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MOVIE REVIEW: Hitchcock

Hitchcock is a riveting, charming, funny, and probing period semi-historical film surrounding the lives and times of Alfred Hitchcock and Alma Reville. If you are a fan of Hitchcock, then this film will be a good evening.

Movie moment with Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock in Hitchcock
Movie moment with Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock in Hitchcock
★ ★ ★ 1/2 out of 5 buckets | Matinee or DVD

Rated: PG-13 - Some violent images, sexual content and thematic material
Release Date: November 23, 2012 (Limited)
Runtime: 1 hour 38 minutes
Director: Sasha Gervasi
Writers: John J. Mclaughlin, based on the book "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho" by Stephen Rebello
Cast:  Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlet Johansson, Danny Huston, Jessica Biel, Tony Collette, Michael Wincott, James D'Arcy, Ralph Macchio

SYNOPSIS: 
 Alfred Hitchcock fiances his next big project with Robert Bloch's "Psycho", putting a strain on his professional career and personal relationship with his wife, Alma.

REVIEW:
 Writer/Director Sasha Gervasi, writer of Tom Hank's The Terminal and director of Anvil: The Story of Anvil, takes on an iconic character in a true master of suspense director Alfred Hitchcock. Black Swan writer John J. Mclaughlin adapts a story based Stephen Rebello's book "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho", accounting for Hitchcock's challenges in front of, behind, and away from the camera lens.

Acclaimed Hollywood director Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins, The Rite) had just finished directing and distributing Cary Grant's North By Northwest to the American masses. Afterward, back on the Paramount Pictures studio lot Hitch (as he preferred to be monikered) sat looking for his next big project. When he came across the Robert Bloch novel 'Psycho', none of the other treatments or script offers appealed to him. 'Psycho' would be his next project. Turned down from financing from Paramount and other studios, Hitch was forced to finance the picture himself. Hitch's editor/writer wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren, Arthur), who he had always collaborated with on his film projects, continues to stand by his side - even as Hitch ogles his blond leading lady Janet Leigh (Scarlet Johansson, The Avengers). As the production of the film drags on, the pressure on Alfred Hitchcock mounts for both the film and the relationship with his wife especially when she takes up a writing collaboration with writer Witfield Cook (Danny Huston, Wrath of the Titans). 

Although never winning an Oscar, Alfred Hitchcock has been instrumental as the inspiration of directors and filmmakers who have come after him. He launched careers and innovated much of the technical craft that director and cinematographers still use in some way today. VertigoNorth By NorthwestRear Window, and The Birds, as well as others, are pinnacles of edge-of-your-seat film examples. Some of his films have been remade with fresh current twists and actors, Disturbia naming one, but Hitchcock was the one to thrill and scare audiences decades ago as an original master of suspense. Many of the Hitchcock films I watched as a youth, or discovered even more recently, left an indelible mark to what I considered great filmmaking. 

Hitchcock, based on the novel 'Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho', delves into Hitchcock's madness and methodology. Ed Gein, noted as one of the earliest American serial killers, served as the inspiration of the Robert Bloch novel and served as macabre muse for the director. Hitchcock even takes to feverish dreams with Gein (Michael Wincott, The Crow) counseling him on matters of the heart and of the career. Often rumored or stated that Ed Gein was the inspiration for other films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the 1970s, Hitchcock's obsession with the killer and what he had done on an isolated farmhouse in Wisconsin in 1944 would try to spring to life on celluloid. The studios were against Hitchcock and the censors were ready to pull the plug on a domestic release. Alfred and Alma would have to put aside their disputes long enough to attempt to finish a film that had the potential to ruin their lives or bring the director notable glory.

Anthony Hopkins is wonderful as the pair-shaped filmmaker. While not an exact likeness, Hopkins embodies the big belly, the pout, and drooping eyes and lips with all the flair and quiet aloofness that we have seen in many of Hitchcock's films and television projects. At times, Hopkins is spot on with every inflection or enunciation, while at other times he sounds more like Sir Anthony Hopkins. The elegant Helen Mirren is outstanding as the faithful and dutiful wife of a director husband considered a genius, while a creative and accomplished filmmaking professional in her own right. Scarlet Johansson's Janet Leigh looks the part of the aspiring starlet, thankful for the opportunity to work with such an attentive director. Jessica Biel, as the actress Vera Miles, is forced into a secondary Psycho role on the film because of an earlier betrayal to Hitchcock. Danny Huston's Wit plays a hack screenwriter who wants to take Alma's talents, and possibly more, away from Alfred. And knowing that Anthony Perkins is no longer with the living, I am concerned that James D'Arcy (Cloud Atlas) may be wearing an Anthony Perkins suit - a la Ed Gein - because D'Arcy shows uncanny similarity to Perkin in both look and demeanor. It is as if this period biography was shot using a young Perkins himself! 

Danny Elfman's music is a nod of the cap to the films of Hitchcock, with long drawn out strings to set the mood. And no movie of this type would be complete without the sharp repeating violin chords that accompany every butcher knife that finds itself by a shower curtain. While Janet Leigh was rumored to have sworn off showers after wrapping on Psycho, there is not a person over thirty-five who hasn't made the stabbing gestures, made the noise, or thought about who may be behind a vinyl motel curtain. Hitchcock has done for scenic motel vacations what Spielberg has done for swimming. 

Hitchcock will not be a blockbuster, but it is a riveting, charming, funny, and probing period semi-historical film surrounding the lives and times of Alfred Hitchcock and Alma Reville, and the making of a film that would be a successful highlight of the director's career. If you are a fan of Hitchcock, then you should head to this namesake film as the raven flies.

Chuck Ingersoll is the editor and movie reviewing contributor for Hot Butter Reviews. You can find hundreds of reviews at www.HotButterReviews.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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