notes on the "manhunter" dvd


I watched the DVD of Michael Mann's "Manhunter" this afternoon, a film recently remade as "Red Dragon". Since I was with my family, the comedy flowed like wine. Since I was with my family, that's a lot of wine.

Funniness 1: Product placement

"Manhunter" is a somewhat low-budget film. I'm not sure it ever had much of a theatrical release. In a scene that appeared to be there to help defray production costs, lead actor William Peterson and his movie son have a heart-to-heart conversation while walking down the cereal aisle of a supermarket.

The amount of product placement is staggering. Rows of breakfast cereals fill the background of every shot. The actors appear to be creeping down the aisle in order to allow as many different products in the scene as possible. As Peterson was wrapping up his monologue about Hannibal Lecter (spelled "Lecktor" in this film, for some reason) sending him to the hospital, I speculated that he would stop, stare directly into the camera and do a testimonial for Cheerios at scene's end. Here's how it actually ended.

PETERSON: And that's why I was in the hospital.
KID: (pause) What's that kind of coffee you like?
KID: Is it that Folger's kind? (Grabs Folger's coffee, places it in cart)

Michael Mann, you are a whore.

Funniness 2: Résumé

The actress who plays the female lead in the film is named Kim Griest. My mother insisted that she had seen the actress before, in some other work. I suggested that we consult the Internet for guidance, but my father Dennis said we could use one of the DVD's special features.

"We'll use the 'résumé' button," Dennis insisted. "Her résumé should have a list of the movies she was in."

So Dennis took us to the Main Menu of the disc where we saw the "Resume" button. As in, "un-pause". Oh how we laughed.

Incidentally, Ms. Griest played Mandy Patinkin's crazy ex-wife on the television show "Chicago Hope".


What did you think of that movie? I'd read all over the place that it was an incredible film and it was almost absurd to try to remake it. But to me, it just seemed like a boring eighties cop movie. Totally unremarkable.

She also played Jill in "Brazil."

mandy patinkin! ha ha ha! i still can't believe i didn't steal his cd from half-price when i had the chance.

I had heard the same things about "Manhunter" (great film, Michael Mann is a genius, etc.), but I was pretty unimpressed. Maybe it's because I read the book (I have yet to see "Red Dragon"), but it felt like the really interesting elements of the story were missing. Due to various romantic subplots, and grocery store scenes, and long scenes where William Peterson stared into a mirror and yelled at the serial killer, the end result is a cop vs. serial killer movie that doesn't really have much about police work or killing.

It also doesn't help that the spooky dramatic music chosen for the climactic scene is Iron Butterfly's "Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida".

My little sister Molly does not normally do impressions, but she does do a wonderful Mandy Patinkin. I have also heard her do a frighteningly accurate rendition of Usher's "My Way."

The Iron Butterfly was my favorite part! I was like, "Well, maybe this is why they all think it's genius."

For a mainstream movie this is an extraordinary film, THANK YOU, Michael Mann. The most astonishing moment is when Noonan (the grotesque 'toothfairy') places his sleeping lover's hand - interestingly, she's blind - over his disfigured mouth and weeps - a revelatory scene that hints at the anquish that has fuelled his fury at the beautiful people and set him outside. It's unexpected to be encouraged to feel sympathy for the psycho. And briefly there is hope for his redemption...

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Keane published on February 17, 2003 11:08 PM.

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