When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, ‘It’s in the script.’ If he says, ‘But what’s my motivation,’ I say, ‘Your salary.’ – Alfred Hitchcock
So last Saturday night I painfully sat through HBO’s The Girl, Tippi Hedren’s alleged account of her mental and sexual abuse from Alfred Hitchcock during the making of The Bird’s and Marnie – a borderline trashy gossip flick and a desperate attempt by Tippi to gain the spotlight one last time by accusing Hitch hindered her career even though he plucked her out from obscurity. But who am I to judge this supposed retelling of she said – he’s dead? Though I can’t see The Birds leaving her too traumatized as she went on to live with a houseful of live-in lions for her and her hubby’s flop Roar, putting all including her daughter at a serious risk of getting one’s head chomped the fuck off.
What I can say is that this made for cable movie was shot so bad that it belonged on Lifetime. This probably being the one reason Hitch is rolling in his grave. And I can’t imagine what Bernard Hermann must think of the atrocious score they laid under this turd.
The only inside story I came away with is that Tippi was a nickname given by her Grandfather. And that Toby Jones who plays Hitch, like his portrayal of Truman Capote to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s, will once again root comparisons with the upcoming Hitchcock feature film with Sir Anthony Hopkins – which will undoubtedly steal all of Toby’s thunder, relegating him at best to an understudy, due to the fact that I can’t imagine how anybody could do worse.
As was well known Hitch was obsessed with blondes – The Girl prefaces with Hitchcock’s words; “Blondes make the best victims. They’re like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.” How this is equated with Tippi I don’t know, since I’m not quite sure she was a victim but a more or less a flirt and terrible actress. Unless you consider some fat old perv hitting on you, whom happens to be a genius – sexual assault? Instead, I always found Roman Polanski’s take a bit more haunting when answering Robert Towne’s (Chinatown screenwriter) question on why he changed his ending to a tragedy – “Because beautiful blondes die in Los Angeles.” At least Hitch didn’t rape Melanie.
Why is it that American movies have yet to create a espionage thriller comparable to them Brits? (Don’t even get me started on rock & roll!) Everything from The Third Man, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold to James Bond. As for our homegrown we just have Jason Bourne, The Good Shepherd, and Tom Clancy. If only Norman Mailer finished writing the conclusion to Harlot’s Ghost….
I guess the fact is cloak and dagger tactics don’t bode well in cow towns like Boise, Idaho or Shaftsbury, Vermont, whereas any village in Europe is a ripe setting for assassination plots and double dealings. Besides, I can’t imagine a spy with a hillbilly accent. But at least we have a lock on the detective genre. I mean just look what them fucking ‘tards are doing with Sherlock Holmes! And so the latest import by Swedish director Tomas Alfredson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, breathes new air into the genre even though it is mainly shot in a claustrophobic soundproof think tank called “The Circus” with a bunch of suits huddled around a table smoking fags giving each other the stink eye.
In the eye of this quiet storm is recently dismissed into retirement British Intelligence Officer, George Smiley (Gary Oldman) who looks around this poker table trying to figure out who the KGB mole is or in other words, bluffing. But as the the old poker saying goes, “if you can’t spot the sucker around the table then you are the sucker.” Much of course is owed to John le Carre seminal novel though the adaptation seems a bit muddled probably due to compression and trying to weed thru the subterfuge and decipher all that spy stuff, code names, and operations – one can easily become disorientated with what the fuck is going on.
(Benedict Cumberbatch – the real Sherlock Holmes)
But if you are familiar with the Cold War climate during the late 50’s and 60’s and the infamous Cambridge Five which are somewhat loosely represented in this film by a very motley looking crew comprised of Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Truman Capote, and Ciaran Hinds then you will go with the flow of things and begin to admire the amazing cinematography, direction, and set design. I never thought it possible that seeing a room full of file cabinets, desks, reading lamps could look so beautiful. Not to say Gary Oldman’s performance wasn’t admirable but he was definitely the antithesis to his cop persona in The Professional. He didn’t even utter a fucking word until about 20 minutes into the movie! I mean I thought I was in the wrong theater and mistakenly turned homo and sat in on The Artist. All kidding aside, Gary’s character was methodically subdued and like a Bobby Fischer assigning the pieces on this chessboard only to find that his opponent was not them Ruskies but his whore of a wife.
It’s summertime and that could only mean one thing for geeks on break – another installment of super hero movies via Marvel Comics’ standard formula of origins and conflict. Following the Thor, X-Men, and the Green Lantern hype, Captain America saves the world too from the tired Nazi villains. I’m sorry, but Truman Capote is no Nazi and Hugo Weaving just looks like Hellboy on crack…Seriously, I’m more terrified of the Crusty Punks on St. Marks.
In this hero flick however, it’s not the pyrotechnic explosions nor the deft defying leaps but rather the CGI team’s ability to convert a meathead into a fucking 90lb baby face boy-scout, all the while not bursting out of the seams of his tight ass jeans. Beefed up with Super Soldier Serum (in other words the 1940s version of steroids) from German scientist, Stanley Tucci who wears a stupid smirk throughout and probably wanted the part for the Einstein accent and of course the scratch. And Tommy Lee Jones? Well, I forgot he was in it.
As for Captain America’s special lady friend whom he yearns to dance with, Hayley Atwell turns in a highly stylized 1940’s military soldier feminist all the while covered in pancake makeup. And I’m sure once he is defrosted he’ll probably see if she’s still alive to do the Lindy Hop or else just skullfuck her.