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Moriarty's Rumblings From The Lab! A new weekly column!

Well folks, here's the first of Moriarty's Rumblings From The Lab... a new weekly (TUESDAY) column from the evil genius and dear professor. Just like many of you, I'm a huge fan of the old fart's musings, and here is the space for his regular column. You're sure to be entranced... (it's part of his master scheme!)

Hey, Head Geek...

"Moriarty" here.

It recently occurred to me, Harry, that there are many times I get a piece of information that doesn't merit a whole spy report, but it's worth passing along in some form. There are also thoughts and ideas that I'd love to share with the AICN readers that aren't tied to just one project. As a result, I've decided to try my hand at a regular column in addition to my review contributions for the page.

So, without further ado, I'd like to welcome everyone to the first of what I hope will be many Rumblings From The Moriarty Labs. You'll be able to find me every Tuesday morning, right here. Hopefully I'll be able to make it worth your while to check... not like you wouldn't be here anyway, of course.

When you consider the rather exhaustive research resources employed here at the Moriarty Labs, it doesn't seem possible for something to slip in under the radar. When it does, though, it can be delightful. At the beginning of this past weekend, I had just such a surprise, and I had to share my excitement with you.

Many fans were surprised when George Lucas pierced his own veil of secrecy by releasing the novelization of THE PHANTOM MENACE at the beginning of May, weeks before the film's release. None of that really mattered to hardcore fans, though, since most of the film's secrets were readily available to anyone with Internet access and had been for months.

By contrast, Stanley Kubrick's EYES WIDE SHUT has been a black hole of buzz. The same few tired rumors (they're married psychiatrists, she's on heroin, Harvey's supposed reason for being fired) have been reported to death. Aside from the fact that the film is based loosely on Arthur Schnitzler's TRAUMNOVELLE, nothing of any substance has been leaked.

Seriously. Nothing.

I've searched everywhere, and there has been nothing to find. I admire Kubrick and his collaborators for their ability to shut out the world. The images we've seen have all been sanctioned by Kubrick, released on his timetable. That first 90 second teaser image that he designed specifically for ShoWest was bold, simple, and unforgettable. It also smacked of Kubrick, both in look and in the unsettling mood of the piece. The second longer trailer, the one that was actually released to theaters, is hypnotic, the best example of a real tease I've seen lately. Who knows what these images add up to? It doesn't matter, really. Again, he's selling mood, feel, and look, and it's spectacular. Whether it's that uncomfortable shot of Leelee Sobieski in her underwear or the haunting shots of the people in masks, or even Tom Cruise in the morgue looking at someone's body, there's real malice lurking just offscreen, and it's wonderful.

This weekend, though, something finally broke the silence. In fact, it was like the floodgates broke all at once. I picked up the new issue of ROLLING STONE, the one with the ridiculously sexy layout of Nicole Kidman shot by Herb Ritts, and I also found a book that I didn't know was coming, the Frederic Raphael memoir EYES WIDE OPEN, a phenomenal look at his take on the process of working with Kubrick.

The STONE article is very good. Nancy Collins did a wonderful job of drawing Kidman out about the film, getting her to talk about Kubrick. It's obvious from the interview that Kidman is still dealing with the emotional fallout from the maestro's death, but she does paint quite a portrait of him. One of the most fascinating things in that article is the idea that Kidman and Cruise had a better relationship with Kubrick than any of his earlier actors for one simple reason: they handed themselves over to his process completely. One of the things you always here is how people would clash with him, resist his technique. They either get fed up by his multiple takes or they want to collaborate with him in a way he isn't prepared to offer. Whatever the case, there's story after story about how actors clashed with him. With Cruise and Kidman, though, it sounds like they came to play. They knew his reputation and they walked into the film with their eyes open (no pun intended). They wanted to see how he worked, and they were willing to go where he led them. As a result, it sounds like he genuinely warmed to them as a friend as well as a colleague. You can practically feel how much she misses him in every line of the interview. She also dispels all the commonly held knowledge about the film, saying they aren't psychiatrists, she isn't on heroin in the film, and it's not wall-to-wall sex.

So what is it, then?

Well, Raphael's book holds the answer to that question. I've read a few articles about this book, most of them in response to the excerpt from it that ran a week or so ago in THE NEW YORKER, and I'm amazed that all anyone seems to care about is the idea of Kubrick's Jewishness. Personally, I think this is another case of the media needing to have something to be up in arms about. Like the issue of race in THE PHANTOM MENACE, this is preposterous, idle nonsense that has nothing to do with the work being discussed. Kubrick was Jewish. It was part of who he was. He discusses it with his collaborator, but that's all. Was he obsessed with it? Does Raphael treat him unfairly? Did he like SCHINDLER'S LIST or not?

WHO CARES?!?!?! People, this is the man who wrote Kubrick's last film, and he's offering us a peek inside that process. I'd say Raphael had a fair amount of affection for Kubrick, tempered both by awe and a need to prove himself Kubrick's equal. The book is not remotely about bashing Kubrick or dimming his luster at all, though. It's a celebration of that strange, unique mind that gave us masterwork after masterwork. Personally, I loved the look at how he approached Raphael, how he kept the identity of the novel from him even after sending Raphael excerpts to read, and how he would prod his co-writer (since this is obviously a case of true collaboration) with questions, not answers.

Mostly, though, I'm amazed that no one picked up on the fact that the whole film is laid out in the book. I have a hell of an idea as to the shape of the film now. I know who The Free are. I know what the masks are for. I have a good idea of who's in that morgue and why. All of these tidbits are just nonchalantly revealed in the book, along with dozens of others. Now, I'm not going to just regurgitate the facts to you... I want people to go out and find this book and digest it. Then digest it again. It's remarkable, and I think it is the closest many of us will ever come to understanding something about one of the greatest filmmakers ever.

I also recently read Thomas Harris' brilliant new HANNIBAL, and I'm dying to see how Hollywood handles the book. There's almost no way they're going to pass on making the film, but if Harris has final approval of the script, I sense a long and ugly development process ahead. This is one of the most cinematic books I've ever read, but no studio on earth has the courage to take an audience into the heart of darkness Harris has painted here. Personally, I'd love to see Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins reteam for this duet, and I'd love to see someone like Sam Raimi direct the film. Ridley Scott couldn't be more wrong for this material. His sensibilities could overwhelm the story and the characters and turn a story about psychological terror into another Hollywood "thrill ride." Harris is after far more than thrills in this book, though. I'm not going to expound much here. I think Stephen King (get better, sir... please) did a phenomenal job of writing about the book, and if you want to read more on it, I'd recommend going to the New York Times website and finding his review. Amazing.

Actually, "amazing" seems to be a buzzword around the Labs this weekend. We've been using it a lot since we made our way to AMC's Burbank 14 theaters on Sunday night so we could see a presentation of THE PHANTOM MENACE using Texas Instruments' new digital projection system. I first saw the system demonstrated at ShoWest this spring, and thought it was amazing there. Still, I was curious how it would be to see a whole film that way. Since I've seen TPM something like a thousand times now, I figured I'd be able to pick out whatever subtle quality difference their might be.

Subtle, my ass. The demonstration was ravishing. I've never seen a film that looked like it. The colors were vivid and sharp, and the focus on the film was impeccable, even during tricky pans or shots with a lot of motion. There were shots that looked like new moments. The brightness of the film, a problem during some of the Theed sequences and the Jedi Council scenes, was totally different this time. I was able to see everything, but without the integrity of the blacks being compromised at all. Overall, even for those of you who were less than enthusiastic about the film, I'd say it's worth a trip to see a print of it as long as it's the TI system. I didn't like the Cinecomm process in Vegas, and I've heard that the print at the Winnetka 20 theater here in town is less impressive. I'd believe it.

Last night on SISKEL & EBERT, Roger and his guest, Todd McCarthy (lead critic for VARIETY and the maker of the brilliant documentary VISIONS OF LIGHT) did a segment about a new film process called MaxiVision which they both claimed was the best projection process they'd ever seen. There were a few digs in the story directed at digital projection. Ebert asked why we're all in such a rush to "watch TV in the theater." All I can figure is that (A) MaxiVision is amazing and (B) Ebert thinks that digital projection is somehow related to video projection. I know it's a common misconception, but there's no comparison between the two. Now, I'm a film lover myself. I think the process of printing light onto film using nothing but chemicals is something akin to magic. I love the look of film. There's a texture to it that's unmistakable. If you'd asked me sight unseen which process I was more excited about, I'd want the one that keeps 35mm film as part of the process.

Hell, I still think MaxiVision sounds interesting. By projecting the film at 48 frames per second and increasing the actual frame size by 32 percent, and by also eliminating the black space on the film, the image is made clearer, larger, richer. If you also factor in the new projectors designed to show the process, it does sound amazing. It also sounds expensive, though, and there's the rub.

See, whatever format we switch over to as the industry standard (and there's a switch coming, folks... believe it), it's going to cost money. The one that's going to win is the one that makes more financial sense in the long run. You don't have to be psychic or "deep inside" to know that. Studios have never been particularly concerned with art, and neither have theater owners. They exhibit and manufacture art, but they do it to make money. Knowing that, it's practically a foregone conclusion that digital projection is where we're headed. It cuts costs in terms of prints and distribution. It evens the playing field for smaller companies in many ways.

And when you see it, you will see why it's got people so excited. Wow.

I'd like to close today by offering a preview of an event that's taking place in Hollywood this weekend at the Writer's Guild Theater at Doheny and Wilshire. Although it's sponsored by Dockers Khakis, it seems like the Classically Independent Film Festival is just that... a nice look back at the past 20 years of the Independent Feature Project. They're showing 10 movies, both new and old, and I'm planning to attend (at the very least) BROKEN VESSELS, CHOOSE ME, FIVE CORNERS, and RESTAURANT. Two of those I've seen, and two of them I haven't. All the films on the bill are interesting and worthwhile, though, and with tickets running a mere $8 per program (there's several films a night), how wrong can you go? There's also a panel discussion on Saturday featuring such luminaries as Lizzie Borden (WORKING GIRLS), Gregory Nava ( MI FAMILIA, EL NORTE), Peter McCarthy (who directed TAPEHEADS and I'M GONNA GET YOU SUCKA and produced SID & NANCY and REPO MAN), Paul Bartel (you'd better know who Paul Bartel is... EATING RAOUL, fer chrissakes!), Carl Franklin (ONE FALSE MOVE and the sadly underrated Mosely adaptation DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS), as well as others still to be confirmed. Check out the site for more details, and if you come, just look for the Evil Genius surrounded by mutant henchmen. That would be me.

I'll be sharing my reviews of SOUTH PARK, WILD WILD WEST, ARLINGTON ROAD and more with you over the week between now and my next column, so don't think this is all you're going to be seeing from me. Until then...

"Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback
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  • June 22, 1999, 4:01 a.m. CST

    Hannibal the Movie

    by Call Me Roy

    Has anyone in Hollywood got the courage to retain the ending of this story?

  • June 22, 1999, 4:05 a.m. CST

    self congratulation (sorry)

    by Call Me Roy

    Wow. What a week. First I get my first ever asthma inhaler. Then I get the first space on a talkback I've ever had. Geek heaven.

  • June 22, 1999, 4:08 a.m. CST

    Thank You, Moriarty

    by The Doctor

    A regular dose of your nefariousness every week is quite welcome. Just imagine if Hallenbeck had done this...>shudders<

  • June 22, 1999, 4:11 a.m. CST

    Eyes Wide Shut, Digital Projection and Hannibal

    by paragonian

    Great article by the way Moriarty, can't wait for the next one since my support of David Polands The Hot Button has been getting a little shakey. First off, why are you gonna read Eyes Wide Open and try and put together the movie before you see it. I like how there's no information of it although it makes it hard to explain to people as I try to build good word of mouth. Everyone thinks it's a porno and I can barely explain what it's about since I don't know either. One thing I disagree about Kubricks directing style is that I don't think you have to be an overbearing, pretentious asshole in order to get the best out of cast and crews, it usually just pisses everyone off, unnecessarily raises the budget and bogs things down. About Digital Projection, I think it's gonna allow small films to reach more theaters, lower budgets, and higher print and sound quality, all of which are good but I'm sure there are drawbacks too. Hannibal is most likely never gonna happen and even if it does it'll cost way too much and won't be nearly as good or successful as the original. I bet DeLaurentis is kicking himself for not doing Silence of the Lambs and for backstabbing Oliver Stone and not doing Platoon like promised. Gee, he seems to have more faith in crapfests than quality films, no his films are usually duds.

  • June 22, 1999, 5:01 a.m. CST

    It's about time...

    by droog

    that Moriarty got his own column here at AICN. I've always felt that Moriarty was one of the few articulate souls who shared his views -- he's the closest thing to a writer or journalist I've seen on these pages. He doesn't disappoint here and hopefully he won't in subsequent columns either (which I'm confident he won't). It's nice to see someone who can form an eloquent, complete sentence without dozens of spelling errors or asinine overuse of punctuation (!!!!!!). Looking forward to reading more. BTW, is that really your picture? Heh heh...

  • June 22, 1999, 5:10 a.m. CST

    gotta see the Hal Hartley flick

    by s20mil

    When you go to the film fest, check out "The Unbelievable Turth". It's a great littel flick that happened to be shot in my (and Hal's) hometown of Lindenhurst, LI. This film is his first. It's a kinda black comedy.

  • June 22, 1999, 5:30 a.m. CST

    What To Make Of HANNIBAL

    by mrbeaks

    It's such a curveball of a book that, at first, I really hated it. For the first few chapters, after the botched bust, I was placing it in the same class as THE LOST WORLD; figuring Harris had written it just to give the masses what he thought they wanted, and collecting a very large payday. Happily, after the rough start, and a few very odd twists, I began to get engrossed in the book the way I was with SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and RED DRAGON. 'Tis a very strange novel this HANNIBAL, and, I think, unfilmable. Plus, from what I've read, it doesn't sound like Hopkins is thrilled with Harris' work. I would like to see HANNIBAL make it to the screen, though, if only to see Ridley Scott film in Florence, but, as it stands, I can't see how it'll get done.

  • June 22, 1999, 5:31 a.m. CST


    by HellThought

    I can't believe how fast everyone clamors to call this hunk of shit a masterpiece. If I ever get to meet Thomas Harris, I'm going kick him in the balls. This book is BULLSHIT! I'd be more than happy to give away the ending, but the thought of typing it out makes my jaws clench, which always leads to vomit. Let me just say that the path these characters that have held my interest for YEARS!!!!!! was totally fucking betrayed and ruined by the BULLSHIT that Harris has decided to spew onto the page. It's not only totally fucking unbelieveable, but it's pissing in the face of every fan he's ever had. FUCK THOMAS HARRIS AND FUCK HANNIBAL! I hope if this piece of shit ever gets made that it bombs, and everyone involved takes a serious hit on their careers for their involvement.

  • June 22, 1999, 5:37 a.m. CST

    Maxivision and animation

    by Bryan

    An animator friend of mine is concerned that Maxivision, with its extra frame count (48 per second?) would essentially kill classical animation, damaging the illusion of the movement if studios didn't up the amount of drawings per second. Does anyone know if this is true? I'm still waiting to see digital projection to have an opinion on it, but the complete lack of scratches, bad splices, reel order mishaps, films stops due to static or sprocket damage, etc. seems like a pretty damn big plus. Some of the romantic concerns about losing film make sense, and I certainly was sad when vinyl began to die, but I'm glad I eventually gave in and converted to CDs, because they sound so much better and last so much longer. It sounds like digital projection would lead to near-perfect presentation, and we could then start concentrating on other problems like getting that guy sitting behind me to shut his god damned mouth. It's kind of funny that Ebert is so deadset against digital projection he attacks it with semantics by only referring to it as "video projection" and "TV." I'd like to know more about his theory that we don't subconsciously view digital projection the same way we do film, though. *** By the way, I don't know about this Peter McCarthy, but I do believe it was Keenan Ivory Wayans who directed I'M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA.

  • June 22, 1999, 7:18 a.m. CST


    by Wared

    Before we get on an Ebert-Bashing tangent here, it should be pointed out that he, unlike many reviewers, is generally kind enough to include some opinion and reasoning behind his reviews. Not only will he tell you what he thinks about a film, but also why. I generally agree with what he thinks, and he's given me things to think about in regards to certain films... Anyway, in one of his Answer Man columns, Ebert discusses both MaxiVision and digital.. ..."That's kind of sad, because experts say the best digital projection is not yet a match for current film technology, and there is a new film system named MaxiVision, developed by Dean Goodhill, that projects film at 48 frames per second--twice the current rate--and would produce astonishing results for Lucas. Digital projection systems have been estimated to cost $70,000 per theater. MaxiVision can be retrofitted to existing 35-mm. projectors for a fraction of the cost, and the projectors can show both 24 and 48 frames-per-second films. Steven Poster, vice president of the American Society of Cinematographers, tells me the MaxiVision picture is breathtakingly superior to current film projection, not to mention video. Since some perceptual psychologists argue that film and video are perceived differently by the mind (film creates an alpha state, resembling reverie, while video produces a beta state, resembling hypnosis), digital video projection might in fact destroy the moviegoing experience as we know it. I hope Lucas doesn't lead the movie industry down the digital rabbit hole." (Roger Ebert -Movie Answer Man May 9,1999) Hardly the last word on the subject, but an opinion at least. Hardly

  • June 22, 1999, 7:29 a.m. CST


    by Number 6

    I too read the book, and while I thought it was a decent read, I have no clue how they will make this into a movie. On one hand the books descriptions are breathtaking and you could see in your minds eye the cinematography that would go into making this film. However, the ending would not be easy for most people to swallow, and it would take a directors' director to make it plausible.

  • June 22, 1999, 8:02 a.m. CST

    You're WAY off on Hannibal

    by emorr

    Dude, what book did you read? That book wasn't even EDITED! There are grammatical sentence fragments in it. We were taught that in grade school. It seems over the last 10 years he was taking the book in different directions (Starling, Venice, Mason Verger) and threw it all together and then put in that utterly ridiculous ending. The book is hack-work at best.

  • June 22, 1999, 8:15 a.m. CST

    3 cheers

    by -Z-

    I must say, I am happy that one of the more articulate and thoughtful contributers to this sight is getting a column. I have always enjoyed Moriarty's reviews (whether I agreed with him or not). Now, to address the digital/film discussion; digital projection is coming, of that I have no doubt. I don't like it. I'll miss everything about film. There's nothing quite like sitting in a darkened room and listening to the quiet flicker of a film projector. I weep for the future. I too bought a CD player and CD's. But to those who claim it sounds "better", pfah. Take out a Jimi Hendrix album and play it on a good turn table. Then, pop the CD into a CD player (attached to the same stereo) and listen to the difference. While I agree that CD's sound clearer, I will not agree that they sound better. Analog sound has a warmth (it's actually analog distortion) that CD's in their clarity just don't have. That's why a Hendrix record (recorded and meant to be heard on analog equipment) has an OOoomph seriously lacking in a Hendrix CD. The same goes for film and video. I have seen amazingly clear pictures with HDTV, but the look is totally different then film. Now I know that HDTV and digital projection are not the same thing, but nevertheless, they both utilize digital technology. Compare a film made at the height of the technicolor process, projected onto the big screen, with a film made with digital cameras, digitally projected. They are two totally different animals. Anyway, I guess the whole point behind this rant is that I hope film does not totally dissapear (as vinyl has not), for I would miss it so.

  • June 22, 1999, 8:59 a.m. CST


    by PDaddy

    Ebert is a pompous blow-hard. He is so transparent - he wants to be viewed as some kind of elite intellectual, but falls well short. Most of his reviews are plot summary. If you read his reviews before watching him on S&E, you'll see that he just quotes his written review verbatim. It's just an illusion that he's discussing anything on that show - he's just dishing out his pre-formed, inflated opinions to this week's unfortunate guest host recipient. As for his opinion on digital projection, I think Ebert just found some "perceptual psychologist" that published some bullshit study about "alpha" and "beta" states and "reverie" and "hypnosis", figured by quoting him or her, he could sound smart and went with it. By the way, a true "Beta" state refers not to hypnosis, but to the brain wave patterns when you are wide awake (or in REM sleep). An "Alpha" pattern refers to the brain wave patterns when you are awake, but have your eyes closed. Anyway, I really can't stand Ebert and the condescending attitude that he seems to display towards everyone (including most of his guest hosts).

  • June 22, 1999, 9:02 a.m. CST


    by DH

    I'd love to see film replaced by something better.I'm tired of crap scratched dirt speckled shitty prints that seem to make into the projector of the cinemas I go to. Nostalgia can be a bad thing, DVD is far superior to video, vynil was an awful medium to record music onto, so fragile, play it too many times & it's screwed.Look to the future & let the past go.

  • June 22, 1999, 9:02 a.m. CST

    Lazlo - how tough is this?!?!?!?!?!

    by PDaddy

    Why are Talkbacks constantly being ruined when some ignoramus feels the need to post a link that is 500 characters long?!?!?!?! If you really want to share an article, JUST CUT AND PASTE THE DAMN THING INSTEAD OF CREATING A WHIPLASH EFFECT IN THE TALKBACKS!!!!! PLEAS!!!!!

  • June 22, 1999, 9:32 a.m. CST

    Moriarty and "Hannibal"

    by Napoleon Solo

    Moriarty's column is a good addition to the site, but I really must protest the use of words like "brilliant" in connection with "Hannibal." "Cynical," "scam" and "cash-in" are more like it. The anger of some talk-backers is understandable: I bought my copy the day it came out, ran home to read it and went to bed feeling like the biggest sucker in creation. As for Stephen King's NYT review ... sigh. As "Dance Macabre" showed, he has a thing about cannibalism.

  • June 22, 1999, 9:36 a.m. CST


    by Brunicat

    A Kinder, Gentler Hannibal Lecter A heinous crime of unspeakable horror has occurred. A monster of unconscionable depravity is on the loose! No, it's not Hannibal Lecter. I' m talking about Thomas Harris. Harris has committed real literary homicide by turning the Grandest Guignole in recent fiction into a wimp. Readers hoping to find the deliciously menacing Hannibal Lecter of Silence of the Lambs will not recognize this latest incarnation who's about as threatening as the newest version of Darth Vader is in the summer's other highly anticipated "sequel." Harris' trademark well-paced, suspense-laden primers in psychological horror have given way to Hannibal's lugubrious pacing, annoying protagonists and killer pigs. Without giving away too much of the "plot," suffice to say that in the novel's most ludicrous scene, Lecter is terrorized on an airplane by a "bratty" kid. Scary stuff! Unlike its predecessor, Hannibal will not garner any awards should it be made into a movie. Surely, such distinguished actors as Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster will refuse to be a part of this debacle. Fortunately, that will leave the door open for the actor who would really be perfect to portray this new Lecter. However, I'm sure Leslie Nielson will be busy filming a real horror movie--Mr. Magoo 2.

  • June 22, 1999, 10:26 a.m. CST

    Moriarty in W/S

    by RobinP

    First, Moriarty has a regular column ? About Goddamn time !!!!!!!!! Second why are the talkbacks in widescreen ?

  • June 22, 1999, 10:51 a.m. CST

    Nu Formats & Animation

    by xerxes

    To reply to the guy who's friend was concerned about 48 fps film format killing off animation because it doubles the number of drawings - don't worry about it. Just because you CAN fit 48 drawings in a second doesn't mean you HAVE to. In fact, 2d drawn animation is commonly done as a mixture of 12 and 24 frames per second. When shooting at 12fps, (called shooting on 2s), the cameraman shoots each drawing twice. So the film is still projected at 24fps, but the animation is 12 fps. as i understand it, the 24fps frame rate is mostly used for really fast motions, to prevent strobing. Slow motions are done at 12 fps to save work. Knowing when to draw and shoot "1s"(24fps) or "2s"(12fps) is part of the fine art of animation timing, and the same decision making process will be used if the industry goes to a higher frame rate.

  • June 22, 1999, 11:10 a.m. CST

    Censor refuses to CENSOR HIMSELF!

    by Pope Buck 1

    Censor, what makes you think anyone cares what you have to say? Please go away.

  • June 22, 1999, 11:21 a.m. CST


    by Alessan

    yeah, get a life.

  • June 22, 1999, 11:43 a.m. CST

    Hannibal is some good eatin'

    by Clockwork Taxi

    Ridley could make this movie be totally terrifying, he is a great director and I hope he gets on board.

  • June 22, 1999, 12:11 p.m. CST

    Hannibal's brilliance

    by MrNiceGuy

    Hannibal IS a brilliant novel, regardless of what you nay-sayers insist. It is masterly conceived, from start to finish -- and is one of the most psychologically perfect novels ever written. The inner-most psyches of intensely complex characters are laid bare with a remarkable confidence. Most writers couldn't even approach an understanding of these people, but Harris captures each and every one of them perfectly. I fear, however, that it is simply too sophisticated for most of you. Whereas "The Phantom Menace" disappointed many because it was too dumb, Hannibal is disliked because it's just too smart. The complexity of the narrative -- despite a simple plot structure -- is astounding, with delightful allusions to Dante's "Divine Comedy" (obviously), and Milton's "Paradise Lost" (slightly more subtle). The novel only missteps when Harris explains Lecter's past. At the same time, however, without that explanation the conclusion wouldn't work -- so we have to accept that humanization of Lecter as part of the story Harris wanted to tell. And a truly great story it is. A good writing-directing team could film the story as is, if they wanted to. Nothing is unfilmable. And I'm not so certain Ridley Scott wouldn't be a good choice for this film. I thought of "Blade Runner" more than any other story as I read the book. I think there's quite a bit of Roy Batty in Lecter -- including the religious parallels which link the two. (In the simplest terms, both are an intermixture of Christ and Lucifer -- the hunted and the hunter.) And there's something of Deckard in Starling, if we see both characters as "avenging angels", of sorts. (The novel isn't being particularly subtle when the tabloid press calls Clarice "the Death Angel".) And just as there was an odd union of sorts between Batty and Deckard at "Blade Runner"'s conclusion, so too is there an exceedingly odd union between Starling and Lecter at the end of Hannibal. So I think Scott could deal with the paradigms of the characters quite easily, if he returned to form. Note: if some of you don't know what I'm talking about, don't just flame me. I'm not saying the stories of BR and Hannibal are identically (or even similarly) structured thematically, but the frameworks of the main characters are very similar indeed. Anyways, Hannibal is a marvelous novel, and I greatly look forward to seeing it as a Ridley Scott film. (Though a Sam Raimi film would be great too, and a David Fincher film would be best of all.)

  • June 22, 1999, 1:03 p.m. CST

    To the person who said

    by -Z-

    Look to the future and let the past go. Have you ever sat by candle light? If so, let go of the past (electric lamps produce much clearer, more usable light). If not, poor soul.

  • June 22, 1999, 1:31 p.m. CST

    Harry's Girlfriend

    by Corran Fox Horn

    Hey Censor dude -- read Harry's Fifth Element Review. As I recall, he mentioned his ex-girlfriend in it. Maybe the post you read at was that old.

  • June 22, 1999, 2:07 p.m. CST

    digital "Ideal Husband"

    by The Great Garrin

    I have seen both the Burbank 14 digital Star Wars, and the digital projection of "An Ideal Husband" at Laemele's Sunset 5. All I can say is WOW! This is really an exciting time for cinema... I have no doubt that digital projection is the way of the future. It looks superior in every way to standard film *even at this early stage). If you live in L.A., do yourself a favor and see these movies projected digitally. In some ways, An Ideal Husband looked even better than TPM, perhaps because it's set in a more tangible world. As Levar Burton used to say on reading Rainbow, "but don't take my word for it..."

  • June 22, 1999, 4:17 p.m. CST

    Ebert Revisited

    by All Thumbs

    First of all, because this TalkBack is supposed to be about Moriarty's new feature I'll say that it was very interesting and just plain cool. Keep it up! I'm on pins and needles for next Tuesday. I have to disagree with the person who said Roger Ebert is a "pompous blowhard" and has a condescending attitude towards his guest hosts on his show. Factors such as time and editing go into the prepping of that show, like Harry wrote in his article about his guest shot. Another think you must remember, regarding the quoting of his articles, is that when a writer who is so passionate about something as Ebert seems to be about film and the movie-making process will be more likely to quote that which they spent a considerable amount of time and thought to create. Why not say what you really feel even if you've written it down already for a column that may not reach those who possibly only watch the television show? He's not a stupid man. He understands that there are many who don't read a paper or bother to look him up on the internet as some of us do. Anyways, I'll leave it at that because Gene Siskel and he are up high on my hero list if I ever bothered to number them. (I guess that's a DUH looking at my username, huh?)

  • June 22, 1999, 5:17 p.m. CST

    Ridley Scott can't direct what?

    by sicarius

    Perhaps Mori forgot a little film celebrating its 20th aniversary this summer: ALIEN! I just watched it again this weekend on dvd and it still gets under your skin. He keeps building the tension, releasing it a bit, then more and more. He is quite capable of handling anything Mr. Harris writes.

  • June 22, 1999, 5:31 p.m. CST

    Hannibal (Fade out)

    by Intheknow

    I am dismayed by the passionate protests against the ending to this story. If you have truly followed the characters from start to finish, Thomas Harris provides the perfect ending. This will be a thrilling and provocative film -- and once again, leaves the door open for a return visit.

  • June 22, 1999, 7:16 p.m. CST

    Digital Film

    by Trader Vic

    Hello Moriarty. I just wanted to let you know that I liked your column, and wish you a lot of luck in the future with it. You had mentioned in the latter part of your article that you like the look of 35 mm film. I agree that the 'look' of film in general, possesses a unique quality that should never completely go away. I would certainly hate to go to a movie, and see wide-screen 'live-looking' video instead of the traditional film look, if I only wanted to just see a movie. I believe that the 'video-look' may make its way into the theaters, for other special sporting events and other things we can only imagine, which I would be willing to pay to see on a traditional movie screen. As for movies, I hope that this will not ever change. But as in the 'look' of film, not to worry. There are ways in which to handle this problem. One is with software on the market right now that will allow you to take video footage, and give it the 'look' of 'film'. I read an article about a year ago in Videography magazine (, and there was a techique that was used for one particular movie called 'Julia and Julia', which the article stated was that the entire picture was completely shot with a High Definition video camera and converted in post-production to 'look' like that of traditional film. I haven't seen this movie, and am not sure it is available on videotape, but from the article, it appears that this may be one way toward the transition of the all-digital film mediumn now and in the future of film production. Just in case anyone is interested in one type of software program that is currently in the market, you can find the article at: Besides your new column and updates, I hope to hear more about any new diabolical schemes for world domination for all of us to read about in upcoming articles!

  • June 22, 1999, 8:03 p.m. CST

    Harris should have called it "SHAMMIBAL."

    by ClanitaX

    Given 11 years to write a sequel, it is shocking that such a wonderful writer as Harris would come up with such gobshite as this novel. Even the title, "HANNIBAL" shows how little thought he put into the book. Hannibal Lector isn't even the main character!! For that matter, why didn't he call "SILENCE...," "CLARICE." The whole book is filled with unnecessary filler information, scenes that just don't move the story along, like the aforementioned airplane scene; Hannibal disguised as a doctor in a hospital stealing drugs; Hannibal buying all his little doo-dads, minutiae, just to add to his page count. And the violence!!!! Hey, we all love the ocassional violent book and/or movie, but what was so damn scary about the movie and book of "Silence..." was what was left unsaid, and left to your imagination. This was just so gratuitously gross, on every page. How the hell are they going to put a character like Mason Verger on the screen?? He's going to have to wear a Phantom of The Opera mask. The ending didn't bother me, though I think it is extremely uncharacteristic, but at least it was unexpected. If it had to be a movie, maybe David Fincher would be the one to make it. I bet any money Sir Tony and Jodie won't be involved in a movie version.

  • June 22, 1999, 9:18 p.m. CST

    Authors and Directors are Artists

    by scalz

    What everyone seems to forget as they bash Harris and question Kubrick is that they are artists. They work in ways which produce the work we get from them. True fans of Harris would respect the direction he chose to take with "Hannibal". The characters are his creation. He hit a nerve with "Lambs" and many people who'd never read about a psycho cannibal became hooked. Now 10 years on he writes again of those legendary characters. True fans would trust what he does with Lecter and Starling. They wouldn't exist without him. If any of us could write that stuff we'd be #1 on the bestseller list and not posting crap on a web-site about entertainment. This book is just sick enough to scare off the non-beleivers but Hollywood will make this movie. And most of y'all won't like that either. As for Kubrick being a controlling prick, the same goes. He was an artist and a great one. You wouldn't tell Picasso where to stick his paint brushes so why expect Stanley to play nice nice with actors. Kidman and Cruise are playing it right. They're worship is well placed. Any "A-list" actor in Hollywood would have been at his feet to just make a cameo in his next film. They are just enhancing his mystique. Does anybody really think any director could have pleased the late 70's model of Jack Nicholson. He was high as a kite on a complete burn when The Shining was made. Not easy to please. But the performance has defined his career and the film eclipsed Stephen King's literary success. There's enough envy to go around when you talk about a creative force like Stanley Kubrick.

  • June 22, 1999, 9:30 p.m. CST

    Girlfriend II

    by Emile_Zola

    [btw harry banned me, Censor_Central, good thing he is not in the movie distribution busines]........................ ................................ ............................... Ok I checked 5th element review boy I sudden a flashback turned up back to me, all of the suddenly I recalled all the hype that crapy movie received of aicn, well maybe it wasnt harry

  • June 22, 1999, 11:18 p.m. CST

    Hannibals ending

    by Henry Fool

    I thought the ending of Hannibal was far more shocking than the end of Silence of the Lambs. SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THIS BOOK DON'T READ ANY FURTHER. At the end of the story, Clarice spends several weeks under hypnotic drugs under Lecters supervision while he speaks to her in a state of hypnosis. Clarice didn't go with him of her free will, he brainwashed her. That's what made the ending so uncomfortably eery. I'm just pissed that I'm going to have to wait another decade to find out what happens next (assuming Harris writes another novel, which I believe he will). My only real complaint about the book was that Jack Crawford was so under used.

  • June 22, 1999, 11:37 p.m. CST

    Peter McCarthy

    by Henry Fool

    If anyone doesn't know who Peter McCarthy is, I highly recommend they see his 1994 film Floundering. The film looks at the social climate of Los Angeles following the '92 riots from the P.O.V. of a young slacker with a quick wit and a VERY rich fantasy life. The film stars James LeGros who is an indie frequent having had large roles in Drugstore Cowboy, The Myth of Fingerprints, and My New Gun, among others. It also has cameo appearances by John Cusack, Ethan Hawke, Billy Bob Thornton, Steve Buscemi, and Kim Wayans.

  • June 23, 1999, 2:52 a.m. CST


    by Imagikafan

    This was a solid, enjoyable read up until the end. I thought the ending was ludicrous. I don't see Hopkins nor Foster jumping to get aboard this project. -Mark

  • June 23, 1999, 4:02 a.m. CST

    long awaited sequel

    by eddie boy

    I can't wait for the new Hannibal film to be made. I hope they hurry up though, because Howard Keel and Esther Williams are both getting on a bit now.

  • June 23, 1999, 7:28 a.m. CST

    Alpha and beta states ... what BS!

    by tdibble

    Ebert says, "Since some perceptual psychologists argue that film and video are perceived differently by the mind (film creates an alpha state, resembling reverie, while video produces a beta state, resembling hypnosis)" ---------------------------------- Okay, folks, just read that again, and think about it for a moment. ---------------------------------- Alright, we're talking Ebert here, not a rocket scientist, but still, you'd think basic scientific principles wouldn't be violated. ---------------------------------- "Film" and "Video": what's the difference? In film light is washed through a colored semi-transparent film and onto a screen, where it is reflected to the eyes. In "video" (meaning digital projection here, not direct-view video as in TV), light is washed through colored, semi-transparent liquid crystals (of a sort) and onto a screen, where it is reflected to the eyes. The net perceptible difference? "Video" is sharper, clearer, and unmarred by per-viewing degradation. ---------------------------------- IMHO, Ebert is misunderstanding what the researchers said. They were *probably* talking about direct-view video, as in, from a television or other CRT. That *is* different from the film-based indirect-view system, and from the digital-projection system. The current "big screen" TV's share more in common with the CRT paradigm than with upcoming Digital Projection. Why? A CRT does not show a full picture on the screen, ever; the electron excites photo-sensitive cells on the screen so that they glow, and at any point of time, some of the pixels are glowing, some are completely off, and others are in varying states. Ever take a picture of a TV? You see the "bar" that's there? That's a side-effect of CRT displays. Digital Projection is not like that. ---------------------------------- Ebert, if you want to sound smart, at least try to understand what you're talking about.

  • June 24, 1999, 8:52 a.m. CST


    by tdibble

    First, Sociopath, assuming the quote Wared gave is accurate (I really don't care enough to look up the full article, sorry), Ebert ends his "astute analysis" of the research by saying "digital video projection might in fact destroy the moviegoing experience as we know it." I read this as "Film vs Video" in his mind translates to "Film vs Digital Projection". Again, if that's incorrect, it's incorrect, but from what's been quoted, that's what he's saying. ---------------------------------- And, no, reread my post: I never said the *research* was incorrect (although I admit the subject line may have lead to that impression), just that Ebert's synopsis and conclusions were. In fact, let me quote myself: "IMHO, Ebert is misunderstanding what the researchers said." If you read what I wrote directly after that, you'll see exactly the same explanation of what's different between CRT video and film-projector video, and, yes, that is a subconsciously perceptible difference. It is also a known cause of eye strain, headaches, etc. In other words, I am saying Ebert is full of BS on this issue (and, hey, for all I know it was nothing more than a passing remark). I have no reason nor desire to say the research was faulty or invalid, as I haven't even *seen* the research. And, given a choice between believin this BS came from Ebert or from the scientific community, well ... ---------------------------------- Rereading what has been written, it sounds like the research may actually have been about the *filming* process (ie, using digital or magnetic video or chemical film in capturing the action of a scene). In this case, Ebert is even *further* off-base in that digital projection has little to do with digital filming (and, as has been pointed out, adding "filmic" side-effects to digital or magnetically-captured video is a simple programattic task). but, again, given only Ebert's obviously flawed synopsis, it is impossible to tell exactly what research he is talking about (unless I REALLY cared, and searched through all the journals for the past several years in which "some perceptual psychologists" might have posted their findings). ---------------------------------- Ryalto: Since two people missed my point, I must not have made it well enough. However, the fact that the "film" of the digital projection is redrawn line-by-line does not make it anywhere near the same as CRT-video. The light source is constant in digital projection; the light source in CRT is scanning right along with the "updating pixels". In other words, unless the system is doing something *severely* wrong like blacking out the entire screen between displays, you do not see the "bar" like you would with a CRT. ---------------------------------- I'm sure you didn't understand, as that wasn't a very clear explanation. However, imagine a small display of, say, 100 pixels (a 10x10 display). At any point during a frame refresh, some number of pixels in a DP system will be on the previous frame, and some on the next. So, say pixels 0-37 are at frame 1 settings and pixels 38-99 are at frame 2 settings. There is a "break" at pixel 37/38 and between the second/third/fourth lines of the display, a break which *might* be vsible if there is a dramatic difference between those two frames. However, all pixels are simultaneously fully lit. Also, note that the redraw period with such a digital display is very short compared to the time between redraws. ---------------------------------- Contrast this to a similarly configured CRT. At that same instance, only pixel 37 is at full brightness. Pixel 38 is at full black. from 38-99 the pixel brightness increases, and from 0-37 the brightness increases. Thus, you have a very noticeable, distinct, "bar" across the display. Thus, you have "flicker". ---------------------------------- FURTHERMORE, the refresh process can be completely hidden in a projection system (using the same mechanis film projectors use to synch the strobe and framing of the film). It can not be hidden in a CRT system. In fact, in a CRT system, you are in a *constant* state of redraw, whereas in a DP system you have a very quick redraw, then a pause between frames. ---------------------------------- Again, do some research into digital projection if you don't believe me. Sociopath: I may be anal, but I'm also right :-> And, IMHO, it is perfectly okay to be anal when someone disses an obviously superior technology, one with a *future*, for nothing more than pure Ludditism.

  • June 24, 1999, 9:12 a.m. CST


    by tdibble

    Reread your post and maybe I originally had misinterpretted your meaning. Are you saying that the "pushing down" of film (or across, or up, dep. on the particular projector type, etc) is a positive feature? ---------------------------------- Because the film is constantly moving, no matter how "quick" the strobe is, there is always going to be some movement of the film between "strobe on" and "strobe off", and, yes, this is discernible if you are really retentive and all other factors are small; sit up close to the screen and notice how everything is actually quite blurry. DP does not have this problem; the strobe is off, the frame redraws, the strobe is on, the frame does not change at all. The result, again, a much clearer, distinct picture (and the strobe can stay on longer, meaning lower wattage bulbs giving brighter pictures). ---------------------------------- So, are you saying that the "blur" of film is a positive side-effect? Sorry, but it sounds more like you just don't want to see progress.

  • June 29, 1999, 11:23 a.m. CST

    Hannibal - Pretentious Twaddle

    by Dr. Channard

    How long, oh lord, how long? Like so many other people, I bought "Hannibal" the day it was released. Actually, I was the *first* person to buy it at the local Border's. Thank goodness I got a 30% price break, and THAT on a gift certificate, so I can say MY hard-earned money wasn't plunked down for this obviously thrown-together melange. To those who say that we "naysayers" aren't sophisticated enough to get it, I could offer the academic credentials to dispute that assertion, but why bother? "Hannibal" is so obviously in need of an editor for the fundamentals of syntax and grammer that *I* have to wonder about the literacy of those who heap praise upon it. But even without picking THOSE nits - what on earth happened to the characters? Dr. Lecter regresses to the level of a pompous Humanities-major sophomore: Dante and Bach, now, REALLY. (I know that Mr. Harris probably isn't interested enough to know these things, but a long-term prisoner like Lecter would be a lot more likely to develop a taste for Piranesi and Pettersson, or similarly INTERESTING yet UNOBVIOUS tastes.) We are also subjected to a parade of stock characters the likes of which could only embarrass a more critical author - Italian killers, a one-eyed monster, a steroid-pumped lesbian, Capt Pizza, the crooked Italian cop - my God, what was he THINKING? The plot structure is disjointed, the progression jerky and fitful. The most frightening scene in the book is Lecter's shopping spree - is THIS what it's come to? Our psychopathic cannibal plunking down big bucks for over-priced picnic crap? Oh dear, and then there's the Spyderco endorsements. Gee, Harris, what did you do - stick your head in the door of the local mall's knife store and see what was hanging on the wall closest to you? Bunk. Oh, another note, Tommy me boy: knock off the cooking classes. I don't want to be beaten over the head with your "carbon steel knives" this and "dredge them in flour" that - SO common, you know. Bottom line: the novel was thrown together in a month, and stinks like a dead woodchuck. Sure, Hollywood will make a movie, and the same folks who can't admit "Phantom Menace" was DOA will go into convulsions of joy over it. I'll spend my buckage on better things.

  • Aug. 5, 2006, 8:44 a.m. CST

    They kept some of the ending of the book at least.

    by Wolfpack