Posts Tagged ‘The Birds’

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Even 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.”

As 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.”

With the 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?

Ultimately, “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

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