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Hannibal

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Bring on the fava beans and a nice chianti! Hannibal Lecter, the serial killer with a taste for human flesh, returns to terrorize us in the much-hyped follow-up to Silence of the Lambs. Ridley Scott, riding high after Gladiator, directs this 10-years-in-the-making sequel, with Anthony Hopkins reprising his role as the brilliantly bent cannibal. Living free and easy in Italy, Lecter is the object of a revenge plot by a former victim who survived, although with horrific, disfiguring injuries. As heir to a large fortune, the victim has the means to pursue the pursuer, so to speak, using Lecter's old nemesis, FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling, as bait to entice the wily doctor into to the open. Ray Liotta stars as a Justice Department official drawn in to the revenge scheme with promises of money and power. The big question--or gamble, on the part of the filmmakers--is if Julianne Moore (Magnolia, The End of the Affair) can hold her own as Starling, a role overwhelmingly associated with Jodie Foster. At any rate, the last 10 minutes of the film--which have been kept strictly under wraps--are rumored to hold their own with the original. Okey-dokey? See "Opening Friday" for theaters.

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