Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Compared to Orson Welles, he's a sweetheart.

Good evening.

While I haven't seen nearly enough of his films, I would still feel okay saying that I'm a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan (just don't quiz me, okay?). As a kid, I can vividly recall the beginning of Alfred Hitchcock Presents on television. Hearing the music and seeing this old guy stroll on screen in silhouette fascinated me, even if I wasn't quite sure why. Years later, in a college film class, our professor would show us Psycho and suddenly, everything became incredibly clear. Alfred Hitchcock, of course, was undoubtedly The Master of Suspense.

Three things I wish I could be: Old, fat and British. Wait a sec. Two down!
Sure, peering into the personal life of one of the most famous directors of all-time is fascinating enough, but watching the creation of his masterpiece is even more so. Hitchcock, released last year, follows the director's struggles to create what would become the most successful film of his career, 1960's Psycho.

While my wife was likely more interested in the film's primary focus of Hitchcock's working relationship and marriage to Alma Reville, I was quietly devouring all things Psycho. Anchoring each story, is yet another inspired performance by the legendary Anthony Hopkins. To have such an icon playing yet another, is a very, very cool thing. Seeing Hitchcock's reserved confidence (and cheekiness) brought to life is joy enough. But when it has Hopkins behind it? It's all kinds of awesome. You can almost see all the fun he's having.

Not having as much fun, is his wife and production partner, Alma Reville, played by another living icon, Helen Mirren. And while both characters are a bit downtrodden, it seems that Alma's life is damn near void of joy. Her husband is betting the house on a movie that no one wants to be made, and she continues to support him despite zero reciprocation. Not too surprising, like countless stories of great men, it turns out there was a woman keeping the whole thing going. Except in Lincoln [review]. That Mary Todd was a real bitch.

Hitchcock is a short, sweet film. Where it possibly could've had an edge to it, the film decides to keep everything breezy and charming, instead of dark and twisted. Being a fan of Psycho certainly helps, but with Hopkins and Mirren as the leads, it's certainly not mandatory. Oh, and you get to watch Scarlett Johansson take a shower, which is always a nice touch.

Always dressed like their suspiciously deceased mothers, I present to you the Yays and Boos. They've been clamoring to watch The Birds forever. I think what they actually want, is to go outside. Nice try, jerks.

  • I love the idea of buying all the copies of Psycho to preserve the ending for audiences. Ah, simpler times.
  • Sweet quote from Hitchcock: Self-plagiarism is style. Like that one.
  • When a Paramount executive tells Hitchcock that he'll have to pay for Psycho himself, Hitch calmly takes out his checkbook. Who do I make it out to? Ha! Suck on that, Mr. Balaban.
  • Not that it comes as a huge surprise, but Anthony Perkins was a weird mofo. I'm not even sure he was actually acting when he played Norman Bates.
  • Turns out, they're are rules on a Hitchcock set. And it turns out, they're pretty much the rules of Fight Club. First rule of Psycho? You do not talk about Psycho.
  • Hitchcock kind of reminded me of my dad, actually. See, there was probably a ten-year period where I saw my father in only one outfit. Though, sadly for me, a black suit trumps chef attire every time.
  • Even though her little tryst annoyed me, Alma Reville was a damn fine lady. Her speech was awesome.
  • As a husband myself, I'm always looking for things to say to get myself out of trouble. Hitchcock's best defense? Well, her breasts were rather large. Seems like a perfect go-to.
  • And finally, if Hitchcock really did that stuff in the lobby of the theater, that may have been one of the coolest things to ever witness. Seriously. Imagine seeing that.
  • The Ed Gein stuff. Was it supposed to be funny, or just f--king odd? 'Cause my vote's the latter.
  • Censors! Audiences couldn't handle toilets? How far we've come.../fallen.
  • Whoa, Hitch. Dude gets his feelings hurt and all of a sudden he's eating like a depressed Sherman Klump. Slow down, big fella.
  • Alfred Hitchcock, world-class director. True. Alfred Hitchcock, piss-poor poolman. Also true.
  • Even though he was a dick, Whitfield Cook needed a beating. Why you gotta string Alma along like that, bro?
  • I'm not one to ever criticize a shower scene, but if that's really how it went down? Damn. Even I was traumatized. Really.
  • Oh, and speaking of Ms. Johansson. While I think you are a pretty sexy lady, I honestly find Janet Leigh to be more attractive, even if just barely.
  • I don't think it's too much to ask for a little more Toni Collette, is it? Perhaps another glimpse of The Karate Kid, while we're at it. Hell, I'll even trade you some Jessica Biel, if need be.
  • And finally, I think this movie would have benefited from a little more time on the set of Psycho. And by a little more, clearly I mean a lot more. As in all. More. Whatever. You know what I mean.
Slightly off topic, but do you think they'll ever make a bio pic about director Gus Van Sant? Could be a good flick, you know? Maybe they could tell the story about this ill-advised project he took on back in 1998. Remember, it was one that no one thought would work and could potentially sink the careers of everyone involved. What was the name of that movie? Hmm. I forget. But I do remember it had a pretty killer shower scene in it.


  1. Could have been more heavy and dramatic, due to the fact that it was a movie about one of the greatest directors of all-time, but I guess this would suffice. It's fun and playful, which made me happy. Good review M.

    1. It's definitely playful, which is a good thing. And pretty much watching Anthony Hopkins do anything makes me happy. Is that weird?

  2. "That Mary Todd was a real bitch." - oh, how true :)

    I really adored the movie. I should probably rewatch it soon to review it, it was so entertaining and the cast did so well.

    Entire movie about the making of Psycho would be great indeed. I also found Ed Gein scenes to be odd. He really deserves his own movie, most of cinematic maniacs is based on him.

    1. It really did have a fantastic cast. It's kind of a shame that it seems like no one saw this movie. I'm blaming Mary Todd.

      Completely agree! I guess I could see if there's a quality doc about the making of Psycho, but I really, really loved seeing Hopkins as Hitch. Truly dream casting.

      I've heard the name, but I really don't know much about Ed Gein. For some reason, I think there is at least one horror movie about him. And while my memory is spotty at best, I recall it looking rather shitty.

  3. I liked this movie more than a lot of others it seemed, but about as much as you I take. I also would have preferred the entire movie be about the making of Psycho and not at all focus on the marriage. I mean Alma should obviously still be a key player but that part of the movie dragged a lot. I also agree that I would have liked more screen time for the smaller parts which would have happened if the marriage troubles didn't take up half of the movie.

    1. They could have totally told the marriage troubles story on the set. Easily. And looking back, I bet there's not even that much screen time with Alma and Whit, it's just that I didn't want to be there at all so it may have felt worse than it was. If that makes sense.

      Glad you liked it though, Jess.

  4. "Self-plagiarism is style" ... that's brilliant actually. I ought to share that with my writing students.

    I haven't been all that eager to see this film, even with the magnificent Helen Mirren, but you've piqued my curiosity. And I think my film buff daughter might really dig this, especially with the Ed Gein angle. She has an odd fascination with serial killers, as many teens seem to. You work with a lot more kids than I do -- maybe you can enlighten me as to why that is? :-)

    1. I wrote it down the other way, but apparently that's the way the quote really goes. Either way, it really is pretty frickin' sweet. I'd drop that one on my students, but it would likely baffle them.

      When my wife came home with it, I was sort of like...oh, that's what you chose?. But once we started it, it's really kind of silly and playful. The short(er) runtime doesn't hurt, either. And, seriously, you can't NOT have a good time with Hopkins and Mirren. It's impossible.

      My kids are too young for me to provide any real insight. There is definitely a weird adoration for violence and death (some girl told me last week that the end of Titanic is hysterical), but it creeps me out so much I just try to change the subject immediately. So, has anyone seen the commercial for...? Works every time.