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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Revenge (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s contributions to his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I’ll be looking at some of the episodes of the classic show that he directed. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here.

Good evening. I’m Alfred Hitchcock, and tonight I’m presenting the first in a series of stories of suspense and mystery called – oddly enough – Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I shall not act in these stories, but will only make appearances, something in the nature of an accessory before and after the fact: to give the title to those of you who can’t read, and to tidy up afterwords for those who don’t understand the ending.

- Hitchcock lays down the rules

It’s interesting to look back at Hitchcock as a director who had an exceptional gift for working with material that might be derided as “trashy.” Certainly, if one divorces the subject matter from the director himself, a significant amount of his work can be seen as somewhat exploitative, inside genres that are traditionally dismissed by those more serious and elitist film commentators. (Indeed, one could argue that Psycho laid the foundation for the much-maligned “slasher” genre.) I’ve actually found this a significant appeal in examining Hitchcock’s work. Like many of the very best directors ever to work in film, he has a knack for elevating his subject matter beyond the expectations of the genre. I think that his anthology television show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, is especially fascinating, because it illustrated the director taking an entire medium far more serious than many of his contemporaries.

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Non-Review Review: Little Fockers

I genuinely really enjoyed Meet the Parents. It’s a nice little movie that the family will occasionally get caught up in again if it just so happens to be on telly, a nice way to spend an hour or two that nobody can really object to. The sequel, Meet the Fockers, lost a lot of the appeal – but we still found it relatively unobjectionable. So, the third and final (hopefully) instalment of the franchise, Little Fockers, arrives and isn’t really that bad. It’s just not really any good, either.

Greg still don't know Jack...

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Non-Review Review: Meet the Parents

Meet the Parents is a pleasant little film which works so well because it takes an awkward social experience that most of us have lived through – in this case meeting a partner’s parents – and turns it into a comedy of errors. It’s this smart little premise and the way that it plays off a familiar situation (with judicious application of the philosophy that “anything that can go wrong will“) that makes it so appealing – and perhaps explains the weaknesses of the movie’s sequel. Still, the original is an effective and charming comedy of manners which executes its premise well and, despite some difficulty balancing everything, manages to consistently entertain throughout.

DeNirest and Dearest...

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Non-Review Review: Dick Tracy

There’s a good movie somewhere inside Dick Tracy. It’s hidden pretty deep inside, but I’m sure it must be there somewhere. All the trappings – costume design, set design, make-up and even some of the direction – run the gamut from good to great, but the movie is hampered by terrible performances and a really awful script. Seriously, it seems like the move was written on crayon in bright colours, which might fit well with the aesthetic that Beatty was going for – but does not a good film make.

Quit Dickin' around...

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Non-Review Review: Papillon

Papillon is a great film. I fall just short of declaring it a masterpiece, but it’s certainly a proud cinematic achievement (seriously, there’s some lovely stunt work going on here). Based on the true, kinda true heavily fictionalised story of Henri Charriere (his real name is never given here, except for a brief shot of his jail cell), the movie is pretty much an episodic collection of incidences from his time in captivity, having been wrongly convicted for killing a pimp. Naturally some of these individual segments work better than others, and some seem a little disjointed, but Steve McQueen really ties it all together. Which is really something since he’s starring opposite Dustin “Oscar gold” Hoffman.

Hail to McQueen...

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Non-Review Review: Last Chance Harvey

There’s something pleasant about watching just-past-their-prime actors working together on small-scale productions. Kinda a reminder that even though they don’t dominate Hollywood anymore (because Hollywood has little respect for their elderly), they are still around. It’s even nicer when they stray from the projects that they are obviously making a fair bit of capital on (such as Dustin Hoffman’s work in Meet the Fockers) towards smaller, more intimate fare. Last Chance Harvey is a solid and sweet romantic comedy in the very classical sense. It doesn’t rely on inappropriate sex jokes or physical comedy to make its audience laugh, just provides some wonderfully awkward ‘that could happen and it would be mortifying’ humour paired with some emotional honesty. And, despite being crafted in the mould of a classical genre, it manages to seem like a breath of fresh air.

Thankfully, Harvey is never short with her...

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Non-Review Review: Kung-Fu Panda

There’s nothing like a nice relaxing movie that you can cuddle up on the couch and just enjoy. Another testament to what was a fantastic summer last year, Kung Fu Panda may not have been the best animated film of the year – that honour goes to Wall-E – but it was still a fun, enjoyable and lively romp which should leave you smiling for most of the runtime.

Everybody was Kung-Fu fighting...

Everybody was Kung-Fu fighting...

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