Tag Archives: gillian anderson

But This Isn’t a Detective Story: Agatha Christie’s Crooked House, the Film

#NoSpoilers

I’ve loved detective fiction since I was 6 and discovered the Nancy Drew mysteries in the bookmobile, preferring Nancy and her pals to the Hardy Boys and their adventures. Later, I dove into Edgar Allan Poe’s mystery stories without even realizing that Poe is credited with the invention of detective fiction in English, with his 1841 publication of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” which appeared before the word “detective” even existed. Without even knowing that I was reading a specific genre, I tore through all the works of Wilkie Collins and Agatha Christie, loving the casts of strange and fascinating characters even more than I cared about “whodunnit.” Little did I realize that Agatha Christie was considered the star of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction (1920-1949) when the whodunnit was the primary genre of crime fiction. Nor did I realize that Christie was one of the bestselling novelists of all time: I just knew she wrote lots of books and the bookmobile seemed to have all of them. Most importantly, I liked her books very much.

Gillian Anderson as Magda, and Julian Sands as Philip, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

I wasn’t as interested in Christie’s plots as much as I was in her flawed but vitally interesting characters. I often guessed whodunnit and was unimpressed with many of the detectives, not realizing that the amateur or inept investigator is one of the tropes. Gosh, I didn’t even know what a “trope” was, let alone that genre authors used recurring types of characters, themes, or plot devices in their books. And I certainly didn’t realize that many of the detective stories I read had “several classic features,” such as a large, rambling country estate where a group of equally suspect characters distracted the sometimes amateur investigator (and readers) while the least suspicious character continued to commit the murders. I did, however, learn to ignore “red herrings” before I realized there was a term for it, if only because I concentrated instead on the characters themselves, little caring who had actually committed the crime. It wasn’t the murder or the initial victim that I was interested in. I liked all the people involuntarily pushed together after the crime, where they flailed and fought against their lives, against fate, and against each other.

Crooked House, First British Edition, 1949 ©

I still read mystery fiction, though these days I prefer the hard-boiled or noir genres. Again, it’s the characters that interest me, not the crimes or even the process of solving the murder. So it was with great surprise that I saw a 2017 film version of one of Agatha Christie’s classics, Crooked House, which she herself listed as one of the favorites of her own works. I’d heard of the book, and have it on my TBR list, but I hadn’t heard of the film, and I tend to notice films that are adapted from books pretty quickly, especially when the screenwriter is Julien Fellowes, of Downton Abbey fame since I so love his work. With a cast of excellent actors playing atrociously selfish and seriously flawed characters, Crooked House is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. Perhaps because I had not read the Agatha Christie novel of the same name on which it is based, I came for the actors and stayed for the characters, watching it again immediately afterward to see all the delightful ways the author — and the screenwriter — give clues, scatter red herrings, and create the kind of ambivalent characters that I adore.

Stefanie Martini as Sophia Leonides, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

Dark and moody, the film begins with the detective’s office, where an unnamed lady is waiting, without an appointment, and where viewers immediately learn that she and the private investigator have some prior relationship. Beautiful, young, vastly wealthy Sophia Leonides (Stefanie Martini) requests that her former lover Charles Hayward (Max Irons) come to her family’s estate because she believes her grandfather’s recent death may have been murder. Further, she is afraid that the murderer is still in the house.

Max Irons as Investigator Charles Hayward, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

Because the investigating business is not going so well and he needs the money, because Charles doesn’t want to work at Scotland Yard in the shadow of his own famous father’s career nor under the eye of his father’s colleague, Chief Inspector Taverner (Terence Stamp),

Terence Stamp as Chief Inspector Taverner, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

who constantly reminds Charles of how his father sat, leaned forward, looked, acted; and perhaps because he’s never gotten over being summarily and without explanation abandoned by the lovely Sophia, Charles goes to the house — the big and gorgeous country estate house — to talk to the Leonides family members.

What a group! Charles immediately meets the family matriarch, Aunt Edith aka Lady Edith de Haviland (Glenn Close) who wields s shotgun like a pro and laughs at Charles’ delusions that he “saved Sophia” when the two were in Cairo.

Glenn Close as Lady Edith, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

Aunt Edith came to the Leonides’ English estate years ago, from America, to nurse her dying sister. After her sister’s death, Edith stayed on to run the household, and raise the murdered man’s two sons, Philip and Roger.

All grown up, with wives and children, the boys still live at their father’s home, on their father’s money, though each has his own reasons for doing so.

Julian Sands as oldest son Philip Leonides, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

Sophia’s father Philip (Julian Sands) is an author and a playwright, who had some minor financial troubles that forced him to return home and live under his father’s controlling and manipulative domination.

Gillian Anderson as Philip’s wife Magda, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

Philip’s wife — Sophia’s mother — Magda (Gillian Anderson) is a once-glamorous, heavy-drinking, stage actor who has delusions of grandeur and talent. She’s convinced she could become a film star if only her father-in-law would give them the funds to produce her husband’s brilliant screenplay, written specifically for her as the lead. Now that her father-in-law is dead, however, she fears that she will continue to wither away in relative obscurity on the estate, albeit in the company of her husband Philip, her eldest daughter Sophia, her disgruntled and angry teenage son Eustace (Preston Nyman, below), and her youngest daughter Josephine.

Glenn Close as Lady Edith, and Preston Nyman as Eustace Leonides, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

Twelve-year-old Josephine (Honor Kneafsey), who loves ballet and wanted to become a dancer, welcomes Charles to the estate because she loves to read detective fiction almost as much as she loves to spy on family members via a telescope from her treehouse.

Honor Kneafsey as Josephine, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

Because she then writes everything down in a journal that she never shows to anyone, her family is convinced that she is writing down their secrets.

Christian McKay as younger brother Roger Leonides, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

Youngest brother Roger (Christian McKay) also lives at his father’s home, ostensibly because it is he, rather than his older brother Philip, who runs his father’s business.

Amanda Abbington as Roger’s wife Clemency, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

Roger is an angry young man, and though his prickly wife Clemency (Amanda Abbington) attempts without success to keep her husband’s outbursts under control, it is soon clear that both of them resent their father’s new wife more than anything else.

Christina Hendricks as the new, much younger wife, Brenda, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

Of course, the new, much younger wife is everything you’d expect in a story like this. A former Las Vegas showgirl, Brenda (Christina Hendricks) is naïve, voluptuous, and rumored to be having an affair with Laurence (John Heffernan),

John Heffernan as the tutor, Laurence, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

the tutor of Philip’s children Eustace and Josephine, as well as the ghost-writer of the deceased patriarch’s memoir, the only copy of which seems to have been stolen.

Roger Ashton-Griffith as the family attorney, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

Now, just for fun, throw in a bumbling family attorney (Roger Ashton-Griffiths, who’s no doubt best known as the bumbling Mace Tyrell in Game of Thrones, who suddenly realizes that, inexplicably, the Old Man Leonides’ will most recent will, where everyone in the family was equitably and reasonably provided for, was never actually signed. That means everything — the estate, the businesses, the vast fortune — goes to the widow. That American, that dance-hall trollop, that Brenda, who probably — insists virtually everyone in the family — knew all about the unsigned will and so had the most motive of anyone to commit the murder in the first place.

Jenny Galloway as Nanny, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

And for even more fun and intrigue, stir in old Nanny (Jenny Galloway), who fears that she’s soon to lose her comfortable job and home because the widow, who is without children, won’t need a nanny, and because Nanny’s youngest charge, Josephine, is now too old to have a nanny anyway. Now make Nanny obsessed with getting that nasty journal away from Josephine because… well, just because… it’s a nasty, dirty book. And Nanny hasn’t even read it.

The family dinner, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

By the time Charles’ third-hand car won’t start and he has to stay the night and we get to the family dinner — the first time we actually see all the family members in the same room actually interacting with each other — this party is roaring dangerously, combustibly hot.

Glenn Close as Lady Edith de Haviland, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

When Lady Edith asks Charles to tell them what a murderer is really like, he rather smugly lists a murderer’s traits as “vanity, distorted morality, a lack of empathy, and a tendency to believe they’re above the rules that govern others.” The rest of the family’s rather bored expressions, along with Lady Edith’s boisterous laughter as she quips “that description fits every member of this family,” are no surprise. After all, no one knows villains so well as their fellow villains.

A few critics felt that the cast of accomplished actors in Crooked House  “promised… more than it could deliver” or that the the film was “flawed” though a “top-notch period piece.” Emily Yoshida of Vulture described the the film as “directed with slightly sleepy, but entertainingly morbid style” and said that, ultimately, Crooked House knew what its job was and did it: “to set up a tangled web of colorful characters, throw in a few red herrings, set off its dynamite, and make its exit while the smoke is still in the air.”

Stefanie Martini as Sophia, Julian Sands as her father Philip, and Gillian Anderson as her mother Magda, Crooked House © Sony Pictures

From the bumbling, naïve, inept investigator to the thoroughly despised former-showgirl young wife, from the two bickering, resentful, completely spoiled brothers to their angry or utterly vain yet bewildered wives, it is this tangled web of deliciously twisted characters that makes Crooked House worth watching. If you haven’t read the novel on which it was based, even better: then everyone in the film can surprise you.

Like me, you may find that you don’t actually care who committed the murders. Yes, murders, because, as detective-fiction fan Josephine points out, there’s always another murder. If you haven’t read the book, you’ll be both delighted and horrified when you finally learn who, actually, done it all. And while the younger stars are certainly talented, it is Glenn Close, as Lady Edith, and Gillian Anderson, as Magda, who shine as hot and bright as their characters’ falling stars.

Unfortunately, although this film is free to watch for Amazon Prime members, it is not yet available via rental, only purchase ($14.99) from Amazon, YouTube,and GooglePlay. If you do buy it, you won’t regret it.

Related Posts

When Murder Smells Like Honeysuckle:
3 Noir Film Classics

Murder, Anyone?
In a Lonely Place, the Film

Top Crime Films
Told from the Criminals’ Perspective

When Movies Tell Great Stories:
5 Classics from the 1950s

When Clothes Destroyed the World:
The Royal Tailor, the Film

Worms and Vipers in a Gilded Tomb:
Curse of the Golden Flower, the Film

The Thief, the Liar, and the Lovers:
Korea’s Complex Crime Film, The Handmaiden

The Master of Pleasures and The Taste of Cherries:
Vatel, the Film

Crime, Passion, Ambition, & Stupidity:
Darkly Twisted Comedies

Crime, Passion, & Absurdity:
More Darkly Twisted Comedies

Share

2 Comments

Filed under Actors, Authors, Books, Classics, Drama, Film Videos, Films, Films/Movies, Historical Drama, Movies/Films, No Spoilers Review, Official Film Trailers, Official Movie Trailers, Official Trailers, Review, Review/No Spoilers, Suspense

The X-Files 2016: Believe

Warning: Spoilers

The_X-Files_2016_PosterLast night, the six episode mini-series of The X-Files premiered, and the second episode will air tonight Monday 25 Jan, with subsequent episodes airing on Mondays on Fox at 8pm ET. Though last night’s initial show was a little too talky, and just a little too heavy-handed cramming in all the current political atmosphere and 9-11 events, it was still an exciting and welcome re-appearance of two of my favorite characters. Agent Mulder (David Duchovny), who spent 9 years of the original cult classic searching not only for evidence of aliens and for his lost sister, but investigating other odd phenomena, returned last night, notably worse for wear after his division in the basement of the FBI had been shut down.

images-8In fact, Mulder was so difficult to find that someone phoned his former partner Scully (Gillian Anderson), now a surgeon, to contact him.

images-13She asked why they thought she knew how to contact him, but, in fact, she did.

Then a talk-show host who seemed a combination of doomsday prepper and Edward Snowden revealing the NSA’s spying on Americans (and others) came to them to let them know that the two were needed for a new investigation.

Though Scully and Mulder don’t look like this anymore,

images-5like this,

images-4or like this,

images-7the chemistry between the two actors and their characters was still there.

images-3The show began with the alien landing in Roswell, New Mexico (which one character mispronounced as “Ross-well” rather than “Roz-well”, and which the opening credits indicated was located in NW New Mexico rather than in the southeastern quarter of the state. Still, the broken up space-craft was what you’d expect from something which supposedly happened in 1947, as was the reaction of the government and military agents to finding the wounded alien: they shot it.

300px-RoswellDailyRecordJuly8,1947

The Snowden-prepper took Scully and Mulder to the home of a young woman who claimed to have been abducted several time, to have been impregnated by aliens, and to have had the fetuses forcibly removed from her body. As usual, Mulder was more convinced and interested than Scully, though Scully, now the physician-surgeon, took some of Svetna’s blood to analyze it for “alien DNA.”

images-10Scully analyzed it twice before analyzing her own blood. Initially, Scully lied and told Svetna and the others that she had no alien blood. Svetna went on-air and told reporters that she’d made a mistake and had never been abducted. Mulder was upset that “they got to her,” bringing back the classic conspiracy theory regarding the ever-threatening and all-powerful they that made the show such a classic.

images-12Scully had to break it to Mulder that she herself has alien DNA.

As a huge fan of the original show, I’m not sure how I missed that Scully got abducted, if that’s what happened, but no other reason was given for the appearance of the alien DNA. Also, she told Mulder about her DNA because the “two of [them] have a child together.”

images

Dang! How in the world did I miss that? I thought I’d seen every episode of every one of the original 9 seasons, created and written by Chris Carter, but though I knew that Scully’s character dramatically changed from cynic and sort-of-spy on Mulder’s character to more of an equal partner, and that they were attracted to each other, I didn’t know they had a child.

Josh Rhoten listed “Five Excellent Episodes of the [Original] X-Files” to watch before the premiere, and I guess I’ll have to watch them.

If only to see if it reveals some of the missing elements from last night’s episode.

images-9In any event, Svetna was kidnapped by an alien space-craft, the usual goverment-military baddies showed up to destroy a replica of an alien spacecraft that could move on electro-magnetic fields (i.e., without fuel) and disappear to boot, and the Snowden-prepper’s website went off-line. Scully was warned “Don’t Give Up” and she reached out again to Mulder.

images-11We were left with an appearance of Mulder’s and Scully’s arch-nemesis, Cigarette-Man, though someone was placing his cigarette into a tube in his throat last night.

images-17

Lots of ominous overtones and exciting story-telling.

Unknown-2The only weakness I found — though my partner Tom didn’t mention it at all, never having watched the original show, but knowing the premise — was the rather heavy-handed “Oh, the entire government of every country all over the world is in on all this and look at all the information they collect on private citizens and what do they use it for” routine.

You know, like the Book of Face doesn’t collect information via the things it hides in your computer. Like Apple doesn’t know everything that’s on every device you have, whether or not you back it up to their iCloud, not that all the devices synch over wi-fi every two seconds. Like the cell-phone companies don’t collect all the “meta-data” — with which you can learn everything — from every customer they have. But, okay, let’s go along with it: only the government collects all this information.

And what’s done with it?

Hide the existence of aliens from us.

A bit behind the times, I thought.

Maybe the government and the military could hide lots of things in 1947 in the middle of the New Mexico desert, but today? With all the “spies” and informants and others who want to hold the government accountable for its secrets? So that part of the show was a little too simplistic for me, especially now that celebrities can’t even have affairs or be homosexual  or smoke marijuana or go into rehab without being “outed”, usually by another person involved, whom the celebrity trusts, and who gets paid by the tabloids to the “inside scoop.”

Unknown-1So, Mulder and the prepper guy were a little too talky.

I know they were trying to make it clear that the show was supposed to be happening now and trying to make the conspiracy even bigger than it was in the original series, but that part didn’t work for me. They could have shown Mulder getting a new cell-phone and advising Scully to do the same, and having him throw his away each time he used it. Scully, of course, would have been skeptical about going through all that nonsense.

Until she got the tests back about the alien DNA.

Then, just like all the members of the crime family on The Sopranos, she would have started buying throw-away cell-phones and constantly checking over her shoulder, too.

400px-XFilesCreditsS1-7Definitely worth watching, however, especially since I’m guessing that now that they’ve brought us up to 2016, the talkity-talk-talk will decrease dramatically.

Airs Mondays on Fox at 8p.m. ET (e2 on M 25 Jan, with e3-6 on subsequent Mondays). If you missed last night’s premiere, “My Struggle,” you can watch it free on Fox.

Believe it.

Share

2 Comments

Filed under Actors, Movies/Television, Videos, Xfiles 2016

A Cliffhanger on a Cliff: The Series Finale of HANNIBAL

Warning:
Bloody Spoilers

images-2Unfortunately, the highly touted and much anticipated season/series finale to Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal, creatively adapted from Thomas Harris’ bestselling novels — Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, and Hannibal Rising — was both predictable and disappointing.

Predictable if you’ve read any of the books or seen the movie concerning Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage), who is attempting to “become” the Red Dragon.

images-14Disappointing since the final scene was unrealistic and even fictionally unbelievable, despite its uniting Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) in an attempt to defeat Dolarhyde.

imagesThe episode began with Dolarhyde attempting to kill his kidnapped girlfriend Reba (excellently portrayed by Rutina Wesley), who, though blind, managed to escape the burning house.images-8Then the FBI, meaning Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), and Will Graham — the last two are no longer even associated with the FBI in any capacity — arranged to have Hannibal “fake” an escape, with Will accompanying him.

UnknownSome reviewers have suggested that this highly improbably plan was inserted to show the immorality of all the characters on the show, even those who are supposedly on the side of law and order.

I’d suggest that, instead, it showed the completely unrealistic, fantasy approach Hannibal has taken to (even fictional) serial killer(s)– in this last, disappointing season — as opposed to how real serial killers are regarded and treated by anyone with an ounce of brains in his head.

images-1Furthermore, anyone who’s seen the show in previous seasons and who remembers Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) and his escape,

imageswould have anticipated that Hannibal — who is far more clever and resourceful than Gideon, or than anyone else on the show, for that matter — would successfully manage to escape, no matter his restraints, fetters, guards, etc.Untitled-33

Before the FBI put this ludicrous and predictable bound-to-fail plan into effect, however, there were several scenes of characters warning other characters that Hannibal was “getting out,” and of other characters predicting what would happen should Hannibal really escape during his faux escape. images-18Danger, Will Robinson, Danger, Dr. Chilton (Raul Esparza) might have been saying, but no one would have been able to understand him, given the fact that Dolarhyde bit off his lips and tongue, then set fire to him.images-6After Will informed Dr. Bedelia du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) — Hannibal’s former psychiatrist and lover — of the silly plan, she turned to Will and said, “You righteous, reckless, twitchy little man.”

images-26Twitchy.

It gave me one of the best laughs of the series that didn’t come from something Hannibal himself said or did.images-3Hannibal himself warned former colleague and lover Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) that he’d come after her, her wife Margot (Katherine Isabelle), and child, but the two women were later shown escaping to safety, their son in tow.

images-17

So, of course, in case you hadn’t guessed it, during the faux escape, Hannibal escaped, taking Will with him to some house on a cliff.

But Dolarhyde, good little dragon that he is, did manage to follow the two, i.e., “take the bait,” and arrive in all his dragon-splendor on the cliff to fight Will and Hannibal.images-9

It was a gruesome and bloody fight, with lots of phallic penetrations of weapons, leading ultimately to Dolarhyde’s metaphorically “fiery” death,

images-19followed by yet another “erotic” embrace between Hannibal and Will, climaxing with their “spiritual” joining.

images-5

Will (of the blood, recalling a previous statement by Hannibal to Will): It really does look black in the moonlight.

Hannibal: See? This is all I ever wanted for you, Will. For both of us.

Will: It’s beautiful.

And then Will, his arms wrapped around Hannibal, and Hannibal’s around him, thrust himself forward, sending Hannibal and Will over the cliff.

A cliffhanger — for a series that will not likely be renewed by being picked up by any other network or company, given the disappointingly poor quality of its final season — on a cliff.

Off a cliff.

Over a cliff.

From a cliff.

Whatever.

A cliffhanger on a cliff.

Seriously?

If the series hadn’t been cancelled before, it would’ve been axed after the finale.

But wait, there’s more.

images-7Cut, after the credits, to Bedelia, in a gorgeous gown, sitting at the head of a table set for three, with a strange “roast” on the table.

images-13Pull back to show Bedelia with her left leg — I mean, the stump of her left leg — revealed as she sits in the formal gown at the table.

Waiting.

Luring Hannibal — and Will, I guess, since the table was set for three — back to her.

Creep-o-la to the max, my fellow Fannibals.

And sad.

The first two seasons of Hannibal were brilliant re-imaginings of one of the most notorious, intriguing, and frightening literary characters in the 20th century: Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter.

The final season looked like something — lots of things, actually — just thrown together after creator-writer Bryan Fuller already knew the show was being cancelled.

The finale was an insult to the faithful viewers.

Ah, well, all the actors and the creator have bid us farewell — Mads sent us Fannibals a “bittersweet goodbye” and a kiss in a video.

I suppose we faithful viewers must bid Hannibal farewell, too.

images-12

Share

2 Comments

Filed under Actors, Hannibal, Movies/Television, Videos

When the Betrayed becomes the Betrayer: NBC’s HANNIBAL, S3E3 “Secondo”

Warning: Spoilers & Graphic Images

Bedelia: Are you the betrayer or the betrayed?
Hannibal: I’m vague on those details.images-21

NBC’s Hannibal is glamorous, luxurious, elegant, violent, bloody, viciously cruel. What is it that makes this show so captivating? Multi-dimensional characters, brilliant dialogue, devastating plot, stunning special effects, and absolutely delish irony. Viewers were treated to all of this show’s best in last night’s episode “Secondo” (which some reviewers are listing as “Secundo”).

Castle Lecter

UnknownWill (Hugh Dancy), describing his gutting by Hannibal as being “left with a smiley face” on his abdomen, went to Hannibal’s ancestral home in Lithuania, which features prominently only in Thomas Harris’s novel Hannibal Rising, about Hannibal’s childhood trauma during World War II, the fate of his sister Mischa, and Hannibal’s “Becoming” as he hunts down the men who destroyed his family and looted their castle. It was appropriately gothic and haunting in last night’s episode.

images copyIn Lithuania, on the grounds of Castle Lecter, Will found an Asian woman named Chiyo (Tao Okamato), hunting in the forest for pheasant, viewing Will through the rifle’s sights, though she did not shoot at him. Later, we saw Chiyo caressing the carcass of the game-bird, plucking it, and preparing it for roasting (alternating, for the viewers, with scenes of Hannibal cutting the hand off a severed arm, and preparing it for roasting and dinner).images-1Chiyo claimed that Hannibal had left her there to guard a man responsible for the death of Hannibal’s little sister Mischa, whom he has already mentioned to Will. In a previous season, Will asked if Hannibal had ever been a father or if he’d ever had a child, or something to that effect, and Hannibal mentioned his sister Mischa. (Even those who have not read Hannibal Rising would have eventually figured out Mischa’s fate in last night’s episode, but I don’t want to spoil it for you yet.)

When Will showed his abdominal scar to Chiyo — it being the only scar he could reveal since the remainder of Will’s scars from Hannibal are psychological — she said, “All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story.”

Despite this, Will did not deign to relate his story to Chiyo.

imagesWill found the man who was being guarded in a basement dungeon, being starved to death (which confused me about the show’s timeline, since this man was supposed to have hurt Mischa during World War II, and Will et al seem to be in the 1970s or 1980s: Hannibal certainly doesn’t seem to be in a contemporary time period, so I’m not sure when this show is set).

When Will accused Chiyo of keeping the man “like an animal,” Chiyo responded that she “wouldn’t do this to an animal.” Will released the man, gave him clothes, then took him into the woods, instructing him to run away.

He didn’t.

He returned to his dungeon cage.

But the door was unlocked. images-2So when Chiyo came down again to the dungeon, the imprisoned man, who was never named, leapt out and attacked her. She killed him, in self-defense it would seem.

But then the strangeness happened: Will became Hannibal by saying he’d wanted to see what Chiyo would do.

Wait: isn’t that something Hannibal would say?

And then Will made a weird angel-moth-fetish of the man and hung him from the ceiling.

Isn’t that something some of the other serial killers Will has been hunting in the previous season have done: making angels, totem-poles, etc out of victims?

Either Will has lost his mind, or he has, indeed, become Hannibal.

Will as Dr. Hannibal Graham

images-10There was another bizarre instance of Will behaving as Hannibal: the two are sitting (in Will’s or Hannibal’s imagination) as they used to during Will’s psycho-analysis, only Will is asking the questions of Hannibal. The question and answer scene was filmed or edited in some fancy-schmancy fashion that made it seem as if we were viewing them through shards of broken glass, fit back together in some imperfect puzzle.

It was beautifully symbolic, not only of how much of Hannibal has infiltrated Will’s personality, but of how much Will was already like Hannibal before Hannibal encouraged him to “Become” more like him.

The initial similarity between the two men, I assume, is what drew Hannibal to Will originally, and what is drawing Will to Hannibal now.

They do love each other — that much is obvious, and I don’t mean in a sexual way, though they could have erotic feelings of arousal without their love being sexual.

Perhaps Will and Hannibal love each other for the parts of themselves they see in the other one.

Now, the question is this: do Will and Hannibal love each other for the good they find in the other, or for the evil?

Bedelia: Gone Girl

images-14Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) is, like… wow… suddenly cray-cray über-confident in her relationship with Hannibal.

She’s really starting to scare me silly.

She initiates the conversation on being betrayed and on forgiveness, telling Hannibal, as if she’s still his psychotherapist and as if she still retains some of his respect or still has some authority over him, that it takes two to forgive: the betrayer and the betrayed.

Casually, while sipping wine, she asks which Hannibal is: the Betrayed or the Betrayer?

He tells her he’s vague on that.images copy 2Then Bedelia, who’s already killed one man herself  (the patient who attacked her) as we discovered in the flashback in “Antipasto” S3E1,

images-23become like Abigail (Kacey Rohl) after killing the brother of one of her father’s victims by asking Hannibal for help and protection afterward (becoming, in effect, like a slave or a voluntarily indentured servant for life),

images-12“participated” in another killing (this time in Florence, of Tony the poet, who was going to reveal that Hannibal and Bedelia were not Dr. and Mrs. Fell, as they are claiming to be),

images-24all the while knowing that Hannibal is still killing people and serving his victims to their dinners guests as food,

Unknown-2Bedelia then virtually taunted Hannibal, claiming she was confident that she could “navigate her way out of what she’s gotten herself into.”

With Hannibal.

With Hannibal.

Gone is the frightened, disoriented woman who begged Hannibal to protect her after she killed the patient who attacked her.

Gone is the girl who sat in the train station being “surveilled” just as she was being watched by Hannibal.

Gone is the terrified girl who was going to run away, who was running away, just as Hannibal opened the apartment door with Tony the Poet behind him.

Yes, that Bedelia seems to have vanished.

She’s gone.

This girl, she’s giving me the shivers.

The Hannibal & Bedelia Show

images-11Yes, some critics have expressed concern that Hannibal is becoming the Hannibal and Bedelia Show, but I find Bedelia’s relationship with Hannibal fascinating, even though I’m scared to death for her.  After inviting his nemesis Sogliato (Rinaldo Rocco) for dinner, Hannibal stabbed him in the temple with an ice-pick.

Sogliato continued laughing and talking weirdly, though not really moving much. So he was alive after Hannibal skewered him.

That is, he was alive until Bedelia got up from the table and, annoyed by his incoherent gabbling about his not being able to see anything or his inane giggling, I suppose, yanked the ice-pick out of his temple, causing him to pitch forward, blood gushing from the wound, onto the dinner table.

She turned to Hannibal and said something like, “Now that’s two you’ve killed from the Palazzo Caponé.”

To which Hannibal responded, “For the record, technically, you killed him.”

images-6Bedelia knows that Hannibal kills and eats people. She doesn’t eat the people-entrées when they’re served to guests. Tony the poet commented on her “different diet.” That avoidance of eating Hannibal’s victims was shown again last night, while Bedelia was again eating oysters, which the guests were not being served, and Bedelia was clearly uneasy about the guests’ expressions and exclamations of pleasure over the food.

images-2Yet Bedelia was, in effect, scolding Hannibal after she yanked the ice-pick out of Sogliato?

I guess that means the girl never sleeps.

But then, when has Hannibal ever killed any his victims while they were sleeping?

Hannibal likes them to know he’s coming.

Apparently, so does Bedelia.

Cruella-du-Bedelia

UnknownIn an ironically erotic scene, Hannibal was washing Bedelia’s hair while she was in the tub discussing little Mischa and her fate, letting viewers know that Bedelia knows all about Hannibal’s sister and what the Nazis (or pseudo-Nazis) did to her and his family during the War. This linking of sexual arousal and killing is exactly what real serial killers unconsciously do. The writers of Hannibal did it by linking the erotic nature of Hannibal’s washing Bedelia’s hair, camera focused continuously on the weaving and entangling of his long fingers through her hair, while she asked things about his past that involve murder and cannibalism.

Things like: “What happened to you in Lithuania?”

To which Hannibal replied, “Nothing happened to me. I happened.”

Then Bedelia, wicked little girl that she’s become, casually asked, “How did your sister taste when you ate her?”

Hannibal knelt there, motionless, his soapy hands and fingers mid-air, staring, as Cruella-Bedelia sank slowly — almost luxuriously — into the tub, rinsing her hair — and herself — clean of the filth of that question.

imagesThe teacup has once again been broken.

images-17Only this time, Bedelia and Will, in different scenes, are the ones who have knocked it from its secure place, both of them betraying and intentionally hurting Hannibal.

You’d think they’d know by now that the teacup, once shattered, cannot be put back together again.

Related Posts

Hannibal, Season 3

Hannibal Lurker: NBC’s Hannibal, S3E2 “Primavera”

Bello, Bellisima: NBC’s Hannibal, Season 3 Premiere: “Antipasto”

Hannibal, Season 1

The Nightmare Under the Pillow: NBC’s Hannibal, the Series, Season 1
No Spoilers

Hannibal, Season 2

The Nightmare that Followed Him Out of his Dreams: NBC’s Hannibal, Season 2
No Spoilers

Share

2 Comments

Filed under Actors, Hannibal, Movies/Television, Serial Killers, Violence

Bello, Bellisima: NBC’s Hannibal Season 3 Premiere — Antipasto

Warning: Spoilers
& Graphic Images

imagesIf you’ve read my previous blogs on NBC’s amazing and daring series Hannibal, you know I was catching up on Seasons 1 & 2, and so intentionally did not reveal any spoilers or important plot lines in case there were other viewers like me who had never seen the show. (For one thing, I’m rarely awake @ 10p.m., being an early riser, and for another, the local network here delays Hannibal by an additional hour beyond the 2-hour time-zone difference, but that’s another source of irritation and rudeness that I’ll have to address with them.) From now on, my Hannibal blogs will include some spoilers, but they are not merely plot summaries. That’s not my style.

images-12That being said, I have to say Bravo! to the writers of the Premiere episode of S3: “Antipasto,” and not just for going back to names of dishes that I can pronounce and understand as episode titles. The premiere of Season 3 was a bold and brilliant departure from the previous seasons’ premieres, as well as from the seasons themselves. It was symbolic of the manner in which Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen, above) and his former psychiatrist, Bedelia du Maurier (Gillian Anderson), who are now posing as husband and wife in Paris and Florence, are attempting to re-invent themselves.

Season Two’s Finale

images-25The extremely violent, excellently acted, brilliantly choreographed, and almost — dare I say, erotic — finale from season 2, left us with Hannibal being “recognized” for who and what he is by many of the characters in the show. Of course, Hannibal did not go quietly into that dark night. No, he raged against the dying of his light. His gutting of Will (Hugh Dancy) while holding him like a lover (above) was blatantly erotic and showed just how much Hannibal had come to care for Will Graham.

images-7And by “caring for Will,” I mean as much as a serial killer can care for anyone other than himself, and only because Hannibal believed Will could become more like Hannibal himself.

Throughout the first two seasons, Hannibal has been drawn to patients who seem to have some criminal, especially murderous, leanings, and has pushed them to “see” and to “become” — a common theme in the Thomas Harris novels on which the show is based — and to honor their true natures. In fact, one of Hannibal’s lines in last season’s finale was, “Now that you know me, see me.”

images-2His warning to his lover Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) — that she had a choice to walk away, after she confronted him, weapon drawn, weeping at her own blindness and at his “betrayal” — surprised me. I thought he might find her pulling a gun on him “rude,” and we all know how Hannibal feels about rudeness. I wasn’t surprised that he’d emptied her gun while she slept in his bed beside him a few days earlier, or that he went after her when she pulled the trigger.

He had warned her, after all.

images-8His confrontation with Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne, above R), who seems to believe that “might makes right,” was one of the saddest in terms of Jack’s inability to outmaneuver Hannibal psychologically or physically. It was also one of the most beautifully choreographed.

images-6You could see Mads’ dancing background in virtually every move, but especially in his jump over the counter when he went after Jack (above). I don’t know if Mads was wearing a harness to help him leap over that counter, but even it he was, it was still a jeté magnifique.

imagesDespite Jack’s most valiant efforts to defend himself and take down Hannibal, however, Jack was simply no match for Hannibal’s physical agility and determination. Jack was left locked in the pantry, bleeding out, desperately trying to reach his dying wife on the phone to say good-bye.

images-24Most shocking in the S2 finale was the reappearance of Abigail (Kacey Rohl, above L, below R), whom both Will and Hannibal had begun to view as a “daughter-figure.” Will did so after he shot her father Garret Jacob Hobbs when the FBI, i.e., Will and Hannibal, were attempting to apprehend Hobbs for a string of murders. During that showdown, Hobbs had already killed his wife, pushed her, dying, out the front door, and was threatening to slice open his daughter’s throat. He did. Will shot him dead. Will became the “protective” father-figure. images-4Hannibal became  a “father-figure” after he caught her killing the brother of one of her father’s victims. Hannibal realized then that Abigail had been a willing participant in her father’s killings of the girls — she was the bait — despite her protestations to the contrary. Hannibal realized her potential to “become,” and told her he could protect her, as long as she asked for his help. Hannibal became the “teaching” father-figure.

images-7In S1, Abigail came to realize that Hannibal was a serial killer, and viewers were given the impression that Hannibal had killed her, however reluctantly it might have seemed at the moment he first tenderly touched her face after she had seen beyond his “person-suit.”

Hannibal framed Will for her murder by forcing Abigail’s ear through a feeding-tube into a relatively unconscious Will, who vomited it back up along with his medications. Although Will didn’t recall killing Abigail, he believed it might be possible since he could find no logical explanation for vomiting up her whole ear, un-chewed and without apparent bite-marks. (Viewers didn’t know how the ear had gotten into his stomach until the premiere of  S2, when Hannibal’s force-feeding was shown.)

images-2Abigail reappeared in the S2 finale, upstairs, with a crying, bewildered, and obviously disoriented Alana Bloom, and pushed her out a second-story window, leaving her broken on the stone doorstep below, in the pouring rain. She then went down to Hannibal, where he then proceeded to slice her throat open as her father had originally unsuccessfully did.

Will and Abigail lay side-by-side, both bleeding out, with Will vainly attempting to reach her and stop her bleeding as he had done so long ago in her father’s kitchen.

images-3The final, pre-credit scene, showed Hannibal stepping out into the rain. In this metaphorical baptism, Hannibal is re-born.

Having finally been seen for exactly what he is, Hannibal can now become himself most fully.Unknown

If you were foolish enough to turn off the S2 finale before all the credits rolled, then you missed the most startling moment of all: Hannibal, drinking champagne aboard a jet, with his companion, the lovely Dr. Bedelia du Maurier.

images-5

Hannibal’s “Kind of Peace”

images-18Season 3 begins in Paris, where Anthony Dimmond (Tom Wisdom, above L), a former Teaching Assistant (TA) of a Dr. Fell, makes Hannibal’s acquaintance, meeting Hannibal as “Boris Yakov” and sans the ubiquitous plaid suits and sans the laquered hair.

They later discuss a few things at a party, mainly some poet’s “bad writing,” before Hannibal leaves to follow an older gentleman at that party home, where he kills him and eats his liver, greeting the man’s wife-now-widow with a pleasant Bon soir when she enters the apartment.

images-10Later in the S3 premiere, no longer in Paris but in Florence, viewers learn that the beautiful Bedelia, played by Gillian Anderson, is living with Hannibal as man and wife. We are treated, too briefly, to a dancing scene, where Hannibal gives us a glimpse of a smile. When the dance ends, he gazes down at Bedelia and murmurs, “Bellisima,” to which she softly responds, “Grazie.”

(Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker wittily mused on Gillian Anderson’s gorgeousity —

I think it’s the wardrobe change, or perhaps Bedelia’s bathing in Hannibal’s victims’ blood, but it may be Gillian’s physical proximity to Mads that has her glowing.)

images-21In any event, Hannibal wants to “preserve the kind of peace” he’s found in this new life, where he’s “hardly killed anybody.”

Yes, let it be a fairy tale, then…

Not That Kind of Party

images-24Between flashbacks containing Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) and Hannibal, as Hannibal is slowly chopping off bits of Gideon’s body and feeding them to him while they discuss the definition and morality of cannibalism, Hannibal is posing, in his new life in Florence, as Dr. Fell, whom he murdered to “vacate” the faculty position he held, making it available to himself. Bedelia is aware of this. She is posing as Mrs. Fells.

Alas, Dr. Fells’ former TA Dimmond appears in Florence, too, meets Hannibal again, who is now calling himself Dr. Fells instead of Boris Yakov. Dimmond’s no fool, or so it seems, and though he casually and repeatedly tells people that he knows Dr. Fells well, and hints at the “stories he could tell” were he not “such a good friend,” Hannibal invites him to dinner.

images-16There, Dimmond comments on Bedelia’s diet, and the exchange which follows, involving what the Romans fed animals to ensure their unique taste, and ending with “It’s not that kind of party,” is too exquisite for me to ruin it for you here. You have to see it to catch all the nuances, the sexual innuendo, the chemistry between Bedelia and Hannibal (and between Gillian and Mads).

Quite the couple, they make.

Bedelia’s Secret

images-23Alas, all is not well in Bedelia-Land.

Though Hannibal claims to have found a sort of peace, Bedelia is clearly uneasy, anxious, and increasingly frightened.

images-7The scene of her waiting for the train — to what destination, we are not told, since she walked to the market — while gazing up at the surveillance cameras, serves as a metaphor for Bedelia’s life with Hannibal. She is more than uneasy, in fact: she is terrified because she is constantly being watched.

images-9We also learn where Hannibal went immediately after the carnage in S2’s Finale — to Bedelia’s house. When she entered, she discovered him taking a shower in her master bath. He came out of the shower to find her sitting on the bed, with a loaded pistol in one hand, and a drink in the other. After asking if he could get dressed, he told her he’d taken off his person-suit.

She asked how that felt.

He told her she was in no position to ask such a question.

Now, in Florence, living with Hannibal as his wife, Bedelia’s trips to the market do nothing to quiet her.

images-20Her attendance at Hannibal-as-Dr.-Fells’ lecture on Dante is apparently required, because she is obviously uncomfortable, and she bolts as soon as she catches a glimpse of the former TA Dimmond, leaving Hannibal to gaze upon her empty chair.

images-22Scurrying home to their elegant Florentine apartment, she packs, and is just about out the door when Hannibal opens it, followed by the big-mouthed Dimmond, whom Hannibal must deal with.

05HANNIBALRECAP6-blog480Hannibal’s and Bedelia’s ensuing conversation about “participation vs observation” open other, symbolic, doors: into how much Bedelia knows about Hannibal, how long she’s known it, and the secret Bedelia and Hannibal have never revealed about the time she was attacked by a former patient of Hannibal’s, who was killed, and Hannibal’s role in that.

It is this secret that has apparently bound Bedelia to Hannibal, even when she tried to “retire” from clinical psychiatry.

No other major characters appeared in the premiere, so their fates are as yet unknown. I have intentionally avoided viewing any Season 3 trailers which might reveal who survived and who didn’t, and I have not included them here.

Meanwhile, I say Bravisimo to Bryan Fuller and the others who have changed the entire approach to Hannibal.

Because, after all, now that he has been seen, he can become.

05HANNIBALRECAP3-blog480

Related Posts

The Nightmare Under the Pillow: NBC’s Hannibal, the Series, Season 1

The Nightmare that Followed Him Out of his Dreams: NBC’s Hannibal, Season 2

Share

2 Comments

Filed under Actors, Movies/Television, Videos