Comments Off on Hitchcock

One always hopes that while watching a film, one experiences a sort of revelation as a result of some cinematic innovation, at least from a critical perspective. But in the last forty-eight hours, while attempting to “catch-up” with some films, I have watched three films from three different genres that offered so little that it shook my faith in a progressive American cinema.

Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock (2012) isn’t so bad, and is almost redeemed by Helen Mirren’s remarkable performance as Alma Hitchcock. But Hopkins, Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel tend to sleep walk through this little biopic just as it seems the film’s writer, John J. McLaughlin has. As Hitchcock dramatizes the making of Psycho (1960) it falls into the trap of similar biopics such as Attenborough’s Chaplin (1992), where name-dropping and casting celebrities as celebrities becomes a means of demonstrating a knowledge of film history. But Hitchcock as a film has little to do, technically speaking, with Hitchcock’s own cinematic technique and becomes nothing more than a fluff piece based around a loose narrative concerning marital monogamy. The issue of artistry and creativity are downplayed to such an extreme that they are almost inarticulate subtexts.

So why write about Hitchcock? Because all films deserve critical appraisal so that the direction of the medium can be better understood and put into a useful context. What Hitchcock is indicative of is a lack of anything to be said, of any ideas that the filmmakers feel is vital to communicate, a sort of laziness that is contagious and has obviously infected the audience as well. That this film managed to be a kind of art house blockbuster is testimony to the fact that most audiences are not demanding anything from the cinema except what is handed to them. This not only lowers the standards of the medium, but also bankrupts the intellectual integrity of the nation.