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“You have the habit of not necessarily looking for implausibility but of not avoiding it if it’s useful.”

The title quote is from the Hitchcock/Truffaut documentary I watched a while back. It’s one of several quotes and discussions that stuck with me now that I’ve finished the relevant book, HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT.

Francois Truffaut established himself as a serious filmmaker with his first movie, The 400 Blows. He was also a serious thinker about film, one of several future directors who started by writing for the magazine Cahiers du Cinema which made the radical claim for the time that some American directors were serious artists too. He saw that Hitch, whom America’s Serious Critics dismissed as a gifted but commercial director, was also a serious artist, which led to the book, a biography of sorts starting from Hitchcock’s childhood and working through his career, film by film. It’s fascinating reading even if I don’t agree with either man at times (Truffaut considers Under Capricorn a neglected classic, for instance).The opening quote strikes me as good advice for writers. Going and looking for implausibility might not be productive but if it’s useful, why avoid it? The Fast and Furious series is a good example: the movies are engaging when we have our heroes, say, driving off towing a money vault in Fast Five but a lot less successful when they’re taking on a Russian submarine base in The Fate of the Furious. Diminishing returns and all that (though obviously it didn’t kill the series).While I’ve heard Hitchcock discuss the difference between suspense and shock before — a bomb going off suddenly is a shock, knowing it’s there and counting down is suspense — his discussion of Vertigo added weight to it. The studio thought the ending lacked drama so they wanted a big reveal that Kim Novak was not merely a lookalike for Stewart’s lost love but the same woman. That’s shock; revealing it to the viewers much earlier, as Hitchcock did, is suspense: can she keep up the impersonation or will Scotty (Jimmy Stewart) catch on?

The two men inevitably discussed Hitchcock’s view of MacGuffins — that it doesn’t matter what the bad guys are out to steal or the good guys trying to protect, except that it puts the plot in motion (as I pointed out recently, that’s how I think about the anti-mind control drugs in Black Widow). This raises the risk that when the reveal comes, the audience will be disappointed; Truffaut observes one way Hitchcock deals with this is make the reveal a couple of reels ahead of the climax so it’s not too important to the finish.

But of course the real focus of the book is Hitch’s movies; I rather wish that I’d had this book handy all the way through so I could read the discussion while the film is fresh. Truffaut has the eye of both a critic and a movie maker so we get very interesting discussion of key moments, strengths and weaknesses and film quality. I do think some of Hitchcock’s analysis is skewed by his notorious control issues: he thinks the actors’ role is “to do nothing in an interesting way” rather than act — leave it to Hitchcock’s camera work and set design to tell the story. Unsurprisingly Truffaut, one of the originators of auteur theory (the director’s control makes him the true author of the movie, not the actors or the screenwriter) seems to agree. In Rear Window, he argues, Jimmy Stewart doesn’t have to act: Hitchcock simply shows him watching the neighborhood, then cuts to the scene and we imagine the reaction because Hitch has primed us to see what he wants on Stewart’s face.

I strongly disagree Stewart isn’t acting in that film. But the idea it’s all in the hands of the director and his storyboards must be appealing when you are the director; Truffaut quotes Hitch saying that “I dream of an IBM machine in which I’d insert the screenplay at one end and the film would emerge on the other.” Possibly that also influences Hitch’s view that silents are better than talkies — dialog is theatrical, getting in the way of pure film.

But even where I disagree it’s a fascinating book.

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Farewell, Alfred Hitchcock (almost): Frenzy, Family Plot and a book

Yep, my long (re)watch of Alfred Hitchcock is now done, unless I decide to watch the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series at some point. Happily, after the mediocrity of Torn Curtain and Topaz, Hitch went out on a win (which was the public and critical reaction at the time, too)

FRENZY (1972) owes a lot to Psycho, though it has multiple elements from other Hitchcock films, such as the innocent man on the run, a doomed romance and an opening resembling Young and Innocent. Jon Finch plays a dour divorcee accused of being a literal psycho when circumstantial evidence fingers him as the Necktie Killer terrorizing London. While innocent, Finch is one of Hitch’s least likely protagonists, a pissed-off loser whose resentment feels as if it could indeed explode into violence (and his 1970s hairstyle surprises me, given Hitch’s preference for old-school elegance); the one rape-murder we witness is considerably more graphic than in Psycho and uglier to watch (a later murder in which we see nothing at all is far more chilling). There’s a lot of humor here, some of it black (“One thing about psychopaths like the Necktie Killer, they’re good for the tourist trade.”) but also the chief detective’s wife’s fondness for exotic cooking (apparently by 1970s British standards, margaritas were extremely strange drinks). “Sometimes just thinking about the lusts of men makes me heave.”

FAMILY PLOT (1976) has two couples on opposite sides of the law, both of whom inevitably wind up pitted against each other. Barbara Harris (fake medium) and Bruce Dern (taxi-driver) are one pair, seeking to locate a missing heir in return for a ten grand payoff; jeweler William Devane and his wife Karen Black are the other, kidnapping prominent wealthy men in return for valuable diamonds that Devane then cuts up and resells. This harks back to some of the light-hearted suspense tales of the 1930s such as Young and Innocent, though it’s not as effective as Frenzy; while Devane has an oily, slimy charm that works well, Dern feels out of place here (and while he’s constantly chewing on a pipe, I don’t think he ever smokes it); Harris is talented but playing opposite Dern she doesn’t quite work either. It’s fun though, and makes  a better end to Hitch’s career than he might have had. “Don’t start to fret or our waterbed will be no fun tonight.”

Wrapping up the films meant I also wrapped up THE FILMS OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK by Robert A. Harris and Michael S. Lasky, which I’ve been reading along with my viewing. This was one of a line of Films Of books published by Citadel back in the 1970s when merely getting a complete list of films with cast and crew information was groundbreaking. Some of them don’t go much beyond that data; this one digs a little deeper, covering critical responses, backstage problems and more. I was startled to read at the end that the authors were anticipating a couple more films from Hitch under his contract with Universal, unaware he’d soon be too sick to keep going, and then dead. But he left one hell of a legacy behind him.

And that’s it until I read the Hitchcock/Truffaut book I referenced a while back.

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Japanese time travel, Hitchcock and the Flash: movies and TV

BEYOND THE INFINITE TWO MINUTES (2021) is a Japanese time-travel comedy in which a coffee-shop owner discovers his PC monitor and the TV in the shop are linked so that the monitor shows events occurring downstairs two minutes into the future. His friends are convinced they can make money off this thing but the protagonist worries no good will come of it, especially when knowing the future apparently kills his chance of dating a neighboring business owner. A fun one with a sense of humor reminiscent of the goofy Japanese Summer Time Machine Blues. “What is the capital of Sri Lanka?”

Hitchcock/Truffaut is a famous book on Alfred Hitchcock’s films that I checked out of the library, though I haven’t read it yet. I did, however, watch HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT (2015), a documentary describing how celebrated French filmmaker Francois Truffaut came to interview Alfred Hitchcock about his work, and the impact it had on filmmakers from Wes Anderson to Martin Scorsese. When the book came out in 1966, Hitchcock was still a Mere Entertainer while Truffaut was an Artiste so Truffaut taking Hitch seriously was a very book deal. The documentary was good, but definitely doesn’t substitute for the book. “You have the habit of not necessarily looking for implausibility but of not avoiding it if it’s useful.”

The eighth season of FLASH started very poorly as everything seems to be going wrong for Barry with the various other Arrowverse superheroes stepping in to stop him. Then it turns out it’s an elaborate plot by Reverse Flash to change history, take over Barry’s life and cast him as the villain of the series. It doesn’t work but it was great watching him try.

Then we move on into a somewhat rambling season including a mercifully watered down version of the Blackest Night event in comics, the appearance of the Negative Speed Force and a new super-speedster, Fast Track, joining Team Flash. If not their best, overall it was satisfying, particularly Thawne’s final fall. “I told you before, Flash, finding ways to kill you was my life’s work.”

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Women’s liberation, missiles in Cuba and Superman in peril: movies and TV

I saw ads for STAND UP AND BE COUNTED (1972) as a teen but knew nothing about the film until I decided to catch it online early this month. Jacqueline Bissette plays a reporter assigned to cover the women’s liberation movement and the effect on her American hometown (her British accent is explained as something she picked up working in the UK). Initially skeptical, she begins to appreciate the movement’s principles, but can boyfriend Gary Lockwood embrace ideas such as doing half the housework and not putting his career first?

I assumed this would be as sexist as The Feminist and the Fuzz so it was a pleasant surprise that it takes its principles seriously, as do the characters — and while message-heavy, the film does focus on the personal impact of sexism in couples Hector Elizondo/Stella Stevens and Steve Lawrence/Loretta Switt. Madilyn Rhue, Nancy Walker, Joyce Brothers, Billie Byrd, Isabel Sanford and Michael Ansara have supporting roles. “Inside, all I was becoming was a walking Ladies Home Journal.”

Set in 1962, Alfred Hitchcock’s TOPAZ (1969) has American spy John Forsythe recruit French spy Frederick Stafford to find out what the Russians are doing in Cuba, much to the displeasure of Stafford’s wife — particularly when the investigation requires Stafford visit his lover, Cuban resistance leader Karin Dor (SPECTRE’s Number Eleven in You Only Live Twice).

This is a much smoother, more watchable production than Torn Curtain but I can see why I found it boring when I first caught it — for a Hitchcock film, let alone one about the Cuban Missile Crisis, there’s a real lack of tension and suspense. The film focuses too much on the nuts and bolts of espionage, feeling as if Hitch or Leon Uris (who wrote the source book) were telling an anti-Bond this-is-real-espionage story, bu I rather doubt it. It doesn’t hep that thel ast third of the film, in which Stafford hunts down a Soviet mole, feels tacked on rather than tied to the main plot.

The audience reaction in test viewings was way negative, particularly to the ending in which the mole — Stafford’s wife’s lover — and Stafford fight a duel, only to have the Red agent shot by one of his own. Instead, Hitchcock cobbled together footage to make the mole commit suicide off-camera, which didn’t win many fans either. He also trimmed several minutes of footage out. The version I saw has the added footage in, and uses a third ending, in which the mole escapes to Moscow while Stafford and his wife take a vacation. Their mutual adultery is left uresolved, which makes the romantic resolution almost as unsatisfying as Suspicion. “Those papers we photographed the other day scared the hell out of me.”

PASSING (2021) adapts Nella Larsen’s 1920s novel, with Tessa Thompson as a black woman in Harlem who discovers her former friend has crossed the color line and now married to a racist (“I hate Negroes.”), despite which the option to revisit Thompson and her old life in Harlem proves irresistible. Very well executed, but the tragic ending, though logical, doesn’t work for me — given all the character dynamics, there were many more interesting directions to go. “Careful — you’re the only white man here.”

The second season of SUPERMAN AND LOIS looks suspiciously like a meta-commentary on Smallville co-star Alison Mack having joined a cult some years later; the big bad is Ally Alston (Rya Kihstedt), a cult leader who’s plotting with her parallel-Earth counterpart to bring the two worlds together, with a corresponding boost in her own powers. Meanwhile the Kent family has to deal with their sons’ teenage growing pains, Lana running for mayor and Lois’ sister Lucy being part of the cult. Well cast but like the first season this feels a little too dark to work for a Superman show (more Arrow than Flash, if you like). “It’s our job to warn people that our world is about to be merged with another Earth by some all-powerful psycho leading a death cult!”

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From bad Hitchcock to good Emma Thompson: movies

Much as I disliked Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie, its psychodrama did keep me watching. By contrast, TORN CURTAIN (1966) was close to a “talking lamp” (something to illuminate the room without paying it much attention); I had no qualms about leaving the film running while I went into the kitchen for a snack or a cup of tea.

Paul Newman plays a nuclear-weapons physicist who horrifies his fiancee (Julie Andrews) when he apparently defects to East Germany. She tags along over his protests, unaware he has a hidden agenda: if Newman can trick a German scientist into divulging some key technical intel, he’ll be able to perfect an anti-missile missile that will make nuclear attack obsolete (this dream was around long before Reagan’s Star Wars project).

This is not a good film at all. At a little over two hours it feels bloated; the plot is implausible (which admittedly wouldn’t bother me if I liked the film); and Newman’s performance feels very off for the role. North by Northwest it ain’t. “The committee would like you to describe the U.S. experiments with the missile known as Gamma Five.”

I caught half of LOVE PUNCH (2013) on my vacation but didn’t bring it up in the assumption I’d eventually stream the rest. Turns out I can’t summon up any enthusiasm, for the story of divorced couple Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan discovering the company Brosnan works for has been taken over and stripped for parts, making their retirement funds — all invested in company stock — worthless. Can they bring down the punk kid financier who’s responsible? Not horrible, but I have no urge to finish it. “I’d never ask you to do anything illegal, but is there any chance you could … stumble on it?”

GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE (2022) is much better, with an amazing performance by Thompson as a middle-aged schoolteacher who hires sex worker Leo (Darryl McCormack) and winds up talking about sex more than they spend doing it (“After my husband died, I swore I’d never fake another orgasm.”). This comes perilously close to the “hooker with a heart of gold” stereotype, but the script is good otherwise and the leads are excellent. Two Night Stand would be a good double bill for another couple who wind up putting verbal intercourse over physical. “Let’s start with the blow job and get the big one over with.”

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A titan of film and some Titans

My memory of watching Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS (1963) was a terrifying story where nature runs wild and humans are (of course) helpless — helpless! Rewatching, it turns out to be much smaller scale, birds turning belligerent in one small, coastal community, though one character does speak darkly of how disastrous it would be if all birds, everywhere, turned against us.

While the bird attacks are frightening, particularly when a swarm of birds shoots out of Mitch’s (Rod Taylor) chimney into the house, this is more a romance than a horror/suspense film. Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch have a meet cute in a bird store. She’s a half-reformed party girl whose father’s connections keep her out of trouble; he’s a lawyer who has nothing but disdain for someone so frivolous and irresponsible. Yep, they find each other the most obnoxious, annoying people they’ve ever met, so it’s obvious they want to get horizontal.

This fits the Hitchcock motif Hitchcock Romance discusses, that marriage is both the natural outcome of growing up and a means of getting there. Melanie’s trying to shed her irresponsible life; Mitch has left more than a few broken hearts in his wake, including his neighbor Annie (Suzanne Pleshette). Not that he’s a rake, but his mother (Jessica Tandy) doesn’t want to let go of him. The need to leave our parents and step out on our own is another Hitchcock theme (Psycho is an example of what happens when they don’t let go).

Unfortunately, the romance flops badly. Hedren was Hitchcock’s discovery, a blonde beauty in the mold of Grace Kelly in Rear Window. Kelly, however, had talent; Hedren shows none, nor any screen presence. Even if she did, things are very slow-paced for the first hour as Melanie hunts down Mitch in his rural home (he commutes to San Francisco for work) and ingratiates herself with his family. Maybe it would have worked with Grace Kelly or Ingrid Bergman but like I said, Hedren isn’t in their league. The shock of the bird attacks doesn’t make up for the tedium.  “He shot his wife in the head six times — even twice would be overdoing it.”

Hedren wasn’t any better as the star of MARNIE (1964), playing a serial embezzler who gets jobs long enough to rip her employer off, sends the money to her mother (Louise Fletcher), then moves on. Unfortunately, Mark (Sean Connery) spots the attractive blonde at work one day, then recognizes her when she starts a job with his own company. After establishing her guilt, he pressures her to marry him, then sets himself up as her therapist. Not only is she a thief, she freaks out at the thought of sex or intimacy, panics in thunderstorms and recoils from the color red; Mark is determined to heal her.

This one mesmerized me when I caught it on TV as a tween but it doesn’t hold up. First off, there’s Hedren, still talentless; perhaps a director who was better with actors could have gotten a better performance, but Hitch wasn’t an actor’s director. Grace Kelly could have pulled it off; The Films of Sean Connery says Hitchcock tried and failed to woo Kelly out of retirement.

Second, as my friend Ross has often said, Connery’s behavior is just as strange, pressuring a woman into marriage, then obsessively trying to fix her even though she can’t even stand to touch him. Hitchcock Romance seems to conclude this reflects the Power of Love and that the many absurdities and unconvincing sets are Hitch’s way of signaling this isn’t a realistic movie (if so, it still doesn’t make it good). Another film book says the story reflects Hitch’s frustration at not being able to seduce Hedren, or that after she said no he lost all interest in the film. Either way, it’s quite forgettable. However it does have Diane Baker, Mariette Hartley and Alfred Napier giving good supporting performances. “That’s very interesting because the record shows you made your living from the touch of men.”

TEEN TITANS GO VS TEEN TITANS (2019) has the cast of the 2003-6 Teen Titans meet their counterparts from Teen Titans Go when both series’ Trigons merge (“I am Hexagon — no, not the shape!”), bringing the teams into a bemused encounter as they try to figure each other out (“They must be heroes, they’re so — tall!”). More fun than either of the Hitchcock films this week, with alt.versions including Funny Animal Titans, Baby Titans, an animated version of the live-action show and a brief cameo by the Wolfman/Perez team (though I didn’t spot the Silver Age team anywhere). Great fun, though I’m puzzled why the 2003 Robin is written to be as big a doofus as the Go! version. Weird Al Yankovic plays the Gentleman Ghost.“I like to think of you as a cool uncle … who’s not that cool.”

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Two classic Hitchcocks: North by Northwest and Psycho (with spoilers)

(Re) watching Alfred Hitchcock’s films makes me appreciate why so many critics and Hitch himself saw NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) as a film that expresses the essence of Hitchcock movies. Yet it was the next film he made, PSYCHO (1960) that came to define him: he’d be Alfred Hitchcock, direct of Psycho from that moment forward.

NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) stars Cary Grant as Roger Thornhill, an advertising executive who through blind chance is mistaken for Kaplan, an American agent hunting enemy spy Vandamm (James Mason) and his right hand Leonard (Martin Landau). Vandamm mocks Thornhill’s denials, declaring that his performance makes the room a theater; this theatricality crops up over and over, for example when he later sneers American agents should get training from the Actor’s Studio.

The bad guys’ first attempt on Thornhill’s life fails, as does the second; however they unintentionally frame him as a murderer, forcing him to flee cops as well as crooks, traveling across country to track down Kaplan. Thornhill doesn’t know Kaplan doesn’t exist; it’s a non-existent man created by spymaster the Professor (Leo G. Carroll) to distract Vandamm from the real agent in his team. During his travels, Thornhill gets help from Eve (Eva Marie Saint), a beautiful woman who turns out to be Vandamm’s lover. Thornhill, having fallen for her, isn’t happy (“What makes a girl like you a girl like you?”), then he learns she’s the Professor’s agent on the inside. Unfortunately Leonard has figured that out too …

North by Northwest is a spectacular thriller with some great set pieces, from Grant being targeted by a crop-dusting plane to the climax on Mt. Rushmore. It carries over elements from multiple previous films including The Thirty-Nine Steps, Notorious and Saboteur. As The Hitchcock Romance says, it captures Hitch’s repeated theme that love and marriage is the happy ending for most of us. Thornhill starts out twice divorced and something of a ladies’ man (we see him dickering with his secretary about the right gift for one of his girlfriends), then he meets Eve and everything changes. Vandamm intends to kill her for betraying him; the Professor is willing to accept her death for the greater good. Thornhill loves her and he’s going to save her in spite of all of them. It’s a great film. “War is hell, Mr. Thornhill, even when it’s a cold one.”

I would really love to have seen PSYCHO (1960) at least once not knowing what was coming but a friend told me the details in high school (I wouldn’t catch it until college). In the opening, Marion (Janet Leigh), frustrated that her boyfriend Sam (John Gavin) doesn’t have enough money to make a home for both of them, succumbs to a moment of temptation and drives off with $40,000 of her employer’s money. It’s a classic film noir set up that turns into an Old Dark House story when Marion ends up at the Bates Motel, where Norman (Anthony Bates) runs the largely unoccupied business and cares for his sour, bedridden mother. And then, of course, comes the infamous shower scene in which Mrs. Bates stabs Marion to death in the shower (future slasher films owe a lot to this and the later deaths). Can Sam and Marion’s sister Lila (Vera Miles) figure out the truth?This film has a very strange structure, switching from genre to genre and protagonist to protagonist. It’s amazing visually and absorbing to watch even when I know what’s coming. That said, it’s a film that like Vertigo, I admire more than I enjoy. While in many ways it’s much more atypical of Hitch than North by Northwest, though Hitchcock Romance argues the film is a perfect example of Hitch’s tragic romances. When we catch up with Sam after the opening he’s writing to Marion to say that he’ll marry her, despite his poverty; if she’d only waited instead of acting, she’d have gotten her HEA. Like Vertigo and Rebecca, the past chokes the present. Sam’s struggling to pay off his father’s debts and support his ex-wife; Norman is dominated by his dead mother. It’s a remarkable achievement. “I’m not a fool and I’m not capable of being fooled.”

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders. For extra interest, check out the great title sequences for Psycho and North by Northwest by the great Saul Bass.

 

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Bill and Ted Get Vertigo! Movies viewed

As a fan of Keanu Reaves and Alex Winter as Theodore Logan and Bill S. Preston, it was inevitable I’d watch the final film in the series, 2020’s BILL AND TED FACE THE MUSIC. It’s 25 years since the guys blew the world away with their concert at the end of BILL AND TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY and in that time they’ve crashed and burned, failed to create a world of peace and harmony, and failed to find day jobs. And their two daughters, Theodora (Samara Weaving) and Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) are just as much music-loving slackers as their old folks.

Time up guys: the future’s Great Leader (Holland Taylor) discovers that if the guys don’t play the song that unites the world by 7:17 PM that evening, history goes off the real and reality collapses. The guys set off on a desperate quest to find themselves in the future when they’ve already written the song; the Leader thinks she can salvage time by killing them instead. The end results show, like many series, the law of diminishing returns, but the returns are good enough I’m glad I caught it. “The Sahara Desert just materialized in San Dimas — Queen Elizabeth I is looking at it.”The first time I saw VERTIGO (1958) I’m pretty sure I didn’t get it; as the standard critical take is that it needs multiple viewings to appreciate it, it seems I’m not alone. A near-fatal fall during a rooftop chase leaves John Ferguson (Jimmy Stewart) afflicted with crippling vertigo that forces him off the force. A friend (Tom Helmore) asks John to shadow his buddy’s wife Madeleine (Kim Novak), who seems obsessed to the point of suicide with a woman of the 19th century. John falls hard for Madeleine and when she finally succumbs to the haunting and kills herself, he’s completely lost. Then he meets her exact double (again played by Novak) and begins recreating her into the image of his lost love.

As part of my Hitchcock rereading I can see this has resemblances to Rebecca and the upcoming Psycho with Madeleine, then John, haunted by a dead woman; I think it may also have some commonalities with the upcoming Marnie. While it’s still a movie that fascinates me more than entertains me, it is very fascinating. The special features on this DVD detail the restoration (like Rear Window the master print had decayed over the years and that Hitchcock at one point eliminated a key flashback revealing what’s really going on (the audience hated the results so he put it back). Barbara Bel Geddes plays’ John’s ex-fiancee best friend, who gives us an outside perspective on the strange relationship, though her character doesn’t entirely make sense (she’s clearly still into him, so why was she the one who ended their engagement?). “There’s one final hing I have to do, and then I’ll be free of the past.”

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The Wrong Man Gets Fast and Furious: Movies

After Alfred Hitchcock’s disappointing Trouble With Harry and Man Who Knew Too Much, the noirish, based-on-truth THE WRONG MAN (1956) is a welcome return to form. Henry Fonda plays a musician constantly slipping into debt to keep his family afloat. When he stops off at an insurance office to see if he can borrow against wife Vera Miles’ life insurance (she needs wisdom teeth extracted), one of the employees misidentifies him as the guy who held up the office a month earlier. They call the cops who then parade him into a couple of other stores the guy hit, and the staff confirm the identification. Before he knows it, Fonda is plunged into a legal world as alien to him as the bottom of the sea (his sense of being trapped in a world he never made is one of the film’s strengths). His wife, meanwhile, begins to crack under the strain, sliding into a nervous breakdown.

The film has more power because the cops clearly aren’t trying to railroad him, but they’re convinced he’s bad and interpret events accordingly; showing him to witnesses the way they do is almost guaranteed to produce a misidentification. Events that in movies such as The Phantom Lady are the work of the real villain — when Fonda tries to build an alibi the witnesses are either dead or he has no idea where to find them — are just the quirks of real life (today social media would make proving where he was a lot easier). A good film, though the events were way less an outlier than I imagine people thought at the time. “She’s living in another world from ours — a frightening landscape that might as well be the other side of the moon.”

With F9 (2021) I’m now caught up on the Fast and Furious franchise, though it feels like the series is running out of steam (switching to Hobbs and Shaw may be a smart move). John Cena plays Jacob, the brother we didn’t know Dominc Toretto (Vin Diesel) had; having broken bad after their father’s death Jacob now kills Mr. Nobody and captures Cipher (Charlize Theron reprising her role from Fate of the Furious) to help him find the McGuffin, a device that will let Jacob hack any and all computers everywhere. Can the team stop him, even with Han (Sung Kang) back from the dead (which is why I’m not betting Nobody is pushing up daisies either)?

This is almost meta at times in joking about its own absurdity (“You’re right — we are invicible.”) but the action sequences are routine and the goofy bits (flying a cool car into space to destroy Jacob’s satellite) didn’t work for me either. Neither did the usual We Are Family declarations — Jacob gets forgiven far too easily given his shift in allegiance is due to Cipher backstabbing him, not any reconsideration. Helen Mirren and Theron(“You remind me of Yoda — a puppet with someone’s hand up his ass.”) walk away with the acting honors. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed but this entire operation is held together with duct tape.”

HELLBLAZERS (2022) is a movie I’d probably have watched to the end a decade or two ago, but my patience for sitting through mediocrity has apparently dwindled over the years. The story involves demon cultist Billy Zane unleashing a demon on a small town to the distress of Bruce Dern, Tony Todd and others, but after two or three scenes where the cast seemed to be struggling to remember their lines, I called it a day. “We didn’t open a hole into hell for nothing, you know.”

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This was unexpected —

Due to having two social events last week (friend visiting town, writer friend’s birthday party) I wound up not watching any movies, nor any the rest of this week. So I have no movie reviews to offer y’all. But as I don’t want to break my streak of daily postings, here’s the poster to Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man

As I was planning to watch Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man, here’s the poster.And here are some posters from other Hitchcock films I’ve caught, not in any particular order.You can find my reviews of all of these and more listed here.

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