Sunday, August 26th, 2007
I was lucky enough to make it out to NYC this afternoon to the Film Forum's NYC Noir festival. Watched The Wrong Man (which was just so-so, kind of corny for Hitchcock), and Rear Window, which was amazing -- I either haven't seen it before or it was long enough that I had forgotten most of the bits of the plot. This was (I think) a newly restored print and it was just amazing to look at -- it took me a couple of minutes of just goggling at the scenery before I could start getting into the film. (Rather like Jimmy Stewart's character I guess).
Monday, August 27th, 2007
It caused me a little distress during the movie that I kept thinking, no way could he have such a wide range of view -- he's like 4 or 5 feet back from the window and not able to stand up or crouch down. When I could ignore that -- which was just about all the time starting about halfway through -- it was a fantastically good movie.
(I was a little surprised, on looking it up, to find that Rear Window preceded The Wrong Man by 2 years -- my thought while watching them had been, maybe Hitchcock was trying out a sort of sardonic kitchiness in The Wrong Man but not quite getting it, and his style was more fully matured in Rear Window, or something like that; but apparently not.)
When I left the theater I was sizing up everyone I passed on the street, trying to figure out their backstory and whether they were up to no good... Catching snippets of conversation and fleshing them out. Greenwitch Village is an absolutely great neighborhood to be walking around in after watching this film.
Tuesday, November 13th, 2007
So I go to turn on the tv this evening and see if anything's on, and AMC is playing Vertigo! Just starting. Excellent.
... Another Hitchcock film that I've seen before but long enough ago that a lot of it has passed out of my memory. It seems a whole lot like Rear Window, and not just because of Jimmy Stewart -- though his presence is a central part of both movies. I am liking it but not in the same way I love my favorite Hitchcock films.
...When all is said and done, not as good a film as Rear Window -- which in turn is not on the level of The Lifeboat and The Lady Vanishes (and well, basically every movie of his I've seen from between 1935 and 1951). And it occurs to me that what I mean when I describe a movie as "good" is the degree to which it takes possession of me, takes me outside myself -- which totally ties in with what I have been thinking about music and reading over the last few days.
Wednesday, November 14th, 2007
If I had it in me (if I were better versed in film criticism, if I were a better writer), I would write an essay about how the common thread running through Hitchcock's films is one of satire. I would first spend some paragraphs or pages writing about the quality which prompts me to describe a story as "corny" and then write about how Hitchcock builds his fictional world around that quality and then spends his movies poking fun at it, and at his characters and his plots and his direction. If I were able to hold more than a couple of his films in my mind at once, I would illustrate this thesis with examples from throughout his work, say that to my way of thinking, his movies were best early on when the satire was subtle and not the main point of the movie, and fell off slightly when they became more cartoonish; would paint an arc of his career and show how the trend moved, which movies exemplified it and which were exceptions to the rule. Unfortunately (or perhaps not!), I am not that kind of a writer. Instead I will merely assert the thesis as true; and the next time I watch one of his movies try to write about it as seen from this viewpoint.
Saturday, July 25th, 2009
They say that if you meet your double, you should kill him -- or that he will kill you. I can't remember which; but the gist of it is, that two of you is one too many.
I'm midway through The Double now, and still not sure how to approach reading it. It seems at times like a Woody Allen movie, exploring the humorous consequences of its main character's depression/inferiority complex; at other times I think Saramago has something enlightening to say about depression, but the (overly?) dismissive tone of his narrator makes it impossible to develop this much -- every thing he says, he cuts down. I'm pretty sure the intent of the book is neither broad comedy nor pedagogy, but I'm sort of alternating between these poles in my reading -- I'm hoping Saramago will show his hand a bit when the doubles meet.
-- Double Take
Bill of Orbis Quintus linked to an interview with screenwriter Tom McCarthy, in which he discusses among other things his most recent project, the movie Double Take (a longer article about the movie is at Art in America). Sounds great -- he says it is based on "a Borges tale about meeting his own double" -- at first I thought this was referring to "Borges and I", but this is probably wrong, unless the relationship between the source text and the movie is very loose indeed.* He's changed it around so that the movie is about Alfred Hitchcock rather than Borges, which seems to me like a excellent move -- not that I wouldn't be glad to see a movie about Borges, but throwing Hitchcock into the mix can only produce good consequences. Here is a clip:...And yikes! another, mind-boggling, clip underneath the fold.
* (The story referenced is "The Other", from The Book of Sand.)
(...And thinking further, I'd say the relationship between source text and movie is indeed very loose, and who knows, "Borges and I" may have been the inspiration for this. I need to see more of the movie to have any actual opinion about this, though.)
Friday, October second, 2009
(spoiler alert -- there is an argument to be made that this post contains information about Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window that would make watching the movie less enjoyable for someone who has not already seen it...)
The scene at the end of Rear Window where Stewart is fighting off Burr is really compelling for all the overall silliness of the movie -- there are things about the movie that just don't make sense. The impression you get is that Stewart is imagining things and is convincing people (women) to enter his hallucination just out of strength of character. So all movie long you have been sort of lulled into thinking it's a joke, then all that collapses in a few minutes, and you the viewer are pulled too into Stewart's hallucination. (Specifically your disbelief unravels in the scene where Kelly breaks into Burr's apartment. By the end of that scene you have forgotten any suspicion that somebody's joking around with you.) That really pulls me in to the fright and (literal) suspense in the characters' experience of the movie -- and then bang, the frame is colorful and bright again, it's back to a light comedy. The ending is probable the brightest, lightest scene in the film, and the relief/joy of being lifted back out of that paranoid moment of struggle is what the film leaves you with.
Now I am watching a TCM documentary about The Thriller. Amusing stuff -- one line was that Grace Kelly is "more evidence that still waters run... weird..." If I want to stay up late, the midnight film is going to be Shadow of a Doubt!
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