A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Silver Hitchcock Is 40 on the Hudson

I am finishing the year with several long weekend vacations, and I am spending some of that time at the movies. Strangely, they all seem to be chic flicks.  For example:


A drama with some comic overtones about several psyche damaged individuals whose lives intersect at just the right moment.  

  • a man (Bradley Cooper, a Philadelphian born and bred!) is recovering from being committed after a truly aggressive act of violence on his wife’s lover; 
  • his father (Robert DeNiro) an obsessive-compulsive with his own history of aggression and his passion (a deep understatement in this case) for the Philadelphia Eagles;
  • and a very attractive young widow (Jennifer Lawrence) who has tried every depression medication without success, and attempts to work through her grief by sleeping with everyone in her office. Of course, this also leads to her getting fired, which just gives her another reason to be depressed.

The story leads to a deal which will enable the husband to communicate with his wife (particularly tricky since she has filed a restraining order) and the widow to fulfill her dream of participating in a dance competition — which is a big time chic film device if I ever heard one. And, oh yes, somehow the Eagles making the playoffs figure into this also, which compels me to issue this disclaimer. Eagles fans: Silver Linings Playbook is a fictional work. Any similarity between the Eagles real life performance and this film is purely, outrageously coincidental.


A comedy about growing older and still being vital. A couple entering middle age (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) at nearly the same time try to keep everything together at home while both of their careers hit bumps in the road. He is an indie record producer who sees a small market in reviving the moribund careers of musicians from the 1970’s; trouble is, the market is so small that his business can’t succeed. The wife has her own problems dealing with the two employees at her boutique, one of whom may be skimming money from the books. Mix in her fear of getting older as she turns 40, and you have a whiny, cursing, shout fest with some humor boiling up from time to time.

Writer/director Judd Apatow uses his real life family in the piece. Keep an eye on the youngest Apatow, Iris. She may get an Oscar nomination for her role as the youngest daughter, Charlotte. Comic actor veterans Albert Brooks and John Lithgow are on hand to represent a generation older than the main characters, and who seem to have their lives more together than the married couple approaching 40.

The film was entertaining, but not overly impressive.


Another film bio of FDR, this one told from the point of view of another mistress (and cousin), Daisy Suckley. Bill Murray does a fine job playing Roosevelt — flaws and all — in the tradition of Ralph Bellamy (the best portrayal of FDR in Sunrise at Campobello) and Edward Herrmann (also nicely nuanced performance in the television mini-series Eleanor and Franklin). The story holds the audience’s interest as it concentrates on a visit by British Royalty King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the current Queen Elizabeth's parents) to Roosevelt’s Hyde Park estate.

The production is exacting in detail in period costumes and props, and then fails miserably in reconstructing the setting of these historical events. Okay, so the people at Hyde Park refused the producers permission to film on the grounds, (yet they are more than happy to exploit the film in anticipation of the extra crowds they believe will be spurred to visit the estate after they see the film), which meant that the British production had to be filmed in Great Britain. Alfred Hitchcock was denied permission to film the climax of North By Northwest on Mt. Rushmore, but a Hollywood mock-up didn’t hurt his film one bit.

No problem, so why didn’t the producers go the extra step, hire some British carpenters who could reconstruct a replica of Hyde Park (they really only needed a façade propped up by two by fours) which actually resembles Hyde Park and not the cream colored stucco house which was used in the film. Oh, right, there are pillars and palm plants, but the Hyde Park I know (and have visited several times) has stone ivy-covered wings on each side of the main house. Where are the wings?

I know the setting is just a backdrop for the events that were really important for world history. It was more important at that point that both sides saw eye-to eye long enough to defeat a common enemy, namely widespread unemployment in the British carpentry industry, I mean, Adolf Hitler. Still, if you want us to believe the story about yet another FDR mistress, then at least splurge on a convincing set.


Arguably a chic flick about two artists deeply in love with each other, even as they are tempted by others and work on Psycho, the 1960 film which forever changed the direction of the horror film genre. It is a love story at its core, challenging the participants at every step. The husband (Anthony Hopkins) always on the prowl for the perfect Hollywood blonde; and the wife Alma (Helen Mirren) lured into a tryst with a Hollywood screenwriter. In the end, true love triumphs and Psycho proves to be the crowning achievement of Alfred Hitchcock’s career.

A few wonderful scenes dot the plot landscape. The revelation that Hitchcock as director had a peeping tom hole into the dressing rooms of his leading ladies; a macabre joke played on Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson); Hitchcock’s air performing a symphony as he stands outside the theater door, and hearing the audience reacting screams crescendo and fade during Psycho’s famous shower sequence, and Alma’s Oscar worthy, smackdown monologue fired at her husband on what she had to endure being Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock. This last scene ends poignantly with a full on view of a speechless Alfred, and a slow fade to darkness, an area where the director often led his audiences, leaving his vision to be played out within the confines of their imaginations.

(Thank you for reading. Excelsior, anyone?)


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