December 26, 2012

Critical Capsule: Hitchcock (2012)

Is kind of funny. I have seen my tastes change this year and I have often talked about how I am not so much a fan of real world stories adapted to the big screen or watching stars mimic familiar figures. I respect and enjoy performances like Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, and even Josh Brolin as Dubya, but I am much more likely to appreciate a performance that requires the actor to create something. Now, along comes Hitchcock and I have to rethink everything.

Well, that might be a little dramatic and overstating the case, but I swear, I forgot that I was watching Anthony Hopkins playing Hitch. Seriously, he just disappeared and I was watching Alfred. Meanwhile, I recognized, of all people, Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man) playing Hitchcock's agent Lew Wasserman. It isn't like I truly believed Hopkins was Hitchcock or that I was watching any sort of documentary, but there was something about the performance that I found captivating.

I guess there is a little bit of a double standard at work. It probably has a lot to do with my interest in the subject matter. I was not nearly as taken with critical darlings Lincoln or Argo as I was with Hitchcock. Good movies all, but it is obvious which story is going to interest me most.

With all of that said, Hitchcock is a better movie than I expected. I realized, once again, that there are a lot of wholes in my cinematic knowledge, not to mention what I know about those who make great movies. This is an interesting look at the making of Pschyo as well as the relationship between the eccentric director and his wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren).

As a historical record, I doubt this is terribly accurate. It has probably been sanitized and adjusted for a wide audience, but there is still enough here to hold me at attention for its duration. It plays a bit like an overview of the Psycho period with the movie partially covering the production of Psycho, another portion on Hitch's desire for new relevancy, and part on his marriage.

It is funny, I recognize the movie as being historical fiction, but cannot help but love watching Hitch pitch Psycho, fight for it, work the set, and masterfully play the audience. I loved watching the direction of the shower scene, Hitch discovering candy corn, the visions of Ed Gein (Michael Wincott), and especially the moments between Hitch and Alma.

This is a movie that I really like a lot, possibly even love, even with fictionalization I was enamored with the story. The performances are fantastic, and not just Hopkins. Helen Mirren gives a wonderful, classy performance, bringing greatness to even the. Out mundane lines of dialogue. The cast is filled with recognizable faces in memorable performances, like Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh and James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins.

The bottom line is that Hitchcock is a well executed, sweet, funny, and actually interesting tale of he Psycho era. It is one well worth seeing. I can forgive the historical accuracy for the joy it brought me. It may be hard to explain, but I was played just like those watching the shower scene at the Psycho premiere as Hitch conducted from the lobby. I see nothing wrong with that.

Highly Recommended.

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