Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hitchcock

Hitchcock
seen @ Regal Union Square Stadium 14, New York, NY
11.25.12

Alfred Hitchcock has been a recurring theme this year. I've been involved in two different blogathons devoted to him - one to raise awareness of a found silent film he worked on, and the other devoted to films that attempted to capture his spirit.

How would Hitchcock fare today? One likes to believe that even amidst a market dominated by superheroes, sci-fi and animated kiddie fare, he would still have an active and thriving audience. The closest analogous modern filmmaker to Hitchcock might be David Fincher, and he does alright for himself, all things considered. 

However, part of what made Hitchcock unique was the fact that few other Hollywood directors of his era made the kind of films he did, a point that the movie Hitchcock makes clear, as it delves into the making of arguably his most popular film, Psycho. I always liked Psycho, though the final ten minutes strike me as anti-climactic. Once Norman Bates has been caught, there's not much more to say, in my opinion. 



Early in Hitchcock, Anthony Hopkins, as the master of suspense (unrecognizable in all that makeup!), ponders working in horror, a long-scorned genre, and says something like, "What if someone good made a horror movie?" What if, indeed? I know there are many fans who like their horror cheap and campy and silly, and that can be fun sometimes, but it seems that horror, like sci-fi, rarely attracts A-list directors. 

Often, sci-fi/horror directors become A-listers through their body of work within that material, like James Cameron or Sam Raimi. Still, back in the late 50s/early 60s, genre work was nowhere near as popular as it is now, so for someone like Hitchcock, it really could be considered "slumming."



Getting back to the question of how Hitch would fare in today's Hollywood, I think he would also have to contend with the problem of smaller budgets (relatively speaking) for the kind of material he does. I think cable television would absolutely appeal to him; he did have his own TV show for many years, after all. If he only gets $25 million to make a movie that should be made for $40 million, that's a problem - but it might not be if he went to HBO with it, especially if he didn't have to worry about things like appealing to foreign markets.

Hitchcock wasn't bad, although some of the dialogue is a little on-the-nose sometimes: for instance, towards the end, Helen Mirren, who play Hitch's wife and collaborator Alma Reville, says after Psycho becomes a hit, "This could be your biggest movie ever!" I had never known Hitch's wife was such a big part of his career, so it was cool to see how she played a part in Hitch's filmography, and of course, Mirren was marvelous.



I saw this with Vija at the Union Square, a theater I used to frequent a lot more back when it first opened. Then it got way too expensive (Hitchcock is my first $14 non-3D film, ladies and germs), not that it deters anybody from going there. Our screening was a near-sellout. We ended up sitting in the third or fourth row, which Vija wasn't crazy about, but we managed fine. The funniest moment was during the trailer for the new version of The Great Gatsby: there were a few young women sitting behind me, and when Leonardo DiCaprio first appears in the trailer, about half a minute in or so, they all gasped "OH MY GOD!" That got quite a few laughs, actually.

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