The Before Sunrise trilogy — Emily Laidlaw, Marketing Co-ordinator

Before-Midnight-posterI’ve been waiting nine years for Before Midnight, the follow up to Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2005). Given that director Richard Linklater and lead actors/screenwriters Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke have exhausted all times of the day (Before Midday?), the third film is likely the last.

This engrossing trilogy takes all the best bits of the fairytale romance – chance encounters! lovers torn apart! passionate reunions! – and raises the bar with an intelligent script (mostly improvised) and charismatic leads. In fact, Delpy and Hawke’s on-screen chemistry is so realistic it’s easy to forget they’re only acting. It’s a standard joke among my girlfriends that they hope to meet their own ‘Ethan Hawke’ when embarking on a European rail journey.

Sunrise sees two twentysomethings, Jesse, an American, and Celine, a Frenchwoman, fall in love over the course of a night wandering around Vienna. A twist of fate means they don’t meet up again for ten years, this time at Paris’ Shakespeare and Co Bookshop (those who know me would understand why I’d find this impossibly romantic).

While there’s more talking than physical embracing in the first film, it’s scenes like this which make fans swoon. The second film is comparatively less hopeful, focusing more on the lost opportunities and romantic disappointments of the now thirty-somethings. Told in real time, Sunset is a wittier, slice-of-life film. And it has one of the best last lines of any film ever made.

Midnight is released in Australia later this month and I’ve refrained from reading any reviews as I am very spoiler sensitive. All I know is that it’s set in Greece, and there’s speculation that Jesse and Celine may fall the same way as the Mediterranean’s ruins. So fully rounded are these characters that I may also shed a tear should their relationship crumble.

Hannibal — Jessica Alice, Online Editorial Assistant

NBC’s Hannibal was developed by Bryan Fuller and is based on the characters of Thomas Harris’ novel Red Dragon. There is no Clarice Starling – not yet, anyway. The series follows protagonist Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), a profiler with an ‘empathy disorder’ (just go with it) that allows him to understand the motives of murderers. Will is enlisted by FBI agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), who in turn has employed Dr Lector (Mads Mikkelsen) to keep a handle on Will’s state of mind.

This series sees Lector in action as he works both as a psychologist and an active serial killer. The first episode requires patience, but tensions are established quickly as we begin to suspect Hannibal’s role in the murders that Will and the FBI are investigating.

Dancy’s Will Graham irritated me – his preciousness and mental fragility are rather overblown, while Fishburne’s Crawford is comparatively oafish. Mikkelsen, however, is perfect as Dr Lector. Impeccably dressed and with a slight lisp, his Hannibal is sophisticated and composed, commanding, and little bit playful (therapeutic magic mushrooms happen). As most psychologists do, Hannibal sees his own therapist, Dr Bedelia Du Maurier, played by an immaculate Gillian Anderson (like, so stunning), whose involvement with Hannibal is left purposely, teasingly vague.

If some of the characters grate, the cinematography and set and costume design in Hannibal are their own reward. Lector’s dinner parties are extravagant (probably-human) feasts – his complex, artistic dishes are garnished with blood-red sauces – and these scenes contain some of the cheekier dialogue: ‘Controversial dish, veal,’ says Dr Du Maurier. There are rustic and rich recurring images of antlers and woodlands, and a brilliant hallucinatory stag.

Well-plotted and staggeringly good-looking, it’s worth checking out Hannibal before it returns for season 2, about which Fuller has alluded we’ll be seeing more of Lector’s ‘romantic side’ (and hopefully Dr Du Maurier’s, too).