Tag Archives: Anthony Hopkins

The Set of 400: #214 – My Favorite Big Screen Tuberculosis

Today! Because there’s a cancer in the presidency and it’s growing –

Nixon (1995)

Directed by Oliver Stone (x2)

Starring Anthony Hopkins (x5), Joan Allen (x2), James Woods (x2), Paul Sorvino, Ed Harris, Powers Boothe (x3), Bob Hoskins, E.G. Marshall, David Hyde Pierce, David Paymer (x3), J.T. Walsh (x3), Mary Steenburgen (x2), Kevin Dunn (x3), Brian Bedford, Fyvush Finkel (x2), Annabeth Gish, Tony Goldwyn (x2), Larry Hagman (x2), Edward Herrman, Madeline Kahn (x2), Dan Hedaya (x3), Tom Bower, Tony Lo Bianco, Saul Rubinek, John C. McGinley, Michael Chiklis, George Plimpton, Marley Shelton (x2), James Karen (x2), Donna Dixon (x2), Sam Waterston, John Diehl, Robert Beltran

The last good-to-great movie Oliver Stone has made, Nixon is a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of the beleaguered 37th president, even while taking him to task for his many shortcomings as a politician and as a person in general. Throw in a bit of wild Oliver Stone-esque conspiracy speculation and a run time so bloated it manages to encompass decades of Tricky Dick’s life rather effortlessly, and you get a bombastic, overblown, sorta wonderful, sorta insane biopic unlike any other.

The performances carry through some of the more gymnastic directing – it’s a movie drowning in technique and style – with Hopkins’ amazing transformation into Nixon at its center. Many others have taken on this idiosyncratic role – Langella is fine in Frost/Nixon, Spacey a little less so in Elvis & Nixon, Dan Aykroyd’s terrific SNL take – but none were able to capture the manic nuance of the man, while also attempting to physically resemble him, the way Hopkins did. It’s magnificent. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #242 – My Favorite Music Hall Drunk

Today! Because the tramp can’t talk. The minute he talks, he’s dead –

Chaplin (1992)

Directed by Richard Attenborough

Starring Robert Downey Jr. (x6), Paul Rhys, Geraldine Chaplin, Anthony Hopkins (x4), Kevin Kline (x2), Moira Kelly (x2), Dan Aykroyd (x4), Marisa Tomei (x2), Penelope Ann Miller, John Thaw, Kevin Dunn (x2), Diane Lane, Milla Jovovich (x2), James Woods, Nancy Travis, Matthew Cottle, David Duchovny, John Standing (x3), Maria Pitillo, Deborah Moore

Ah, 1992! Apparently the heyday of my movie watching! The eighth entry from the year of Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign, Chaplin had a good hand in stretching my film interests back into the silent era. Now, as we’ve gone over in this space recently, it’s not like this list is teeming with dialogue-free cinema, however, without Chaplin there’s a good chance that none whatsoever would appear. Charlie Chaplin is a gateway into the entire era for most casual film goers, right? Silent comedy, by and large, looks ridiculous now, but at least it’s accessible. People like broad, physical comedy up to the present day, so silents can still be enjoyable, so long as you put aside your prejudice against this form of moviemaking. Don’t lie! Silents are hard, sometimes! One of the only instances where I fell asleep in a movie theater was catching the 1916 Sherlock Holmes starring William Gillette at the Chicago Film Festival a few years back. I was too tired going in! Plus, while there may have been no spoken words, the theater was still plenty loud from the reverberating snores! Everyone I went with fell asleep too! 100% true story. Sorry, Mr. Gillette!

This dude discovering a gun in his hand could only sustain us for so long!

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The Set of 400: #255 – My Favorite Flaming Wheelchair

Today! Because I am not a man. I began as one, but now I am becoming more than a man –

Red Dragon (2002)

Directed by Brett Ratner

Starring Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson (x2), Anthony Hopkins (x3), Harvey Keitel, Mary-Louise Parker, Philip Seymour Hoffman (x3), Anthony Heald, Frankie Faison, Ken Leung, Bill Duke (x2), William Lucking (x3), Frank Whaley (x2), Mary Beth Hurt, Ellen Burstyn

First of all, let me just say SHUT UP. I know the later Hannibal Lecter movies are not exactly beloved by audiences at large. This especially seems to apply to Red Dragon, mainly because of Manhunter, I guess? And okay, I get that – it came out first by quite a bit, and is a solid movie, so if you saw it first and were bitter Brian Cox didn’t get cast in Silence in the Lambs or something, okay. You hang on to that bitterness.

But no one can convince me that Manhunter is actually a better movie. It didn’t have the built in obstacle of needing to overcome a director like Brett Ratner at the helm, I’ll give you that – Michael Mann is by-far the superior filmmaker – but I feel that Red Dragon improves upon the original with every single actor in the film. Again, this isn’t necessarily to slight Manhunter – it’s a fine movie – but this seems to be the main argument against this movie, and I think it is ludicrous beyond words. The only aspect that I might say the original handled better is Lecter himself – because that movie didn’t treat him like he was somehow the star. The Red Dragon story has very little to do with Lecter, and when the original was released – five years before Silence – no one would’ve been clamoring for it be about him. This movie, of course, was concocted as a way to keep making Anthony Hopkins/Hannibal films, giving it that lingering cash-grab feel that people couldn’t shake.

On the other hand, Manhunter did go with this choice

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The Set of 400: #323 – My Favorite Wish to Just Lay Down

Today! Because people are frightened by what they don’t understand –

The Elephant Man (1980)

Directed by David Lynch

Starring John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins (x2), Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud (x2), Wendy Hiller (x2), Freddie Jones, Michael Elphick, Hannah Gordon, John Standing (x2), Helen Ryan, Kenny Baker (x2)

An absolutely riveting, heart-wrenching biopic of severely deformed 19th century Londoner Joseph Merrick, brought to life by the disparate talents of director David Lynch, actor John Hurt, and producer Mel Brooks. Lynch was hot off his very Lynchian glorified student film Eraserhead – as bonkers a movie as has ever been made – and Mel had recently wrapped his Hitchcock parody High Anxiety, so naturally these two Americans had to get together for a black-and-white period British freakshow drama. Really though, both have a strong streak of outsider characters populating their films and shows, and treating them sympathetically, so it may not be as far-fetched as I’m supposing.

Besides the tremendous performances – Hurt and Hopkins as Merrick’s doctor, primarily – and those gorgeous b&w visuals, the movie is a towering triumph of film make-up. Merrick’s deformities were so massive that it required near full-body coverage for Hurt – a process that allegedly took seven to eight hours a day. Burying your lead actor under massive prosthetics poses an obvious challenge – how does an effective performance emerge when you can barely see the actor – but Hurt is riveting throughout – even if completely unrecognizable. Another good actor example of physical immersion into roles, good and bad, is Gary Oldman – terrifically effective as the massively scarred Mason Verger in Hannibal, and (in my opinion) somewhat less so in his Oscar-winning pile of make-up work as Churchill in The Darkest Hour. Come on, is there one minute of that movie where you’re not just saying to yourself “Oh hey! Look at how much make-up Gary Oldman is wearing!” Maybe it’s just me.

These waxworks are so lifelike!

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The Set of 400: #350 – My Favorite Razor Licking

Today! Because I have crossed oceans of time to find you –

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Starring Gary Oldman (x2), Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Cary Elwes (x3), Richard E. Grant, Sadie Frost, Tom Waits, Monica Bellucci, Billy Campbell

As I think I’ve mentioned before, 1992 was basically the year I realized good movies existed. I enjoyed movies before then – and some turned out to remain decent afterward – but for whatever reason, I turn 13 and all of a sudden I’m looking for a different level of quality and artistic merit in my entertainments. All this after Batman Returns, though, so let’s keep my 1992 in perspective. I still didn’t really know what good was, I just now had a more serious pursuit of it. And one of the movies that had a definite impact on this quest was Coppola’s wildly over-directed Dracula.

Without much risk, I can definitively state that this was Coppola’s last even remotely good movie. Not that he’s been cranking them out – only five true features over the last 27 years – but it was as though this film took every last thing out of him. And it’s all on the screen – the frenetic editing, the sheets of blood, Anthony Hopkins going completely ape-shit, Keanu Reeves acting – it’s mayhem. Artistic mayhem, sure, but still so chaotic that just imagine if this was your whole exposure to the Dracula character. Like, no Bela Lugosi, no Christopher Lee, just this – how would this character have ever become popular? He’s this age-swapping, hyper-passionate monster who can’t pick a hairdo and go with it?

Seriously, what the hell was this about?

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