18 August 2012

Happy Birthday, Hitch

As I wrote earlier, this week marked the 113th anniversary of the birth of Alfred Hitchcock. To celebrate, ArtsQuest screened three of his most beloved and enduring films: North by Northwest, Psycho, and Vertigo.

I attended North by Northwest on Monday with my friend Larry. After purchasing my usual movie theater treat of Hot Tamales and a Coke, we made our way into the theater. As usual, I was pleasantly surprised by the large turnout. We found our seats (at the top row, of course) stretched out our legs, and waited in anticipation for the movie to begin. Finally, the lights dimmed, and Bernard Herrmann's pulsing score filled the room. As the movie progressed, I could feel the steam filling the room from Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint's devastating chemistry and sexual tension. Seriously, these two wrote the book.

Although I've seen this movie many a time, I'm still completely involved every time I watch it. During the plane chase, I get nervous, and I (along with a few other people) screamed when the plane collided with the truck and exploded.

On Tuesday, I was escorted to Psycho by my friend Joey. This is my second favorite Hitchcock film, so I think I was most excited for this one. Plus, Anthony Perkins still has the ability to scare the hell out of me. That last shot of him always gets me every time. I've heard people say that Psycho is overrated, but I respectfully disagree wholeheartedly. I think everything about it is spot on, from the combination of Bernard Hermann's schizophrenic score, Saul Bass's frantic title sequence, and, of course, the casting of Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. Psycho is true brilliance.  Afterward, a film professor from Lehigh University led a discussion about the gender roles, sexuality, and duality potrayed in Psycho. It was pretty insightful and the audience was engaged and really got into the participation, which was nice to see.

Wednesday night rounded out with Vertigo. Honestly, this is one of my least favorite of Hitchcock's films. I just never got the hype over it...maybe I'm just not smart enough, but I just never understood it. I mean, I get the plot, but the ending still confuses me to this day.

After the end of the movie, a discussion was again led about gender roles, sexuality, obsession, and masochism. It was also touched upon that Vertigo was recently voted the greatest film of all time, thus beating out Citizen Kane, by Sight and Sound and the semi-controversy/uproar/hooplah that caused. Again, the discussion was pretty interesting, and the audience was willing to participate.

Whenever I see a classic film in a theater, I am always surprised by the incredible turnouts. The ages always range from the very young (when I went to see Singin' in the Rain, I saw a couple of kids that had to be kindergarten age) to the old. I like to imagine that the older couples I see went to see the film when it was first released, possibly on a first date. It's really nice to know that these films still have an audience and that people are passing on their love of classic cinema to future generations. Here's hoping they never stop.

12 August 2012

The Master of Suspense

There are exicting goings- on. August 13 marks the anniversary of the birth of one of the most influental and probably the best known director in history- the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. In celebration of what would have been Hitch's 113 birthday, ArtsQuest in Bethlehem is celebrating for three nights. And what better way to toast Alfred Hitchcock's birth than to screen three of his best and most beloved classics?

Monday night kicks off the festivities with a screening of 1959's North by Northwest. Starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, and James Mason, it's a tale of mistaken identity and spy-versus-spy crossings and double crossings.

Tuesday night is kind of the night I'm looking foward to most. It's Psycho, and it's Hitchcock's most famous film. It's also still seriously scary, so I expect to hear a couple of screams. Or at least audible gasps.

The celebration concludes Wednesday night with Vertigo, a film that people fall over themselves praising but one that I just can't figure out. Maybe Wednesday night I'll have an epiphany and finally understand it. I do have a bit of a soft spot for Vertigo however, as it was the first Hitchcock film I had ever seen.

And, just for a bit of fun, let's pretend that this was a weeklong event, and I were in charge of picking the films to screen. I think it would look something like this:

Monday: North by Northwest (1959)
Tuesday: Psycho (1960)
Wednesday: Rebecca (1940)
Thursday: Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Friday: Strangers on a Train (1951)
Saturday: The Man who Knew too Much (1956)
Sunday: The Lodger (1927)

Question: What is/are your favorite Hitchcock film/ films?

10 August 2012

A true story

This was the dream I had last night:

During a summer family get-together, I was sitting at a wooden picnic table in my backyard with my uncle Jimmy, my brother, and my parents' friend Ricky. I wandered over to my driveway where I found Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, and my friend Emily. There was a fire burning in a trash can, and standing next to it, Larry treated us to a short performance of Richard III (which just so happens to be my favorite of his Shakespeare performances).

 After applauding, I, for reasons unbeknownst to me, climbed atop the Saab in my garage and then went into the kitchen. I found Larry in there as well. He was wearing a yellow t shirt that was at least two sizes too small for him, and it had that German hearts-and-sparrows design on it. (Perhaps he knew I have a fondness for terribly ugly clothing and was attempting to appeal to me?)

I greeted him with a squeal of "Larr Bear!" and jumped into his arms. (Yes, he did catch me). After a nice tight hug, I told him he did good. He smiled and thanked me. I sensed that something was amiss, because I asked him if he was okay. He responded with "Yeah, I'm just tired."

Now here's where things get a bit muddled. I can't remember what happened exactly, but he and I somehow ended up making out furiously on the squeaky, ugly, blue flowery sofa in my living room. To my disapointment, he was not the best kisser, but I was making out with Laurence Olivier, so who was I to complain?

We were interrupted by the sounds of Street Fighting Man by The Rolling Stones (previously one of my favorite songs by them). I wasn't sure where it was coming from but it was only getting louder. To my dismay, I realized that it was coming from my alarm clock. I woke up in my bed, chest pounding, and mixed feelings of "Wow, what a super rad, albeit very odd dream" and "Son of a bitch, why couldn't I have at least sealed the deal? Goddamn Rolling Stones."

As I got out of bed and ready for work, I swore I could hear a quiet giggle from behind me. Looking in my mirror, a picture of Vivien Leigh taped to my wall reflected back at me. I knew that, wherever she was, she somehow knew what I had dreamed about, and was laughing her ass off. And I'll bet Larry was right next to her.

Grabbing my keys off the dresser, I muttered "Fuck off, Vivien" and shut the door.