Friday, April 19, 2013

Hitchcock Review

Alfred Hitchcock was one of the most famous directors in film history. He had an iconic and entertaining public image as well as creating some of the most influential films in his day. Psycho is easily my favorite Hitchcock film; I got to analyze Psycho to pieces in my film class. I knew what kind of a sacrifices Hitchcock made for that film, but I never envisioned making a movie about making Psycho. Someone did think of it and thus Hitchcock (2012) was born.
in 1959, Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) and his wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), are at the top of their creative game as filmmakers amid disquieting insinuations about it being time to retire. To recapture his youth's artistic daring, Alfred decides his next film will adapt the lurid horror novel, Psycho, over everyone's misgivings. Unfortunately, as Alfred self-finances and labors on this film, Alma finally loses patience with his roving eye and controlling habits with his actresses. When an ambitious friend, Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston), lures her to collaborate on a work of their own, the resulting maternal tension sullies Alfred's work even as the novel's inspiration (Michael Wincott) haunts his dreams.
So, Hitchcock opens with a scene where Ed Gein, the real life inspiration for Psycho's Norman Bates, kills someone for calling him a "momma's boy." Before the scene becomes gory, the camera slowly pans to the left and settles on Anthony Hopkins in a remarkable prosthetics and make up job casually sipping some tea as he watches the murder take place. He then turns to the camera and speaks briefly to the audience in Hitchcock's signature coyly grim demeanor about how these events inspired a great movie. It starts off just like an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Not only did this set a fascinating tone for the movie that draws you in from the get go, but also it put me, as a Hitchcock fan, in a some kind of film-production enthusiast overload. I was put in an "awesome coma" before the movies' title had a chance to appear on screen.
Anthony Hopkins and Alfred Hitchcock
The casting was beyond compare. Anthony Hopkins is incredible as Alfred Hitchcock. Granted, Anthony Hopkins is incredible as anything, but makeup job and prosthetics aside, Hopkins captivated Hitchcock's vocal tone, speech inflections, and mannerisms perfectly! Even the script gave him dialogue that sounded exactly like things Hitchcock would say. Scarlett Johansson and James D'Arcy were cast to play the stars of Hitchcocks' masterpiece Psycho. They look and act so much like Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh it was simply amazing. Whoever did the casting for Hitchcock deserves an award.
The movie is about a married couple. Both are aware of their age, the romance in their relationship is basically dead, they are at a low point in their lives with all the personal sacrifices they each made for the Psycho film, and both have reason to suspect the other of infidelity. What I loved about both these characters is they are able to become more unified as they work together on a mutual project, which also happens to be something that I am passionate about: movie making! Hitchcock shows us how most of Hitchcock's films would have been much weaker without the unseen collaboration from his wife. Unlike a lot of contemporary movies, Hitchcock depicts a marriage as something that is reciprocally beneficial and requires much work and trust from both husband and wife to succeed. I really appreciated that aspect of the movie.
Hitchcock is a movie about making a movie. It captivates the energy and excitement of making a film and creating art. The movie depicts Alfred and Alma as being highly passionate about film and struggling to create despite the apathy and business side of the industry. The studio execs want movies that are exactly like every other film; it's safe and will guarantee a profit. Hitchcock wants to be bold, take calculated risks, and refuses to make standardized art just to make money. That resonated with me immensely as I hate seeing movies that follow a moneymaking formula and have no  heart. That, coupled with watching some classic scenes being filmed, was just fantastic to behold!
Hitchcock was an excellent film that hit nearly every point that makes a good movie while also catering to my fascination with film as an art medium. The acting was superbly presented by an outstanding cast, the plot was good, the history was mostly accurate. The allusions to the Psycho movie were creative, meaningful, and well implemented without actually showing clips from Psycho. I also loved seeing Hitchcock and Alma in a masterful creative collaboration that culminated in making movie history. If you like Alfred Hitchcock movies at all, I think you owe it to yourself to see this one. You'll probably get more out of it if you've seen Psycho. If you haven't seen Psycho you should see that, too. Not everyone will enjoy it as much as I do, but I still implore you to see Hitchcock; it's a good, solid movie that is worth owning.

What is your favorite Alfred Hitchcock film? Comment below and tell me why!

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