Archive for the ‘Week 53: The End’ Category

Week 53: The End

January 4, 2011

In the annals of film criticism certain reviews stand out for me. My favourite is the last line of Time Out’s review of the 1990 comedy ‘Cold Dog Soup’ which simply advised: ‘kill yourself rather than endure it’. I also liked Mel Gibson’s quote to a member of the press during promotion of the Wim Wenders movie ‘Million Dollar Hotel’ (which Gibson starred in and co-produced) in which he says: ‘I think it’s as boring as a dog’s ass’. Thanks for that, Mel, always thinking of the public profile…

But the last line of the Time Out review of ‘Once Upon A Time in the West’ (undoubtedly a top five movie experience) reads ‘critical tools needed are eyes and ears – this is Cinema’. This is the line that I can safely say about the 52 collected movies of Alfred Hitchcock. Watching them in order over the past year (and really watching them and really listening to them) it’s a striking and unparalleled body of work, taking in so many stone cold undeniable classics it fairly beggars belief. Even when he misfires he does it in an interesting and bold way, his failures brave and innovative and containing some vestige of attempted-for glory.

In Week 11 I mentioned the Powell and Pressburger motto ‘the arrow was pure gold, but somehow missed the target – but as all golden arrow trippers know: it’s better to miss Naples than hit Margate’ (which I’m always banging on about) and this can aptly be applied to Hitchcock. Time and time again, relentlessly, he pushes his movies forwards in interesting ways – camera moves, storylines, sound design, clothing, editing: all the filmmaking tools available become that marvelous Orson Welles-mentioned train set to play with. You cannot come away from watching these films without a massive respect and admiration for someone who was just plain brilliant – undoubtedly some kind of a genius. Just when you think he’s winding down into his dotage after the patchy ‘Torn Curtain’ and the risible ‘Topaz’ he pulls out ‘Frenzy’ (aged 73!) and then ‘Family Plot’ (ok, not as great but still worth a look). What an amazing fellow he was, and I haven’t even got into all the TV work he did at the same time!

I will add to The Project this year, in particular with key still frames from all the films to illustrate points mentioned but right now it’s complete. It’s been a long and relentless journey but a fun and diverting thing to have done. Now I just need to find another filmmaker whose output numbers exactly 52…

Robin Guise,

January 2011