Sunday, May 11, 2014


I watched Hitchcock the other night, despite all the bad reviews I'd read about it. The movie is based on the non-fiction book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. Fresh from the success of North by Northwest, the studios want more of the same. The movie follows Hitchcock (Sir Anthony Hopkins freakishly absorbs Hitchcock) and his wife Alma (Dame Helen Mirren shines) as they struggle to bring Psycho to life. They put up $800,000 of their own money and in order to further pinch pennies, they must use the crew who filmed the TV series. 

A very strong cast rounds out the rest of the film. Toni Collette is Peggy Robertson, Hitch's trusted assistant, Scarlett Johansson sizzles as Janet Leigh, and James D'Arcy is a dead ringer as a young Anthony Perkins. The only fly in the ointment is Jessica Biel as Vera Miles; she seemed asleep at the wheel most of the time.

My fav parts of the movie were the bits about their day to day life. I paused at the refrigerator scene. Oh my godz - what would Hitch (as he let his intimates call him) like to snack on? 

Another aspect of the film that really appealed to me was the the constant jealousy of associates this creative pair seemed to have with each other. I thought it was cute and refreshing. Instead of uber hottie jealously, you had real people jealous of their spouse's time spent with co-workers. Alma was jealous of Hitch's attention to leading ladies and Hitch was jealous of Alma's time spent with creative writing buddy Whitfield Cook. 

I want to read the book now; it's at the top of my required summer reading list.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Stray Dog and Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

I've wanted to see Stray Dog for quite some time. I've always regretted missing the 35 mm film showing at IMA a couple of years ago. Akira Kurosawa's gorgeously shot film noir master piece staring two of his most esteemed actors: Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura. During a heat wave that envelops Tokyo (there are fans galore both manual and electric) rookie cop Murakami loses his gun (a Colt) on a trolley to a pickpocket. The gun turns up in a series of shootings and Murakami must find the gun before others are killed.

Guilt ridden Murakami teams up with detective Sato to canvas the city and thus the ultimate mismatched partners film noir is born. Toshiro and Takashi are magic together. I must say it is refreshing to see them both out of samurai clothing and in something contemporary.

Akira is a master film maker. Murakami and Sato pursue leads through the sweltering streets of Tokyo. 

Every scene is beautifully framed. 

And now for something completely different….

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me is a documentary about a band from Memphis who never made it big; a  real life Almost Famous, if you will. These guys had it all - the looks and the hooks and the record deal, but fate was dealing for the house (yes, I am rolling my eyes on that one). You are no doubt familiar with lead singer Alex Chilton. At the ancient age of sixteen he was the blue eyed soul singer of "The Letter". Their first album titled #1 Record was a hit with the critics but due to legal problems at Stax Records the album did not make into stores.

This documentary left me feeling nothing for these guys, although it had all the ingredients I normally like: tormented creative song writer with mental issues, haunted by former self singer. I honestly could not care less about this band. While sitting in my NetFlix queue, I, for the longest time, thought this was a mocumentary. The songs remind of the could-have-been songs written for fictional rock films set in the late 60's early 70's. Speaking of songs, since I've watched this documentary, I've run across quite a few videos of various bands doing the song September Gurls. I'm sure I've heard this song in the past and wondered what the heck I was hearing. In an odd twist of fate, this song does tend to stick to the noodle.

I think Alex Chilton had Miley Cyrus syndrome (too famous too young) as he went on to front a punk band among other endeavors. Honestly, don't call yourselves Big Star and don't call your first album #1 Record - the Godz of Pride can see you a mile away.

On the other hand I cannot seem to get enough of the poster child for tormented creative artist Syd Barrett. He wrote and sang the bulk of the songs in the early days of Pink Floyd. When full blown madness set in and Syd had to go, the rest of band were at a loss; what do we do now? Ahh….yes….