Hitchcock (99m) – ***
The Girl (91m) – **1/2
Alfred Hitchcock was a droll filmmaker who mastered the vast landscape of genre films, by prying into their tropes and deflowering them with perversities. He’s a man meant for the cinema, but it’s questionable if the cinema is meant for him. I mean that in terms of a starring role, because he preferred to flash before our eyes. He’s known of course for the quick cameos, most inventively in North by Northwest and Family Plot, but his brevity I believe was for a reason. (continue reading…)
A reader recently asked me on my site why I could pan Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill and, in spite of that, rave the works of Alfred Hitchcock. “De Palma’s a great artist”, he claimed, “and he’s inscribing Hitchcock’s language on his own page.” My first reaction was to reply: “Reader, if only it was that easy.” His point seems to argue that Hitchcock’s style is easy to copy-paste. It’s all aesthetic and no instinct. The director simply must click CTRC-C and then CTRL-V. You know the drill. (continue reading…)
THE MASTERPIECE COLLECTION
Notorious, 1946 (dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious is known as a seminal piece of the spy genre, the melodrama of all melodramas that cued the arrival of the first James Bond movie in 1962 – Terence Young’s Dr. No. For my money, espionage is not the preemptive element of Notorious, for Hitchcock never waded through just one genre. Those who deem him a horror filmmaker are grossly misinformed, because here lies a romance between two people whose amour is compromised by their duties for their country and, more importantly, their misunderstandings of each other. (continue reading…)
4 Stars out of 4
L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart) is a classic Hitchcock voyeur. But he’s not perverse, disturbed, or obsessed, like Scottie would be in Hitchcock’s 1958 Vertigo. He’s a photo-journalist, whose mere intentions are simply to observe and report. But his curiosities have restriction: he’s bound by one broken leg, confined in an apartment complex, and surrounded by a mundane love affair that persistently returns to him like a bad rash.
Like the audience, Jeffries is bored, immobile, and yearns for entertainment. He grabs his telephoto lens and observes. He sees a dainty ballerina, a fervent newlywed couple, a struggling piano player, a dejected widow, and a husband and his invalid wife: Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) and Mrs. Thorwald. Suddenly, Mrs. Thorwald vanishes Lars Thorwald’s suspicious disappearances into the night arouse Jeffries’s suspicions. (continue reading…)
3 Stars out of 4
Only fools would believe in the perfect murder. Dial M For Murder suggests a murder plot too methodical and precise to actually go as planned. It all takes place in one living room, belonging to an ex-tennis pro, Tony (Ray Milland), and his cheating wife Margot (Grace Kelly). Tony, just like Margot, plays the role blissfully, ignorant of each other’s motives. Where they differ? Tony, internally, is fully aware of Margot’s affair with paramour Robert (Mark Halliday). He proposes, as Hitchcock always insists, that a murder must arise.
Hitchcock begins with subtle brilliance. We are introduced to what is essentially a couple – Robert and Margot. Hitchcock’s camera looks on with its voyeuristic intention and then of course, we peer into the heart of the actual character of focus – Tony. He has a twenty five minute discussion with Charles Swann, a shady acquaintance of Tony. Deductively, Tony convinces Charles that it is in his best interest to contribute to his murder plot. It’s all a set up; Charles picks up a dropped napkin, hands it back to Tony and he remarks, “Now Charles, you see I have your fingerprints.” (continue reading…)
4 Stars out of 4
Norman Bates: She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?
Marion Crane: Yes. Sometimes just one time can be enough.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is a dark, ironic, and intense horror gem that is shadowed by the incessant reflections of its diffused characters. Who and what exactly is the focus here? Is it the horror, Crane, the shower, the birds, the mother, or Bates? The film scatters its sympathy in daring directions that alienates us from a moral reality but not from the characters’ realities (or unsettling fantasies). Psycho clasps guilt on all of its characters and even when the film seems to climax, we are still unsure. Is this mystery really solved?
We begin on a warm, rainless Phoenix morning – but in a darkly lit apartment. Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and her boyfriend Sam Loomis (John Gavin) are in financial troubles. So much so it may end their relationship. Crane, in a frenzy of confusion and anger, embezzles 40 000 dollars provided by one of her employers and heads off on a wild goose chase towards “the islands”. Crane is detached from her innocence here and devoid of a redeeming edge. Her angst is captured through the lenses of a policeman’s shades, a telephone booth, and the mirror in her car. (continue reading…)