Alfred Hitchcock

supersize-me-spurlock

Imagine a nonfiction television series focused on greed, gluttony, sloth, lust, pride, envy and wrath. Well, doesn’t that just describe the whole gamut of reality TV? Yes, but not in a condemnable way that acknowledges these things as the cardinal sins they are. We need someone to take these vices back and put them in their place, and Oscar-nominated documentarian Morgan Spurlock seems to be that person, like a premium cable version of John Doe in Se7en, only without the killing. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he’s got a new show headed to Showtime called Seven Deadly Sins, which he describes as being like Alfred Hitchcock Presents but with true stories. I’d say this joins the new trend this year for major documentary filmmakers hitting the small screen with nonfiction miniseries, but Spurlock has been producing and hosting stuff for TV for years and already currently has the continuing Inside Man on CNN, which kicks off its second season in a few weeks. Seven Deadly Sins will premiere on June 19th and the channel has it scheduled for 11pm, which might indicate this won’t be the most PG-rated program. In a statement, Spurlock said of the show, “You won’t believe it until you see it … and even then, you may not believe it.” Does he mean it’ll be dirty? Gross? Violent? Something too dark for primetime, apparently.

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Husbands Movie

This moment has proven opportune for a reflection of what the auteur theory means and has meant for film criticism. La politiques des auteurs, which originated in Cahiers du Cinéma in the 1950s and traveled, distilled but ready, to 1960s popular American film criticism, has irrevocably shaped how we’ve thought about and assessed movies to the point that it’s impossible to talk about cinema outside the claims of auteurism. Not only did the work of André Bazin, Andrew Sarris and their contemporaries, combatants, and students allow for the serious study of film as an art form, but auteurism’s legacy has even entered the film industry itself (film authors are now brands to be advertised) and solidified conventional readings of film history as the story of talented, uncompromising visionaries behind the camera (collect them all!). As Kent Jones’s excellent Film Comment essay points out, our means of loving the cinema owes a great deal to auteurism’s transformative power, particularly its now-common sense claim that “movies are primarily the creation of one governing author behind the camera who thinks in images and sounds rather than words and sentences.” Yet we must also recognize auteurism’s structuring power – its ability to create a framework of recognized artists through which it becomes impossible to see filmmaking, film history, and film themselves otherwise. It is nothing new to challenge the assumptions and associations of auteurism (or whatever fragmented versions of its politic – not theory – we’ve inherited), but it has proven incredibly difficult to ascertain what could […]

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joan fontaine rebecca

I was already in love with movies before someone showed me Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca at the tender age of nineteen, but something about it opened up a whole new world of cinema to me. You’d think it was the film’s acclaimed director or the mastery with which he brought Daphne Du Maurier’s gothic novel to the screen, but no, I can’t claim anything as respectable as that. Instead, it was the smiling woman pictured above who helped ease my way into black & white cinema. Joan Fontaine earned an Academy Award nomination, the first of three, for her performance as the second Mrs. de Winter, and she went on to win the Best Actress Oscar for her very next film, Hitchcock’s Suspicion. (She’s the only actor, male or female, to have ever won an Academy Award for one of his films.) I watched both in rapid succession before devouring several more of her films including Jane Eyre, Letter From an Unknown Woman, Ivy, and Kiss the Blood Off My Hands. More than simply her beauty and acting talent, I was enamored by the way she balanced timidness with a barely concealed inner wisdom and feistiness. The next several years saw me tracking down and checking off ever more obscure titles on her filmography until only a dozen or so remained. It wasn’t quite an obsession, but a friend did buy me a framed 8″ x 10″ b&w photo of the actress that I still have to this day. Joan Fontaine passed away […]

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Rope Poster Hitchcock

The most brilliant trick of Alfred Hitchcock‘s Rope is that it takes place in real time. The second most brilliant trick is that co-star John Dall looks unnervingly like a 1940s era Jason Sudeikis. The result is that, in addition to being the textbook example of a bottle thriller, there’s a sense of incredible magic contained in how the film was made. The same way we marvel at the Cuaron/Lubezki artistry of That Scene from Children of Men, Rope elicits its own brand of awe thanks to Hitchcock, DPs William Skall and Joseph Valentine, and editor William Ziegler. Fortunately, Vashi Nedomansky has compiled a video of the 10 hidden edits in the film (for everyone interested in knowing how the lady is sawed in half) and written an accompanying exploration of the simple, clever techniques.

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Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they try to paint a smile on the face of Alfred Hitchcock‘s most terrifying chiller. In the #34 (tied) movie on the list, taxidermy enthusiast Norman Bates struggles to run a small roadside motel, but his life is turned upside down when a beautiful young woman on the run with some money rents a room and steals his heart. When his overbearing mother disapproves, she’ll threaten to tear his love apart. But why is it one of the best movies of all time?

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commentary-psycho

Legendary director Alfred Hitchcock has many connections to this week. First of all, this past Tuesday was “National Alfred Hitchcock Day,” during which cinema fans revisit the master’s masterworks. Also, the biopic Hitchcock released on Blu-ray and DVD earlier this week. Easily the most famous and most recognizable Hitchcock film was the 1960 thriller Psycho, which helped revitalize his career and changed the face of horror movies in general. Considering that Hitchcock tells the story behind Psycho, and it’s based on the book “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho” (whose author, Stephen Rebello, performs the commentary here), it seems fitting to look at this classic thriller. Rebello’s commentary is available on the 2010 Blu-ray and subsequent DVD releases.

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Alfred Hitchcock

It’s unclear why March 12th is National Alfred Hitchcock Day. It’s not his birthday or anything — he was born on a Friday the 13th in August of 1899 — but it doesn’t really matter because every square on the calendar is a good one for celebrating the filmmaker’s incredible work. But how to do it? Curling up with your favorite Hitch movie is a solid choice, but if you’re looking for something a bit more exotic, here are a few suggestions (complete with where to find his movies online if you want to stick to simplicity).

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Bates Motel

Who in their right mind would want to see a prequel to Psycho? Sequels and remakes have been attempted, but have failed miserably recapturing the original’s magic. If Gus Van Sant can’t come out looking good when playing Alfred Hitchcock, then why even bother? A producer and writer from the show, Lost honcho Carlton Cuse, attended this year’s Southwest by Southwest to both tell us and show us why, premiering the show’s pilot to a few hundred people. It’s fair to say he answered the question of “who cares?” swiftly, mainly because of the prowess of Vera Farmiga, helping to bring real drama to the show’s key relationship. The pilot has a good deal of set up, but it still allows for smaller, more nuanced moments to tells us everything we need to know about Norman (Freddie Highmore) and his mother’s dynamic.

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IntroDirectorCameos

The beauty of being a director is that you can get killer screen time without the hassle of actually knowing how to act. Being a good director, however, is knowing not to haphazardly stick yourself in your films – at least not unless you’re Spike Lee or Woody Allen. Really it’s all about identifying your limitations. So here are some neat ways that a director opted to show up in their film without taking the spotlight at the same time. These are creative little cameos that you might never notice in a million years of watching.

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Alfred Hitchcock Fighting Steven Spielberg

This week on the show, Scott and Geoff discuss Shane Carruth‘s 9-year hiatus as a viable career option, get some thoughts on Upstream Color from Rob Hunter at Sundance and talk to up-and-coming actor Micah Hauptman about his first big break in the movie Parker. Plus, in the main event, short filmmaker Aaron Morgan (No Way Out) and Aint It Cool‘s Eric “Quint” Vespe stop by to discuss the legacy of two titans of filmmaking, asking the all-too-important question: In 50 years, will Steven Spielberg overtake Alfred Hitchcock as the more popular icon of movies?  Download Episode #3

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As much as Hitchcock is a romantic bio film comedy, it’s also very much about the ups and downs of filmmaking. Hitchcock may act like a drama queen in the picture, but nearly anyone who’s picked up a camera or acted has gone through similar troubles. Speaking with actor Danny Huston, he confirmed that’s often the case. The Hitchcock co-star, playing the director’s romantic rival, has faced the worry of one of his films never reaching an audience. He’s certainly been a part of movies which didn’t takeoff upon their release, but have been remembered more fondly later on than whatever movie opened #1 that weekend. That’s how Huston sees it, who also discussed with us dealing with critics, seeing your work with an audience, and taking a shower with Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins:

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The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  Even the most visionary and original films can seem derivative, especially to those of us who watch tons of movies on a regular basis. Occasionally it’s intended for the audience to spot certain allusions and apply them to our experience with this new work, as in the case of Holy Motors. Other times it’s not so deliberate, and the fact that new movies trigger memories of older movies (and vice versa depending on when they’re seen) is all on us, yet not totally without reason given how there are really only a few base plots and themes in existence and also given that our comprehension of things, particularly imaginative things, has to be relatable to other things we’ve comprehended previously. That’s why a movie like Avatar can be “like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” but only to an extent. For it to be accessible to a wide audience — let alone be one of the biggest worldwide hits of all time — it has to “unfortunately” resemble other movies. And now Life of Pi can be likened by critics to Avatar for similarly giving us spectacle like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It sounds ironic but it’s not. Even if the magical island in Pi may even further remind us of […]

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Hitchcock Review

Biopics take on a new personality when the subject is an admired figure or, worse still, a personal hero. Alfred Hitchcock’s well-deserved moniker, “The Master of Suspense,” does little to fully capture the elevated place of regard he holds with cinephiles who count themselves devoted fans, which is to say cinephiles. Sacha Gervasi‘s Hitchcock narrows the scope of the director’s life to the production of arguably his greatest film: Psycho. The film covers the lifespan of Psycho from inspirational inception to the labor pains of production, and finally its glorious delivery. Some may balk at the idea of a Hitchcock biopic covering such a short period of the man’s life and indeed only one movie from the intensely prolific director’s canon. However, this seemingly reductive approach is actually quite fitting considering the turning point that this one film represented and the inherent metaphors that can then be extrapolated from the production experience. Psycho was one of the riskiest endeavors of Hitch’s career. He was nearing the end of his professional life and wasn’t commanding as much studio confidence as he once was. It was at this precarious era that he decided to make, and self-fund, a film that not only challenged the conception of Hitchcock as an artist, but indeed changed the landscape of film itself. The studio refusing to fund the movie fed his lifelong insecurity and the tricks employed to sell Psycho to audiences were a function of his overarching commitment to publicity. So yes, the choice to […]

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Home for the Holidays

Before we’re all full of turkey, mashed potatoes and that experimental vegan dessert Aunt Trina keeps trying to make work, we’d like to take a pre-coma moment out to take stock of what’s worth celebrating this Thanksgiving. Without a doubt, we’re thankful for friends and family and all the good within eyesight (even as the world spins too-loudly out of control), but as we’re a movie website, we’d like to use this space to focus on all the wondrous film stuff that’s currently bringing a smile to our faces. To help out, the Rejects — including Rob Hunter, Kate Erbland, Cole Abaius, Christopher Campbell, Kevin Carr, Landon Palmer, Nathan Adams, Robin Ruinsky, Luke Mullen, Caitlin Hughes and Allison Loring — compiled a list of cinematic things to be thankful for. See if you can guess who picked what (spoiler: everything Magic Mike-related is Hunter). Now, let’s get to thanking!

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Young Alfred Hitchcock

In 1924, a title designer and budding writer/director named Alfred Hitchcock took the unpublished novel “Children of Chance” and adapted it into The White Shadow for director Graham Cutts. He had worked previously as assistant director and writer under Cutts for 1923′s massive success Woman to Woman, and it was these first in a handful of projects for Cutts that led to him directing his first feature in 1925. Until recently, The White Shadow was thought lost, but a discovery in New Zealand and arduous work from the National Film Preservation Foundation have made most of the print available. You can watch it here. Sadly, the print isn’t complete, but over 40 minutes have survived that show off the early promise that Hitchcock would later fulfill as a visual genius and a master of suspense storytelling. Plus, the online screening room comes with a ton of detailed information from critic David Sterritt about how the film came about and how, even though it flopped, Hitchcock went on to build a sterling career. It’s a huge find and an intriguing piece of film history that we can thankfully see firsthand. Hopefully someone will find the final three reels somewhere, and we’ll have a complete experience – a new, old Hitchcock piece to enjoy.

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The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  The James Bond series is something of a hub in the course of film and pop culture history. As iconic as it is on its own, it tends to be informed by other material as often as it does the informing. In the beginning, for example, the movies were highly influenced by the works of Alfred Hitchcock. Author Ian Fleming even wished for Hitch to direct the first movie adapted from his 007 novels. And Cary Grant was famously sought for the part of Bond, which would have been interesting had he continued with the second film, From Russia With Love, given how much it calls to mind North by Northwest. Instead, little-known Sean Connery embodied the character, and after the first two installments made the actor famous, Hitch cast him in Marnie. As usual, the director capitalized on a movie star’s pre-existing notoriety, his screen value, which makes it quite difficult for us to see Connery’s Marnie character, Mark Rutland, as anything but James Bond as a wife-raping publisher. Hitch went another step with his next film, Torn Curtain, which was an admitted direct response to the 007 films. He wrote to Francois Truffaut in 1965: “In realizing that James Bond and the imitators of James Bond were more or less making […]

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? This is a two-for-one deal. In 2007, Martin Scorsese – one of the biggest film geeks out there – took three pages of an Alfred Hitchcock movie and decided to “preserve” it by filming it in Hitch’s style. Thankfully those pages weren’t from a scene where the hero brushes his teeth or buys new shoes or something. The result is played after Scorsese talks to an interviewer about his intentions and what they mean. Thus, it’s half documentary, half quick fiction. It’s also sadly appropriate to post today because it was shot by the incredible Harris Savides, the DP behind movies like Elephant, Milk and Zodiac. Word is going around that he’s died. There’s little information on it and no firm news (so if it turns out mercifully to be untrue, it’ll be one of the stranger cultural moments of the year). Regardless, it’s still a thrill to watch the man’s work. Update: Unfortunately, the news of Savides’ death is accurate. His talent was immense, and he’ll of course be missed. What will it cost you? Only 9 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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Hitchcock

Whenever an iconic actor takes on an iconic real-life figure as their next role, the film that they do it in tends to be guaranteed a certain amount of hype. Questions of how much they were made to look like them and how much they ended up sounding like them are the first things that cross everyone’s minds, so we all run out and gobble up those initial trailers. That’s likely to be the case for this new trailer for Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock, as well, because it features acting legend Anthony Hopkins portraying directing legend Alfred Hitchcock. How is Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock? Is he doing an impression of him, or kind of doing his own thing? Does his jowl makeup look believable? Luckily for us, the answers to all of these questions are contained here in this trailer, so our curiosity can be sated. When Hopkins is in the makeup, yes, he looks quite a bit like Hitchcock. He seems to be mimicking his mannerisms pretty broadly, but there’s also quite a bit of his own voice coming through in his performance. In a movie like this, where one celebrity plays another celebrity, complete with makeup and wardrobe, there’s always the possibility that after a while the whole thing will start to feel like an overly long SNL sketch and get ridiculous, but Hitchcock passes the initial sniff test.

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Game of Thrones Behind the Scenes

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly news column that’s struggling on a slow-news Monday. Luckily there’s plenty of poster art to go around. Our evening begins with a behind the scenes shot from the production of Game of Thrones and its sure to be epic third season. It’s not telling us much, but the official production blog kicking into high gear is enough to whet the whistles of many a fan, including yours truly.

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Toby Jones and Sienna Miller in The Girl

The girl in The Girl  is Tippi Hedren as played by Sienna Miller, and the first teaser trailer for the HBO Films project which premieres on October 20th uses a familiar rhyme scheme in order to haunt. Of course, it helps that the limerick is spoken by Toby Jones deep-voicing his way through Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic drawl. It’s a goose bump machine which hints at Hitch as the villain. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see a real-life story told with a bit of melodrama and framed in the same genre that Hitchcock worked best in. Hedren, like the young girl in the limerick, sounds like she’s knowingly in for some psychological torture, and anyone who knows the history of the production (or Hedren’s views on Hitchcock following it) are probably going to see hell by way of a movie set. Check the teaser trailer out for yourself:

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