*For suggested audio accompaniment for this post, click here.
if you've never seen Psycho, The Birds, Rope, Vertigo, North by
Northwest, Strangers on a Train, Rear Window or his myriad of other
phenomenal works, you've seen Hitchcock.
You've seen the
silhouette and you've heard the theme song with or without the
accompanying shuffle from stage right and a cordial "Good Evening."
a director, he is one of the most celebrated and revered in cinematic
history, with a technique and style that continue to influence and
inspire modern storytelling not unlike the way much of conversational
English is rooted in Shakespeare's writings. As a man, his name has
become an adjective for a certain je nais se quoi-style of suspense thrillers and also as a delineation of beautiful women that predates the "Bond Girl."
It is because of this familiarity, and perhaps in spite of it, that "Hitchcock"
succeeds. Freeing itself from the bounds of a strict bio-pic, the film
tells instead a somewhat exaggerated, semi-fantastical version of the
artiste's and the making of his seminal film, "Psycho."
exception of the indomitable Hellen Mirren (as the woman behind the
throne) the majority of the cast simply turn in impersonations of their
characters, and rather good ones at that, which in many ways is exactly
what the audience wants. James D'Arcy turns in an uncanny Anthony
Perkins (or is it Norman Bates? Don't know, don't care) and in a
blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene, Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid!) pops in
as screenwriter Joseph Stephano. I have no idea what Joseph Stephano was
like in real life, but as far as I'm concerned, he looks and sounds an
awful lot like Ralph Macchio.
Which brings us to our titular
giant, as Anthony Hopkins dons facial prostheses and a fake gut to
waddle around barking direction to his leading ladies and dealing with
the emotional stings of a possibly-unfaithful wife. He is unpleasant to
watch, speaking like he is perpetually sucking on a chicken bone and
surrounded in a strange editorial choice by extra loud mouth noise, but
again, would we expect anything less from a man larger than life?
"Hitchcock" is a delightful look at one of cinema's giants, as well as a
nostalgia piece on the old Hollywood machine. It lags in a few points,
but the tete-a-tete between Hopkins and Mirren is splendid and
the coy bits of behind-the-scenes Psycho trivia alone is worth the price
of admission. B
Hitchcock opens in Utah theaters on Dec. 14