November 24th, 2012



Semi-unplanned movie yesterday. An attempt to re-see Lincoln was thwarted by a sold out sign, which meant I got to pick the replacement movie. The next Life of Pi wasn't in 3D, so I opted for Hitchcock. Bloody good time it turned out to be.

Psycho is most certainly a favorite of mine. When it came around on the AFI list I gushed over the film pretty profusely. My favorite part of the Universal Studio tour is passing by the Bates motel. Even on my second time on the tour, I snapped pic after pic after pic in front of that wonderful landmark, and I love spotting it in other works. It's pretty recognizable once you know to look for it. Therefore, a film about making one of the greatest films of all time is something I was incredibly excited about.

Clearly that was the initial draw, the behind the scenes of Psycho. But the true magic of Hitchcock was in the relationship between him and his wife Alma. The pair were played by an uncanny Alfred Hitchcock and a phenomenal beyond words Helen Mirren. As is often the case with biopics, the initial trailers did not do our lead justice. I wasn't entirely sold on Hopkins as Hitchcock (combo of the strange voice and the necessary overuse of prosthetics) until we delved into the movie. It didn't take long for me to completely forget the actor I was looking at and just focus on the legend. But as big of a force as that man is on this film and Hollywood, he was beautifully outshined by his true leading lady. I've loved and admired Helen Mirren for a few years now, and she still continues to astound me. The way she not only held her ground against her hubby, but kept him in check and put him in his place when necessary was incredible. Several times throughout the film I wanted to get up and cheer for her. The line to nominate her for an Oscar starts behind me.

Hitchcock had a wonderful supporting team behind him in the studio. His cast included Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, Jessica Biel as Vera Miles, and James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins. I've always thought that Johansson exists in the wrong time period, and seeing her as Janet Leigh proved that theory. So gorgeous, glamorous, and gracious, she alone brought that old school Hollywood flair to the flick. I've had mixed feelings about Biel throughout her career, but here she was solid with just enough grounded contrast to Johannson's starlet. For me, the real excitement was seeing D'Arcy's Anthony Perkins. Reading the list of almost cast actors for the role, part of me is a lil bummed that I didn't get to see one of my faves take him on, but the rest of me is okay with that because D'Arcy was spot on perfect. The look, the manerisms, the voice, everything said Norman Bates to me. I only wish we could have seen more of him, but I understand that he was not the focus of the film. Maybe someday we'll get this story from his perspective. Other standouts were Toni Collette, Ralph Macchio, and Kurtwood Smith.

The overall feel was playfully macabre. You could see the twinkle in Hopkins/Hitchcock's eye when he was working with his darker material, and he had this cleverly sarcastic sense of humor that I could not get enough of. Apparently, neither could the rest of the audience, as there were constant whispers and gasps and cheers at various key points of the film. I for one found myself laughing a lil bit harder and smiling a lil bit brighter than I usually do. That for me is the true joy of cinema.

Hitchcock - \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Silver Linings Playbook

It's finally happened. Robert DeNiro has made a good movie in this century. Was about freakin'g time.

And the Oscar race is in full swing. The buzz is pretty big for this flick, touting it as this year's Little Miss Sunshine or Juno or The Descendants. The small scale indie with a big heart and off the wall characters so quirky and disfunctional, you can't help but love 'em. I always love those underdog films, and Silver Linings was no exception.

Bradley Cooper stars as Pat, who's kinda mentally unstable and trying to put his life back together. He forms a connection with Jennifer Lawrence's Tiffany, whose crazy just might surpass his. Meanwhile, he's also trying to settle into his home life with his parents played by Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver.

If you've been paying attention to all the names I've just dropped in this David O. Russell film, you can prolly imagine that its strength is in the performances. Oh my, yes it is. You can expect several of these names to be read early in the AM of nomination day.

Bradley Cooper wowed me. Up til now, we've mostly seen him as a suave pretty boy, but I dont think we've ever seen such depth to him. He rattles off a mile per minute when he's stressing out, then explodes with anger when he can't get it together. Beneath all of that, he has this incredible vulnerability as he stubbornly tries to reclaim his former life. Lawrence was equally fiery with a darkness she used to mask her weakness. She too would have intense explosions, though hers were less angry, more neurotic. But she also had passion and determination when she was focused enough on something. Weaver and DeNiro were also fantastic in their smaller roles.

As much as I enjoyed it, I'm still backing Argo this year (though I reserve the right to switch loyalties once I see Les Miserables). But as far as the quirky indie underdog, this movie fits that spot perfectly.

Silver Linings Playbook - \m/ \m/ \m/ \n