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Entries in Alfred Hitchcock (51)

Tuesday
Aug192014

Beauty vs Beast: Fish Witch

JA from MNPP here with this week's mite-late edition of this week's "Beauty Vs Beast" - sorry for the unexpected day-long delay, what can we say, a sea-witch stole our voice from us. Coincidentally The Film Experience is celebrating the year 1989 in the lead up to this month's Supporting Actress Showdown and whaddya know 1989 was the year that another gorgeous princess, not myself, had the exact same thing happen to her! I handled it with a much finer degree of decorum, natch, but she got Prince Eric so she wins. (Mmmm Prince Eric.) Yes I speak of Disney's The Little Mermaid, which is bringing us this week's animated face-off.

 

Life's full of tough choices... innit??? I feel like this one could go either way really, so making you cases in the comments could prove important. Sway the little fishies this way or that, people.

PREVIOUSLY If you felt a little falling sensation - kinda simultaneously plummeting forward and back - as you picked between Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak in last week's Vertigo round you ultimately made like Hitch and came out blonde - well blonde eventually (inevitably) anyway - in the end. Judy, poor poor Judy, won your sympathies along with 71% of the vote. Said Leslie19:

"Judy is the perfect Hitchcockian heroine: A blonde puzzle, with a past. A great wardrobe and the perfect palette for techicolor, in this case his use of green. Is there anything more to say?"

Tuesday
Aug122014

Beauty vs Beast: All About the Blonde

JA from MNPP here. At this point it feels more than a little cliche to call Alfred Hitchcock your favorite film-maker. Tomorrow is his 115th birthday and it feels like we've spent at least double that amount of time writing about and reacting to how great, twisted, funny, pervy and technically masterful he was. Hitch is often the gateway drug, the little puff of movie marijuana that leads true cineastes on to the hard stuff.

I'll always come back to my first taste. It was the sweetest, the purest, and it still sends that shiver down my spine. I remember the first time I realized that movies, Movies, these are the thing I love, laying on my cousin's floor watching a camera sweep across across a boxy Manhattan backyard filled with windows into another world, stories in shorthand of life on top of life, all at once. It was everything. It still is everything.

So let's pay our respects by devoting this week's "Beauty vs Beast" to the man who made me interested in the ambiguities of the "good" guys and the "bad" guys in the first place, and let's do it with the movie that finally tossed Citizen Kane down the staircase.

 

You only have six days to vote this week since we're running a day behind (sorry about the delay) so get to it - bleach yourself, slide into a gray dress, wander through a redwood forest or some neon green light, do whatever it takes - just pick and make your case in the comments!

PREVIOUSLY Last week we were talking about the blonde presuasion as well - Charlize Theron and Patrick Wilson faced off again in a Young Adult redux. Wilson's Buddy might be the nice guy, willing to clean up baby burps and all that, but he never stood a chance against mean girl-woman Mavis. CMG put is succinctly:

"Mavis. Buddy is blind and seems dumb. The end."

Friday
Jul252014

Truth Tell: Barbara Harris is Underappreciated

A Happy 79th birthday to Barbara Harris. She hasn't acted in such a long time but she was often just wonderful on the screen with unique rhythm, energy and comic ability.

I'm not sure that anything about Alfred Hitchcock's Family Plot (Hitch's last feature in 1976) totally works but if you could argue that any of it does it's either the cemetery scene or anything involving Barbara Harris's performance as a con-artist psychic. The movie is frustrating since it feels half formed and its inarguably flabby:  every time you need the editing too tighten it up which would have made everything, including the memorable actors (Karen Black and Bruce Dern are also on hand), pop. It just keeps the scene going.

Barbara Harris's largest claim to fame these days is her Golden Globe nominated work in the original Freaky Friday (1976) wherein she switched bodies with her tomboy daughter Jodie Foster but my favorite Harris performance ever is her role as "Albuquerque" in Robert Altman's masterpiece Nashville (1975)

It don't worry me.
It don't worry me.
You may say that I'm not free. It don't worry me ♫ 

 I'd be okay with the entire 1975 Supporting Actress Oscar lineup just being ladies from Nashville, all told. 

Exit Music. Here's Barbara Harris doing bits from "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever," a role she originated on Broadway in 1965 to the tune of a Tony nomination before Barbra Streisand took over in the film version five years later.

 

Monday
Jun232014

Beauty Vs Beast: Going Batty

JA from MNPP here with this week's batty edition of "Beauty Vs. Beast" - Twenty-five years ago today Tim Burton's Batman opened, and I think it might have maybe had a little bit of an effect on The Movies? Let's see - how many superhero films are set to open in the next five years? I think it's something like [edited because you can't look directly at this number, it is Lovecraftian in its ability to break your brain and instantly render you mindlessly bonkers]. Something like that. Once upon a time though this was not the case. Moreso even than the Christopher Reeve Superman movies that preceded it, Tim Burton's Batman showed Hollywood what a juggernaut these things could be - it was the biggest movie of 1989 by far (nearly 60 million dollars ahead of its closest competition, the third Indiana Jones), and I have distinct memories of everything I owned that year being covered in Bat symbols - my t-shirts, my backpack, my Trapper Keeper.

Generational arguments still break out (see: Neighbors) about who was the best Batman (yes I am old and Team Keaton all the way) but fewer people seem to argue about which Joker they prefer between Jack Nicholson and that dude who won an Oscar for his performance - that's not to say I don't know people who'll argue for Team Jack and his closer-to-the-comics hamminess. Thankfully I'm not dropping us into that mire today (although feel free to express your opinions in the comments on that) - instead we're facing the oldest question in the Bat-pantheon: Are Batman's villains always inherently more interesting, more fun, than the dude in the big black suit himself? Sound off!

 

You have one week to dance with these devils in the pale moonlight and let us know in the comments why you picked which - have at it!

PREVIOUSLY Last week's competition saw the titular Hitchcock blonde of 1963's Marnie facing off against her James Bond savior slash terrorizer slash romantic interest - judging by our comments we all pretty much agreeed that neither of these folks was anybody we'd want to be stuck in an elevtor with, but Tippi snapped the win in her bright yellow purse and sauntered away all the same. Said Tom:

"Voting for Marnie. The movie really is a snore, but Tippi Hedron really is great. This is proof she had the goods to be an actress, and it's kind of a shame nothing really happened after this movie for her."

Monday
Jun162014

Beauty Vs Beast: Him Freud, Her Jane

JA from MNPP here - The Film Experience is taking a look back at 1964 all this month and so it's the perfect time for our "Beauty Vs Beast" series to take a look at a movie that's turning 50 next month (it was released on July 22nd, 1964) and wades so deep into morally murky waters you're never quite sure which end of the screen you're rooting for (if any), making it perfect for this poll - I speak of Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie.

Starring Tippi Hedren as the titular troubled girl turned to theivery and Sean Connery as the businessman alternately turned on and repelled by that rascally blonde's baser instincts, Marnie's awash in dream symbols (so many snapping purses!) and psychiatry talk - too much of the latter by my count; like Hitch's film Spellbound I  always find his movie's at their least interesting when they're explicitly spelling out his psychological obsessions. Give me the fluid illogic of Vertigo over it any day. But like the keys and key-holes that clutter every other frame of Marnie, the film is most interesting as far as the clues it further offers us towards an understanding of Alfred Hitchcock and his never not fascinating psychological profile. It shuffles some not-before-seen puzzle pieces into place.

Hitch was always putting the audience into morally compromising situations, getting us to side with bullies and lunatics - even his most well-intentioned heroes found themselves doing terrible things (think of the scene in the 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much where Jimmy Stewart drugs Doris Day without telling her so he can calm her down). But Marnie for me is the tipping point in Hitch's filmography where his characters become almost uniformly unlikeable; there's an angriness (or worse, an indfference) to the last decade and a half of his work (yes even in the so-called comedy of The Trouble With Harry) - it reaches its apex with Frenzy, a film I find exceedingly unpleasant to watch with its cast of shrewish women and sweaty men (it works as a horror film, but it makes me extraneously sad all the same), but the seeds are planted with Mark and Marnie, two people just a little too damaged and bizarre for me to ever find myself rooting for them in any way.

So why not force us to pick?!

 

You've got one week to vote and to sell us in the comments on the frigid blonde or the manly man that's come to beat some sanity into her. Choices, oh choices.

PREVIOUSLY And speaking of choices, with last week's poll pitting Natalie Portman's White Swan against Mila Kunis' Black Swan? Y'all couldn't make one! IT'S A TIE, YOU GUYS. 428 votes, split perfectly at 50/50. I can't even tell you how giddy that makes me - the movie about doubling and dopplegangers split us right down the middle. We look in the mirror and we see all of the faces. We are legion. I'll share to two quotes from y'all since we went both ways:

"Nina only cause I don't think Lily would take the loss as hard." -- SVG

"Team Lily because that fierce little Russki NEVER would have fallen flat on her ass on opening night. Get your shit together Nina!" -- TB

Friday
May162014

Cannes Diary Day 2: Or, How I'm Still Grappling With 'Grace of Monaco'

Diana Drumm is reporting for The Film Experience from Cannes

As you should know by now, thanks to mid-screening tweets, prompt reviews and Nathaniel being awesome as always, Grace of Monaco is bad. So bad that Cannes critics are being divided into indifference, dislike and rollicking hate. I, for one, fall into a fourth category, that of the now-jaded hopeful still grappling with how it all could have gone so horribly wrong. It’s from the director behind La Vie En Rose and... NICOLE KIDMAN. And I do mean grappling, I’ve barely eaten since that lovely sandwich or slept since nodding off on the Nice-Cannes commuter and my attempts at writing an actual review have gone the way of nonsensical jibberish with many ‘rather’s, ‘while’s and ‘thereby’s. Plus I’ve missed multiple opportunities to stow-away on champagne and celebrity-laden yachts. (Well, maybe not, but you get the gist – me, bedraggled by disappointment.) It could be the jet lag typing, but I wish I could go back to the before time, before I knew for certain that Grace of Monaco was a bad film. 

For weeks, I’ve been hushing naysayers, lah-lah-lahing the latest Weinstein cut rumors and ignoring the strawberry blonde Nicole Kidman as Grace press photos. With its synopsis reading like My Week with Marilyn meeting Evita for cucumber sandwiches to discuss an upcoming charity event and swap stories about who was handsier, Ari Onassis or Alfred Hitchcock, I kept telling myself that whether Grace was good or bad, it would be nice to see Grace Kelly’s story onscreen. I was wrong, so wrong. This isn’t to say that the film’s downright awful, or even amongst Cannes’ worst (Splitting Heirs, anyone?), but as someone with only love in her heart would say, it’s not that I’m angry, it’s that I’m hurt and disappointed. 

Princess Grace and Old Hollywood fairy tales after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb192014

Link Commando

Vanity Fair Bradley Cooper's commando White House trip
Theater Mania a screening of West Side Story on Sunday at 5 PM in New York. Rita Moreno will speak to the crowd. Who's going?
PopBytes Pushing Daisies might be coming back... as a musical! 
1:37:1 How often are entire Oscar nominated shortlists absent a Best Picture nominated film? Rarely. And almost always in the same category. I'll give you one guess  

Broadway World somehow I missed these images in early February from the set of Macbeth starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard so maybe you did, too?
Guardian films that use both black and white and color sequences
Film School Rejects looks to Foreign Correspondent, not Rebecca (both 1940) as the prototype for Hitchcock's Hollywood films 
NYT Neil Patrick Harris prepares for his Broadway turn in Hedwig and the Angry Inch
/Film Roger Deakins is not returning to the land of 007 post Skyfall for the the as yet untitled Bond 24. This is going to be a tough movie for all of them: how do you follow up that 50th anniversary behemoth?
NPR talks to Steve McQueen and the Oscar nominated editor of 12 Years a Slave about assembling the movie
MNPP Jake Gyllenhaal doubled up in Enemy, a behind the scenes look
In Contention an oral history of Reality Bites (1994) for its 20th anniversary 

Finally...  The Film Stage reminds us that Tom at the Farm, Xavier Dolan's wonderfully tense queer thriller still doesn't have US distribution but it has a new poster. Bam

I miss the days when US audiences went to the arthouse and talked about subtitled hits... *sniffle* Now people only binge-watch American television. We're a nation of shut-ins!