Monday, 28 March 2011



I gave up Facebook for Lent.
And Twitter.
And broadcast television.
And suddenly I seem to have endless evenings in which to...

Watch films.
And make films.

But mostly watch them.

Why, just this evening I watched The Virgin Suicides while doing the ironing when usually I'd be catatonic in front of two episodes of Home and Away.

Anyway... I've recently started getting into Hitchcock.
I took a modular degree in film studies (with writing) 13 years ago (weep) and maybe watched Rebecca and North by Northwest. Rebecca stuck with me, NBNW not so much... except for the well-known bi-plane over a cornfield scene...

So. A few weeks ago I had a sudden urge to go back to Manderley... and revisit Rebecca.

Mrs Danvers. Creepy as.
Rebecca led to The Birds.

Which led to Psycho.

(Which, call me flighty, shallow and missing the point, led to "OK, his name is now a buzzword for psychopathic, but is it wrong to find Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates moderately attractive, vulnerable and misunderstood?" O-K.)

But seriously. What is a shame about viewing Hitchcock's films, now, as a contemporary viewer, is that while it's perfectly possible to see how suspenseful they could be, and how clever, and how advanced the visual technology (in The Birds especially), they may not have aged well... or rather we have not allowed them to. We are so used to having our films spell out in graphic detail the extent of the horror that we are likely not to be shocked when the violence is suggested.

That said... The sound of thousands of cawing birds, and the manic flapping of wings... that is genuinely terrifying.

And in other spurious film news... I also watched The Girl on the Train on Saturday night.

Quick plot outline: Jeanne is in her twenties, living with her widowed mother (perennially fabulous Catherine Deneuve) and rollerblading through urban Paris. She is reluctantly pursued by the charming wrestler Franck, and leaves the safety of her mother's home to live with him. But when the relationship is blown apart by deception, Jeanne makes a play for attention by claiming that she has been hurt in an anti-Semitic attack. The nation -- and the president -- make Jeanne a poster-girl for victimisation, but a perceptive thirteen-year-old Jewish boy, Nathan, and his grandfather -- Jeanne's mother's old flame -- are able to see through her lie.

Probably not the most radical film to come out of France in recent years, but it has a dynamism and a fluidity aided by the scenes of Jeanne and Franck rollerblading.

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