It’s easy to get inspired to go see a new movie. Advertisements and friends and internet buzz will always be able to point me toward new and interesting film experiences but there is also a century of film history to be experienced and making choices there can be difficult. Netflix has made things too easy. With so many films at my fingertips, how do I choose? Mostly it winds up being on whims and my mood.
And so it has taken me to be inspired by a random internet video to finally sit down and watch Hitchcock’s Dial ‘M’ For Murder. And so I write this post, not because I wish to review the movie, but as a confession. I’m too wracked with guilt to hold it in. I need to let out the shame I feel for having put this off for so long. The master of suspense was really showing off in this movie. Pretty incredible.
1. Less of a script and more of a collection of Alfred Hitchcock trivia tied loosely to an ill-told narrative.
2. Sacha Gervasi’s first feature and it shows. He’s got a ton of talent so he just sits the camera in front of them, seemingly with no thoughts as to how to compose the frame. It’s particularly egregious given the subject of the story: Alfred Hitchcock who knew mis en scene better than almost any director ever.
3. It’s a waste of Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren putting on a pretty damn good show. Meanwhile, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette and Michael Stuhlberg are given nothing interesting to do and wind up just hanging around. Jessica Biel gets to be the face of a forced little sublet that never goes anywhere.
4. The movie has a couple of missions and has no idea how to go about them subtly but one of particular interest is Alma Reville’s (Mrs. Hitchcock) impact on Hitchcock’s career. To say she was integral would be an understatement but the film overstates itself and this point so much, I’ll suffice to understate.
5. The movie opens with genius. The pre-credit sequence that begins the film had me sure the reviews I’d heard whispers about (I don’t read reviews anymore, which makes writing them for others to read sort of an odd hobby but there are worse things I could be doing with my time) were wrong and this was going to be great. I was frustrated to be mistaken and even more so when, in the middle of the third act when the picture was already a certified mess, Gervasi suddenly finds some energy. Alma and Hitch edited Psycho has the punch of a much better movie. It’s spry and clever and weaves classic Hitchcock sarcasms into the story, where before they seemed to be the whole point. There may be talent here. Somewhere.
6. Someone figure out what to do with Scarlett Johansson. Her combination of beauty and talent is virtually unmatched in her generation but by my count she only has 6 good performances and I’m counting Scoop.
A couple of picture of Jones as Alfred Hitchcock for the upcoming movie The Girl just hit the web. He’s a few months behind the first reveal of Anthony Hopkins as Hitch, who is playing the famed director in Hitchcock.
All of this strangely parallels Jones’ experience when he played Truman Capote in Infamous just a year after Phillip Seymour Hoffman owned the role in Capote. Another rival biopic titled the subject’s surname and Jones seems to have fallen behind again. At least this time the subject matter isn’t identical. Still, gotta feel for the guy.