!).

We all KNOW who Lecter is, as Thomas Harris has created a movie super (anti)hero that anyone with a TV has been exposed to. But, the TV show takes us deeper. This is the phenomenon of last 15 years – good actors run from cinema movies and get involved in TV series. Why? Whatever a director can fit into 90 minutes for a cinema, can be deepend, enhanced, developed, accentuated, built-upon in a series of 5-6-7 seasons, each having 22 episodes, each episode lasting 46 minutes. TV series’ beat movies each time. They make us feel at home…

Hannibal kills. But he makes it look soooooo nice. Never before have you watched a movie or a TV show, seen the beginning where a single individual does his shopping, work, sports and YOU know that he is soon to meet Dr. Lecter. And, as the creators of the show intended, you KNOW what Lecter does. So, unlike CSI, when you expect murder, you watch Hannibal and enjoy the ripening of the… meat. Is the “Meat” training (for good meat taste)? Is the meat working (smart meat)? Is the meat scared (fear releases hormones that SPOIL the meat). Hannibal likes music, he loves his food, he appreciates beauty, he listens to opera, he can scare psychologists and confuse forensic detectives. In the meantime, he finds new meat (victims), plays with them, kills them, leaves some meat in the refrigerator and….
– Throws a lavish dinner for his stratospheric-society friends;
– Arranges whatever is left of the victim(s) in to aesthetically appreciable forms;

In the meantime, he is able to find other sociopaths and, have fun with them, by warning them of impending FBI investigations, FBI raids or… he simply talks to them about the aesthetical consequences of their work. Why dump a body in a river, when you can glue the body in a funny way to a ceiling?

Simultaneously, the TV series Hannibal plays with the FBI by providing them with forensic advice about (other) sociopaths, advises them on cases of incarcerated psycho inmates (including one unlucky FBI consultant) and, best of all, invites the FBI geniuses to dinners during which he serves many amazing dishes containing meat.
Hannibal scares you, makes you think of becoming HIM and also, instils the desperate, immediate need to become a vegetarian.
Unless, you appreciate the dialogue from episode 1 series 3, when Hannibal talks to a kidnapped (other) sociopath:
Other sociopath being eaten: Cannibalism was common among our ancestors. The common link between us and the apes was missing, only because we ate him.
Lecter: This isn’t cannibalism Abel. Cannibalism only happens when we are equals.
Other sociopath: This is only cannibalism if you eat… ME.

Throughout, we are shown taste, class, gene se qua, gravitas, and all the other cultural qualities that any well-bred member of the social elite can exhibit. Lecter enjoys beauty, music, opera, quality, food, tastes, smells, pheromones, emotions (of others), and the overall life experience.

The movies made Lecter cool. The TV series makes him a role model. But can our society survive such examples of sociopathic perfection?

Lecter, as created by Harris, is the guy that you can identify with. Got frustration at work? spend a day imagining your bosses eviscerated on fishing rope, some metal hooks and a good S&M cage. Annoyed with your office neighbour? Take him “to lunch”, where you serve him/her with their own leg, well-baked in thyne, wine, with some basil thrown in. Never got paid by the boss of your collapsing company (while he, the Boss, continues to drive the Ferrari)? Do a garden BBQ, where the “meat” is fresh, really fresh, recently “off-the-bone” and juicy, moist, tasty, “as if it came of the cow a few minutes ago”. If only the “cow” appreciated the guest comments, while it (the “cow”) hangs in your garage, bleeding, crying, trying to call its mother…

Doctor Lecter, you received a trully USEFUL education 🙂

Monsters – Dark Continent

I watched the first movie unknowingly – saw some trailer, blab la bla. And, all of a sudden, I found myself transported into a weird Earth world, where we cannot control part of the planet, because it is ruled (dominated) by massive aliens brought Earthside by a space probe that crashed (Earthside, DOH!). The first movie, low-budget, low-effort was a masterpiece showing the new World, the tragic histories and the new, unavoidable, un-bombable (is there such a word?) reality of huge alien things taking over and humans running for the hills.

The sequel, has been hailed as a war movie, with some monsters thrown in. I had read the reviews before I saw the reel. I went in, expecting a reviewer-inspired war flick, aliens+Iraq, Bedouins+weird, camels screwing aliens, aliens eating camels, goats scaring everyone, etc.
The critics were wrong.

Monsters Dark Continent IS a war flick. But, of course, not how you would expect it – there is a team of US soldiers, they do fight, they do “go in”, there is a lot of shooting. Standard war drama with people dying, soldiers suffering, partners being blown away, blood and death (and taxes?). You watch it and seek the components of the Hurt Locker, House of Saddam, etc. In the meantime, you discover that there is a second universe to this movie. Yes, the US Army is fighting the aliens on all fronts, bombing, shooting, killing, even running-over with cars. Aliens die, and US soldiers have fun. Individual aliens.

What we see is Humanity, represented by the US Army, winning individual battles, soldier-vs-alien fights. But, as the movie progresses, we begin to understand that Humanity as a whole, “owners of Earth” as a whole, are losing the WAR. Only in the desert, is it clear that the Bedouins, or whatever the tribes are, have found a balance with the alien creatures.
MDC is a movie about change – undesirable change where the governments will focus all their efforts on bombing, assassinating, killing, shooting, fighting. Billions will be wasted, millions of lives lost, economies bankrupted and territories destroyed. All in the face of an all-powerful enemy, able to ignore our weapons, capable of growing from small earth-sown seeds into creatures bigger than aircraft carriers in a matter of months. The progression is simple – whatever we throw at the aliens, they come back, bigger, stronger. A question appears in the heads of smart viewers: when will this escalation end? How big will be the last bomb? Dr Stangelove anyone?

Let us bypass the Gaia component, which sits nicely hidden, as little aliens vanish in the earth and reappear as giant beasts filled with weird energy. And then their next “incarnation” gets gaint-er and giant-erer… The movie skilfully points out that trying the same solution to a problem that has defeated our “solution” before is pointless, but our politicians simply love throwing the same ideas at mountains glass walls or… continents where “our idea of right and wrong” is not necessarily the ideal one. In the movie, the Bedouins are learning to live with the big scary aliens, but the US Army cannot. Especially a US Army that is NOT in the US but happily blows up other people’s countryside.
Ehhh, how to hide a hippy peace message in a sci-fi war movie 🙂

But, the clear message is a simple question: who are the monsters? Them, for living where they were thrown or us, killing anything that does not fit into our definition of “normal”?