Oscar History

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Entries in Janet Leigh (7)


Beauty vs Beast: Motel Hell

JA from MNPP here, wishing you all a happy Monday and wishing what would have been a happy 88th birthday to the great, sadly passed Janet Leigh. She's been gone for over a decade but Janet's legacy still looms tall with several classics -- Touch of Evil and The Manchurian Candidate both come to mind -- but as it has been said we all go a little mad sometimes and color me mad when I realized that Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho has somehow never found itself "Beauty vs Beast"-itized. It's a prime pick whose time has come! Slap on your favorite wig and let's play!

PREVIOUSLY This weekend Terminator: Genisys flopped box-office-wise and according to your votes maybe they should've thought about bringing Linda Hamilton along for the ride since her Sarah Connor trounced Full Metal Arnold in our face-off taking just under 80% of the vote. Said SusanP:

"As far as I'm concerned no contest -- Sarah Connor in a walk. Plus, when you list her pros you are neglecting her most important/awesome assets: The Arms "


Oscar Horrors: Looking into PSYCHO

Here lies… a film no other man could have made – Psycho.

Matt here! Alfred Hitchcock directed Psycho just after he made Vertigo and North by Northwest, two gigantic Technicolor productions for Paramount. Imagine the pitch he made – Shoestring budget, black & white, killing off Janet Leigh after 40 minutes, main character’s a schizophrenic taxidermist motel-owner. He shot it in a few months on the Paramount lot using a television crew, paying for everything himself.

The rest is history. After spending roughly $800,000, it has grossed over $50 million and had enormous cultural impact. Recently, it placed 34th in Sight & Sound’s “Greatest Films of All-Time” critics poll. In 1960, it was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Director. One single bathroom sequence revolutionized expectations for audiences, filmmakers, and censors. What business does a true-blue, low-budget horror flick have in the pantheon of cinematic art?

While Psycho may not be Hitchcock’s greatest film, it is the apex of his directorial control, his auteurist posture. More...

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"The rain didn't last long"


Take Three: Anne Heche

Craig here with this week's edition of the character actor column "Take Three". Today: Anne Heche


Take One: Birth (2004)
Whilst watching Birth I’m sure you, like me, were thinking: just what the heck is Anne Heche doing in Central Park? Near the start of Jonathan Glazer’s reincarnation baffler Heche acts in mysterious ways. She suspiciously sneaks out of a hotel lobby and onto the snowy streets of Manhattan. She’s rustling around in the bushes, digging a hole. Is she burying the gift intended for Anna (Nicole Kidman)? Is it even a gift? It looks like some sort of proof, evidence. Her character, Clara, holds the film’s secrets from the get-go. In accordance with the way Glazer structures the script in these early scenes, fragmented by Sam Sneade and Claus Wehlisch’s editing, Clara becomes an enigma we know we'll worryingly come back to later.

Heche’s scenes with Sean (Cameron Bright) after the friction of the plot has been replaced by psychic damage throw a puzzling curveball (the buried package!) to the remainder of the film. These moments provide us with Heche’s best, and most tense, work to date. Insidious, slightly witchy and perverse, Heche reveals a reverse deus ex machina that shows Clara to be the queasily spiteful and questionable presence of the story. Her face, shot in extreme close-up, displays a deliciously evil sheen as she devastates the young boy. On evidence here, I’m baffled as to why filmmakers aren’t snapping Heche up to play the kinds of complicated icy queens usually reserved for Tilda Swinton. Birth features an all-round stellar ensemble but if you haven't seen it recently watch it again to see Heche wrench entire scenes away from the lot of them.

Two more Heche triumphs after the jump including Psycho (1998). Yes, that Psycho...

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"We have 12 Vacancies. 12 Cabins. 12 Links" 

Kill Screen imagines Downton Abbey as a card based RPG. Love the artifact "pants of modernity"
Deja View a relic brochure from a time when Disney was seeking animators.
Irish Times is pissed about Streep's Oscar win and illustrates, again, that a backlash grows. But here's the interesting part...

One can think of many star actresses...who will submerge themselves in films bigger than themselves. But Streep has to be bigger than the movie, to the point where she can become, in effect, a substitute for it.

You may recall we were talking about just this fascinating issue (within the Oscar symposium). It's hardly a Streep-Only topic. What does it mean to "carry" a movie and should an actor ever be asked to? 

Rope of Silicon has "sexy" issues with Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh in the upcoming feature Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho (omg please change the title). So do I and the first being that Scarjo, who I enjoy, is very different than Janet Leigh in body, age and looks. She might be able to summon up the contemplative paranoia mood of Leigh but otherwise it's a huge miss if you ask me.
Guardian odd lawsuit of day. Sandra Bullock is pissed that a watch company is selling a watch by comparing it to her Blind Side look.
Coming Soon Disney must've liked the response to titling Rapunzel Tangled because their next fairy tale musical will be based on The Snow Queen and it's called Frozen. Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars herself, gets lead vocal duties.
 remembers Black Swan with a new behind the scenes photo gallery. I don't remember Natalie wearing this white cloak thing onstage. Have I lost my mind or just my short term memory?
ioncinema details a new "slippery nature of truth" project called True Story starring Jonah Hill and James Franco. Brad Pitt's Plan B is producing. Pitt has good taste and this sounds interesting. 
Pajiba lists the 25 biggest animated hit (adjusted for inflation). Pixar doesn't even make the top 10!
Indiewire lists films they hope show at Cannes this summer

And even though I always try to let each year's Oscars go within a week's time of the ceremony, I find myself still reading Oscar recaps since I have emerged from my cave of silence. I did like these two overviews of the ceremony from two of my favorite online peeps, The Self Styled Siren and Glenn at Stale Popcorn. So if you also share the Oscar sickness, read 'em.


Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "PSYCHO"

In this weekly series "Hit Me With Your Best Shot", we look at a pre-determined movie and select what we think is the best (or at least our favorite) shot. 

 Let's stare this down right away.

The best shot in Alfred Hitchcock's immortal Psycho (1960) comes from arguably the most famous single scene in cinema's 100+ year history. It's that devastating slow clockwise turn (mirroring blood swirling down the drain) paired with a slow zoom out. Marion Crane is dead or thereabouts. Dying in the shower allows her final posthumous tears.

In what is arguably Hitchcock's most brilliant decision in a film filled with them, this moment turns the movie's fabled voyeurism (and explicit understanding of cinema's very nature) back at the audience. We've been staring at Marion Crane, foolish bird-like Marion, for 49 minutes watching her squirm in her "private trap". We couldn't (didn't want to?) save her. Now it's her turn to stare back.

How much death does the cinema need?
[read full post and participating blogs]

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Manuel Muñoz on Psycho, Nashville, and Movies as Inspiration

The Film Experience doesn't often push books upon you, but it's time for an exception. Manuel Muñoz's debut novel "What You See in the Dark" hits bookstores, virtual and otherwise, this week. While it is a work of fiction, it borrows from reality for its backdrop. The pre-production and eventual release of Alfred Hitchcock's immortal Psycho (1960) figure into the narrative in crucial and evocative ways and both The Actress and The Director in question are characters.

Consider this amazing "double feature"

Full Disclosure (as I always believe in such things): I met Manuel Muñoz at a poetry event about four years  ago and he introduced himself as a reader of The Film Experience. Though predisposed to rooting for him as a result (I'm only human!) we hadn't really kept in good touch. In the intervening years, I bought a copy of his second short story collection. Two months ago his first novel arrived in galley form and I ate it right up.  I think it's quite an amazing read.

Nathaniel: Before your beautiful novel, which we'll get to in a moment, you had two short story collections published. The first piece of yours I ever read was "Skyshot" which had an amazing Robert Altman thread. That really won me over. How did that story come about and has the cinema always inspired you creatively as a writer?

Manuel Muñoz: I was lucky enough to see Nashville on the big screen at the Brattle in Cambridge when I was in college. I was stunned by it, and it remains my favorite film (with The Piano a close second.) Altman's command of multiple character arcs enthralled me--it was the closest I'd seen a film parallel the possibilities of words on the page. He could shift magnificently and I loved that he could suggest interiority with camera movement: I was stunned when I realized the camera had crept up on Lily Tomlin as she listened to "I'm Easy." (He did the same to Ronee when she sings "Dues.")

At the time, I was coming to terms with identity and subject matter, so it confused me to be so attracted to a film like Nashville, which is far outside my experience.

Manuel Muñoz by © Stuart Bernstein

But I eventually thought of how often we use films to narrate our own lives. I've never sat at the back of a bar while in love with a performer on stage, but I've worn that look that Lily has on her face. Know what I mean?

Nathaniel: I think so.  But to the point on identity. I've always believed that specificity -- be it in sharply drawn characterizations or carefully observed milieus -- has a way of inverting itself so it's suddenly universal. I see that in your writing too as you're often dealing with the Chicano experience, which I have little connection to and yet it's totally alive for me.

I'm guessing this has a lot to do with an assured storytelling voice, one that's relaxed about the audience feeling whatever it is they're going to feel without forcing it upon them.

Read the full interview for more on Great Actressing, casting dreams, Psycho and unlikely inspirations.

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